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Higher Education: Further Education

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the adequacy of higher education representation at regional level of further education colleges who are providing higher education. [236564]

Mr. Lammy: Further education colleges which also provide higher education can offer a distinctive form of excellence for some students who may not otherwise participate in higher education. We are satisfied that there is good co-operation and collaboration at national, regional and local level between providers of further and higher education in order to help learners realise their full potential. However, it is for the institutions within particular regions to decide for themselves on how they should be represented at regional level.

Higher Education: North West

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent meetings his officials have had with organisations from the north west to discuss widening access to higher education in the region. [235947]

Mr. Lammy: Ministers and officials speak to many institutions and organisations about issues that affect individuals' progression to higher education. Widening access to higher education is a Government priority. Our policy initiatives are taken forward by our stakeholders who work closely with organisations at local level.


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There are five Aimhigher Area Partnerships in the north west which engage with a wide range of schools, colleges and higher education institutions in the region. The Aimhigher programme's primary purpose is to widen participation in higher education.

Furthermore, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the North West Universities Association (NWUA) are both members of the Regional Skills and Employment Board. The Board membership also includes the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), the North West Development Agency (NWDA), the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils and Government Office North West etc. The Board last met at the start of October to discuss key regional priorities/challenges. The need to upskill very significant numbers of those already in work to Level 4+ was one of the issues discussed.

The LSC also sits on the Steering Group for the NWUA-led Higher Level Skills Pathfinder which meets monthly. The Pathfinder (funded by HEFCE/NWDA) seeks to increase the capacity of HEIs to deliver higher-level skills in the workplace.

HEFCE has recently received a report from Action on Access (the national co-ordination team for widening participation in higher education) providing an analysis by region of applications and entry to HE from all areas across the country using the Index of Multiple Deprivation as a measure. That report shows that between 2002-03 and 2006-07 the total number of entrants to higher education has increased by 8.9 per cent. in the north west. This growth largely comes from the 20 per cent. most deprived groups with participation from the most deprived neighbourhoods increased by 28.3 per cent.

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) what discussions he has had with the Learning and Skills Council on its working relationship with the Higher Education Funding Council for England in the North West; [236358]

(2) what recent discussions he has had with the Learning and Skills Council on its regional higher education strategies, with particular reference to the North West region. [236359]

Mr. Simon: Ministers from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) hold regular meetings with the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to discuss a wide range of issues. Although there have been no recent discussions with Ministers relating to higher education in the north-west, Mark Haysom, the chief executive of the LSC, holds regular meetings with his regional directors to review progress on regional skills priorities, including on the regional contribution of the LSC to higher education skills. There are also regular formal meetings between the LSC and HEFCE chief executives and chairmen.

The forthcoming Grant Letter to the LSC will underline the continuing importance of close engagement between the LSC and HEFCE to ensure that more people can progress into higher education and to provide the higher level skills that employers need to remain competitive.

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what arrangements the Higher Education Funding Council for England
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has for working with further education colleges that operate in conjunction with higher education providers in the North West region. [236374]

Mr. Lammy: The Council works effectively with all institutions which help learners to acquire higher level skills. Progression from further to higher education is important in enabling learners to realise their full potential. HEFCE officers meet with senior staff from both further education colleges which provide higher education and higher education institutions in the North West in the normal course of HEFCE business. The Council’s policies and practices are designed to facilitate close collaboration between different providers in the interests of learners and those seeking higher skills.

Students: Bexley

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many people in Bexleyheath and Crayford constituency received (a) adult learning grants and (b) career development loans in the last period for which figures are available; and what the total monetary value was of such grants and loans. [236459]

Mr. Simon: The Learning and Skills Council administer the adult learning grant and career development loans (through three high street banks), on behalf of the Department.

So far in the 2008-09 academic year, six individuals have received support from an adult learning grant in the Bexleyheath and Crayford constituency. The total value of adult learning grant paid to those individuals so far is around £1,140.

For the period 6 April 2008 to 12 November 2008, a total of 11 career development loans have been issued to individuals residing in Bexleyheath and Crayford. The total value of these loans is £74,174.

Union Learning Fund: Crosby

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many workplaces in Crosby constituency are in receipt of funding from the Union Learning Fund; and how much the fund has spent in Crosby constituency since its establishment. [236719]

Mr. Simon: Trade unions have a key role to play in promoting the development of learning and skills in the workplace. To help them do this more effectively we introduced the Union Learning Fund in 1998. This source of funding is helping 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.

With the help of the Union Learning Fund, trade unions and their union learning representatives have been able to develop successful partnerships with employers to raise skill levels in the workplace. There are now over 20,500 trained union learning reps who have helped more than 600,000 workers back into learning since the fund was introduced. Over 200,000 were helped last year, many from those hard to reach groups, who employers and training providers find it so difficult to engage with, including over 34,000 workers with poor basic literacy and numeracy skills.


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Union Learning Fund resources are allocated directly to trade unions at a national or regional level. Detailed information on the number of workplaces involved and the associated level of funding at a constituency level is not held by the Department.

Vocational Training

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent discussions his Department has had with the Higher Education Funding Council for England on the effectiveness of prioritisation of skills funding at higher levels through its Strategic Development Fund. [235920]

Mr. Lammy: The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) set out its specific priorities for advancing its strategic aims and objectives through its Strategic Development Fund (SDF) at:

with its criteria for SDF bids published at:

The SDF currently offers funding for four specific priority programmes, one of which is ‘employer engagement’. This supports a broad programme of high level skills activities in response to Government's priorities set out in the 2008 grant letter, and in order to create the platform for achieving the higher skills ambition set out in the Leitch report.

My officials are in regular contact with HEFCE regarding employer engagement activities funded through the SDF and receive periodic updates on progress and new developments.

Treasury

11 Downing Street: Utilities

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was spent on (a) heating, (b) electricity and (c) water bills for (i) No. 11 Downing street and (ii) Dorneywood in each of the last five years. [221190]

Angela Eagle: The information requested in respect of No. 11 Downing street is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Dorneywood is owned and operated by the Dorneywood Trust, a registered charity, at no cost to public funds.

Bank Services

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will take steps to restore assets belonging to UK depositors of Kaupthing, Singer and Friedlander (Isle of Man) following the freezing of Icelandic assets; [233556]

(2) what estimate he has made of the losses in excess of £50,000 incurred by UK depositors in Kaupthing, Singer and Friedlander (Isle of Man) following the freezing of Icelandic assets; and if he will make a statement. [233557]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 6 November 2008]: On 8 October, the Treasury made Landsbanki Freezing Order 2008 in order to freeze funds and financial assets relating to Landsbanki. Landsbanki is the only Icelandic bank which has been made the subject of a freezing order.


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Bank Services: Pensions

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effects on pension funds of major banks ceasing to pay dividends. [228544]

Ian Pearson: Pension fund exposure to these assets, while not insignificant, is unlikely to be large relative to their total holdings. None the less, these are volatile times for financial markets and the Government are committed to doing whatever it takes to stabilise the banking system, protect savers and taxpayers and support the wider economy.

Banks: Government Shareholding

Mr. Bone: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether the ordinary shares in (a) HBOS plc, (b) RBS plc and (c) Lloyds TSB plc purchased by the Commissioners of HM Treasury are ordinary voting shares; whether ordinary dividends may be paid before all shares held by the Government are redeemed or sold in each case; how many directors the Government will be able to appoint to the Board of Directors in each case; and what restrictions will be put on the emoluments of the directors of each of these banks; [229573]

(2) whether the preference shares purchased by the Commissioners of HM Treasury in (a) HBOS plc, (b) RBS Group plc and Lloyds TSB plc are (i) redeemable, (ii) fixed rate, (iii) non-cumulative and (iv) non-voting shares; what the (A) nominal value and (B) rate of dividend is of each type of preference shares; and what the (1) earliest date the company can redeem the shares and (2) latest date the shares have to be redeemed is for each type of share. [229574]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 23 October 2008]: The Government have agreed to underwrite issues of ordinary shares in RBS, Lloyds TSB and HBOS totalling £28 billion. The Government will buy any shares which are not purchased by existing or new shareholders. These shares are voting shares.

The Government are also purchasing preference shares in the firms. The preference shares, which HM Treasury has agreed to invest in RBS, Lloyds TSB and HBOS are redeemable, fixed rate, non-cumulative and non-voting shares. As soon as the preference shares have been repaid, payment of ordinary dividends would be permitted.

The Government's investment is subject to certain conditions, details of which are available in the agreements with the banks. Copies are in the Library.

Mr. Bone: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date each of the different share categories under the £37 billion purchase by the Commissioners of HM Treasury in (a) HBOS plc, (b) RBS Group plc and (c) Lloyds TSB plc will be subscribed. [229576]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 23 October 2008]: The indicative timetable included in the circular issued to shareholders by Lloyds TSB shows that they expect the ordinary shares in the merged entity to be issued on
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19 January 2009, subject to shareholder approvals. The RBS circular similarly indicates that they expect the ordinary shares to be issued on 1 December 2008. We expect the new preference shares to be purchased on the same day as the ordinary shares are issued.

Banks: Italy

Grant Shapps: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what guidance his Department has provided to public authorities on the safety of placing deposits in Italian banks. [236086]

Ian Pearson: As a matter of course, HM Treasury does not comment on individual financial institutions.

Banks: Republic of Ireland

Grant Shapps: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment has been made of the (a) safety, (b) risk profile and (c) security of deposits made by local authorities in Irish-owned banks operating in the Republic of Ireland. [236131]

Ian Pearson: As a matter of course, HM Treasury does not comment on individual financial institutions.

Betting: Regulation

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 11 November 2008, Official Report, column 1083W, on betting: regulation, what plans there are to transfer the regulation of spread betting from the Financial Services Authority to the Gambling Commission. [236976]

Angela Eagle: The Government currently have no such plans.

Departmental ICT

Grant Shapps: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) of 27 October 2008, Official Report, columns 778-80W, on departmental ICT, for what reasons (a) HM Revenue and Customs and (b) the Valuation Office Agency were not listed in the answer. [236025]

Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is a non-ministerial Department, and the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is an agency of HMRC. Neither HMRC nor VOA are agencies of HM Treasury.

Departmental Visits Abroad

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department spent in 2007 on visits by its staff to Brussels; and how many such visits were made by (a) air and (b) rail. [234387]

Angela Eagle: In 2007-08, the Treasury spent £232,000 on official visits to Brussels representing 1,270 visits, of which 19 were by air and 1,251 by rail.


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Financial Services Authority: ICT

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many complaints have been received concerning the Gathering Better Regulatory Information Electronically electronic reporting system, in the last 12 months broken down by subject of complaint; [236840]

(2) what the (a) original budget and (b) final costs for the design and implementation of the Gathering Better Regulatory Information Electronically system; [236841]

(3) which IT systems the Gathering Better Regulatory Information Electronically system has replaced; [236842]

(4) how much his Department has spent on the design and implementation of the Gathering Better Regulatory Information Electronically IT project. [236843]

Ian Pearson: The matters are the responsibility of the Financial Services Authority, whose day to day operations are independent from Government control and influence.


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