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Mr Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how much his Department has (a) paid out and (b) granted to the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust in (i) 2009-10 and (ii) 2010-11; what the planned expenditure is for 2011-12; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Gibb: The Department paid a total of £35,893,936 to the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) in 2009-10 of which £20,378,819 was paid under contracts won by SSAT in open competition and £15,515,117 was grant.
Lisa Nandy: To ask the Secretary of State for Education whether academic institutions will be required to assess household income when determining the students they plan to fund through the Discretionary Learner Support Fund in the 2011-12 academic year. 
Mr Gibb [holding answer 29 November 2010]: Decisions regarding the new discretionary fund will be made locally, enabling schools, colleges and training providers to target support at those young people in greatest need.
In finalising the arrangements for the enhanced discretionary learner support fund, the Department will consult with schools, colleges and training organisations, including on what guidance is required to administer the fund effectively.
Mr Gibb [holding answer 29 November 2010]: We will work with representatives of schools, colleges and training providers to finalise the arrangements for the enhanced fund, including mechanisms for dealing with any unspent funding. Currently the Young People's Learning Agency has a process to redistribute unused discretionary learner support funds from providers who indicate that they will not use all their allocation to providers who indicate they need more support.
Teresa Pearce: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what age limits will be placed on access to student financial support for the discretionary learner support fund by his Department for the academic year 2011-12. 
Mr Gibb [holding answer 29 November 2010]: Currently young people over compulsory school age and under the age of 19 can access discretionary learner support funds operated by the Department for Education. We have no plans to change this when we introduce the enhanced fund. Adults aged 19 and over are currently able to access discretionary learner funds operated by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
Teresa Pearce: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what assessment he has made of the effects on student choice in applying to higher education institutions of differing levels of financial assistance being available via the discretionary learner support fund at further education institutions. 
Mr Gibb [holding answer 29 November 2010]: The aim of the enhanced discretionary funding is for schools, colleges and training providers to be able to target those young people who need the support to enable them to remain in education post 16. In addition, the introduction of the new National Scholarship programme, linked to the pupil premium, will also help to widen access to higher education for young people from the poorest backgrounds. We do not anticipate any impact on student choice in applying to higher education from the introduction of the enhanced discretionary funding.
Teresa Pearce: To ask the Secretary of State for Education whether private training providers will be eligible for Government funding to administer their own discretionary learner support funds in academic year 2011-12. 
Mr Gibb [holding answer 29 November]: As under current arrangements, the enhanced discretionary learner support funds for young people aged 16 to 18 will be available to support students studying YPLA-funded courses in colleges, sixth form colleges, school sixth forms, private training providers and higher education institutions.
Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what mechanism he plans to establish to ensure that common professional standards for careers and Connexions services are maintained in each local authority during the comprehensive spending review period. 
Mr Gibb: We will establish an all-age careers service, open to all young people and adults through a range of channels, including a website, helpline and face-to-face support. We will develop the detail of the new service in discussion with local authorities, schools and the careers sector.
The Government have recently welcomed the report of the Careers Profession Taskforce, which makes 14 recommendations designed to uphold common professional standards and ethics. We are working with members of the taskforce and of the Careers Profession Alliance to support implementation of the recommendations, and will be asking for a report on progress in March 2011 and in March 2012.
Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce the incidence of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in developing countries. 
Mr O'Brien: The Department for International Development (DFID) works with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on UK human rights policy overseas, including lobbying against prejudice and persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
In July 2010, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) published "Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality", a programme of work that sets out how the UK will continue to push towards LGBT equality at home and abroad. The Government's work abroad includes examining the human rights records of other countries through the UN-led universal periodic review and working through the Commonwealth to engage with the 42 Commonwealth countries that retain homophobic legislation. GEO continue to work with DFID to develop the action plan abroad, which seeks the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Dr Fox [holding answer 2 December 2010]: We are making excellent progress on growing the Afghan National Security Forces and are currently ahead of schedule for meeting the target of 171,600 Afghan National Army by the end of 2011.
Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what regulations govern his Department's relationship with the private security contractors it employs in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. 
However, as outlined in the Defence Estates Strategy 2006 (In Trust and On Trust), Ministry of Defence holdings of training facilities are constantly kept under review to take account of changing requirements.
Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how long on average it took to complete a land quality assessment on part of the defence estate in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Each LQA is site and situation specific and the time taken will be dependent upon such factors as the size and nature of the site in question, and the availability of information. That said, Phase One LQA typically takes around three months. The subsequent site investigation (Phase Two LQA) can take from 11 to 30 weeks. Remediation may take some years to complete.
Not all of the staff who were paid overtime by this area, in this period, would have worked directly in the Private Office. Numbers claiming in each year vary but in some years up to a dozen people have claimed overtime against this budgetary area.
Matthew Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to which local newspapers his Department had a subscription between May 2006 and May 2010; on what date each such subscription started; and what the cost to the public purse was of such subscriptions. 
Mr Robathan: The Ministry of Defence has an enabling contract with a supplier to provide newspapers and copyrate magazines at a discounted rate to units within the London area which came into force on 1 March 2002. MOD is in the process of re-tendering this contract with a view to reducing the cost.
MOD units outside London may purchase newspapers under local arrangements. Information on the titles ordered and expenditure under these local arrangements is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Overall expenditure under the enabling contract for the supply of copyrate magazines, national and regional newspapers for units within the London area for the period May 2006 to May 2010, and also for June 2010 to date, is as follows:
Mr Robathan: Within the Ministry of Defence, the Directorate of Media and Communications provides press cuttings to those central sections of the Department requiring sight of the coverage given to defence issues in the local, national and international media. In order to properly communicate defence policy and the work of our armed forces and civilian personnel, it is vital that the Department gains a rapid awareness of such coverage.
The provision of a press cuttings service is regularly reviewed to ensure the best value for money, both in terms of the number of recipients and the search terms used. These are kept to a minimum consistent with maintaining the appropriate level of awareness.
The cost of press cuttings services purchased by the MOD press office is shown as follows. Figures given indicate the costs for each complete financial year over the period for which records are held and do not account for inflation.
|FY||Cost of press cuttings services (£000)|
|(1) No figure is held for the month of April 2006. Total shown is for the remaining 11 months.|
The figures given above exclude VAT and Newspaper Licensing Authority fees.
Tessa Munt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to consult hon. Members during the ratification process for the proposed UK-France Treaty on nuclear weapons co-operation. 
Dr Fox: Following the UK-France summit on 2 November 2010 and the signing of the UK-France Treaty relating to Joint Hydrodynamics Facilities to maintain the safety and reliability of our existing nuclear weapons stockpile, I responded to detailed questions from hon. Members of the House on the purpose, scope, and implications of the Treaty. The Treaty was laid before Parliament on 10 November 2010, with an accompanying Explanatory Memorandum setting out the Government's position. It was laid under the Ponsonby rule which allows hon. Members of Parliament in both Houses 21 sitting days to consider the Treaty and ensures that they have a full opportunity to raise any questions or request a debate on the Treaty in the usual way before ratification.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department took to inform both Houses of discussions with officials of (a) the US Administration and (b) other governments relevant to the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill (i) before and (ii) during the passage of the Bill; and if he will make a statement. 
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has issued any authorisation specified under the visiting forces section of the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009 to bring cluster munitions into (a) the UK, (b) UK overseas territories and (c) UK and overseas territorial waters; if he will make it his policy to submit all future such requests for authorisation to the House for scrutiny; and if he will make a statement. 
Article 8 does not require such requests to be scrutinised by Parliament. However, in the event of a future request, we would consider on a case-by-case basis how best we can keep Parliament informed within the constraints of classification and operational planning.
20. Lisa Nandy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effects of proposed changes to her Department's flood defence budget on the level of premiums for homes at risk from flooding. 
Richard Benyon: DEFRA is working closely with the insurance industry to maximise the availability of flood insurance cover. We are consulting on changes to the way Government funding is allocated to flood and coastal erosion risk management projects. This will help safeguard insurance terms by encouraging increased investment beyond levels the national taxpayer alone can afford.
22. Mark Reckless: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had on the reform of the common fisheries policy; and if she will make a statement. 
Richard Benyon: As UK Fisheries Minister, I have had discussions with a range of organisations and people about Common Fisheries Policy reform. These include discussions with the EU Fisheries Commissioner, and other member state Ministers, during November's EU Fisheries Council. I have met representatives of the fishing industry-both large scale, and under 10 metre, fleets, MEPs, and non-governmental organisations. I plan to have further discussions in pressing our case for radical reform of the CFP.
23. Mr Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had on mandatory country of origin labelling; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr Paice: The UK has been actively involved in the EU negotiations on a new regulation for food labelling. The text for the regulation, on which political agreement was reached at the Health Council earlier this week, includes a mandatory requirement for origin labelling of fresh and frozen meat. It also requires a declaration of ingredient origin when origin claims are made. While there will be further discussion on the details of this requirement, the text is a positive move towards improving food labelling and complements the recent work that UK industry is doing to improve origin information for the benefit of UK consumers.
24. Mr Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will bring forward a contingency plan to support UK farming in the event that the common agricultural policy is discontinued. 
Mrs Spelman: I do not anticipate the CAP being discontinued in the next Financial Perspective (2014-20), but it should be reformed to enable farmers to adapt to the future. Agriculture needs to move away from permanent subsidy by continuing the market orientation of the industry. As the Prime Minister has made clear, the EU Budget also needs to reflect the budgetary constraints on European economies. The CAP budget must therefore fall significantly over the next Financial Perspective.
Duncan Hames: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has for the future administration of the socio-economic elements of the rural development programme for England. 
Mr Paice: The ongoing delivery functions of the socio-economic elements for the Rural Development Programme for England 2007-13, which are currently managed by the Regional Development Agencies, will be transferred into DEFRA.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 24 June 2010, Official Report, column 291W, what assessment she has made of progress in increasing the proportion of food procured by Government Departments from farm assured sources; and what statistical evidence informed that assessment. 
Mr Paice: The Government have made a commitment to source food, subject to no overall increase in costs, meeting British or equivalent standards of production. In addition, we are developing Government Buying Standards for food and catering. We are proposing that these standards, which are mandatory for central Departments, include a range of sustainability and nutrition criteria. Our timetable to introduce these standards is March 2011 and Departments will report in June 2011 on the amount of food procured during the year April 2010 to March 2011 that meets these Government Buying Standards.
Sheryll Murray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the outcome was of the most recent meeting of the Fisheries Council; and which UK Ministers attended. 
Richard Benyon: As the Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, I led the UK Fisheries delegation at the Council meeting on 29 November. I was accompanied by the Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Mr Paice) and the Minister for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland (Michelle Gildernew), on both days. Due to adverse weather conditions the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment for the Scottish Government (Richard Lochhead) was delayed for Council negotiations, but he was present for discussions with the Commission on the following day.
Unanimous agreement was reached on a range of catch limits and associated controls for certain deep sea species for 2011 and 2012, thus reflecting the vulnerable condition of many of the stocks concerned.
The EU Commission updated member states on the first round of discussions with Norway over fishing opportunities for 2011. The UK took the opportunity to emphasise its priorities for the ongoing negotiations, including an expansion of the existing catch quota regime, incorporating other stocks in addition to North sea cod, and stressing the importance of reaching a balanced agreement with Coastal States on the future management of the North East Atlantic mackerel stock.
The Commission also indicated that it would discuss with the European Parliament and member states how to resolve the current impasse on the development of long-term management plans post-Lisbon treaty.
Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate she has made of the potential saving to the public purse of the abolition of the Environment Protection Advisory Committees in each of the next five years; 
(3) what estimate she has made of the potential saving to the public purse of the abolition of the Regional Advisory Committees established under the Forestry Act 1967 in each of the next five years; 
Richard Benyon: The proposed changes to DEFRA's public bodies will contribute modest savings. The main benefits of the Public Bodies Reform Bill proposals are to increase transparency and accountability of public bodies. Where bodies are to be reconstituted as expert committees, we do not envisage that significant financial savings will be generated.
The 2011-12 budgets for the new committees have not yet been finalised but these will reflect the cuts agreed in the Government's spending review. The time scale for implementing the decisions announced on 14 October will vary for each body, and depend on legislative or administrative processes.
There are seven regional committees in England. Each has a Chair, paid approximately £18,000 per annum. We propose abolishing these statutory advisory committees (in England only) and using the resources to create a new non-statutory local advisory framework with more flexible community and civil society engagement.
Before an order is laid to abolish the Regional Advisory Committees, a new framework will be designed in close consultation with interested parties including the existing committees, to ensure the benefits of the current approach are not lost in transition.
There are seven regional committees in England and each has a chair paid approximately £18,000 per annum. We propose abolishing these statutory advisory committees (in England only) and using the resources to create a new non-statutory local advisory framework with more flexible community and civil society engagement.
Negligible-it is the intention that this body would be abolished as a public corporation in England and Wales and replaced with the creation of a new waterways charity-similar to a National Trust for the waterways. This will require continuing Government investment for the immediate future
None-The BWMB is a producer-run organisation and is entirely funded through its members. However, this body is being retained on grounds of performing a technical function which should remain independent of the Government.
The current consultation on governance arrangements in the National Park and Broads Authorities will lead to a list of actions being produced for each Authority by the end of March 2011. Only at that stage will it be possible to estimate the cost or savings associated with those changes.
None-it is not proposed to abolish or reconstitute the Drinking Water Inspectorate. The proposal is to implement a charging scheme which will enable the DWI to recover the cost of regulatory work, except enforcement, undertaken on behalf of the water industry. These costs will be passed on to water company customers in water bills (estimated as 15 pence on the average annual water bill), which will make a saving to the public purse of £1.9 million per year.
The Environment Agency will be retained and substantially reformed through structural, process and cultural change to become a more efficient and customer-focused organisation within spending review 2010 allocations (not yet announced) Only at that stage will it be possible to estimate the cost or savings associated with those changes.
The Forestry Commissioners will be retained and substantially reformed. Details of reform to the public forest estate, managed by the Forestry Commissioners, will be set out early in the new year. Only at that stage will it be possible to estimate the cost or savings associated with those changes.
The current structure of the JNCC is considered to be the most efficient and effective way of delivering the independent advice required to allow the four UK conservation bodies-Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Northern Ireland Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside-to discharge their statutory responsibilities for nature conservation across the UK as a whole and internationally. JNCC will in future focus more closely on its core functions in order to deliver budget efficiencies.
The current consultation on governance arrangements in the National Park and Broads Authorities will lead to a list of actions being produced for each Authority by the end of March 2011. Only at that stage will it be possible to estimate the cost or savings associated with those changes.
Natural England will be substantially reformed. DEFRA is working with Natural England on structural, process and cultural change to transform it into a leaner, more efficient front line delivery body focused strongly on the Government's ambitions for the environment and the green economy within spending review 2010 allocations (not yet announced). Only at that stage will it be possible to estimate the cost or savings associated with those changes.
The word 'negligible' in the table refers to cases where potential savings to the public purse are estimated to be negligible. 'None' refers to instances where no savings are envisaged.
Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate her Department has made of the area of privately-owned forest which is managed to the UK Woodland Assurance Standard. 
The area of woodland that is independently certified in England, (excluding the area managed by the Forestry Commission) is 144,000 ha. This area is managed to the UK Woodland Assurance Standard which is used as the basis for independent certification. The majority of this is private woodland, but the figure
also includes woods owned by local authorities and charitable bodies such as the Woodland Trust and National Trust. There may also be a small area of woodland which is managed to the UK Woodland Assurance Standard but is not certified.
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the likely socio-economic effects on young people from low-income families of (a) increasing tuition fees, (b) cancelling the education maintenance allowance scheme and (c) closing Aimhigher. 
Mr Willetts [holding answer 7 December 2010]: The Government have been very clear about the importance of widening participation and improving fair access in higher education-all those with the ability should have access to higher education irrespective of family income.
Department commissioned research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) which explored how changes in fees, grants and loans impact on participation. That research, which analysed the impact of the 2006-07 HE finance reforms, indicates that while a £1,000 increase in fees results in a 4.4ppt decrease in university participation, this is more than offset by the increases resulting from provision of loans and grants (3.2ppt and 2.1ppt increases).
The interim EQIA does not include an assessment of the full new package of proposals that includes ending Aimhigher; introducing new access arrangements for universities wishing to charge over £6,000; a new £150 million National Scholarship Programme targeted on students from disadvantaged backgrounds; and a new £2.5 billion pupil premium from April 2011. A full EQIA will be published in the coming months.
In reaching the decision to end the education maintenance allowance (EMA), the Government closely assessed the evaluation evidence and other research which indicated that EMA does not effectively target those young people who need financial support to enable them to participate in learning. The evidence suggested that around 90% of the young people who receive EMA would still have participated in learning if the scheme was not available. Data from the 2008/09 Family Resources Survey suggests that the removal of EMA will have a negligible impact on the number of children in poverty. From 2011/12, EMA will be replaced by an enhanced learner support fund that will be administered by schools and colleges themselves, targeting those young people who face a real financial barrier to participation.
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what estimate he has made of the number of organisations that have
taken on apprentices since the publication of the 2009 Office of Government Commerce guidelines on Promoting Skills through Public Procurement. 
Mr Hayes: Information to date for the 2009/10 academic year shows that so far 85,400 site-level employers have taken on an Apprentice. Specific information on the number of organisations who have taken on an Apprentice as a direct result of action taken through the formal public procurement process is not held centrally.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many apprenticeship positions suitable for graduates he expects to be created in each of the next five years as a result of the policies announced in his Department's paper, Investing in Skills for Sustainable Growth. 
Mr Hayes: This Department sets no specific targets for numbers of graduate apprentices. Apprenticeships are open to all suitably-qualified people aged 16 and over. I was pleased to be able to announce last month that total funding for adult apprenticeships will rise by up to £250 million during this Parliament, so that by 2014-15 up to 75,000 more places will be available than under the previous Administration. However, whilst graduates are eligible to take up employment as apprentices at any level, Government funding is not available to support their training.
Alok Sharma: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many grants made by his Department to small firms based in Reading West constituency under the (a) Small Firms Local Guarantee scheme and (b) Enterprise Finance Guarantee were of between (i) £1,000 and £5,000, (ii) £5,001 and £20,000, (iii) £20,001 and £50,000, (iv) £50,001 and £100,000, (v) £100,001 and £150,000, (vi) £150,001 and £200,000, (vii) £200,001 and £250,000, (viii) £250,001 and £500,000 and (ix) over £500,000 in each of the last five years. 
Mr Prisk: The Small Firms Loan Guarantee (SFLG) and Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) are loan guarantee scheme through which the Government encourages additional lending to viable small businesses by providing a Government guarantee to the lender. EFG was launched in January 2009 effectively replacing SFLG.
Between 2006/07 and 2008/09 there were 14 SFLG loans to businesses in Reading West with a value of £1.073 million. From 2009/10 to date 11 businesses in Reading West have been offered loans under EFG with a value of £725,000, of which 10 businesses have drawn down loan totalling £610,000. A full breakdown by each year follows:
|Small Firms Loan Guarantee (SFLG)|
|Loan value||Number of loans drawn||Value of loans drawn (£000)|
|Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG)|
|Loan value||Number of loan offered||Value of loans offered (£000)||Number of loans drawn||Value of loans drawn (£000)|
Nicola Blackwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps his Department plans to take to encourage and support small and medium-sized enterprises and third sector organisations to compete for departmental contracts in line with value-for-money policy, UK regulations and EU procurement directives. 
Mr Davey: In the coalition agreement the Government made a commitment to promote small business procurement in the public sector, with an aspiration that 25% of Government contracts should be awarded to SMEs.
On 2 November the Minister for the Cabinet Office, the right hon. Member for Horsham (Mr Maude) announced a package of measures intended to make Government procurement easier for SMEs and voluntary sector organisations by simplifying the procurement process and making opportunities more accessible. These measures include the introduction of a simpler standardised pre-qualification questionnaire which is mandated across central Government from 1 December 2010; a LEAN study investigating red tape and causes of delay in the procurement process; and from March 2011 the Contracts Finder system-a free facility for small business to find public sector procurement, and sub contracting, opportunities in a single place online and free of charge.
The Government will be consulting further on facilitating voluntary sector access to public procurement. The Commissioning Green Paper to be published by the Cabinet Office shortly will aim to create a level playing field for charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises that wish to bid for public service contracts. The
Government have launched a forum on the No. 10 website for SMEs to give their views on public procurement from which we will be able to take further action.
Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the oral statement of 20 October 2010, Official Report, column 961, on the spending review, which 24 public bodies for which the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is responsible will be abolished. 
Mr Davey: The 24 public bodies referred to in the oral statement of 20 October 2010, Official Report, columns 949-65, will cease to exist in their current form but will not all be abolished. They include 19 bodies which it is proposed will no longer be non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), two bodies which will no longer be public corporations and six bodies which will be reduced to three through mergers.
The 19 bodies which will no longer be NDPBs are: Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Arbitration Tribunal; Competition Service; Consumer Focus (National Consumer Council); Copyright Tribunal; Design Council; Hearing Aid Council; NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts); eight Regional Development Agencies; SITPRO Ltd; Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property; Union Modernisation Fund Supervisory Board; Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Advisory Body.
In 2011-12, we are streamlining the skills landscape so that there are fewer intermediaries with which colleges have to work: abolishing BECTA and the Qualifications, Curriculum and Development Agency, transferring the Learning Skills Improvement Service to the further education (FE) sector itself and transferring responsibility for dispensing 16 to 18 grants to FE colleges to the Skills Funding Agency from the Young People's Learning Agency so that they have a single contact point for
funding and performance. We are further simplifying systems by creating a single adult skills budget, which will also rationalise data collection. Also, subject to the will of Parliament, we will remove a raft of statutory powers and duties, including the exemption of colleges judged "outstanding" by Ofsted to be inspected, unless their performance drops, and the removal of the requirement to seek approval from the chief executive of Skills Funding before borrowing.
Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the effect on further education colleges of the Government's proposal to restrict student visas to those studying at degree level. 
Mr Hayes: The proposal is that, while tier 4 is to be largely restricted to degree-level courses and child students, highly trusted sponsors will be permitted to offer courses below degree level to adults. We know that the majority of further education colleges that recruit international students are highly trusted.
Mr Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what the average time taken was for the Student Loan Company to reply to a letter from (a) an hon. Member and (b) a member of the public in the last two years; and if he will make a statement. 
In financial year 2009-10 it took the Student Loans Company on average 11 working days to reply to letters from Members of Parliament. In financial year 2010-11 it is taking the Company six working days on average to reply to Members of Parliament.
In financial year 2009-10 it took the Students Loans Company on average 10 working days to reply to letters from members of the public in relation to student finance account updates and general issues. In financial year 2010-11 it is taking the Company 12 working days on average to reply to members of the public.
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) what research his Department has commissioned on the number of students from families with children eligible for free school meals who
would be deterred from taking up higher education courses charging annual tuition fees of (a) between £4,000 and £5,999, (b) between £6,000 and £7,999, (c) between £8,000 and £8,999 and (d) £9,000 or more; 
(2) what studies his Department has commissioned on the potential effect of annual tuition fees of (a) £4,000, (b) £5,000, (c) £6,000, (d) £7,000, (e) £8,000 and (f) £9,000 on (i) the level of participation in higher education by students from families with gross income of less than £35,000, (ii) the number of applications by students from lower income families for courses of over three years duration and (iii) the number of students applying for a postgraduate certificate of education as a route into teaching as a profession. 
Mr Willetts: The Department has commissioned two pieces of related research; one carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) to support the Browne Review to explore how changes in fees, grants and loans impact on participation. That research, which analysed the 2006-07 HE finance reforms, indicated that while a £1,000 increase in fees results in a 4.4 ppt decrease in university participation, this is more than offset by the increases resulting from loans and grants package (3.2 ppt and 2.1 ppt increases). The other reviewed student support arrangements in other countries which also generally indicated there are no adverse impacts on participation of lower-income groups when an increase in tuition fees occurs alongside enhanced loan and grant provision.
The Government are committed to widening participation and improving fair access in higher education-ensuring that all those with the ability should have access to higher education irrespective of family income through the proposed package of reforms which include the introduction of new access arrangements for universities wishing to charge over £6,000; a new £150 million National Scholarship Programme targeted on students from disadvantaged backgrounds; and a more progressive system of graduate contributions.
Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what evidence he has received on the elasticity of demand of students from families with an annual income of (a) up to £15,000, (b) between £15,000 and £19,999, (c) between £20,000 and £24,999, (d) between £25,000 and £29,999, (e) between £30,000 and £34,999, (f) between £35,000 and £39,999, (g) between £40,000 and £44,999, (h) between £45,000 and £49,000 and (i) £50,000 and over for higher education subjects taking (i) three years until graduation, (ii) four years until graduation and (iii) four years or over until professional qualification, where annual tuition fees are charged of (A) £3,000, (B) £4,000, (C) £5,000, (D) £6,000, (E) £7,000, (F) £8,000 and (G) £9,000. 
Mr Willetts: The Department commissioned research to support the Browne Review which explored how changes in fees, grants and loans impact on participation. That research, which analysed the 2006-07 HE finance reforms, indicated that:
a £1,000 increase in fees results in a 4.4 ppt decrease in university participation, this is more than offset by the increases resulting from loans and grants package (3.2 ppt and 2.1 ppt increases).
The Government are committed to widening participation and improving fair access in higher education-ensuring that all those with the ability should
have access to higher education irrespective of family income through the proposed package of reforms which include the introduction of new access arrangements for universities wishing to charge over £6,000; a new £150 million National Scholarship Programme targeted on students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills which categories of part-time students will not be eligible for student loans under his proposals for higher education funding and student finance. 
Mr Willetts [holding answer 6 December 2010]: Under our proposals and for the first time all part-time undergraduate students in England will be eligible for loans for their tuition costs provided: they are personally eligible in terms of residency; they do not already hold a qualification which is at an equivalent or higher level to the qualification for which they now intend to study; they are studying on a course which is designated for support; and they are studying at an intensity rate which is at least one-quarter of an equivalent full-time course. Currently 60,000 part-time students receive tuition grants. Under our proposals we estimate 175,000 part-timers may be eligible for loans. No eligible part-time students will have to pay for their tuition costs up front and they will not have to begin repaying until they are earning at least £21,000.
Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how much funding his Department plans to allocate to the all-age careers service in (a) 2010-11, (b) 2011-12 and (c) 2012-13; and how many officials in his Department are working on this policy. 
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has allocated £82.8 million in 2010-11 for careers guidance for adults, which will be provided by the Next Step careers service in that year. The Department for Education (DfE) has allocated £466.7 million to local authorities for the Connexions service in 2010-11, through the area-based grant. Resources are not allocated separately to 'universal' and 'targeted' activities within the Connexions budget, and the Department does not collect data on local authority spend in those areas. However, we estimate that, of the total budget for Connexions in 2010-11, around £200 million funds careers advice and guidance activity.
Following the spending review, BIS and DfE are working through the detail of their spending settlements and are unable at this stage to confirm the funding that will be available for the all-age service in 2011-12 or 2012-13. There are 12 officials within BIS and 16 officials within DfE currently working on this policy, although some of these officials have other areas of responsibility. There are also 10 individuals in the Skills Funding Agency who devote some of their time to the development of the all-age service.