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Special Advisers (Overseas Visits)

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment on how many occasions between 31 March 2000 and 31 March 2001 (a) departmental and (b) non-departmental special advisers have travelled abroad in an official capacity. [158560]

Mr. Wills: Between 31 March 2000 and 31 March 2001 one of my departmental special advisers travelled abroad in an official capacity on one occasion.

All overseas visits comply with the requirements of the Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Management Code.

Employment (Disabled People)

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many disabled people are seeking work. [158103]

Ms Hodge: Figures on jobseeking activity are currently available only for adults of working age. The latest labour force statistics indicate that 345,000 people who are disabled are actively seeking work. Figures from the Labour Force Survey also indicate that around 400,000 people on incapacity benefits would like to work, and could work, given the right level of support.

Teacher Recruitment and Retention (Devon)

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on levels of teacher recruitment and retention in Devon. [153175]

Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 9 March 2001]: Teacher recruitment and wastage are as follows:

Recruits860 (10.0%)1,000 (11.6%)1,040 (11.7%)
Wastage800 (9.2%)790 (9.1%)700 (8.0%)

(8) Provisional


1. Figures in brackets are estimated rates.

2. Some part-time teachers may be omitted from the numbers above if they were not members of the Teachers Pension Scheme.

The number of regular teachers (excluding short-term supply) in the maintained schools sector in England at January 2001 was 410,300, the highest since 1984 and 12,600 higher than January 1998.

There was a growth of 2,300 in the number of people recruited to train as teachers between 1999-2000 and 2000-01, the first such increase since 1992-93.

From April 2001 new graduate recruits can expect to earn £17,000 a year (up 6 per cent. from the previous year) and starting salaries in inner London will rise to £20,000 (up 9 per cent. from the previous year).


Objective 1 Funding

6. Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the delivery of funds to EU Objective 1 regions. [159879]

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Mr. Timms: The Single Programme Document process at the start of the Objective 1 period is one of a number of measures to ensure efficient and effective delivery. I am pleased that there is good progress in Cornwall, where, after just a few months in a seven-year programme, £39 million of grant has been approved--13 per cent. of the total.

National Changeover Plan

8. Mr. Leigh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the total level of expenditure incurred to date by Government bodies in connection with the national changeover plan. [159884]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Details of expenditure on national changeover planning were included in the Fourth Report on Euro Preparations, published on 6 November 2000. Copies of the report are available in the Library of the House.

The Government will provide an updated breakdown of public sector spending in the next progress report, which will be published later this year.

Fuel Smuggling (Northern Ireland)

16. Mr. William Ross: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue was obtained by seizures of smuggled road fuel in Northern Ireland during the financial year 2000-01; and what the total estimated loss in revenue from cross-border fuel smuggling in Northern Ireland was during this period. [159894]

Mr. Timms: The amount of fuel seized in 2000-01 was more than double the previous year, safeguarding revenue of over £850,000. Customs does not have an estimate for revenue lost specifically from cross-border fuel smuggling for this period, but the number of vehicles seized was tripled last year through the enhanced enforcement action, and the number of laundering plants hit rose more than fivefold.

NHS (Investment)

17. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received on the Government's plans to invest additional resources in the NHS this year. [159895]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Before the 2001 Budget the Chancellor received many representations from professional organisations, trade bodies, members of the public and Members of Parliament on a wide range of issues, including the NHS. In the Budget, the Chancellor announced additional resources for the NHS in England of £300 million, £295 million and £240 million in the period 2001-02 to 2003-04 over and above the significant increases already announced in the 2000 Spending Review. These investment plans have been widely welcomed as the basis for the strategy of investment and reform set out in the NHS Plan and the Department of Health's public service agreement targets.

20. Mr. Khabra: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his plans for spending on the health service in each of the next three years. [159898]

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26. Mr. Prosser: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for investment in the national health service over the next four years. [159906]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Total net NHS expenditure in the UK is planned to reach £69.5 million by 2003-04, representing an annual average increase of 5.7 per cent. in real terms over the period 2001-02 to 2003-04. Plans for future years will be set in the next spending review. In England these plans support the strategy of investment and reform set out in the NHS Plan and the Department of Health public service agreement targets. Key priorities include cutting waiting times, tackling health inequalities and investing in world-class hospitals and equipment.

Saving Incentives

18. Mr. Goggins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to encourage low-income households to save. [159896]

Dawn Primarolo: On 26 April, building on the success of the ISA in encouraging a wider group of people to save more, the Government announced a consultation on two new proposals to encourage saving and the build-up of assets, the Saving Gateway and the Child Trust Fund. The Saving Gateway would encourage lower-income earners to save by offering to match savings with contributions from the Government. The Child Trust Fund would offer all families an account in which to save for their children, with every child from birth receiving an endowment from the Government to start the build-up of assets.


19. Mr. David Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the abilities of eurozone countries to withstand a downturn in the US economy and the consequent impact on jobs in the United Kingdom. [159897]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government continue to monitor the downside risks facing the global economy closely. With low, stable inflation and sound public finances, the British economy is now much better placed to face global risks than before, and to continue to deliver sustained growth.

Business Environment

21. Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received on the impact of his policies on the business environment; and if he will make a statement. [159899]

Mr. Timms: The Government's central economic objective is to achieve high and stable levels of growth and employment. Over the past four years the Government have been determined that we will not return to the damaging cycle of boom and bust, which in the late 1980s and early 1990s saw interest rates rise to 15 per cent. for a whole year; and because of the choices we have made we now have the lowest inflation for 30 years, the lowest long-term interest rates for 35 years, and the lowest unemployment since 1975.

We will not take this hard-won stability for granted. Budget 2001 locked in economic stability for the future, with the fiscal stance at least as tight as set out in Budget 2000 and the pre-Budget report.

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The Government welcome representations made by the business community. This on-going and productive dialogue is essential to allow the Government to maintain their record of improvement of the business environment.

Following the Budget, the Government have received many representations that express continuing support for the Government's prudent approach to fiscal policy.

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