Previous Section Index Home Page

16 July 2008 : Column 505W—continued

16 July 2008 : Column 506W

Officials in the Department will be working with those at the Department of Health as they take forward recommendations in their report “A High Quality Workforce: NHS Next Stage Review”.

Pupil Referral Units: Speech Therapy

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many speech and language therapists are employed in pupil referral units. [219229]

Kevin Brennan: I have been asked to reply.

Teachers and other staff with a variety of skills and experience working in pupil referral units cater for the diverse needs of children and young people educated in these settings. However, data on the number of staff employed specifically as speech and language therapists are not collected centrally.

Students: Ethnic Groups

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will promote opportunities for students from ethnic minorities living in urban areas to undertake studies in the land-based economy based in rural colleges. [218167]

Mr. Lammy: The profile and attractiveness of careers in the land-based economy are being drawn to young people's attention in different ways. Those currently interested in learning about land-based industries can already study for a GCSE in environmental and land-based science. From September 2009 there will be a new diploma in environmental and land-based studies. There is also a network of specialist schools and academies located across urban and rural areas. Discretionary learner support funding is available to individual students through colleges, and included within this is support for residential courses. Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for the land-based industries, helps to raise awareness of opportunities in the sector to young people, and has a dedicated website aimed at young people

Students: Loans

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the average time taken by graduates to pay off student loans following receipt of a salary of £15,000 per annum was in the latest period for which figures are available. [218997]

Bill Rammell [holding answer 15 July 2008]: Income contingent loans were introduced in 1998. Students only begin to repay their loan in the April after leaving university or college and their repayments begin when their income reaches the threshold of £15,000. Repayments are made through the UK tax system and for borrowers on PAYE employers make deductions at 9 per cent. of income above £15,000 threshold.

Borrowers in receipt of a salary of £15,000 per annum do not make any repayments; and loan balances are written off after 25 years.

Actual data on average time to repay income contingent loans are unavailable for most income contingent loan borrowers, because most have yet to complete repayment.
16 July 2008 : Column 507W
We estimate that a student who entered higher education in 2006/07 will take an average of around 13 years to repay their student loan. The repayment period is counted from the April following the year of graduation. The calculation is based on assumptions about lifetime graduate earnings, derived from the British Household Panel Survey and the Labour Force Survey. The calculation takes account of gender, age and periods spent unemployed or inactive for other reasons.

Video Games: Education

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) how many computer games development courses, and other related degree courses, have been accredited by Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for Creative Media; [218729]

(2) what recent assessment he has made of the content and standard of computer games development courses offered at UK universities; [218732]

(3) what recent assessment he has made of the utility to industry employers of degree courses in computer games development. [218730]

Mr. Lammy [ holding answer 14 July 2008]: Our high level skills strategy sets out a clear aim of more, and more employable, graduates, and recognises an important role for Sector Skills Councils in working with both industry and higher education.

With support from the sector, Skillset has accredited four computer games degrees. 11 higher education institutions (HEIs) in England are currently interested in seeking such accreditation.

Quality Assurance Agency reviews of HEIs' own quality and standards arrangements have consistently shown standards in UK HE are robust and that their procedures, and those of the institutions themselves, repeatedly demonstrate the strength of academic quality and standards throughout a very diverse system. However, it is important that the computer games industry works with Skillset to articulate specific skill and knowledge demands so that HEIs can take these into account in course design.

I am aware of calls from the games industry to increase the number of graduates in specialist games degrees, mathematics, physics and computer sciences able to enter it. I will carefully consider any views on this subject submitted in response to the Department's consultation document ‘Higher Education at Work—High Skills: High Value’.

Vocational Training: Trade Unions

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much funding is being provided for trades union educational programmes in 2008-09. [217992]

Mr. Lammy: Trade unions have a key role to play in promoting the development of learning and skills in the workplace. To help them do this the Government introduced the Union Learning Fund in 1998 to enable trade unions use their influence with employers, employees and training providers to encourage greater take up of learning at work and boost their own capacity as learning organisations. The Government will invest £21.5 million through the Union Learning Fund in 2008-09.

16 July 2008 : Column 508W

With the help of the Union Learning Fund, trade unions and their Union Learning Representatives have been really successful in working with employees and employers to raise skill levels in the workplace. There are now over 20,500 trained Union Learning Representatives who have helped over 600,000 workers into learning since the fund was introduced in 1998, and over 200,000 last year alone - including over 34,000 workers with poor basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Union Learning Representatives and other trade union representatives and officers can also access LSC-funded training, delivered through a network of approved colleges, to help them carry out their duties more effectively.

International Development


7. Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent humanitarian assistance has been provided by the Government to Zimbabwean refugees in neighbouring countries. [218950]

Gillian Merron: The UK is providing some £1.2 million of humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwean migrants at the border with Zambia and unaccompanied child migrants along the South African border. Additionally, we have provided £400,000 to NGOs caring for victims of South Africa's recent xenophobic violence, many of whom were Zimbabwean.

10. Mr. Mackay: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. [218953]

Gillian Merron: Mugabe's destructive policies continue to devastate the lives of millions. Half the population will need food aid by the end of the year. An estimated 36,000 people have been displaced internally, over a hundred killed and thousands injured. The decision by the government of Zimbabwe to ban the work of many humanitarian agencies has added to people's suffering.

West Bank

8 Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development What assessment he has made of the likely effect on the Palestinian economy of the measures recently agreed on movement and access in the West Bank. [218951]

Mr. Malik: The agreement reached by Israel and the Quartet Representative to improve north-south movement in the west bank and access to the Jordan valley should build confidence and increase economic activity. Progress on this is critical to reviving the Palestinian economy. The agreement on movement and access must be implemented in full.

As statements by the Foreign Secretary and Secretary of State make clear, improved access to Gaza is crucial to ease the suffering of ordinary Gazans.

16 July 2008 : Column 509W


9. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid his Department has given to developing countries to eradicate leprosy in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [218952]

Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development (DFID) provided £12.5 million to the World Health Organisation (WHO) core budget over 2007-08, including an element for leprosy control programmes.

In Nepal, one of the two remaining leprosy-endemic countries, we support the leprosy control programme through sector budget support to the Nepal Health Sector Programme (NHSP). In 2007-08, we provided £8.95 million to the NHSP, which included support to the International Health Partnership. Over the same period DFID also provided £44,287 to a Leprosy Mission England and Wales community project in India.

G8 Summit

11. Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the outcome for development policy of the G8 summit was. [218954]

Mr. Thomas: Last week's summit reiterated G8 commitment to delivering: $50 billion in extra aid by 2010, ($25 billion to Africa); $4 billion in ‘Aid for Trade’ and universal access to HIV/AIDs treatment by 2010. The G8 has also pledged over $10 billion for food security; $60 billion over five years for health; 1.5 million more health workers; 100 million bednets by 2010; and $1 billion for the education Fast Track Initiative.


12. Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what provision has been made in his Department's five-year research strategy for more effective drugs, diagnostics and vaccines for tuberculosis. [218955]

Gillian Merron: In 2005 there were 14.1 million cases of tuberculosis and 1.6 million deaths. The UK Government’s 2007 International Development White Paper commits us to increasing funding for new drugs and vaccines. This commitment is reinforced in the Department’s new five year research strategy which calls for continued and increased support for product development partnerships to develop vaccines, diagnostics and drugs for HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The strategy is available on-line:


13. Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department is giving to microfinance initiatives in developing countries. [218956]

Gillian Merron: Since April 2003, the Department for International Development (DFID) has spent over £186 million on microfinance and financial sector projects.

16 July 2008 : Column 510W

DFID supports broader financial sector development programmes to improve access to finance for poor people, where microfinance is just one component. These programmes aim to encourage the entry of financial institutions into the microfinance sector and assist governments to improve the regulatory environment for financial institutions to serve the poor.

DFID continues to invest in new programmes to support microfinance and improve access to finance. This includes a £9.3 million, five year financial sector development programme in Nigeria and a £32.8 million, seven year programme in Bangladesh.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

14. Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to improve the provision of aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [218957]

Gillian Merron: The Department for International Development (DFID) recently launched the 2008 to 2010 Country Plan for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which sets out how we will ensure that UK assistance to DRC has the greatest possible impact in reducing poverty and ending conflict. We continually review the effectiveness of our aid, including through internal audit visits and a country programme evaluation planned for later this month. Building on the leading role DFID played in the development of a joint donor strategy for DRC, we continue to be actively involved in discussions with other donors to improve the quality of aid.

Disabled Children in Africa

15. Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to increase the proportion of disabled children in Africa completing schooling. [218958]

Gillian Merron: The UK Government are spending £8.5 billion over the period 2006-07 to 2015-16 in support of education in developing countries. This will help support partner countries’ plans, policies and programmes to ensure that children, including those with disabilities, benefit from quality education. We expect to spend £500 million annually in support of education in Africa by 2010.

The Department for International Development (DFID) policy in support of people who are disadvantaged is laid out in the paper “Reducing poverty by tackling social exclusion”. The paper was placed in the House Library and is available on line:

Afghanistan: Food

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment has been made of the effects of drought on the major food-producing areas in Afghanistan. [217514]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: In April 2008, the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) visited all 34 provinces to survey 2008 crop yield prospects.
16 July 2008 : Column 511W
The findings indicate that this year Afghanistan will produce only two-thirds of its food needs and will have to import 2 million metric tonnes of grain.

The worst affected regions are the West, North and North East which are reliant on rain-fed agriculture.

Afghanistan: Overseas Aid

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether the UK has put forward proposals for a new humanitarian action plan for Afghanistan addressing rising food prices and deterioration in the security situation. [217513]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: In August 2008, a Department for International Development (DFID) humanitarian mission will visit Afghanistan to evaluate the situation. The mission will include an assessment of the situation in relation to food insecurity, conflict-affected populations and internally displaced people, as well as an assessment of institutional capacities to coordinate and provide assistance. The team will contribute to the development of a UN Humanitarian Action Plan for Afghanistan.

On Wednesday 9 July, the Government of Afghanistan and the United Nations launched a joint humanitarian appeal to respond to the recent drought in Afghanistan and high world food prices. DFID contributed to the design of the agricultural recovery component of the appeal and will support a number of the elements in collaboration with other donors.

DFID support will include: (i) £3 million to the World Food Programme to provide food and cash support to those most affected by high food prices; and (ii) a £3.5 million contribution to a £30 million voucher programme to provide seeds and fertilizer to the most vulnerable farmers in drought affected areas to increase food production.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) whether the Government supports the deployment of additional UN staff to assist with the co-ordination of the humanitarian relief effort in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement; [217515]

(2) what recent discussions he has had with the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator on a new humanitarian action plan for Afghanistan. [217611]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The UK recognises the important role of the United Nations in coordinating donor assistance in Afghanistan. A Department for International Development (DFID) official met with John Holmes, UN Under Secretary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, on 29 June in Kabul to discuss the humanitarian situation.

DFID welcomes efforts to increase the capacity of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UMAMA) to better co-ordinate the UN and donors’ humanitarian efforts. Plans to increase the UNAMA humanitarian team from two to 15 full time staff will greatly assist in this endeavour.

In August 2008, a DFID humanitarian mission will visit Afghanistan to evaluate the situation. One of the team’s tasks will be to assess and make recommendations on the role and capacity of the UN in providing and co-ordinating humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan.

Next Section Index Home Page