Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Northern Ireland Railways

The Earl of Mar and Kellie asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Northern Ireland Railways has sufficient rolling stock to operate all the services required under its public service obligation agreement with the Department for Regional Development and for which it receives subsidy to cover its operating losses. Using its existing rolling stock the company could expand its passenger services at weekends but not on weekdays. However, low demand for additional services at weekends would not warrant the additional subsidy costs that would be entailed. The replacement of its existing 18 Class 80 trains with 23 new trains currently on order will in due course enable Translink to expand its services particularly at peak periods on weekdays.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The cost of reopening the railway line from Bleach Green junction to Antrim was approximately £17 million. For passengers from Antrim and all stations north and west of Antrim this has reduced the journey time to Belfast by about 20 minutes. The line now carries on average 1,100 passengers per day. However, the Lisburn to Antrim line now carries on average 70 passengers per day. On the basis of an economic appraisal which explored future growth patterns in the population serviced by the Antrim-Lisburn line, the case for significant capital investment on this line is not compelling.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We are currently proceeding to implement the consolidation option in the Railway Task Force's report of September 2000 as developed by the Regional Transportation Strategy for Northern Ireland 2002–12, the strategic direction and underlying principles of which were agreed by the Northern Ireland Assembly on 3 July 2002. Accordingly, we are currently upgrading the core railway network and purchasing new trains. If this

25 Feb 2003 : Column WA24

investment is successful, we would hope to proceed to modernise the track north of Whitehead and Ballymena, subject to normal appraisal processes. The scenario of a Belfast-Lisburn-Antrim-Belfast passenger circle line, as envisaged in the Regional Development Strategy for Northern Ireland 2025, remains a longer-term possibility, if a robust financial, economic, social and transportation case can be made.

Medical Qualifications

Baroness Barker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to recognise medical qualifications obtained by students at St George's Medical School, Grenada.[HL1245]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The recognition of medical qualifications for the purposes of admission to the medical register is a matter for the General Medical Council.

Health Protection Agency

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they plan to ensure that the requirements of the Food Standards Agency for joint working between the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, the Central Public Health Laboratory and the network of area and regional laboratories will continue after the formation of the Health Protection Agency on 1 April.[HL1426]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We intend that the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC), the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL) and the regional laboratories will all be within the Health Protection Agency (HPA). The CDSC, the CPHL and the regional laboratories will continue their close working together in that context. The HPA will be commissioning analysis of food samples from other laboratories which currently provide this service at the current level, supported by memoranda of understanding and service level agreements as appropriate. All laboratories will be required to send samples to CPHL and reports to CDSC and to assist with outbreak management as necessary. This co-ordination between laboratories will be overseen by the HPA's local and regional public health microbiologists. The mode of working described in the current concordat between the Public Health Laboratory Service and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) will be continued. In time, a new concordat will be agreed between the HPA and the FSA to replace it.

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What transitional funding will be allocated to the Health Protection Agency in 2003–04 to cover inevitable redundancies.[HL1530]

25 Feb 2003 : Column WA25

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Decisions have not yet been made on the Department of Health central budget programme for 2003–04, so the overall sum available to the HPA, including funding for any redundancies, is not yet finalised. The HPA will not be able to agree its organisational structures until after its board has been appointed, so staff could not be identified as being at risk of redundancy until then. If staff are identified as being at risk they will be guaranteed employment for a period of 12 months from 1 April 2003 under the agreed change management protocol.

Human Embryos in Research

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What treatments for children or adults with disabling conditions have been developed by use of human in vitro embryos since in vitro fertilisation became established in the early 1980s.[HL1572]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The use of human embryos in research has been regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) since its inception in 1991. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 permits a research licence to be granted for specified purposes, one of which is increasing knowledge about the causes of congenital disease. The HFEA has licensed 19 projects for this purpose but none specifically concerned disabling conditions.

Lactase Tablets

Lord Walton of Detchant asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make available lactase tablets on prescription under the National Health Service in view of the benefit claimed by patients with lactose intolerance who use them regularly.[HL1753]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We have no plans to make lactase tablets available on the National Health Service following advice from the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances.

Modernising Medical Careers

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for modernising medical careers, in response to the consultation Unfinished Business: Proposals for Reform of the Senior House Officer grade.[HL1842]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We have today placed in the Library copies of Modernising Medical Careers, the response of the four UK health Ministers to the

25 Feb 2003 : Column WA26

consultation on Unfinished Business: Proposals for Reform of the Senior House Officer grade.

The document sets out the results of our consultation which began last summer on the reform of training for senior house officers, who are doctors in the early stages of their specialist training. We received over 250 responses to our consultation and our proposals were broadly welcomed. The document we are publishing today sets the way ahead based on the results of the consultation and work which has been done since with the key stakeholders.

Plans for reform will also extend to general practice training and will embrace the existing non-consultant career grades with easier routes back into training. Partnerships will work to test these out in a variety of National Health Service environments. Pilot projects will start later on this year and with major implementation following in 2004.

Universities: Archiving Students' Marked Work

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What benefits are gained by the archiving by universities of 25 per cent of written material as laid out in the Quality Assurance Agency's regulations; how much this is costing universities in storage; and how often this material has been re-accessed to ensure standardised marking over time.[HL1557]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Quality Assurance Agency is an independent body not under the responsibility of a government Minister. I am advised by the agency that its guidelines state that institutions should consider keeping an archive of samples of students' marked work but do not specify the sample size nor the time it should be kept. This is to enable institutions to evaluate periodically the maintenance and development of their academic standards. We do not hold centrally any information about the cost incurred in storing this material.

Lifetime Earnings: Graduates and the National Average

Lord Howie of Troon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the statistical information on which the proposition that in a lifetime graduates earn £400,000 more than non-graduates over the same time is based.[HL1359]

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: The information requested is shown in the following table. The comparison is between graduates with a first degree and national average earnings.

25 Feb 2003 : Column WA27

Lifetime Earnings: Graduates vs. The National Average Summary 1. First degree graduates in full-time employment are estimated to earn around £400,000 more (in gross terms) than full-time employees in general over their working lives. The attached note provides the analysis behind these figures. Sensitivity analysis suggests that these figures are robust to changes in the specific quarterly Labour Force Survey data used. Analysis of Gross Lifetime Differential 2. Table 1 shows the estimated lifetime earnings of graduates and the national average, based on gross earnings. Graduates are defined as individuals whose highest qualification is a first degree. Lifetime earnings are taken as earnings between the ages of 20 and 59. Graduates are included in the cohort to calculate average earnings. The analysis suggests that on average, graduates earn around £400,000 more than the national average.

Table 1: Estimated Gross Lifetime earnings from main job by highest qualification, full-time employees, Great Britain

First DegreeNational AverageGraduate lifetime earnings premium (£)

Source: Labour Force Survey data from autumn 2000—Summer 2001.

Additional notes on Methodology and Interpretation

3. The figures in Table 1 are rounded to the nearest £25,000 because they are based on the Labour Force Survey, which is a sample survey. Weekly earnings are usually rounded to the nearest £10.

4. The analysis is based on gross weekly average earnings for graduates and the national average, for the four quarters of the Labour Force Survey, autumn 2000 to summer 2001. The figures relate to full-time employees in Great Britain.

5. Average weekly earnings were obtained for the following age groups: 20–24; 25–29; 30–34; 35–39; 40–49; and 50–59. Information on the employment rate of graduates and the national employment rate was also obtained for the same age groups. The gross weekly earnings figures were deflated by the respective employment rates to account for the fact that not all individuals are employed at any point.

6. The deflated weekly earnings were averaged over the four quarters and grossed up to annual estimates for each age group. Since the averages relate to the age groups, they were taken as proxies for the average (deflated) annual earnings at each age in the group. Multiplying the averages by the number of years in the age group and summing across all groups provide an estimate of average lifetime earnings for graduates and the national average.

Sensitivity analysis

7. A sensitivity analysis was carried out to assess whether the estimated lifetime earnings differential changed according to the use of different quarters of LFS data. This analysis (see table 2) suggests that the lifetime earnings estimates fluctuate very little. Given this, the £400,000 figure seems to be a robust estimate.

25 Feb 2003 : Column WA28

Table 2: Sensitivity analysis of lifetime earnings estimates

Graduate lifetime earnings Graduate premium (£000)
Quarters used in LFS for earnings data Autumn 2000–Summer 2001Quarters usedAutumn 2000–Summer 2001
All four quarters£1,075,000All four quarters£400,000
All except spring£1,075,000All except spring£400,000
All except summer£1,075,000All except summer£400,000
All except autumn£1,075,000All except autumn£375,000
All except winter£1,075,000All except winter£405,000


Labour Force Survey.

Department for Education and Skills

Analytical Services: Higher Education Division

November 2002

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page