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Tetra: Health Hazards

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent evidence he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effects on human health of Tetra masts; [318163]

(2) what recent representations he has received on the health effects of Tetra masts on members of the public. [318164]

Gillian Merron: The Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research programme, funded by Government and industry, commissioned a study by Essex University concerning exposure of volunteers to radiofrequency signals typical of those from Tetra masts. The outcome of this study was published on 14 January 2010 in a paper, title "Do Tetra (Airwave) base station signals have a short-term impact on health and well-being? A randomized double-blind provocation study" by Wallace and co-workers in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. This paper can be obtained online at:

The Department has received around 11 items of correspondence about Tetra signals from members of the public, either direct or through their MP.

Tuberculosis: Drugs

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what processes his Department has put in place to ensure that the supply of antituberculosis drugs in the UK is not interrupted. [318138]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We are not aware of any current shortages of antituberculosis medicines. Due to the complex nature of pharmaceutical production, medicines supply problems can unexpectedly arise for a number of reasons. The Department and the Pharmaceutical Industry have produced joint best practice guidelines which are designed to help minimise the impact of medicine shortages and discontinuations. The guidelines give advice to companies and encourage early exchange of information. This allows consideration of the options that are available to help ensure that patients continue to get the medicines they need.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Adult Education

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will take steps to ensure a redistribution of Adult Safeguarded Learning funds as part of the transfer of responsibility for informal learning from the Learning and Skills Council to the Skills Funding Agency. [318437]

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Kevin Brennan: LSC funding for this type of provision is part of a much wider and more complex funding framework and any proposals for redistribution would need to be considered in this wider context.

The White Paper made it clear that a concerted and sustained effort from partners and stakeholders at national and local levels would be required to bring the "Learning Revolution" vision to life. The new funding and planning arrangements set out in Chapter 4 of "The Learning Revolution" are playing a key role in this transformation and so from August 2011 the Skills Funding Agency will channel funding for informal adult learning in local or sub-regional areas through identified Lead Accountable Bodies. We will invite all local authorities to take part in these new arrangements.

We are working closely with the Local Government Association, the Local Education Authorities Forum for the Education of Adults, the Association of Colleges, Ofsted and other delivery partners to develop a Lead Accountable Body model that will enable local authorities to discharge this pivotal leadership role. Accepting the role of Lead Accountable Body will enable local authorities to better position their own resources alongside those of the Skills Funding Agency, as part of a local learning infrastructure. This in turn will help to promote the wider personalisation agenda across a number of fronts, and enable other local services, like libraries, to play an important role in broadening choice for local people.

Debit Cards: Protection

Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will bring forward proposals to provide statutory protection to consumers in respect of debit card purchases in circumstances in which a company enters administration without having provided the goods or services purchased. [314410]

Kevin Brennan: As announced in the Consumer White Paper, "A Better Deal for Consumers", in July 2009, the Government is reassessing the regulatory framework for prepayments, and that includes looking at the effectiveness of the protection offered by debit cards. A number of proposals are being considered and the Government hope to be in position to announce its findings shortly.

Departmental Consultants

Pete Wishart: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how much was spent on external consultants and advisers by (a) his Department and (b) each (i) non-departmental public body and (ii) executive agency for which his Department is responsible in 2009. [317252]

Mr. McFadden: Central records indicate that the Department paid a total of £6,354,203 in external consultancy fees since its inception (announced on 5 June 2009) to 31 December 2009.

Further details, including provision of non-departmental public body information, could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

I have approached the chief executives of the Insolvency Service, Companies House, the National Measurement Office and the Intellectual Property Office and they will respond directly to the hon. Member.

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Letter from Stephen Speed, dated 25 February 2010:

Letter from Tim Moss, dated 15 February 2010:

Letter from John Alty, dated 16 February 2010:

Letter from Peter Mason, dated 24 February 2010:


Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps he is taking to ensure effective use of the UK's expertise in fusion energy research. [318556]

Mr. Lammy: The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has the responsibility for the funding of magnetic confinement fusion research while the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) funds laser-driven or inertial confinement fusion research.

EPSRC and STFC have recently updated the Research Council's strategy for the support of fusion research, assisted by an Expert Group chaired by Professor Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield University. The Expert Group's vision for fusion, and the key points of the new fusion strategy, have been published on the websites of EPSRC and STFC.


Mr. Willetts: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how much the UK has contributed to the budget of the Erasmus programme in each year since 1997. [318665]

Mr. Lammy: The UK makes no direct financial contribution to the budget of the European Commission's Erasmus programme which is funded through the Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme. This Department (and its predecessors) has paid an annual management fee to a national agent, currently the British Council, to manage the delivery of the programme across the UK on behalf of the Government.

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Mr. Willetts: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many UK students resident in the UK have participated in the Erasmus scheme since 1997. [318666]

Mr. Lammy: The following table shows number of UK students who have participated in the Erasmus scheme since 1997.

Academic year UK students participating in Erasmus



























The European Commission statistics:
except 2008/09 and 2009/10, where the data is the latest estimates from the British Council and is subject to confirmation.

Early indications show that in the current academic year (2009/10), 11,302 UK students will take part in Erasmus.

Higher Education: Admissions

Michael Gove: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 5 February 2010, Official Report, columns 605-10W, on higher education: admissions, what proportion of pupils in receipt of free school meals in 2002-03 who progressed to higher education in 2006-07 attended a (a) school, (b) further education college and (c) sixth form college before entering higher education. [318404]

Mr. Lammy: The information is not available in the form requested.

Higher Education: Further Education

Mr. Willis: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills which universities have withdrawn funding for higher education provided in further education colleges in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10; and if he will make a statement. [318785]

Kevin Brennan: Following our 2006 White Paper "Further Education: Improving Skills, Raising Life Chances", the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) introduced a code of practice for franchised provision of higher education in further education colleges. HEFCE do not monitor individual franchise agreements between higher education institutions and further education colleges. However, the data provided in the table show that the total number of higher education institutions franchising to a further education college has remained fairly constant since 2006-07, while the number of students
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franchised from a higher education institution to a further education college has increased between 2006-07 and 2009-10.

Students franchised from HEIs to FECs
Academic year Number of institutions franchising to a FEC Headcount of franchised students













Source: HESES.

Higher Education: Part-time Education

Mr. Laws: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many part-time students are in their (a) first, (b) final and (c) other year of an undergraduate degree course. [318179]

Mr. Lammy: In the 2008/09 academic year there were 70,195 part-time first degree students in their first year of study and 135,000 students in any other year of study. It is not possible to accurately identify final year students as course timescales can vary, particularly for part-time students. However 36,855 part-time first degree students qualified in 2008/09. This will discount students who completed their final year, but did not qualify.

Motor Vehicles: Government Assistance

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many vehicles have been purchased under the Vehicle Scrappage Scheme to date. [318257]

Ian Lucas: By 14 February 2010, BIS had received 355,305 orders for new vehicles under the scrappage scheme.

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what estimate he has made of the likely effects of the Vehicle Scrappage Scheme on the volume of carbon dioxide emissions. [318258]

Ian Lucas: No detailed assessment has been made by this Department. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), average CO2 emissions of a car bought through the scheme was 133.3 g/km, almost 10 per cent. below the overall new car market average and 26.8 per cent. below the average figure for a scrapped car.

Multiple Sclerosis: Research

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills whether his Department has allocated funding for research to examine whether there is a causal relationship between chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency and multiple sclerosis. [318255]

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Mr. Lammy: The Medical Research Council (MRC) is one of the main agencies through which the Government support medical and clinical research. The MRC is an independent body which receives its grant-in-aid from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The MRC spent £3.4 million on research into Multiple Sclerosis in 2008-09, but is not currently funding any research specifically into chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI).

The MRC always welcomes high quality applications for support into any aspect of human health. The primary considerations in funding decisions are research excellence and importance to health; however, high quality proposals in areas of particular strategic importance may be given priority in competition for funds.

The MRC provides opportunities for additional clinical research training fellowships through collaborations with Royal Colleges and Charity flinders including the MRC/Multiple Sclerosis Society Clinical Research Training Fellowships. One fellowship per year is available under this scheme, aimed at researchers who are involved in treating patients and who wish to pursue research into understanding and treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Details of MRC's currently funded research can be found in the MRC research portfolio which is accessible on the MRC website at:

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