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As part of our debate on the future of higher education, we have received contributions from a range of individuals and organisations in the sector. These contributions stress the importance of internationalisation, and of ensuring that we maintain our leading position in higher education internationally.
We want to ensure that our higher education system remains world class, and we are clear that international competition will increase. To do this we need to have a long-term approach. We will publish a framework during 2009 which will set out our vision for higher education over the next 10 to 15 years. However, it will not be a rigid plan: it will be capable of being adjusted over time as the world changes, but will set a compelling vision of long-term success.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much capital expenditure was incurred for each separate project of works at the Institute for Animal Health Pirbright Laboratory in (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09 to date. 
|IAH Pirbright c apital w orks|
|Project||2007-08||April to October 2008|
Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the adult Learning and Skills Council budget for (a) the North West, (b) Greater Manchester, (c) the West Midlands and Birmingham and (d) London was in the latest year for which figures are available. 
The Adult Skills budget allocations process for 2009-10 is currently underway. This involves discussions with FE Colleges and providers, partners and other organisations which will inform final decisions. This ensures that the needs of the local communities are met and that the activity delivered supports the Council's key priorities
and targets. Mark Haysom, the Council's Chief Executive, will write to the hon. Member with further information including the most up to date figures. A copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many former prisoners are employed by his Department; and what his Department's policy is on employing former prisoners. 
Mr. Simon: The Department undertakes employment history, Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Disclosure Scotland checks as appropriate. If these checks identify any issues around people with criminal records then suitability for employment is considered with the Department's interest paramount. In addition, all individuals recruited to a regulated post, or to a post where they have access to personal or sensitive data about children or vulnerable adults are subject to an enhanced CRB check.
Although the information is used as part of the recruitment process, we do not then transfer any details on criminal records to the central personnel record and as such the information requested could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many staff in his Department left under (a) involuntary and (b) voluntary staff exit schemes in each year since 2005-06; how many of them in each case were paid (i) up to £25,000, (ii) £25,001 to £50,000, (iii) £50,001 to £75,000, (iv) £75,001 to £100,000 and (v) over £100,000 in the year before they left; and how much (A) was spent in each of those years and (B) is planned to be spent on such schemes in (1) 2008-09 and (2) 2009-10 by (y) his Department and its predecessor and (z) each of his Department's agencies. 
Mr. Simon: The Department was created in 28 June 2007. Since its inception, there were seven early releases in 2007-08, at a total cost of £512,000 and two in 2008-09 at a total cost of £90,000. There are currently no early releases planned for 2009-10. Information related to costs is not available in the form requested and could be obtain only at disproportionate cost.
The Department has two agencies. The National Weights and Measures Laboratory has not had any early releases during the period requested and none are planned during 2009-10. However, UK-IPO has had early releases. Since 2005-06, 58 people have left under voluntary exit schemes, including four to 31 October 2008 in 2008-09. The breakdown of the value of payments was (i) 24, (ii) 17, (iii) 6, (iv) 2 (v) 9.
On an accruals basis there were 53 departures for 2005-06 costing £2,571,000, none in 2006-07 and one in 2007-08 at £55,000. Approximately 89 are expected in 2008-09 at an estimated cost of £6,865,000. There are currently no early releases planned for 2009-10. Information related to costs is not available in the form requested and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much the average maintenance grant payment to eligible undergraduate students was in (a) 2005-06, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2007-08. 
|Average Higher Education Grant and Maintenance Grant (£)( 1)|
|(1) Figures rounded to nearest £10.|
(2) Average amount for those awarded a Higher Education Grant.
(3) Average amount for those awarded a Maintenance Grant.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what procedures are in place for informing (a) students and (b) recent graduates about the change to student loan interest rates implemented on 5 December 2008. 
Mr. Lammy: The Student Loans Company (SLC) published details on the change to student loan interest rates implemented on 5 December 2008 on their website and in national newspapers. Borrowers receive details of new interest rates in their statement each year from the SLC. Information on the interest rate change was also published on the Directgov website.
Following the latest reduction in the Bank of England base rate by the Monetary Policy Committee on 8 January 2009, all the specified banks(1) have now reduced their base rates to 1.5 per cent. The SLC has therefore now reduced the interest rate for income contingent loans from 3 per cent. to 2.5 per cent. with effect from 9 January 2009 until further notice. The SLC has accordingly published this information on their website and in national newspapers.
(1)Bank of England; Bank of Scotland; Barclays Bank PLC; Clydesdale Bank PLC; Co-operative Bank PLC; Coutts & Co; HSBC Bank PLC; Lloyds TSB Bank PLC; Natwest Bank PLC; the Royal Bank of Scotland PLC.
Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had with pubcos on their policy in providing discounts on beer sold to (a) traditional pubs and (b) supermarkets. 
[holding answer 14 January 2009]: I have not met with Pubcos to discuss their pricing policies. This is a commercial matter for the businesses concerned.
Ensuring that markets operate freely and fairly is a matter for the independent competition authorities, rather than for Government. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has the powers to investigate and take action if companies are abusing a dominant position in a market or behaving anti-competitively, including referral to the Competition Commission.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the (a) volume and (b) monetary value was of imports to the UK of fire-resistant electric cable from (i) the EU, (ii) non EU countries and (iii) China and India in each of the last five years. 
|£ million||Metric tonnes|
Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) 773.1Insulated electrical wire, cable and other conductors, with or without connectors
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