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18 Mar 2009 : Column 1193W—continued

Members: Correspondence

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to reply to the letter dated 1 February 2009 from the right hon. Member for Banff and Buchan on his constituent Mr. Murray of Banff. [263994]

Ian Pearson: Due to the large volume of correspondence received on these issues, there has been a delay in sending some responses. The Financial Services Secretary hopes to be in a position to reply to the right hon. Member shortly.

Performing Arts

John Mason: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his Department has engaged any (a) actors, (b) musicians and (c) other performers to support its initiatives over the last five years. [264055]

Mr. Timms: Actors have occasionally been commissioned to contribute to training programmes organised by the Treasury. Information is not held centrally on other commissions to actors, or on commissions to musicians or other performers.

Revenue and Customs: Chorley

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider the merits of allocating outstanding work on tax credits to the HM Revenue and Customs office in Chorley. [264076]

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Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs has no plans to move tax credits work to its office in Chorley.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to which office work currently undertaken at HM Revenue and Customs office in Chorley will be undertaken when the Chorley office closes. [264077]

Mr. Timms: Enquiry Centre services will continue to be provided in Chorley, either in the existing building or one nearby.

All the other work remaining in Chorley will eventually be transferred to other strategic locations where HMRC will be consolidating customer-operations and compliance work. Exactly how and where the work will be moved is still being planned.

Staff in Chorley who cannot relocate to another office will continue to do suitable work, though it may not be the work they are doing now, until redeployment options have been found for them.

Revenue and Customs: North West

Mr. Pope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost of closing (a) Chorley, (b) Burnley and (c) Accrington HM Revenue and Customs office. [262906]

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment his Department has made of the effects on its expenditure of the closure of Lancaster Tax Office in the first 12 months following closure, broken down by budget heading. [263045]

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate HM Revenue and Customs has made of the cost to the public purse of closing its office in (a) Chorley, (b) Blackburn and (c) St. Helens. [264078]

Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) office closures are part of a wider programme of departmental restructuring in the interests of greater efficiency.

There will be short-term costs, including staff redeployment costs, associated with the closure of offices, but reliable figures will only be established once solutions have been found for all staff and the accommodation has been vacated.

Business restructuring will lead to substantial, long-term savings through business efficiencies as well as from a reduction in the size of HMRC’s estate.

Sustainable Development: Hertfordshire

Mike Penning: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of funding for economic recovery stimulus packages being allocated in (a) Hemel Hempstead and (b) Hertfordshire is for environmentally-friendly technologies and companies. [263696]

Mr. Timms: The Government announced at PBR a £535 million green stimulus to support low carbon growth and jobs and support programmes such as Warm Front and Decent Homes that include the installation of thermal insulation and efficient heating technologies, to save energy and cut CO2 emissions. This funding is being allocated at national—rather than local—level.

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The green stimulus included £100 million of new funding for Warm Front, in addition to £50 million funding brought forward. For the current year, 2008-09, £50 million of the new stimulus funding was added to Warm Front funding, making a total for the year of £395 million. Between 1 April 2008 and 25 January 2009, over £346 million of this money had been spent, with 11 per cent. of households assisted located in the East of England region, which includes Hertfordshire.

Innovation, Universities and Skills


Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the merits of increasing the proportion of the training costs of adult apprentices paid by employers. [263480]

Mr. Simon: It is a key principle of Government funding of adult learning that there is a shared responsibility on the part of learners, employers and the Government to contribute towards the cost of learning. The Skills Strategy White Paper “21(st) Century Skills: Realising our Potential” (published in July 2003) set out our intention that employers and learners should contribute towards the cost of their course, in light of the returns they derive from learning. “Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances” (March 2006) confirmed our intention to increase learner and/or employer fee contributions to 50 per cent. by 2010/11 for those not eligible for free provision. Lord Leitch’s Review of Skills (December 2006) reaffirmed the importance for a shared responsibility to invest in skills with employers and learners asked to contribute most where they see the greatest private returns. We are therefore increasing private fee contributions for both employers and learners from 42.5 per cent. in 2008/09, to 47.5 per cent. for 2009/10 and 50 per cent. for 2010/11.

Apprenticeship funding rates for adults therefore are lower than rates for young people aged 16-18, with employers expected to contribute to the total cost of an adult apprenticeship framework.

Employer contributions to the cost of adult apprenticeships may be in cash to the training provider or in kind through supporting the delivery of the training activity.

Departmental Absenteeism

Mr. Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many staff of his Department were recorded absent for non-medical reasons on (a) 2 February 2009 and (b) 3 February 2009; what estimate he has made of the (i) cost to his Department and (ii) number of working hours lost as a result of such absence; and what guidance his Department issued to staff in respect of absence on those days. [260577]

Mr. Simon: The Department issued guidance to staff on the days in question, advising them to make reasonable efforts to come into work and, if this was not possible, to work from home where possible. All DIUS staff are issued with laptops and our telephony enables remote
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working. Staff were also told to take account of local advice in the light of weather conditions and travel arrangements.

Absences were handled locally by managers and information was not collected centrally on those unable to work. Therefore, the information on staff numbers, costs and working hours lost could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Data Protection

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what auditing his Department undertakes to ensure that IT security policies are being followed; and on how many occasions (a) IT security policies have been breached by employees and (b) a member of staff has been sanctioned for a breach of such policies in the last 12 months. [259813]

Mr. Simon: Information is a key asset to Government and its correct handling is vital to the delivery of public services and to the integrity of HMG. The Security Policy Framework, the Data Handling Report and the National Information Assurance Strategy produced by the Cabinet Office provide a strategic framework for protecting information that government handles and put in place a set of mandatory measures which departments must adhere to.

Compliance arrangements comprise a system of self assessment, accreditation, assurance reporting, audit and review. IT security policies are enforced by the system configuration wherever possible. These arrangements are in accordance with the relevant guidelines, code of connection and standards. In the last 12 months there have been no recorded instances where the IT security policies have been broken by employees, and no instances where a member of staff has been sanctioned for a breach of IT security policies.

Departmental Internet

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much has been spent on the recent redesign of his Department’s website. [263697]

Mr. Simon: The cost of the recent redesign of the website for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills was £105,166.66 plus VAT.

The website costs include the ability to host the websites of DIUS partners who will be moving their websites to the DIUS site as part of Transformational Government.

English Language: Education

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills pursuant to the Answer of 12 January 2009, Official Report, columns 55-6W, on English language: education, how many colleges or schools received funding to deliver courses on English for speakers of other languages in 2008-09; how those colleges or schools were selected; and in what regions they are located. [259138]

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Mr. Simon: With regard to colleges the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) provides funding for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) to Further Education colleges as part of their overall allocation for adult learning. 297 colleges received funding to deliver courses in ESOL in 2008/09, spread across all nine regions.

Colleges funded by the LSC to deliver ESOL courses are selected by the same process as other FE provision. The process for agreeing allocations to colleges begins with the LSC’s annual Statement of Priorities document which sets out the key policy and investment priorities for the FE sector. Each LSC region produces a Regional Commissioning Statement which sets out the totality of provision to be secured in each region for the next academic year and which sets national priorities in a regional context.

On the basis of the priorities and investment set out in these documents, the LSC then enters a commissioning process with its current college base to secure provision for the next academic year. In some regions, where there has been a strategic need to meet gaps in provision or to improve quality, ESOL provision has been tendered. The LSC commissions with colleges in light of their performance, the quality of their delivery, their capacity and capability, including their financial health. Allocations and contracts are then agreed with colleges based on a planning assumption of the volumes the college will deliver.

Contracts are monitored regularly and robustly for all provision and increases or decreases applied to delivery volumes where appropriate. Other providers including local authorities and private training providers may also receive funds for ESOL provision.

In regard to schools they must ensure that all their pupils develop as competent and confident speakers and writers of English.

Local authorities receive funding through the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG) to provide support for minority ethnic pupils and pupils with English as an Additional Language, who are at risk of underachieving. EMAG is a ring-fenced grant which is distributed to authorities on a formula basis. While local authorities might retain 15 per cent. of their allocation to support central services, they may devolve the remaining 85 per cent. to schools. The grant is around £187 million in 2008-09 and will continue to rise to £207 million by 2010-11.

Schools, through discussion with their community, can offer a range of services which members of the community may choose to take part in, one of those may be the offer of ESOL-type learning. However, it would not be possible to quantify the extent or take up of that offer.

Further Education: Finance

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what progress has been made on implementing supported borrowing for post-16 specialist colleges. [264272]

Mr. Simon: Neither the Department nor the Learning and Skills Council—which has responsibility for commissioning and funding post-16 education and training—are in the process of implementing supported borrowing for post-16 specialist colleges.

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Medicine: Higher Education

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) what response his Department has made to recent representations it has received from the Medical Schools Council and Dental Schools Council on visas for overseas medical and dental undergraduate students; [261913]

(2) what assessment he has made of the effect of proposals to restrict the duration of student visas to four years from March 2009 on current undergraduates on (a) dental, (b) medical and (c) architecture courses. [262023]

Mr. Lammy: International students are a very important part of the higher education landscape in this country and the Government are keen to continue to welcome them here. Following discussions with the UK Border Agency, I am pleased to be able to say that it has been agreed that the existing policy whereby visas for international students are awarded for the length of students’ courses will continue to operate when the student tier of the Points Based System for managed migration is phased in from March 2009. This decision was announced at the Joint Education Taskforce meeting on 26 February. It means that international students studying longer courses such as medicine, dentistry and architecture will not need to renew their visas part way through their courses.

Postgraduate Education: Enfield

Joan Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many people from Enfield North constituency entered postgraduate education in each of the last 11 years. [263916]

Mr. Lammy: The latest available information from the Higher Education Statistics Agency is shown in the table. Figures for the 2008/09 academic year will be available in January 2010.

Postgraduate entrants( 1) from Enfield, North parliamentary constituency( 2) UK higher education institutions( 3) —academic years 1997/98 to 2007/08
Academic year Entrants























(1) Covers entrants to both full-time and part-time postgraduate courses.
(2) Parliamentary constituency is defined by full and valid home postcodes.
(3) Excludes the Open University due to inconsistencies in their coding of entrants over the time series.
Figures are on a snapshot basis as at 1 December and have been rounded to the nearest five.
Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

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