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Higher Education: Finance

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent discussions he has had with the National Union of Students on higher education funding. [237945]

Mr. Lammy: We will start to consider the future of higher education funding next year after we have published our framework for the development of higher education over the next 10 to 15 years. We have asked the National Union of Students for its perspective on the issues raised by that framework and we look forward to considering its views in due course.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much of the funding reassigned from equivalent or lower qualification students to support additional student numbers has been made available to universities providing additional (a) part-time and (b) full-time places. [238881]

Mr. Lammy: All of the £24 million in institutional funding reassigned from equivalent and lower level qualification students in 2008-09 has been made available to support additional new entrants to higher education but no funding was ring-fenced specifically for either part-time or full-time students. The actual numbers of total full-time and part-time students recruited by institutions will become available later in the academic year.

Intellectual Property

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the contribution of intellectual property to the UK economy. [238358]

Mr. Lammy: Intellectual Property (IP) plays a central role in capturing the value of knowledge and creativity and is essential to the UK's future economic prosperity. For example, it has been estimated that the service
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sector accounts for over two-thirds of the UK's Gross Value Added (GVA) and trade marks play a key role in this sector in securing the value of brands. Patents underpin technological innovation, critical to the manufacturing sector which has been estimated to contribute £150 billion a year to our economy. Our pharmaceutical, sector which is a world leader and had an estimated GVA in 2007 of £7.5 billion, is particularly reliant on patents for inventions which may take many years to reach the market.

Copyright underpins much of the creative sector, for example the literary, musical and film industries. The creative economies were estimated to account for 7.3 per cent. of the UK's GVA in 2005 and have grown at approximately 6 per cent. per annum. The Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) are due to publish an update of these figures by the end of this year.

The White Paper ‘Innovation Nation’ published in March 2008 recognised the important role of IP in the UK's innovation framework and set out specific initiatives to improve awareness of IP and to facilitate IP transactions between businesses and also to improve the exploitation of IP arising from research.

The Government established the new Strategic Advisory Board on Intellectual Property Policy in June 2008 with a £500,000 research budget. It has also initiated a programme of research into economics and IP in the Intellectual Property Office. These initiatives will reinforce the economic evidence base underpinning IP policy making.

Intellectual Property: Crime

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the effect of intellectual property crime on the UK economy. [238361]

Mr. Lammy: There is not yet consensus among UK IP rights holders on how to best assess the extent and impact of IP crime within the UK. However, the ‘Rogers Review: National enforcement priorities for local authority regulatory services’, published by the Cabinet Office in March 2007, was established to collect and collate evidence in defining and prioritising regulatory service policy areas. That review estimated that theft of intellectual property cost £1.3 billion per year.

Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform

Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what role Ministers in his Department had in shortlisting companies bidding to provide electric and low carbon vehicles to public bodies under the Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform. [234718]

Mr. Lammy: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick) on 12 November 2008, Official Report, column 1168W.

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Racial Harassment

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many complaints of racial abuse relating to staff for which his Department is responsible have been (a) investigated and (b) upheld in the last 12 months. [236898]

Mr. Simon: No complaints of racial abuse were investigated in the Department in the last 12 months. Formal complaints of racial abuse would be investigated quickly and thoroughly and, where complaints were upheld, appropriate disciplinary action would be taken. All cases are treated seriously.

The Department believes that each and every individual has the right to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect. As such, we do not tolerate unacceptable behaviour towards others. The overall aim of our harassment and bullying policies is to prevent such unacceptable behaviour occurring but, where it does occur, to ensure that appropriate and effective action is taken to deal with it and prevent it happening again. This applies to everyone in the Department. Every individual is personally responsible for their own behaviour, and every manager is responsible for enforcing the policies in accordance with the guidance and procedures provided.

Training: Interpreters

David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what progress he has made towards the implementation of Lord Justice Auld's recommendation that the Government should consider central funding of further education establishments to equip them, where necessary, to provide courses for lesser known languages for the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting; and if he will make a statement. [224872]

Mr. Simon: The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is responsible for funding further education (FE) courses in England. Public funding is prioritised towards basic literacy and numeracy, full level 2 and full level 3 qualifications as well as a range of first steps provision offering opportunities for progression below level 2. In addition, the LSC funds English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses, often as a component of other prioritised courses. ESOL courses both promote community cohesion and equip a significant number of learners with the language skills needed for employment.

This is part of a planned and continuing strategy to provide adults with the skills they need for sustained employment and progression in learning.

In line with our response to the Leitch review of skills we are committed to increasing funding through demand-led routes to ensure that funding is responsive to learner and employer needs. While FE colleges receive funding for a full range of qualifications in line with Government priorities, it is for them to decide how this is targeted on particular courses such as those in “lesser” known languages in line with demand. In line with this the LSC does not provide central funding for specific courses.

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Admiralty House

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst of 10 September 2008, Official Report, column 1805W, on Admiralty House, what catering services have been provided to Lord Malloch Brown's residence on a re-charge basis since he took up occupation. [230474]

Gillian Merron: None.

Afghanistan: Drugs

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has taken account of the counter-narcotics tactics used in Thailand by the government of that country in developing his counter-narcotics policy in Afghanistan. [232230]

Gillian Merron: Our counter-narcotics policy on Afghanistan aims to achieve an Afghan drugs trade divided from the insurgency and prevented from undermining security, governance and the economy, to the point where the Government of Afghanistan can take responsibility for delivery of its own counter-narcotics effort. This approach reflects some of the experience of the Government of Thailand in their own campaign against illicit narcotics production. For example we know that short-term approaches such as eradication cannot offer a solution unless they are combined with a longer term commitment to Afghan institutions, alternative livelihoods for farmers, and improved law enforcement capabilities.

Afghanistan: Politics and Government

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Afghanistan. [234653]

Bill Rammell: Since 2001 there has been considerable political progress in Afghanistan. There is now an elected President and Parliament, and local governance structures continue to improve. With international support, Afghan led presidential, parliamentary, provincial and district council elections are due to take place in 2009 and 2010. Voter registration is on track and is now entering its second phase. These elections offer the Afghan people yet another chance to have a stake in their Government and a choice about their political future. The UK and our international partners continue to provide development assistance and work with the Afghan National Security Forces to ensure the political space exists for Afghanistan to continue to develop democratically.

Afghanistan: Prisoners

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to his Afghan counterpart on the 20 year jail sentence imposed on Afghan journalist Sayed Pervez Kambaksh. [232160]

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Bill Rammell: We share your concern about the case of journalism student Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh—whose death sentence we opposed. President Karzai has been aware of our concerns for some time and noted these at the joint press conference with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on 7 February 2008.

Regardless of the case in question, we oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and together with EU colleagues regularly make our views knows to the Afghan Government. For states that insist on maintaining the death penalty, the UK considers it very important that internationally recognised minimum standards are respected.

While it is positive that Kambakhsh no longer faces the death penalty, we are disappointed about the verdict reached on 21 October 2008. We have serious concerns about the fairness of this and the original trial.

The Afghan state must comply with the international human rights standards, to which it is a party—this includes the right to a fair trial. We also support the right to freedom of expression, which is protected by the Afghan Constitution—the Afghan judiciary and Government are obliged by law to respect these commitments. We are following the case closely and, in conjunction with our international partners, are raising it with the relevant Afghan authorities.

Airwave Service

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what organisations for which his Department is responsible (a) use and (b) are planning to use Airwave handsets. [234701]

Gillian Merron: Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) Services provide radio communications throughout the FCO and its overseas missions. FCO Services do not use Airwave handsets and have no plans to do so.

Algeria: Politics and Government

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on proposals to change the Algerian constitution to allow presidents to serve for a third term. [237856]

Bill Rammell: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I have received reports on the proposed changes to the Algerian constitution from our ambassador to Algeria. I understand that on 12 November a joint session of the Parliament approved changes to the constitution removing the limits to the number of presidential terms. The changes also addressed the protection of the symbols of the revolution, the promotion of women’s political rights and the replacement of the position of Head of Government by the creation of the formal role of Prime Minister.

Argentina: Foreign Relations

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Falkland Islands government on the Argentinian response to the new Falkland Islands constitution. [238372]

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Gillian Merron: On 6 November, our embassy in Buenos Aires received an official protest from the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the making of the Falkland Islands Constitution Order 2008. This was the latest in a series of protests that the Argentine government has made about the Falkland Islands constitutional review, either directly or indirectly, to which the British Government is responding, making clear that the principle of self-determination continues to underline our position on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands and that in contributing to and agreeing the new constitution, the Falkland Islanders have reaffirmed their wish to maintain their status as a British overseas territory. We have consulted the Falkland Islands government about our reply.

During the drafting of the new constitution we worked openly and constructively with the Falkland Islands government.

Ballistic Missile Defence

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the Answer to the right hon. Member for Richmond of 4 June 2007, Official Report, column 237W, on missile defence systems, what further discussions have taken place with the US on missile defence since the developments referred to in the Answer. [232284]

Caroline Flint: The issue of ballistic missile defence (BMD) is routinely discussed both bilaterally with the US, and in various North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forums. Since the Bucharest summit, NATO has been carrying out work looking at extending the coverage of the US BMD system to cover the whole of the NATO homeland region. It is anticipated that this work will culminate in a report being presented to the Strasbourg summit in April 2009, with a view to NATO Ministers making a political decision on the future of BMD in Europe.

Bangladesh: Overseas Residence

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to investigate reports of assaults against British nationals of Bangladeshi origin in Bangladesh. [235493]

Bill Rammell: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office cannot investigate assaults on British nationals in Bangladesh: such investigations are the responsibility of the Bangladeshi authorities. However, the UK takes any allegation of abuse seriously and we have consistently urged Bangladesh's Government, Army and law enforcement agencies to act impartially and proportionately, with respect for public safety, human rights, media freedoms and rule of law. We have called on Bangladesh's Caretaker Government (CTG) to investigate incidents thoroughly and take appropriate actions. We have co-ordinated these messages with the EU, and delivered them at highest levels.

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many investigations his Department has conducted into assaults against British nationals of Bangladeshi origin in Bangladesh in each of the last five years. [235494]

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Bill Rammell: I refer the hon. Member to my previous answer (235493).

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of assaults against British nationals of Bangladeshi origin in Bangladesh in each of the last five years. [235495]

Bill Rammell: The number of assaults on British nationals in the last five years reported to the British High Commission in Bangladesh are as follows:












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