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1 July 2009 : Column 322W—continued

Departmental Internet

Grant Shapps: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 12 February 2009, Official Report, columns 2288-89W, on the departmental internet, how many (a) unique visitors and (b) page impressions were received by each website in each of the last 12 months. [280729]

Mr. McFadden: In the period March 2008-February 2009 unique visitors and page impressions for the core BERR website:

Unique visitors Page impressions

March 2008

511,536

2,385,231

April 2008

512,422

2,443,138

May 2008

532,300

2,480,333

June 2008

563,267

2,694,709

July 2008

587,369

2,840,968

August 2008

516,080

2,372,979

September 2008

641,686

2,932,840

October 2008

753,954

3,648,423

November 2008

676,204

3,452,227

December 2008

546,116

2,584,510

January 2009

796,574

3,770,379

February 2009

690,263

3,238,879


Other websites operated by the Department are not centrally managed. Information on visitor numbers and page impressions for these sites is not centrally held and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Pay

John McDonnell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills which (a) sections of his Department and (b) non-departmental public bodies for which his Department
1 July 2009 : Column 323W
is responsible have requested money saved from efficiency savings to be used for increased pay in their 2009 pay offers to staff. [282536]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 26 June 2009]: The HMT Civil Service Pay Guidance 2009-10 provided the flexibility for organisations covered by this guidance to seek agreement to using efficiency savings to fund workforce reform as part of their pay remit in 2009. The deadline for making such requests was 30 May 2009. The former Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and the former Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) have not requested agreement to using efficiency savings to fund their pay remits in 2009. None of the Agencies or NDPBs sponsored by either the former BERR or DIUS has requested agreement to use efficiency savings to fund their pay remits in 2009.

Digital Broadcasting

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the likely effects on levels of (a) energy demand and (b) sustainable use of materials of the proposals contained in the Digital Britain White Paper; and what assessment he has made of the likely effects on levels of UK carbon dioxide emissions of implementation of the proposals contained in that report. [281896]

Mr. McFadden: Environmental impact issues are included in the Digital Britain impact assessments which were published with the final Report on 16 June and can be seen on:

New communications technologies have the potential to reduce energy demand and impact positively on UK carbon dioxide emissions. For example, next generation broadband services such as two-way video conferencing may lead to lower road congestion and pollution because they encourage greater use of tele-working which reduces the need to travel. This is because more people find it convenient to work from home or use tele-conferencing instead of physical meetings with their suppliers and customers. Evidence from Australia reveals that in 2006, over a third of SMEs introduced tele-working and that broadband was an influential factor in the decision.

Other potential benefits include a reduction in power consumption through a more efficient computing (e.g. cloud computing), enlarging the scope to do business online and providing options for monitoring the efficient use of transport fleets and home energy, among other things.

The Digital Britain action plan will support this by facilitating the rollout of new networks including shared networks and networks which use existing infrastructure. Laying down the necessary fibre network may increase carbon emissions and an increasing use of applications which require higher bandwidth (e.g. video conferencing) may lead to increased power consumption. The Government are seeking to minimise the energy demands and waste created by new technology and infrastructure by building in a sustainability element to the Digital Inclusion Champion’s role, and by including sustainability
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factors in public ICT procurement strategies. We have also pledged to work closely with manufacturers to examine the environmental impact of the digital radio upgrade.

Digital Broadcasting: Wales

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how much funding he plans to allocate to Wales in the next five years in fulfilment of the universal service commitment outlined in the Digital Britain White Paper. [281622]

Mr. McFadden: The Government have allocated £200 million of direct public funding to delivering the broadband universal service commitment. We expect to be able to leverage as much again from private and public sector partners though a well constructed procurement process.

No decisions have yet been taken about spend in specific parts of the UK. The Digital Britain report sets out the priorities for allocation of the funds for meeting the Universal Service Commitment. The Universal Service Commitment core priorities are:

1. Coverage

2. Provision

3. Technology

4. Competition

The procurement design by the Network Design and Procurement Group will determine how these priorities are addressed in practice. We will ensure that the devolved administrations are able to advise the group about need in their nations.

Domestic Appliances: Safety

Gordon Banks: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what reports he has received of the recommendations in relation to the sale of blinds with looped cords made in the determination made by Sheriff Mackie on 29 May 2009 in respect of the fatal accident inquiry into the death of Muireann McLaughlin; and if he will make a statement. [281614]

Kevin Brennan [holding answer 22 June 2009]: My Department has received both the Sheriffs determination and a summary of the fatal accident inquiry. Officials are carefully considering the recommendations made and how best to deal with them. I have no plans to make a statement.

English Language: Education

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent assessment he has made of the performance of the English language training sector; and what steps his Department is taking to assist that sector. [282627]


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Kevin Brennan: The Department funds provision of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) through the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and this is delivered through FE colleges, training providers and the voluntary sector.

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) published a thematic review of ESOL in October 2008. The report stated that ESOL provision in colleges is satisfactory and that ACL providers had improved significantly. The report is available at:

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) maintains a register of colleges offering English language training in relation to their points based system. All private education providers need to be accredited by an Agency-approved accreditation body. Ofsted help to determine which accreditation bodies provide an appropriate test of the bona fides of an educational institution and the list of UKBA-approved accreditation bodies is available on the UKBA website at:

Evening Standard: Sales

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on what dates since 1 January 2007 (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department and its predecessors have had discussions with (i) Lord Rothermere, (ii) Matthew Freud and (iii) Freud Communications, with particular reference to ownership of the London Evening Standard. [282270]

Kevin Brennan [holding answer 25 June 2009]: Neither Ministers nor officials have had discussions with Lord Rothermere, Matthew Freud and Freud Communications in reference to the ownership of the Evening Standard.

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what written and oral contacts (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department and its predecessors had with (i) Lord Rothermere, (ii) Matthew Freud and (iii) Freud Communications in connection with the sale of the London Evening Standard to Alexander Lebedev before the decision was taken on whether to issue an intervention notice under the Enterprise Act 2002. [282271]

Kevin Brennan [holding answer 25 June 2009]: There have been no written or oral contacts by Ministers or officials with Lord Rothermere, Matthew Freud or Freud Communications regarding the sale of the Evening Standard.

Exports: Israel

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many end-user certificates for exports of arms to Israel have been issued in the last three years. [283331]

Ian Lucas: End-user certificates are submitted by the exporter as supporting documentation when applying for export licences, and are supplied by the end-user of the goods. The Government publish, in their Annual and Quarterly Reports on Strategic Export Controls, detailed information on export licences issued, refused
1 July 2009 : Column 326W
and revoked, by destination, including a summary of the items covered by these licences.

The Government's Annual Reports, published since 1997, and Quarterly Reports, published since 2004, are available from the Libraries of the House and on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website at:

As part of the Government's commitment to transparency and accountability the Export Control Organisation has also recently launched an online searchable database of export control licensing statistics in order to improve the usability of the data published. The database can be accessed at:

The latest date for which information is available is 31 December 2008. The officials will shortly be publishing the data for the quarter ending 31 March 2009.

Higher Education: Student Numbers

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many full-time, UK-domiciled undergraduate students there are in each of the teaching and learning price bands used by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. [282844]

Mr. Lammy: In 2007-08 the estimated number of UK domiciled full-time undergraduate students, including both those fundable and non-fundable by HEFCE in each of their price bands are as follows:

Number

Group A

22,264

Group B

150,525

Group C

408,805

Group D

271,538


In addition there are 22,128 students meeting the criteria of the question in Initial Teacher Training which is not assigned to a price group. Figures are for England only.

Insolvency: Advisory Services

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what his policy is on the provision of paid advice on insolvency by persons who have not been recognised as insolvency practitioners by the Insolvency Service. [282157]

Ian Lucas: All those offering consumer credit or debt advice must secure a Consumer Credit Licence from the Office of Fair Trading. This will allow them to offer advice on all matters of debt, including whether insolvency is the best solution.

If an individual voluntary arrangement is suggested an authorised insolvency practitioner will act in relation to the arrangement. There are seven recognised professional bodies, as well as my noble Friend the Secretary of State, which authorise insolvency practitioners. Insolvency practitioners are required to provide details of their authorising body on their letter headed paper. If bankruptcy proceedings are recommended the Official Receiver will,
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in the first instance, deal with the case. Only the authorising bodies can deal with complaints against insolvency practitioners.

Loans: Interest Rates

Ms Gisela Stuart: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will consider the merits of introducing a maximum interest rate chargeable in respect of unsecured personal loans. [280897]

Kevin Brennan: The Government will be giving broad consideration to the issue of unsecured credit in the Consumer White Paper, which is to be published in early July. It would be inappropriate to pre-empt any announcements to be made in that White Paper.


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