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Table 2: Proportions, by age, of learners in further education undertaking at least one A or AS level by age, 2003/04 to 2007/08
Age 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08

Under 19
























Over 21












1. Age is based on age as at 31 August (academic age).
2. This information does not include learners studying A/AS Levels in Schools or Higher Education Institutions.
3. Figures may not sum to total due to rounding.
4. If a learner is studying A/AS levels over more than one year, they will be counted in each year for which they are studying.
5. It is not been possible to split out A level learners from those undertaking AS levels.

Members: Correspondence

Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills when he plans to reply to the letter of 3 December 2008 from the hon. Member for Walsall, North on the Learning and Skills Council. [248917]

Mr. Simon: A response to the hon. Member for Walsall, North's letter was sent on 26 January 2009.

Students: Finance

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what progress has been made on the first annual review of the list of subjects exempt from the restrictions on funding for students taking an equivalent or lower qualification. [251127]

Mr. Lammy: The Secretary of State established when he finalised this policy in January 2008 that the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) should conduct an annual review on its impact. I wrote to HEFCE earlier this month setting out the terms of reference for the review. I told HEFCE that they should consider whether there is evidence that any changes to the current approach will help universities respond more effectively to the challenges of the economic downturn. I also instructed that a review should not lead to a significant net increase in the overall number of ELQ students studying exempt or protected subjects because we will continue to give priority for public funding to those who have not yet obtained a first higher education qualification. HEFCE has started work on the review and plan to report later in the year.

Vocational Training: Finance

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many (a) adults and (b) adults over 25 years received Skills for Life funding in (i) 2003-04, (ii) 2004-05 and (iii) 2005-06. [249116]

Mr. Simon: Table 1 shows LSC-funded Skills for Life participation—the number of learners aged 25 or over as at 31 August (academic year age) and all adults (aged
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16+), in the 2004/05 and 2005/06 academic years. Information on Skills for Life participation is not available prior to 2004/05.

Table 1: LSC-funded Skills for Life Participation, 2004/05 and 2005/06

2004/05 2005/06

Adults aged 25 and over



Total Adults (all ages, 16+)



1. These figures include learners at further education colleges (including learndirect), Work Based Learning (including apprenticeships, Train to Gain and entry to Employment) and Adult Safeguarded learning.
2. Figures are a count of the number of learners that participated at any point during the year. Learners undertaking more than one course are counted only once for each data collection. However, learners that are included in different data collections, whether that relates to different years or different funding streams will be counted more than once. For example, if a learner is undertaking an apprenticeship and Train to Gain qualification, they will be counted twice in this table.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Reconstruction

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to involve Afghan nationals not resident in Afghanistan in his Department's efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. [244581]

Bill Rammell: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is in regular contact with the Afghan community and non-governmental organisations in the UK. We have invited Afghans living in the UK to participate in round-table briefing sessions with officials to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, and will do so again in future. We are holding a conference early next year involving the Afghan community, non-governmental organisations and other interested parties The conference will feature prominent Afghans based in the UK speaking about the situation in Afghanistan, and will seek to promote debate about how best we can work together to support stabilisation efforts in Afghanistan.

Armed Conflict: Reconstruction

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy is on achieving improvements to post-conflict stabilisation policy at the UN and EU; and what contribution the UK is making to these efforts in the areas of (a) strategy and leadership, (b) capacity and (c) funding, as referred to in his Department’s Autumn 2008 Performance Report. [246256]

David Miliband: Following the UK-chaired May Security Council debate, the UN Secretary-General was mandated to produce a report on Peacebuilding and Early Recovery by May 2009. A UK-hosted conference in July and a follow-up conference in Copenhagen have helped to build international consensus on the need to address three key gaps—in strategy and leadership, capacity and funding. We are working to ensure that the UN Secretary-General’s report is ambitious and provides the basis for real improvements in delivery on the ground. Ministers and senior officials have met with key UN officials and other member states to urge an ambitious reform agenda. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s
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Special Envoy on Conflict Resolution Mechanisms visited New York and Brussels to emphasise the importance that the UK places on this work. In the context of the EU, we ensured that a focus on post-conflict stabilisation reform was included in the review of the European Security Strategy in December, and the UK will continue to push forward work to improve capabilities for EU missions during the Czech EU presidency.


Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to which (a) charities and (b) voluntary organisations his Department has provided funding in the last five years; and how much funding was provided to each. [247379]

Gillian Merron: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Climate Change

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of its capacity to adapt to climate change; and what plans he has to publish a climate change adaptation strategy. [241189]

Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) works to ensure that its estate is as sustainable as possible and that we properly manage all environmental risks to our operations.

The FCO works with other Government Departments notably the Department of Energy and Climate Change to deliver Government objectives on climate change and is committed to delivering a low carbon, high growth global economy.

The FCO consular strategy takes into account that climate change may produce more extreme weather events requiring a crisis response (for example, an increase in the number and intensity of tropical storms). We work closely with the travel industry to minimise any risks to British nationals overseas in such circumstances.

The FCO has no plans to publish a climate change adaptation strategy, but details of all of the above work can be found in the FCO annual report.

Commonwealth Scholarships

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer to the right hon. Lord Morris of Manchester of 14 October 2008, Official Report, House of Lords column WA45, on the Commonwealth Scholarships Programme, whether the working group on scholarships has been formed; what its (a) composition and (b) mandate is; and when it is expected to report. [240672]

David Miliband: The interdepartmental working group on scholarships has been established. Its membership includes the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, the Department for International Development, UK Trade and Investment, the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly Government (to be confirmed), the Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland, Universities UK, Research Councils UK, the Higher Education
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Funding Council for England, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council, The Russell Group, the British Council, the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and the Confederation of British Industry (to be confirmed).

The group is a vehicle for the exchange of information and ideas between government, the higher education sector and organisations which deliver scholarships in order to improve the UK scholarship offer to international students. Its terms of reference are for approval at its first meeting on 19 February 2009, but I have placed the draft terms in the Library of the House.

The group does not have a deadline to produce a report. It will continue to work for as long as is useful.

Departmental Freedom of Information

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 have been made to his Department since 2005; how many such requests were (a) agreed to and (b) refused in each of those years; how many refusals were subject to appeal to the Information Commissioner in each of those years; how many appeals were successful; if he will place in the Library copies of the material subsequently provided in each case; how much was spent by his Department opposing each appeal; which (i) consultants and (ii) law firms were employed by his Department in connection with each appeal; and if he will make a statement. [245080]

Gillian Merron: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Minister of State for Justice my right hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon (Mr. Wills) on 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 507W.

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to page 7 of his Department's Autumn 2008 Performance Report, which 130 UK-based policy slots are in the process of being deleted; and what the 130 new positions created are. [246268]

David Miliband: In March 2008, FCO Ministers agreed to realign the Department's global network in order to deliver its new strategic framework. This has resulted in a shift of staff to strengthen our presence in countries critical to the achievement of our objectives and to reinforce our policy work in London, and a reduction in staffing in Europe.

By March 2009, we intend to have created around 170 new policy positions filled by UK-based staff, and we are in the process of deleting around 130 old positions. We will keep the staffing of our global network and UK operation under regular review to ensure that we remain best placed to handle our international priorities.

On current plans, these changes will include the following:

New policy positions

DSO 5 Counter Terrorism and Weapons Proliferation

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DSO 6 Prevent and Resolve Conflict

DSO 7 Promote a Low Carbon, High Growth Global Economy

DSO 8 (Develop Effective International Institutions)

Deleted positions


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