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Natural Gas

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent assessment he has made of the potential effects on global warming of an expansion of the extraction of gas from shale; and what the policy of his Department is on such extraction. [33414]

Charles Hendry: Shale gas exploitation in other countries suggests that the impact on global warming from the extraction and use of this resource can sometimes be higher than that of conventional gas, because of increased drilling density and well site operations. This impact is expected to vary more between individual shale gas exploitation operations than it does between individual conventional gas fields, making it relatively location dependent.

In the UK the first exploration well designed to evaluate shale gas potential is currently drilling west of Blackpool. However there is no current commercial production of shale gas within UK territory and no assessment of the potential impact on global warming of such operations has yet been made.

Government support industry's endeavours in pursuing such energy sources so long as the tapping of such resources proves to be technically, economically, and environmentally viable.

Natural Gas: Safety

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many reported gas escapes there were in December (a) 2010, (b) 2009 and (c) 2008; and which (i) company and (ii) gas network was responsible in each such case. [34069]

Charles Hendry: This is a matter for Ofgem who inform us that they do not collect this information on a monthly basis. However annual information is available for the number of public reports of gas escapes made to the four gas distribution network operators as set out in the following table.

Gas distribution network operators

National grid gas Scotia gas networks Northern gas networks Wales and West utilities Total

2007-08

602,205

335,555

148,639

112,126

1,198,525

2008-09

603,685

364,082

127,088

113,156

1,208,011

2009-10

580,371

345,624

122,957

109,446

1,158,398

Total

1,786,261

1,045,261

398,684

334,728

3,564,934


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Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many reportable gas escapes were still awaiting repair in the latest period for which figures are available; and which (a) company and (b) gas network was responsible for the outstanding repairs in each such case. [34070]

Charles Hendry: This is a matter for Ofgem who inform us that they do not currently collect data on the number of escapes awaiting repair. However, Ofgem is developing a way to assess the time taken by Gas Distribution Network operators to repair gas escapes and how they prioritise their work to deal with escapes as part of the forthcoming price control.

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the average time taken to repair reportable gas escapes in (a) 2008, (b) 2009 and (c) 2010. [34071]

Charles Hendry: This is a matter for Ofgem who inform us that they do not hold data on the time taken to repair gas escapes. However, Ofgem is developing a way to assess the time taken by Gas Distribution Network operators to repair gas escapes and how they prioritise their work to deal with escapes as part of the forthcoming price control.

Natural Gas: Storage

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many natural gas storage facilities (a) are in operation, (b) are under development, (c) have received planning permission, (d) are awaiting planning permission and (e) have been announced but are not yet subject to a planning application; what the (i) capacity or planned capacity and (ii) location is for each such facility; and what the planned commissioning date is for each such facility. [33956]

Charles Hendry: Most of the information requested is published in National Grid's annual "Ten Year Statement", last up-dated in December 2010; see Tables 4.7C-F. The "Ten Year Statement" is available at:

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the suitability of salt caverns for storage of natural gas reserves. [33957]

Charles Hendry: Storage of Natural Gas in salt caverns is a mature and well-established technology and there are currently over 70 salt storage facilities in use around the world.

Under the GB consents regime, site-specific issues are a matter for consideration during the consents application process.

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what (a) discussions and (b) other communication his Department has had with the Crown Estate on the charging rates applied by the Crown Estate for use of depleted
18 Jan 2011 : Column 743W
offshore gas fields under its ownership for gas storage in the last 12 months; and what the outcome of such communications was. [33959]

Charles Hendry: The Department has had no communication with the Crown Estate on this subject since 6 May 2010.

Nuclear Power Stations

Bill Esterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will establish an inquiry into the need for new nuclear power stations. [34403]

Charles Hendry: No. The Government, following extensive public consultation, are satisfied that there is a clear need for new nuclear power stations to help provide the UK with secure low carbon energy.

Renewable Energy

Bill Esterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the likely proportion of energy which will be generated from renewable sources in 2020. [34405]

Charles Hendry: The UK has a target to generate 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The Government are committed to achieving this target.

Recent analysis indicates that this will require overall renewable energy generation of 234 Terawatt hours (TWh) across the electricity, heat and transport sectors, based on central projections of energy consumption for 2020.

Renewable Energy: Finance

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent estimate he has made of the expenditure required in the UK in order to meet renewable energy obligations. [33422]

Charles Hendry: The UK has a legally binding 2020 target of delivering 15% of energy consumption coming from renewable energy. To meet this, it is estimated that around 30% of electricity, around 12% of heat and around 10% of transport demand will come from renewable sources.

In order to deliver these levels of renewable energy, expenditure defined as tax and spend by the Office for National Statistics will be incurred through the Renewables Obligation, Feed-in tariffs, the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation.

The spending is estimated at £32 billion* from 2011 to 2020 under the Renewables Obligation(1); £3.6 billion* under small-scale feed-in tariffs(2); £9.8 billion* under the Renewable Heat Incentive(3); and £8.9 billion* under the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation(4).

Note that these figures represent the total spending. Analysis in 2009 was published showing lower figures based on the additional level of spending resulting from the increase in renewables ambition, on a different price basis. These figures are based on the latest published analysis for the RHI and FITs and do not take into account announcements in spending review 2010.


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Spending through these renewable financial incentives at the point of operation/energy use will leverage significant amounts of up-front private sector investment in new renewable generating capacity. 2009 analysis estimated that there would be around £100 billion of investment opportunities in renewable electricity and renewable heat to 2020.

UK Smart Grid

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he plans to take to support the development of a UK smart grid. [33122]

Charles Hendry: We are developing policies to ensure that electricity system infrastructure can meet the key challenges for the future network and system balancing. These policy issues will form part of the Electricity Market Reform White Paper this spring. We are setting up with Ofgem a smart grid forum to guide the actions that we are taking to address future challenges for electricity networks.

DECC is also managing the implementation phases of the smart metering programme, which will see the rollout of smart meters to GB households and many businesses, paving the way for smart grids.

Ofgem has allocated £500 million in funding to encourage innovation in distribution networks over the next five years. In addition, by the end of this financial year, DECC will have awarded £2.8 million to projects through its smart grids capital grants programme under the low carbon investment fund.

Wind Power: Standards

Bill Esterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the proportion of wind turbines that did not reach their average rated speed in the last 12 months. [34407]

Charles Hendry: The Department does not hold information on the average load factors for individual wind turbines or wind farms. The average load factor for UK onshore wind turbines in 2009 was 26.9%. The equivalent figure for offshore wind was 33.7%. Figures for the UK in 2010 will be available following the publication of the Digest of UK Energy Statistics in July 2011.

Motor Vehicles: Manufacturing Industries

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his Department's policy is on providing financial support to the hybrid motor vehicle industry. [33634]


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Mr Prisk: I have been asked to reply.

To meet UK carbon targets, the road transport sector needs to be decarbonised and a key element will be the move to ultra-low carbon vehicles, including electric and plug-in hybrid. The spending review announced provision of in excess of £400 million over the lifetime of this Parliament to support the decarbonisation of road transport. This support will include:

The Technology Strategy Board's (TSB) core budget for the upcoming spending review period has yet to be allocated and until such a time it will not be possible for the TSB to specify the level of funding that it is likely to allocate towards the development of Low Carbon Vehicle technology. The TSB has been working in close partnership with this Department, the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to support Low Carbon Vehicle Research and Development (R and D) under a range of themes-including hybrid vehicle technology-prioritised by an industry-led steering group and informed by the New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team Technology Roadmap and Automotive Council findings. Funding is not, however, pre-allocated to specific themes, is subject to a competitive process and success will depend on the quality of the proposals submitted.

The projected R and D spend over the period 1 April 2011-31 March 2015 by the EPSRC in support of the hybrid motor vehicle industry is shown in the following table (based on current grants only).

Financial year EPSRC spend on hybrid motor vehicle research (£)

2011-12

8,115,823.84

2012-13

4,065,194.30

2013-14

2,369,970.74

2014-15

1,312,166.87

Total

15,863,155.75


The DfT funded Low Carbon Vehicle Public Procurement programme has provided 200 all-electric and hybrid vans into public sector fleets. The value of this has been £6 million in the financial year 2010-11, and will be £1 million in 2011-12.

DfT pays a bus subsidy incentive, at a rate of 6 pence per kilometre, to bus operators in England who use low carbon buses (including hybrid buses) on their local bus network.

Defence

Armed Forces: Housing

Caroline Dinenage: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel at the MOD Hospital Unit, Portsmouth, are housed in private sector rental accommodation. [33798]

Mr Robathan: The Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit in Portsmouth currently has 122 service personnel housed in private sector rental accommodation.


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Caroline Dinenage: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent on (a) substitute single service accommodation and (b) food and incidental allowances in the MOD Hospital Unit, Portsmouth in the latest period for which figures are available. [33799]

Mr Robathan: The following table shows how much was spent on Substitute Single Service Accommodation (SSSA) and Food and Incidental Allowance in the Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit, Portsmouth for the last financial year:

Period financial year Description Total (£)

2009-10

Excess rent and lodging allowance

525,258.57

2009-10

Messing and food allowance

173,410.36


In April 2005, at the beginning of relocation of our military staff to the new Queen Alexandra Hospital (QAH) at Cosham, the use of service accommodation within the Naval Base and wider Portsmouth area was considered, but none of sufficient quantity was available. As time was the key driver for locating staff nearer to the QAH, accommodation in Fort Blockhouse was not considered: the time taken and distance travelled to get staff to and from work from Fort Blockhouse was well outside Ministry of Defence policy on Tri-Service accommodation. To meet the needs and entitlements of our staff the decision to use SSSA was deemed to be the minimum necessary response under the prevailing circumstances and was in full accord with extant policies. The situation is monitored on a continuous basis.

Armed Forces: Postal Services

Neil Parish: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will examine the reasons for the (a) delay and (b) restrictions affecting people sending parcels to 25 Flight Army Air Corps in Belize. [34217]

Peter Luff: British Forces Post Office (BFPO) mail to Belize is transported through the USA and was therefore temporarily affected by the security restrictions resulting from the toner cartridge bomb alert in early November 2010. The backlog was cleared and deliveries made to Belize in time for Christmas. As a result of this incident the USA has imposed additional restrictions of the carriage of mail weighing more than 500 grams.

Delivery times for BFPO mail/parcels to all destinations are regularly monitored and the average time for delivery from anywhere in the UK to Belize through the BFPO system is currently between four and 11 days, largely dependent on whether the package weighs more than 500 grams.

Colchester Garrison

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) size and (b) structure was of the Ministry of Defence Police force presence at Colchester Garrison on (i) 31 May 1997, (ii) 31 May 2001, (iii) 31 May 2005, (iv) 31 May 2010 and (v) the latest date for which figures are available. [34333]

Mr Robathan: The size and structure of Ministry of Defence police (MDP) officers employed at Colchester Garrison on 31 May 1997, 31 May 2001, 31 May 2005, 31 May 2010 and the latest date for which figures are available 17 January 2011, are as follows:


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Date Inspector Sergeant Constable Total

31 May 1997

1

5

26

32

31 May 2001

1

5.5

25.5

32

31 May 2005

1

4.5

14.5

20

31 May 2010

0

1

2

3

17 January 2011

0

1

2

3


The current complement of MDP provides a community policing role at Colchester Garrison. Security is provided by the Ministry of Defence Guard Service (MGS), the Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS) and members of the Army unit stationed at the Garrison.

Defence: Sales

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who purchased the five BAe 125 aircraft sold by his Department in 2007; how that sale was organised; and if he will make a statement. [33748]

Mr Gerald Howarth: The five BAe 125 aircraft were sold to a private company, Everett Engineers. This followed a competition run on the Ministry of Defence's (MOD) behalf by Witham (Specialist Vehicles) Limited, one of the contractors used to dispose of surplus defence equipment through specialist marketing agreements which have been competed in accordance with European Union procurement regulations. The agreements cover the collection, storage, marketing and sale of the equipment, and any receipts due are returned to the MOD. The five aircraft had been in service since 1965.

Departmental Pensions

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the savings to his Department of the proposed change to the indexing of public sector benefits and pensions in each year to 2020. [34509]

Mr Gerald Howarth: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave on 17 January 2011, Official Report, columns 587-89W.

Ex-servicemen: Radiation Exposure

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department will offer all surviving veterans exposed to radiation during the nuclear weapons tests held by the UK Government in the 1950s a medical examination to assess any effects on their health resulting from this exposure. [34081]

Mr Robathan: The Ministry of Defence has recently placed a contract with an expert independent contractor for an audit of health needs among UK atmospheric nuclear test veterans. This will gather and record the direct experiences and views of nuclear test veterans in relation to the health and social care needs using a postal survey and focus groups.

The Departments of Health and NHS have lead responsibility for the health assessment and provision of health care services for ex-service personnel. Radiobiological measures were in place for the UK atmospheric tests and independent studies by the National Radiological Protection Board and International
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Cancer Research since then have found no evidence of a general adverse effect on health compared to a matched control group.

Germany: Military Bases

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what obligations he is under regarding the refurbishment of military bases in Germany to be vacated by UK forces. [34225]

Nick Harvey: The Germany estate is managed as set out within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and its supplementary agreement.

There are no obligations on the Secretary of State to refurbish military bases in Germany upon vacation.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what obligations he is under regarding the environmental restoration of military bases in Germany to be vacated by UK forces. [34226]

Nick Harvey: The Germany estate is managed as set out within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and its supplementary agreement. These agreements do not oblige the Secretary of State to undertake environmental restoration of military bases in Germany.

However, environmental damage caused by UK forces wilfully or by gross negligence can give rise to claims as set out within the agreements. Ministry of Defence policy is to undertake a land quality assessment for sites prior to closure.

Assets disposed of in Germany over the past 15 years has resulted in no claims being raised regarding environmental issues.

Gulf War Syndrome

Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what processes his Department has put in place to monitor developments and research into Gulf War Syndrome, related health problems and treatment by the US Department of Veterans Affairs and its Gulf War Veterans Illness Task Force. [34348]

Mr Robathan: The UK maintains close relations with the US Government on this issue. The Ministry of Defence has a British liaison officer based in Washington DC ensuring that the UK has full visibility of US research into Gulf veterans' illness issues, and providing a channel for communicating our own work to interested US parties.

Iraq-Kuwait Conflict: Anniversaries

Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what events he plans to hold to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Gulf War. [34347]

Mr Robathan: There are currently no plans for the UK to hold any official events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Gulf war.

However, an invitation has been received from the Government of Kuwait to take part in activities this year to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their liberation during the first Gulf war as well as the 50th anniversary of their independence from the UK. The first of such events is the Liberation Day parade to
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be held in Kuwait City in late February at which the UK will be represented by units from the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force as well as senior veterans from the conflict.

Military Aircraft

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many RAF aircraft of each type were (a) in service, (b) in the forward fleet and (c) fit for purpose on the latest date for which figures are available. [33446]

Peter Luff: The information requested is shown in the following table. The figures shown are the average for December 2010 and so have been rounded to the nearest aircraft.

In service aircraft include all bar those which are redundant, declared as surplus or awaiting disposal. The forward fleet comprises aircraft which are serviceable or short-term unserviceable. Fit for purpose aircraft include only serviceable aircraft available to the front-line commands for operational and training purposes. The number of aircraft available in each category varies according to normal fleet management activities including requirements for mandated maintenance and upgrade programmes.

Aircraft type In service fleet Forward fleet Fit for purpose

BAe 146

2

1

1

BAe 125

6

5

4

C-17

6

6

5

Dominie

9

7

5

Harrier(1)

74

41

41

Hawk T1

129

87

57

Hawk T2

17

8

5

Hercules COOK

11

7

5

Hercules CI30J

24

19

13

King Air

4

2

2

Nimrod R1

2

1

1

Sentinel

5

4

3

Sentry

6

4

3

Tornado F3

15

12

12

Tornado GR4

137

100

97

TriStar

9

5

2

Tucano

93

52

33

Typhoon

70

44

44

VC10

13

11

7

Vigilant

65

65

59

Viking

82

81

76

(1 )Harrier was withdrawn from service on 15 December 2010.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department made of the suitability of the Nimrod MR4A for conversion to the role planned for the RC-135W. [33447]

Peter Luff: Two Nimrod MRA4-based proposals were considered as part of the Airseeker investment appraisal. The RC-135W Rivet Joint option was chosen because it demonstrated best value for money.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many flight hours there are on each of the three KC-135 airframes due to be converted to the RC-135W. [33448]


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Peter Luff: As at 14 September 2010, the latest date for which figures are available, aircraft one had accumulated 23,200 flying hours, aircraft two 22,200 hours and aircraft three 23,200 flying hours. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 100 hours.

Military Bases

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) civilian and (b) military staff were employed at each (i) RAF, (ii) Royal Navy, (iii) army and (iv) Royal Marines base in each year since 1997. [30855]

Mr Robathan: This information is not held centrally or in the format requested. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 6 December 2010, Official Report, column 5W, to the right hon. and learned Member for North East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) which provides some of the information requested on RAF bases. I also refer the hon. Member to Defence Analytical Services and Advice [TSP10] which provides information on the geographical locations of regular forces stationed in the UK. This table can be found at the following website:

Copies of the document have been placed in the Library of the House.

I do, however, recognise the benefits of having this information. While the effort required to produce the RAF data to 2007 was considerable, I have nevertheless asked the Department to investigate to what extent a similar exercise in respect of the other services and civilian personnel would be possible. I will write to the hon. Member once this work is complete.

North Korea: Nuclear Weapons

Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the nuclear weapons capability of (a) North Korea and (b) Iran. [34055]

Nick Harvey: North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. We currently assess it has produced sufficient plutonium for a small number of nuclear weapons. We have also noted the recent disclosures in November 2010 of a uranium enrichment capability, which could also be used to support a nuclear weapon programme.

Iran is not currently assessed to have nuclear weapons. However it continues to pursue uranium enrichment and the construction of a heavy water research reactor, both of which have military potential, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions. We share the concerns of the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran has not adequately explained evidence of possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme.

We continue to implement all UN Security Council resolutions relating to North Korea and Iran.

Service Complaints Commissioner: Finance

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much funding his Department allocated to the Service Complaints Commissioner in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10, [34622]


18 Jan 2011 : Column 751W

Mr Robathan: The role of Service Complaints Commissioner came into being on 1 January 2008 and annual reports are published that contain details of expenditure. The following table provides information on the Ministry of Defence actual spend for calendar years 2008 and 2009. Expenditure relating to 2010 is currently being compiled.

Allocation (£)

2008

316,000

2009

412,300


Treasury

Banks: Qualifications

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his Department has undertaken an assessment in the last 13 years of the standard of professional education held by British-regulated bankers; and if he will consider making professional certification in financial analysis and risk-taking part of the regulatory process. [33876]

Mr Hoban: This is a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA), whose day-to-day operations are independent of Government. I have asked the FSA to write to the hon. Member on the issue he raises.

Barnett Formula

Bill Esterson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has plans to review the Barnett formula. [33671]

Danny Alexander: The coalition Government recognises the concerns expressed on the system of devolved funding. However at this present time the priority must be to reduce the budget deficit and therefore any decisions to change the current system must await the stabilisation of the public finances.

Child Benefit

Ms Angela Eagle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the number of households in (a) Wallasey constituency, (b) Wirral borough council area, (c) the North West and (d) the UK which will be affected by the proposed withdrawal of child benefit from households which include a higher rate tax payer. [33869]

Mr Gauke: Information on household income for child benefit claimants is not available at parliamentary constituency or local council level.

The number of households affected by the withdrawal of child benefit from families with a higher rate tax payer in 2013:

Christmas Trees

Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost was of his Department's Christmas tree for 2010. [29987]


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Justine Greening: The tree was donated, at no cost, by one of the Treasury's building contractors. The decorations, which can be reused in future years, cost £36.

Crown Estate Commissioners

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of increased revenue payable (a) to the Crown Estate Commissioners and (b) from the Crown Estate Commissioners to the Treasury as a result of the development and generation of offshore wind energy in each year from 2011 to 2020; and if he will disaggregate such estimates into revenues from projects which are expected to gain their Electricity Act Section 36 consent from Scottish Ministers and those which are expected to obtain consent from the Government. [34221]

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the income from the Crown Estate was in 2009-10; and what estimate has been made of income from the Estate in (a) 2010-11, (b) 2011-12, (c) 2012-13 and (d) 2013-14. [34196]

Justine Greening: The Crown Estate is obliged by law to pay its net annual surplus to the Exchequer. In 2009-10 the surplus paid over was £210 million of which rents from offshore wind activity contributed £2.6 million. The Crown Estate's medium-term objective is to generate a return of some £250 million by 2014.

Since the Crown Estate operates commercially, it does not publish annual forecasts of its net surpluses.

Departmental Manpower

Jonathan Edwards: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people work in his Department's Devolved Countries unit. [33624]

Danny Alexander: The Devolved Countries Unit is made up of seven people:

Departmental Redundancy

Kate Green: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff in his Department have been made redundant since May 2010. [34535]

Justine Greening: Fewer than five members of staff in HM Treasury have been made redundant since May 2010. It is the Treasury's policy for reasons of confidentiality not to release full details relating to numbers of staff fewer than five where to do so might lead to the identification of individual cases.

Departmental Temporary Employment

Kate Green: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff are employed on fixed-term contracts in his Department; and what their job titles are. [34533]


18 Jan 2011 : Column 753W

Justine Greening: The following table gives the numbers of full-time equivalent civil servants employed on fixed-term contracts as at 30 November 2010, by Treasury pay range and civil service equivalent job title.

Range Job Title Full-time equivalent (FTE)

G

Director

2

F

Deputy Director

1

E

Grade 7

13.8

D

Senior/Higher Executive Officer

20

C

Executive Officer

3

B

Administrative Officer

8

Student

Student

25

Infrastructure Specialist

n/a

2


Disability

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment his Department has undertaken of the effects on people with disabilities of the outcome of the comprehensive spending review for his Department. [34628]

Justine Greening: At the spending review, the Treasury made a qualitative assessment of the likely impact of the spending review on different groups, including disabled people. These assessments were considered when decisions were made. The Treasury published the document, "Overview of Impact of the Spending Review 2010 on Equalities" alongside the spending review announcement.

Equality impact assessments, where appropriate, will be considered and published by the relevant Departments as the full details of these policies are finalised. These will include assessments of the impact of policies on disabled people.

The Treasury takes its statutory equality duties very seriously. I work closely with my colleagues, especially the Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, to ensure that HM Treasury complies with its statutory obligations.

Excise Duties: Fuels

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will review his proposal to increase the level of duty on fuel in April 2011. [34331]

Justine Greening: The Chancellor keeps all taxes under review along Budget timelines. The Chancellor has announced that Budget 2011 will take place on 23 March.

Financial Services: Standards

Geraint Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will encourage the Financial Services Authority to endorse British Standard (a) BS8453 and (b) BS18477 on Compliance Frameworks for Financial Services Firms as its confirmed industry guidance. [32331]

Mr Hoban: This is a matter for the Financial Services Authority whose day-to-day operations are independent from Government control and influence.


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Geraint Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will meet the British Standards Institution to discuss the proposed standard (a) BS8453 and (b) BS18477 on Compliance Frameworks for Financial Services Forms. [32341]

Mr Hoban: The Chancellor of the Exchequer, my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Mr Osborne), has no plans to meet British Standards Institution to discuss the two proposed standards.

Income Tax

Amber Rudd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in (a) England, (b) East Sussex, (c) Hastings and (d) Hastings and Rye constituency he estimates will stop paying income tax as a result of the increase in personal income tax allowances in April 2011. [33696]

Mr Gauke: The number of persons taken out of tax as a result of the £1,000 increase in the personal allowance in 2011-12 in England is estimated to be 740,000.

This estimate is based on 2007-08 Survey of Personal Incomes data projected to 2011-12 in line with the June 2010 Budget assumptions.

It not possible to produce reliable estimates for counties, towns and parliamentary constituencies due to small sample sizes at these levels of geography.

Information on the distribution of taxpayer numbers by local authority and parliamentary constituency in 2007-08 is available on the HMRC website at:

Chris Skidmore: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number of people in each parliamentary constituency who will pay less tax as a result of the personal income tax allowance being increased to £7,475 in April 2011. [33714]

Mr Gauke: In the June 2010 Budget it was estimated that 23 million basic rate taxpayers will gain an average of £170 in 2011-12 as a result of the increase in the personal allowance to £7,475.

This estimate is based on 2007-08 Survey of Personal Incomes data projected to 2011-12 in line with June 2010 Budget economic assumptions.

Reliable estimates of numbers gaining by parliamentary constituency are not available, as projection of the survey data to 2011-12 does not allow for geographical variations in population changes or economic trends. Latest available survey information on the distribution of taxpayers by local authority and parliamentary constituency in 2007-08 is available on the HMRC website at:

Members: Correspondence

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to respond to the letter from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, dated 18 November 2010 in regard to Ms E. Wright. [33655]

Justine Greening: I have replied to the right hon. Member.


18 Jan 2011 : Column 755W

Public Expenditure

Fiona Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what total public expenditure in England in 2009-10 was as a proportion of gross domestic product. [32533]

Danny Alexander: Total public expenditure in the United Kingdom in 2009-10 as a proportion of GDP was 47.7%.

The latest figure available for England is for 2008-09, which was published in Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2010. As a proportion of UK GDP total identifiable expenditure in England in 2008-09 was 28.6%.

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer from the Chief Secretary to the Treasury of 21 December 2010, Official Report, column 1311, what the monetary value of planned expenditure (a) in transport infrastructure, (b) in housing, (c) in job creation, (d) in schools, (e) in health services and (f) in total (i) was under the spending plans of the previous administration and (ii) is following the outcome of the comprehensive spending review in (A) City of York, (B) Yorkshire and the Humber and (C) England in (1) 2010-11, (2) 2011-12 and (3) 2012-13. [32794]

Danny Alexander: The previous Government did not publish spending plans beyond 2010-11. Regional breakdowns of public spending are shown in the Country and Regional Analysis (CRA) published annually as part of the Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA) Command paper. The figures for planned spending by central Government and public corporations for 2010-11 in England and Yorkshire and Humber were published in PESA 2010. These figures are consistent with pre Budget report 2009 and are reproduced in table 1 as follows. We do not hold data for individual locations. PESA 2011 will contain regional breakdowns of spending for 2010-11, based on outturn data for central Government and public corporations, and plans data for local government. The CRA exercise has not been carried out on the spending review outcome.

Table 1: 2010-11 planned CG and PC spending

£ million

Yorkshire and Humber

31,691

England

310,668

Source: Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2010 (HMT).

Public Sector: Borrowing

Mr Tom Clarke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the Government deficit was as a proportion of gross domestic product on 1 April 2010; [34513]

(2) what the Government deficit was as a proportion of gross domestic product on 15 September 2008; [34517]

(3) what the level of Government borrowing was on 1 April 2010. [34518]

Justine Greening: Outturn figures for the Government deficit (Public Sector Net Borrowing) can be found in the public finances databank on the Treasury website.


18 Jan 2011 : Column 756W

Royal Bank of Scotland: Finance

Mr Streeter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate he has made of the market value of West Register Ltd.; and whether he expects the full market value of West Register to be taken into account in the disposal of the publicly-owned stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland. [33857]

Mr Hoban: UK Financial Investments Ltd. (UKFI) manages the Government's investments in Royal Bank of Scotland on an arm's length and commercial basis.

UKFI's remit is to devise and execute a strategy for disposing of the Government's investments in an orderly and active way in line with its overarching objective to create and protect value for the taxpayer as shareholder. Circumstances under which UKFI are likely to be able to sell shares are likely to be those in which the economy-and investor confidence-is recovering and in which bank share prices are firm.

Sovereign Support Grant

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to establish the sovereign support grant linked to revenue from the Crown Estate. [34192]

Justine Greening: Primary legislation is planned for later this year.

Taxation: Business

Mr David Davis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reasons his Department treats historic corporate tax matters as confidential. [34408]

Mr Gauke: HMRC is subject to a strict legislative duty of confidentiality by virtue of section 18 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act (CRCA) 2005. HMRC may only disclose taxpayer information in strictly limited circumstances and where there is a legal basis to do so. This statutory duty of confidentiality is not time -limited and therefore "tax matters" which are confidential remain so regardless of the passage of time.

VAT

Grahame M. Morris: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the likely effects of the increase in the rate of value added tax on (a) businesses, (b) employment and (c) economic growth in the (i) North East and (ii) UK. [33694]

Mr Gauke: The answer to this question falls within the responsibilities of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), and I have asked the OBR to reply.

Letter from Robert Chote, dated 13 January 2011:


18 Jan 2011 : Column 757W

Jim Sheridan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the effect on net incomes of value added tax. [33934]

Mr Gauke: Value added tax is an indirect tax. Although prices on certain goods and services will increase as a result of the rate increase, incomes will be unaffected.

Annex A of the Budget 2010 publication shows that in both cash terms and as a proportion of their income, higher spending households will pay more of the tax increase than lower spending households.

VAT: Charities

Mr Burley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has plans to bring forward legislative proposals to offer to charities delivering public services the same value added tax status as local authorities and the NHS. [33625]

Mr Gauke: The Chancellor has no current plans to do this. The VAT which is refunded to local authorities and the NHS is taken into account as part of those bodies' overall funding arrangements. The schemes that are in place are the most efficient means of delivering this part of their funding.

VAT: Construction

Mark Lancaster: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider the merits of removing the value added tax liability of self-build projects. [33713]

Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs already operates a refund scheme for do-it-yourself house builders and converters. Under this scheme, a person who builds a new house, or converts a previously non-residential building into a dwelling, for their own use, can recover the VAT they have incurred on the purchase of building materials.

VAT: Scotland

Ian Murray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received from businesses operating in Scotland on the effects of the VAT increase. [33183]

Danny Alexander: None of which I am aware. Decisive action taken by the Government in the spending review and June Budget, including the increase in VAT, will put the public finances and spending on a sustainable footing. This is already helping to keep long-term interest rates low and will encourage businesses to invest and grow.


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Welfare Tax Credits

Yvonne Fovargue: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average time taken for processing notification changes of circumstances to recipients of tax credits resident (a) in Makerfield constituency and (b) nationally was in the latest period for which figures are available. [34619]

Mr Gauke: The information requested is not available at constituency level.

HM Revenue and Customs aim to process 98% of reported changes in 30 days. The provisional outturn for 2010-11 up to November 2010 was around 93%.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Advocate on Access to Education

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how much funding his Department has allocated for the costs of the Advocate on Access to Education; and if he will make a statement. [34626]

Mr Willetts: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education are having ongoing discussions with the Advocate on Access to Education how he will fulfil his role and the support he will need. At present no costs have been allocated for this unsalaried post.

Apprentices

Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps he is taking to provide information on Apprenticeship Week to potential apprenticeship providers and apprentices. [34057]

Mr Hayes: This is the fourth year Apprenticeship Week has been held, and it will take place between 7 and 11 February.

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) have been working extensively with partners since planning began in September 2010, and already over 100 events and activities have been agreed, with more being added every day.

I have written to MPs in England inviting them to get involved. So far, 75 have responded saying they would like to attend events or visit apprentices in their place of work or training.

The NAS is also working closely with the media to raise the profile of Apprenticeships Week to ensure some of the key activities are profiled in advance.

Apprentices: Birmingham

Mr Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many apprenticeship starts there were in Birmingham Hall Green constituency in each year since 2005. [33605]

Mr Hayes: The following table shows the number of apprenticeship starts in Birmingham Hall Green constituency from 2005/06 to 2008/09, the latest year for which final year data are available.


18 Jan 2011 : Column 759W
Apprenticeship programme starts, 2005/06 to 2008/09

2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09

Birmingham Hall Green constituency

260

270

280

370

Notes:
1. Figures for Birmingham Hall Green parliamentary constituency are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Figures are based upon the home postcode of the learner.
Source:
Individualised Learner Record

Information on the number of apprenticeship starts is published in a quarterly statistical first release (SFR), this includes information by parliamentary constituency. The latest SFR was published on 16 November 2010:

Broadcasting: ICT

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will take steps to ensure that the chief executive of Ofcom engages with all interested parties that have concerns over the planned introduction of unlicensed white space devices; and if he will make a statement. [33767]

Mr Prisk: Ofcom, the independent regulator, has engaged extensively with stakeholders on this issue, and recently consulted in November 2010. Ofcom also published two consultations in February and November 2009, regarding cognitive devices using interleaved spectrum, and geolocation for cognitive access respectively. Interested parties have therefore already had a number of opportunities to raise concerns with Ofcom. I anticipate that Ofcom will continue to engage with stakeholders in the future.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Research

Chris White: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps his Department is taking to support research on myalgic encephalomyelitis; and if he will make a statement. [33971]

Mr Willetts: The Medical Research Council (MRC) is an independent body which receives its grant-in-aid from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The MRC is one of the main agencies through which the Government supports medical and clinical research. In keeping with the Haldane principle, prioritisation of an individual Research Council's spending within its allocation is not a decision for Ministers.

The MRC supports research into all aspects of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME), and welcomes high-quality research applications in this area. The MRC does not normally commission research but supports high-quality investigator led proposals submitted in open competition, the selection of projects for funding is determined through peer review.

An Expert Group on CFS/ME established by the MRC has worked with experts in the field of CFS/ME and research leaders in aligned areas to identify and prioritise research topics where the MRC might target efforts to encourage and support high-quality proposals. The MRC is now preparing to take forward these recommendations.


18 Jan 2011 : Column 760W

Further information on research supported by the MRC and about the work of the group, including the recommendations for research topics and priorities can be found at:

Council for Education in the Commonwealth

Mr Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills when he plans to respond to the letter of 10 November 2010 from the Council for Education in the Commonwealth. [33021]

Mr Hayes: I regret that we can find no record of a letter from the Council for Education in the Commonwealth to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, dated 10 November 2010.

If the hon. Member for Tottenham, or the Council for Education in the Commonwealth would write again, or provide a copy of the original letter, I will respond as soon as possible.

Green Investment Bank

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what mechanisms to secure (a) the effective operation of the Green Investment Bank, (b) its independence from the Government and (c) its accountability to Parliament have been established. [34093]

Mr Prisk: Green Investment Bank (GIB) proposals are being evaluated for their effectiveness, fiscal affordability and transparency. BIS is working closely with other Government Departments on the development of these proposals, including the Department for Energy and Climate Change, Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, HM Treasury, Department for Transport, Department of Communities and Local Government, Cabinet Office and Infrastructure UK.

We are committed to establishing a GIB that is effective in mobilising additional private sector investment into green infrastructure projects. It will, therefore, be run on a commercial basis, employing appropriate private sector skills and expertise and free from ministerial interference in its day-to-day operations.

The GIB's governance arrangements and its legislative requirements, if any, will depend on the nature of its final design. The Government are currently conducting analysis and market testing and plans to publish its conclusions in May 2011.

Higher Education: Medicine

Michael Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent assessment his Department has made of the effects of the planned increase in tuition fees on graduate level entry into medicine. [33304]

Mr Willetts: The Government have set out initial plans for the reform of higher education to ensure that we maintain England's world class university sector underpinned by progressive student funding with the emphasis on first undergraduate degrees.


18 Jan 2011 : Column 761W

Unlike the vast majority of students doing a second undergraduate degree, students who choose to take a second undergraduate degree in medicine continue to have access to Government support.

Those taking the normal length five or six-year medicine degree receive a maintenance loan from this Department for the first four years of the course. From the fifth year, the Department of Health (DH) pays the student's tuition charges in full and also provides a means-tested NHS Bursary; the BIS maintenance loan continues to be available at a reduced rate.

Some students take a four-year accelerated graduate-entry medicine degree. Individual universities set their own entry requirements for this course, but most entrants are required to hold an honours degree in an appropriate science discipline. Students are eligible for a maintenance loan from BIS for the first year of the course. For the remaining three years the DH pays the student's tuition charges in full as well as providing a means-tested NHS Bursary; the reduced maintenance loan from BIS is also available.

Lord Browne did not recommend any changes to the funding of postgraduate education but did recommend that participation in postgraduate study should be monitored to identify whether changes to the undergraduate funding and finance system have any effect on entry to postgraduate courses: we have committed to do so.

Higher Education: Radicalism

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many universities are currently deemed vulnerable to extremism; and what advice and guidelines he has offered those universities. [33725]

Mr Willetts: All higher education institutions (in England) received guidance from the (then) Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills in 2008 on how to manage the risk and they all receive on-going advice and guidance from their designated police officer and other local partners.

Currently 39 institutions have been identified as more at risk of extremist activity on their campuses and these institutions have received additional briefing and targeted support from central Government.

Higher Education: Scholarships

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many students he estimates the National Scholarship Programme will assist in (a) 2012-13, (b) 2013-14 and (c) 2014-15; and if he will make a statement. [34623]

Mr Willetts: The National Scholarship Programme (NSP) will form part of a coherent package of help targeted on bright potential students from disadvantaged backgrounds. All universities that want to charge a higher graduate contribution than the £6,000 threshold will be obliged to participate in the NSP.

The design of the National Scholarship Programme is by no means finalised. Criteria for the NSP are currently being developed through advice from an expert panel, which includes the National Union of Students, the Higher Education Funding Council for England,
18 Jan 2011 : Column 762W
Universities UK, Sutton Trust and others. The right hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Simon Hughes), the Government's Advocate for Access to Higher Education, has been invited to join the group.

Government investment in the programme will reach £150 million a year by 2014/15. Options could include a first free year for disadvantaged students who were on free school meals or a foundation year to attract young talented people into the professions. Such measures could potentially help around 18,000 students in 2014/15. The number of students who can benefit from the new programme will depend on the final design which is currently being developed with advice from the expert panel.

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what eligibility criteria for assistance from the National Scholarship Programme will be in place for 2012-13; and if he will make a statement. [34624]

Mr Willetts: The National Scholarship Programme (NSP) will form part of a coherent package of help targeted on bright potential students from disadvantaged backgrounds. All universities that want to charge a higher graduate contribution than the £6,000 threshold will be obliged to participate in the NSP.

Details of the National Scholarship Programme are still being finalised. Criteria for the NSP are currently being developed through advice from an expert panel, which includes the National Union of Students, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Universities UK, Sutton Trust and others. Simon Hughes, the Government's Advocate for Access to Higher Education, has been invited to join the group.

We want a wide range of people to have the opportunity to benefit from the programme. Likely groups to be supported include disabled students, part-time students, mature-aged students, those who have been eligible for the pupil premium at school, or have received free school meals or whose family income means that they will be eligible to receive student maintenance grants.

Innovation

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether small and medium-sized enterprises will be required to pay to use the (a) services and (b) facilities of his Department's proposed technology and innovation centres. [33708]

Mr Willetts: The technology and innovation centres will operate on a commercial basis and all businesses, including SMEs, will be required to pay commercial charge rates levied by the centres to use most of their services.

The provision of core funding will however ensure that SMEs have access to world-leading technology and expertise that would not otherwise be within reach. It will also enable collaboration, the exchange of tacit knowledge and reach into the knowledge base.

Furthermore, the Technology Strategy Board will work to ensure there are no barriers in place restricting SME access to centres.


18 Jan 2011 : Column 763W

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills for what reasons chemical process industries were not included on the initial list of candidate areas for technology and innovation centres in the prospectus published by the Technology Strategy Board. [33712]

Mr Willetts: Chemical process industries were not excluded from the prospectus. The prospectus highlights six broad thematic areas. It notes that under the theme of high value manufacturing, the Technology Strategy Board will maintain a broad, cross-sector approach, in line with its strategy, embracing all forms of manufacture using metals and composites, in addition to process manufacture including bio-processing.

Mowden Hall

Mrs Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) what criteria he plans to apply to determine the future of his Department's operations at Mowden Hall in Darlington; [33979]

(2) what plans he has for the future of his Department's operations at Mowden Hall in Darlington. [33980]

Mr Davey: The Permanent Secretary has commissioned a review of BIS presence on two sites, of which Mowden Hall, Darlington is one, and Runcorn the other. The review will consider business, personnel and financial aspects.

All staff affected by the review are involved in the process along with the Trades Unions, who have been consulted throughout.

Postgraduate Education: Fees and Charges

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of likely fee levels for postgraduate taught courses in (a) 2012-13, (b) 2013-14 and (c) 2014-15; and if he will make a statement. [34625]

Mr Willetts: We have no basis on which to make such an assessment. Fee rates for the vast majority of taught postgraduate courses are unregulated and set by each individual institution. Lord Browne noted that taught postgraduate education was a successful part of the higher education system and found no evidence that changes to funding or student finance were needed to support student demand or access. We will set out our priorities for taught postgraduate provision and our response to the postgraduate review in the forthcoming higher education White Paper.

Students: Finance

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether the repayment terms for part-time students who take out tuition fee loans will be the same as those for full-time students. [33948]

Mr Willetts [holding answer 17 January 2011]: Under our proposals from academic year 2012/13-and for the first time-all part-time undergraduate students in England
18 Jan 2011 : Column 764W
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. These criteria match those for full time studies. The further criterion for part-time students is that they should be 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, the same repayment threshold as we propose for full-time students.

Training

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps he is taking to improve the skills base of the labour force. [33756]

Mr Hayes [holding answer 17 November 2010]: The Government's Skills Strategy, 'Skills for Sustainable Growth', published on 16 November 2010, set out a vision for radical reform of the further education and skills system, based on the coalition principles of fairness, responsibility and freedom.

The strategy will guide the Government's reform of adult learning and skills over the remainder of this Parliament and point the way towards growth in the longer term. Its aim is to improve the skills base of the work force by putting learners, and not the state, in the driving seat. We want to give them the funding, support and information they need to make the right choices for their future.

Apprenticeships will sit at the heart of the system. We will expand the numbers of adult apprenticeships available by up to 75,000 by 2014-15 and reshape them so that technician level-Level 3-becomes the level to which learners and employers should aspire.

Learners will be able to select training and qualifications designed and valued by business, and which are offered by a broad range of autonomous providers competing with one another.

Greatest support from the state will be given to those who need it most. But we will expect learners and employers to share responsibility by contributing towards the costs of intermediate and higher level training.

There will be a new role for employers in shaping the skills system. We need employers to get involved, to shape the system and utilise the skills of their work force, so that they get the most from their investment. We will support them in implementing proposals they make for raising their game on skills.

We will increase competition between providers to drive up standards, and encourage greater diversity of provision. And we will free providers from bureaucratic control and centrally determined targets and radically simplify funding so they can respond to the needs of business and learners.


18 Jan 2011 : Column 765W

Cabinet Office

Unemployment

Ms Angela Eagle: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what his most recent estimate is of the number of workless households in (a) Wallasey constituency, (b) the Wirral borough council area, (c) the North West and (d) the UK. [33868]

Mr Hurd: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated January 2011:


18 Jan 2011 : Column 766W
Table 1: Number of workless households( 1) in Wallasey, Wirral, the North West and the UK
Thousand Percentage
January-December 2009 Estimate Lower bound( 2) Upper bound( 2) Estimate Lower bound( 2) Upper bound( 2)

Wallasey constituency

9

7

11

29.1

22.5

35.7

Wirral

26

22

30

25.1

21.7

28.5

North West

495

476

513

21.6

20.8

22.3

UK

3,803

3,749

3,857

18.7

18.4

18.9

(1 )Households containing at least one person aged 16-64, where all individuals aged 16 or over are not in employment.
(2) 95% confidence interval which means that from all samples possible there would be 95% certainty that the true estimate would lie within the lower and upper bounds.
Source:
APS household dataset

Education

Curriculum

Mr Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what the scope will be of his Department's review of the national curriculum; when it will commence; what the timetable for the review will be; and if he will make a statement; [32615]

(2) who will lead his Department's review of the national curriculum. [32616]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 10 January 201 1 ]: Full details of our planned review of the national curriculum, including its scope and timetable and how it will be led and managed, will be announced shortly.

Education Maintenance Allowance

Mrs Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many people are employed in the administration of the education maintenance allowance. [30232]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 20 December 2010]: This is a matter for the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA) who operate the education maintenance allowance for the Department for Education. Peter Lauener, the YPLA's chief executive, has written to the hon. Member for Darlington with the information requested and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Libraries.

Letter from Peter Lauener, dated 13 December 2010:

Nic Dakin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what estimate he has made of the monetary value of education maintenance allowance granted to students in each constituency since the inception of the scheme. [31035]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 13 January 2011]: This is a matter for the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA) who operate the education maintenance allowance for the Department for Education. Peter Lauener, the YPLA's chief executive, has written to the hon. Member for Scunthorpe with the information requested and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Libraries.

Nic Dakin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many students (a) in total and (b) in year 12 resident in each parliamentary constituency were in receipt of education maintenance allowance in the latest period for which figures are available. [31046]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 13 January 2011]: This is a matter for the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA) who operate the education maintenance allowance for the Department for Education. Peter Lauener, the YPLA's chief executive, has written to the hon. Member for Scunthorpe with the information requested and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Libraries.

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many and what proportion of young people received education maintenance allowance in each constituency in the latest period for which figures are available. [31373]

Mr Gibb: This is a matter for the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA) who operate the education maintenance allowance for the Department for Education. Peter Lauener, the YPLA's chief executive, has written to the hon. Member for the Vale of Clwyd with the information requested and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Libraries.


18 Jan 2011 : Column 767W

Education Maintenance Allowance: Darlington

Mrs Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many young people resident in Darlington receive education maintenance allowance. [30073]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 20 December 2010]: This is a matter for the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA) who operate the education maintenance allowance for the Department for Education. Peter Lauener, the YPLA's chief executive, has written to the hon. Member for Darlington with the information requested and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Libraries.

Letter from Peter Lauener, dated 10 December 2010:


18 Jan 2011 : Column 768W

Free School Meals

Mr Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many and what proportion of (a) primary and (b) secondary school pupils in (i) Reading East constituency and (ii) England were eligible for free school meals on the latest date for which figures are available. [28828]

Mr Gibb: Information on the number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals is shown in the following table.

Maintained primary and state-funded secondary( 1,2) schools: school meal arrangements( 3,4) : in England and Reading East parliamentary constituency , January 2010
Primary schools( 1) State-funded secondary schools( 2)

No. on roll No. of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals % known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals No. on roll No. of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals % known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals

England

3,831,470

709,370

18.5

2,864,350

441,140

15.4

Reading East

6,272

803

12.8

3,626

353

9.7

(1) Includes middle schools as deemed.
(2) Includes city technology colleges and academies.
(3) Includes sole and dual (main) registrations.
(4) Includes pupils who have full time attendance and are aged 15 or under, or pupils who have part time attendance and are aged between 5 and 15.
Note:
England figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.
Source:
School Census

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many and what proportion of pupils entitled to free school meals there were in each constituency in each of the last 10 years. [31415]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 16 December 2010]: The available information on the number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals, from 2005 onwards, has been placed in the Library.

To provide information prior to 2005 would incur disproportionate cost.

Free School Meals: Kingswood

Chris Skidmore: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many pupils attending schools in Kingswood constituency are eligible for free school meals. [31582]

Mr Gibb: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Wigan (Lisa Nandy) on 22 November 2010, Official report, column 92W.

The answer provides information on the number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals by parliamentary constituency.

Free School Meals: West Midlands

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many people in (a) Coventry and (b) the West Midlands are in receipt of free school meals. [33033]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 13 January 2011]: Information on free school meal eligibility is shown in the table.

The answer includes full-time pupils aged 0 to 15 and part-time pupils aged five to 15 known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals.


18 Jan 2011 : Column 769W

18 Jan 2011 : Column 770W
Maintained nursery, primary( 1) , state-funded secondary( 1,2) and special schools( 3) : school meal arrangements( 4,5) , January 2010
Maintained nursery and primary( 1) State-funded secondary( 1,2) Special( 3)

Number on roll( 4,5) Number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals( 4,5) % known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals Number on roll( 4,5) Number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals( 4,5) % known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals Number on roll( 4,5) Number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals( 4,5) % known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals

England

3,838,680

711,410

18.5

2,864,350

441,140

15.4

78,330

27,330

34.9

West Midlands

432,020

94,930

22.0

323,780

57,770

17.8

10,620

4,000

37.7

Coventry

25,130

6,110

24.3

17,380

3,510

20.2

730

300

41.8

(1) Includes middle schools as deemed.
(2) Includes city technology colleges and academies.
(3) Includes maintained and non-maintained special schools, excludes general hospital schools.
(4) Includes sole and dual (main) registrations.
(5) Includes pupils who have full-time attendance and are aged 15 or under, or pupils who have part-time attendance and are aged between five and 15.
Note:
Pupil numbers have been rounded to the nearest to the nearest 10.
Source:
School Census

GCSE: Science

Elizabeth Truss: To ask the Secretary of State for Education whether he plans to review the curriculum for science GCSEs. [30940]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 15 December 2010]: The criteria and associated specifications for GCSE examinations need to reflect the associated national curriculum provisions in relevant subjects. The Government have made clear their intention to review the national curriculum in all subjects, including science. Further details will be announced shortly.

Higher Education: Education Maintenance Allowance

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what recent estimate he has made of the number and proportion of students eligible for the education maintenance allowance at each (a) sixth form college, (b) college and (c) other higher education institution; and if he will make a statement. [30889]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 14 December 2010]: We do not make any estimate of the number or proportion of students who may be eligible, on the basis of household income, for the education maintenance allowance (EMA) at the level of individual schools or colleges. Nationally, we estimate that 679,000 young people may take-up EMA in the academic year 2010/11, and around 45% of 16 to 18-year-olds in full time further education in England currently receive EMA. Young people attending Higher Education are not eligible for EMA.

The EMA scheme will close at the end of the 2010/11 academic year and no new applications will be processed from 1 January 2011. It will be replaced, from September 2011, with an enhanced discretionary learner support fund which will be managed by schools, colleges and training providers. This will enable them to target support at those young people that they assess as having real need of it to stay in education after 16. We are working with schools, colleges, training organisations and their representatives to develop the details underpinning the new scheme.

Languages: Education

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many students in (a) Newcastle, (b) the North East and (c) the UK have participated in the British Council's Language Teaching Assistance Scheme for each of the last three years. [30375]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 13 December 2010]: Figures supplied by the British Council show the numbers of students from the following three areas who took part in the Language Assistants programme in each of the last three academic years as:

(a) Newcastle( 1)

Number

2008/09

54

2009/10

66

2010/11

76

(1) Includes the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

(b) North East( 1)

Number

2008/09

133

2009/10

135

2010/11

155

(1 )Includes the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, University of Sunderland, University of Teesside, Middlesbrough and Durham University

(c) UK

Number

2008/09

2,099

2009/10

2,385

2010/11

2,510


Pupils: Demonstrations

Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what estimate he has made of the number of children in (a) Brighton and Hove and (b) Hove constituency who were absent from school during the recent protest against tuition fees in that city. [30649]

Mr Gibb: Reasons for absence are collected within the school census, however only broad categories are used and therefore the Department will not know the number of pupils that were absent specifically due to the recent protest against tuition fees. Information on pupil absence is collected a term in arrears, therefore data for the autumn term 2010 will not be collected until the spring school census in 2011.


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Vocational Education: Hexham

Guy Opperman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what future provision he plans to make in respect of assistance with travel to vocational education in Hexham. [30043]

Mr Gibb: Local authorities have a statutory duty to make arrangements to ensure that young people in further education and training can attend their course.

Written Questions: Government Responses

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Education pursuant to the answer of 15 November 2010, Official Report, columns 590-1W, on children in care, what methodology his Department used to determine that to answer the question would incur disproportionate cost; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the calculations and accompanying background papers in respect of that answer. [27643]

Tim Loughton [holding answer 29 November 2010]: The original PQ (20371) requested information on four separate time-series. Based on our experience of answering similar individual questions, it was estimated that it would take around 6.5 days to extract the latest data and quality assure the answer.


18 Jan 2011 : Column 772W

The threshold for determining if a PQ request exceeds disproportionate cost is based on the departmental standard of an individual member of staff incurring a cost of £800 to collate the response.

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Education pursuant to the answer of 15 November 2010, Official Report, column 590W, on children in care, what methodology his Department used to determine that certain parts of the question could only be answered at disproportionate cost; what calculations his Department used to make that determination; and what assumptions regarding the (a) number of hours of work and (b) cost per hour required to provide the information underlay those calculations. [25698]

Tim Loughton: The threshold for determining if a PQ request exceeds disproportionate cost is based on the departmental standard of an individual member of staff incurring a cost of £800 to collate the response.

The original PQ (020371) requested information on four separate time-series. Based on our experience of answering similar individual questions, it was estimated that it would take around 6.5 days to extract the latest data and quality assure the answer.

In order to provide some information within the cost threshold, links were provided to previously published information.


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