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Insolvency: North West

Esther McVey: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how much grant debt the Government Office for the North West has written off as a result of those in receipt of grants entering company voluntary agreements since 2005. [3793]

Mr Prisk: The Government Office for the North West has written off no grant debt in this way.

Esther McVey: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills which not-for-profit companies have had debts written off by the Government Office for the North West as a result of entering company voluntary agreements since 2005; and what sum was written off in each case. [3794]

Mr Prisk: The Government Office for the North West has written off no debt in this way.

Northwest Regional Development Agency

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how much the North West Development Agency has allocated to each project it supported in each of the last five years; and what allocations it plans to make to which projects in 2010-11. [3836]

Mr Prisk: The Department allocates budgets to regional development agencies. The agencies determine which projects to support, subject to the terms of the accountability and financial framework and their delegated financial authorities. RDAs' investments have been guided by the regional economic strategy and their corporate plans. The Department does not hold details of individual projects supported by the RDAs within their delegated financial authorities.

No final decisions have been made on how projects currently delivered by NWDA will be affected by the £270 million savings we are seeking from RDAs' budgets. We will be writing to RDAs about the allocation shortly. We will then work with the RDA network to minimise the impact on priority programmes. Stakeholders and delivery partners involved in affected programmes and projects will be kept fully informed as specific decisions are made.

Peru: EU External Trade

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent representations he has received on the suspension of EU free trade agreement negotiations with Peru; and if he will make a statement. [3855]

Mr Prisk: Negotiations for the EU-Andean (Peru and Colombia) free trade agreement have not been suspended. Negotiations were concluded in March 2010, and the agreement is likely to enter into force in late 2011.

Post Office: ICT

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what representations he has received from the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance in the last 12 months; if he will meet representatives of the Alliance to discuss the Post Office's Horizon system; and if he will make a statement. [3752]

Mr Davey: Given Post Office Ltd's responsibility for negotiating contractual terms and conditions with sub-postmasters, I have asked David Smith, the managing director of Post Office Ltd, to respond directly to my hon. Friend and a copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Post Offices

Chris Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether the community network of Post Office Ltd and the social network of Post Office Ltd are identical in their (a) membership and (b) operation; and if he will make a statement. [3675]

Mr Davey: The Government fully recognises the important social and economic role of post offices in delivering services of general economic interest in the communities they serve. To assist with this the Government are committed to continuing to make a social network payment of £180 million to support the network in 2011-12, subject to state aid clearance from the European Commission. The Government are working with Post Office Ltd on funding requirements for the network beyond 2012.


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Chris Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether Post Office Ltd has completed its review of the Code of Practice governing changes to the post office network. [3676]

Mr Davey: The review of the Code of Practice governing changes to the post office network is a matter jointly for Post Office Ltd and Consumer Focus.

I have therefore asked David Smith, the managing director of Post Office Ltd, to respond directly to the hon. Member and a copy of his reply will be placed in the House Libraries.

Chris Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what powers Consumer Focus has to review post office closures under the Network Change programme. [3677]

Mr Davey: Under the 2007-08 Network Change programme, Postwatch, a predecessor body to Consumer Focus, had an important role, set out in a memorandum of understanding with Post Office Ltd, in assessing the company's initial area plan closure proposals prior to publication, in monitoring the local public consultation process and in reviewing responses to the consultation and final closure decisions.

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent assessment has been made of the likely effects on the Post Office branch network of the proposed part-privatisation of Royal Mail. [3769]

Mr Davey: Government recognise and value the important social and economic role played by post offices in communities throughout the UK and we will be assessing any impacts on the network of legislation to allow the injection of private capital into Royal Mail. We do not want to see a repeat of the network closure programmes operated under the previous Government.

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will ensure that the size of the Post Office branch network is not reduced. [3772]

Mr Davey: The Government fully recognises the important social and economic role of post offices in the communities they serve and has made clear it will not repeat the closure programmes of the previous Government. We are also committed to making a social network payment of £180 million to support the network at around its present size in 2011-12, subject to state aid clearance from the European Commission.

Postal Services

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what his policy is on the future of the Royal Mail universal service obligation. [3771]

Mr Davey: The Coalition Government are committed to the ongoing provision of the universal service. We want to safeguard the future of Royal Mail so that its
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employees have a secure future and customers and businesses continue to have a universal service they can depend on.

Regional Development Agencies

Lisa Nandy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment has been made of whether proposed changes to regional development agencies in 2009-10 will affect the recently-introduced system of planning and commissioning of 16-18 education. [1665]

Mr Gibb: I have been asked to reply.

The Coalition Government set out its position on the future of regional development agencies (RDAs) in its programme for Government 'Freedom Fairness Responsibility'. They said they will support the creation of local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) to replace RDAs and that these may take the form of existing RDAs where they are popular. The Government will announce further information on their proposals in due course.

From 1 April 2010 the responsibility to provide education and training provision for 16 to 19-year-olds (and for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities up to the age of 25) passed to local authorities. Local authorities will continue to work with a range of local and regional stakeholders in delivering this responsibility.

Royal Mail

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether he (a) has had and (b) plans to have discussions with trade unions on a potential stock market flotation in respect of Royal Mail. [3779]

Mr Davey: I had an initial meeting with representatives of the Communication Workers Union on the 7 June regarding our plans for an injection of private sector capital into Royal Mail announced in the Queen's speech. I see this as the first meeting in a continuing dialogue with BIS Ministers and officials as Government develops its plans.

Royal Mail: Pensions

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what discussions he has had with Royal Mail and others on ownership of the Royal Mail Pension Fund after the proposed part-privatisation of Royal Mail. [3770]

Mr Davey: The Royal Mail Pension Plan (RMPP) is an occupational pension plan run by a board of Trustees with an independent Chair and with Royal Mail as the sponsoring employer.

The Government announced its plans for an injection of private sector capital into Royal Mail in the Queen's speech. While further details of this policy are still being worked up prior to introduction of the proposed legislation, we do not currently anticipate any changes to the governance of the RMPP or its relationship to Royal Mail.


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Space Technology: Finance

Harriett Baldwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what budget his Department has set for space exploration in each of the next three years. [3058]

Mr Willetts: The UK Space Agency exploration budget contributes to the European Space Agency's ExoMars programme. The UK subscription is composed of €14 million per annum direct to the ExoMars programme for the next three years to cover spacecraft costs, and £5.4 million to the associated national programme, also for the next three years, to cover the costs of UK instruments, UK science support and the UK public outreach programme.

St George's Day

Jonathan Reynolds: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what estimate his Department has made of the effect on the economy of establishing an additional bank holiday on St George's Day. [3799]

Mr Davey: The Government have not made an estimate of the impact on the economy for establishing St George's day as an additional bank holiday, as the current pattern of bank holidays are well established and accepted.

Student Loans Company

Mr Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many times he and the new head of the Student Loans Company have (a) met, (b) spoken by telephone and (c) corresponded since his appointment. [2950]

Mr Willetts: Professor Sir Deian Hopkin was appointed by Ministers as interim Chair of the Student Loans Company on 25 May; Ed Lester was appointed interim Chief Executive by the Board of the Student Loans Company on 28 May.

Since that time, I and my ministerial colleagues have spoken to both Sir Deian and Mr Lester on a number of occasions.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met Mr Lester on 1 June when he visited the Student Loans Company in Glasgow.

I met both Sir Deian and Mr Lester during my visit to the Student Loans Company in Darlington on 17 June.

Wales

Jonathan Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills with reference to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's announcement of 24 May 2010 and pursuant to the answer of 7 June 2010, Official Report, column 69W, on public expenditure: Wales, which of his Department's non-devolved public expenditure savings will be incurred in Wales; and what estimate he has made of the financial savings. [2967]


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Mr Davey: In relation to its non devolved expenditure, the Department does not have details of the public expenditure savings that it will make in Wales or any estimate of the financial savings it will make in Wales.

Education

Academies

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will visit the head office of the Academies Enterprise Trust to discuss the value for money achieved from the use of funding provided by his Department to the Trust. [349]

Mr Gibb: The Secretary of State has no current plans to visit the Academies Enterprise Trust. All academy trusts (which includes charitable trusts running more than one academy) are required to publish annual accounts in accordance with the Companies Act 2006. The Department expects all academies to provide value for money from taxpayer funds. The accounts of academies are open to officials from the Department or the National Audit Office for inspection or the carrying out of value for money studies at any time.

Ed Balls: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will amend the funding agreements for academy schools to enable them to be run by profit-making companies. [1207]

Mr Gibb: As with all existing academies, the Government will enter funding agreements with, and provide funding to, an academy trust, which will be a charitable company limited by guarantee and which will not be profit making.

Lisa Nandy: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what plans he has to write to the governors at schools he has invited to apply for academy status. [1701]

Mr Gibb: A letter from the Secretary of State to head teachers and chairs of governing bodies was emailed to all schools on 26 May setting out the opportunity to apply for academy status. A decision to apply for academy status needs to be formally approved by the governing body.

Academies: Sevenoaks

Michael Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what funding his Department has allocated for the construction of the Knole Academy in Sevenoaks; and when he expects construction to commence. [1376]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 8 June 2010]: Present plans are for the Knole Academy to have a proposed construction capital expenditure figure of £24.5 million, with construction of the academy scheduled to start during the summer of 2011.

Building Schools for the Future Programme

Ian Swales: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what plans he has for the Building Schools for the Future programme in Redcar; and if he will make a statement. [3160]


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Mr Gibb [holding answer 21 June 2010]: The Department is currently reviewing the Building Schools for the Future programme to ensure that we can build schools more effectively and more cost-efficiently in the future.

Rachel Reeves: To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) how much funding he plans to allocate to the new school building at Leeds West Academy; [3184]

(2) how much funding he plans to allocate to the new school building at Farnley Park High School. [3185]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 21 June 2010]: The Department is currently reviewing the Building Schools for the Future programme to ensure that we can build schools more effectively and more cost-efficiently in the future.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what criteria he plans to use to decide which projects in the Building Schools for the Future programme will proceed; [3188]

(2) when he expects to make an announcement on whether the Building Schools for the Future programme in Warrington will proceed. [3189]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 21 June 2010]: The Department is currently reviewing the Building Schools for the Future
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programme to ensure that we can build schools more effectively and more cost-efficiently in the future.


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