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Mr. Moss: To ask the Leader of the House how many hon. Members have been required to make repayments of their communications allowance following investigations by the Standards and Privileges Committee since the allowance was introduced; and how much was repaid in each case. 
Chris Bryant: The communications allowance was introduced at the beginning of the 2007-08 financial year. Since that time, five Members have repaid a total of £16,811.51 following inquiries by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards which were reported to the Committee. The figures are as follows:
The first is whether to remain in the scheme or, to opt out. This option is available upon election to the House and at any time prior to ceasing to serve as a Member of Parliament. The second is to decide whether to pay contributions at 10 per cent. of pay and build up pension at the rate of 1/40th of final salary, or to opt to pay the lower 6 per cent. contribution rate and build up pension at the rate of 1/50th of final salary. There is currently no opportunity for Members to change the contribution rate they pay.
Mr. Lammy: Our Science and Society consultation received over 3,000 responses. We received strong support from key players such as the Royal Society and the engineering community. We will establish major themes by Christmas, and aim to launch a UK strategy in the spring.
10. Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps his Department is taking to ensure the provision of apprenticeships for small and medium-sized enterprises in the current economic situation. 
Mr. Simon: We share employers concerns that cutting back on training threatens their future competitiveness. We are taking forward World-class Apprenticeships proposals to support and encourage small and medium-sized businesses to take on apprentices. We recently launched sector growth pilots to trial a range of support, including wage and training subsidies and overtraining trials to expand existing programmes. I encourage small businesses to bid for this funding. We are also encouraging the development of Group Training Associations to help support small businesses to provide Apprenticeship places. And the Department is leading the way on ensuring that public procurement plays its part in driving up apprenticeship opportunities.
15. Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what estimate he has made of the number of apprentices employed in the public sector in (a) the Isle of Wight and (b) England. 
Mr. Simon: We estimate 8 per cent. of all apprentices in England are employed in the public sector. The Learning and Skills Council estimate there are 15 public sector apprentices in the Isle of Wight. It is essential that the public sector plays its full role in offering apprenticeships to younger and older people. This is why, last month, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families launched a campaign to encourage the public sector to take on more apprentices. We are setting up a network of ministerial champions for apprentices, which is going to meet next month. The new National Apprenticeship Service will drive forward work in this area.
11. Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent representations he has received on numbers of applications by state school pupils for university places. 
Mr. Lammy: The number and proportion of entrants from state schools has risen steadily. In 2006-07, the most recent figures available, 87.2 per cent. of university entrants came from state schools, up 6.2 percentage points from 1997-98. I am determined we should build on this progress.
12. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many new students in (a) Staffordshire, (b) the west midlands and (c) England will have a reduced entitlement to maintenance grants in 2009-10; and if he will make a statement. 
In July 2007, we predicted that one-third of students would get the maximum grant. I expect this commitment will be exceededunder the new package 40 per cent. of students will be eligible for a full grant.
13. Ann Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps his Department takes to support universities in the work they undertake to encourage young people to apply to them. 
Mr. Lammy: The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) provides a widening participation allocation to universities, which totalled £95.4 million in 2008-09, helping to support their recruitment work with disadvantaged young people. We are also committed to supporting universities outreach activities, in particular through Aimhigher and the launch of the Aimhigher Associates scheme.
Mr. Lammy: My right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), the then Secretary of State for Education and Skills, told the House on 8 January 2004 that there would be an independent review of tuition fees, reporting to the House, once we had evidence on the first three years of the variable fee regime. The first three years of operation will not be concluded until autumn next year.
17. Mr. Sharma: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the contribution made by further education colleges to the communities in which they are based. 
Mr. Simon: FE colleges make many valuable contributions to their communities in driving economic development and regeneration through their presence, participation and leadership. Colleges are responding proactively and innovatively to support individuals and businesses in their local community through the current economic downturn. Our increased funding for colleges and our investment in developing world-class facilities means they are fully equipped to make this contribution. We are committed to continuing to increase funding to support adult skills and giving colleges greater flexibility to use these funds in meeting the needs of their communities.
Mr. Lammy: The Science and Technology Facilities Council, which is responsible for astronomy and space research, will commit £189 million to astronomy and space science research and facilities this financial year.
Mr. Lammy: Well over 50 per cent. of young people from all social classes aspire to go to university, and this figure has increased in every social class over the past eight years. The rate of increase in aspiration and ambition has been fastest in the lower socio-economic groups. Our 50 per cent. target therefore matches the aspirations of young people themselves.
20. Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent steps the Government has taken to increase the numbers of students participating in further and higher education. 
Mr. Simon: Government spending on higher education has increased by 24 per cent. in real terms from 1997-98 to 2008-09 to more than £8 billion a year. A record 1,156,000 places are funded in 2008-09. So far, acceptances for 2008 entry show a rise of almost 7 per cent. on 2007.
Total planned investment in further education and skills will increase to £5.0 billion in 2009-10. This will support over 3 million adult learners. To date, we have
exceeded our Skills for Life target for 2010, and increased the number of adults in the work force qualified to Level 2 to 2.1 million compared with 2001.
Mr. Lammy: Good progress is being made to fully establish the Energy Technologies Institute. Some £60 million of ETI funded projects are currently being prepared under its first technical programmes in Offshore Wind and Wave and Tidal Stream Energy. The ETI announced a further call in Distributed Energy and is holding workshops to help to develop further programmes, which will be formally announced in due course. ETI will hold a stakeholder workshop in December to develop, with others, a large-scale trial of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles focused on understanding the requirements of the charging infrastructure.
23. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps he is taking to increase employees' skills levels in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. 
Mr. Lammy: We recognise that Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills are critical to the success of the UK economy. Around 70 per cent. of the 2020 working age population have already left compulsory education so it is vital that we focus on working in partnership with business to up skill all employees. This is why we continue to invest heavily in programmes such as Apprenticeships and Train to Gain as well as working with schools and universities to encourage greater take-up of STEM. This is why the majority of HEFCEs £350 million investment in strategically important and vulnerable subjects is dedicated to STEM.
Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps he has taken to ensure that apprentices do not lose their apprenticeships in the current economic climate. 
Mr. Simon: We have rescued apprenticeships, rebuilt apprenticeships over the last 10 years and apprenticeships are now a mainstream option for all young people. We recognise that the current economic situation will impact on the numbers of apprentices starting, including in the construction sector. We are helping to drive up apprenticeship opportunities by requiring our further education building programme contractors to train their workforce; and have asked other Departments with large construction procurement projects to do likewise. We have put in place a matching service to help construction sector apprentices facing redundancy now to find an employer to finish their training.
Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells of 29 April 2008, Official Report, column 292W, on ConstructionSkills: Stratagem, if he will place in the Library a copy of the reply from the Chief Executive. 
Mr. Simon: Due to an oversight within this Department, the letter from David Lammy to the chief executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills was not sent to him. I will ensure that the letter is sent without further delay, and on receiving his response a copy will be placed in the Library of the House.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much quality-related research funding was received by each UK higher education institution for the period 2003-04 to 2008-09. 
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