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Fox Numbers

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what effect the cessation of fox hunting with dogs as the result of foot and mouth disease has had on the total number of foxes. [2367]

Alun Michael: There is no information collected centrally which could provide the basis for an answer to this question. The pressure on the Department's staff—and indeed on all organisations involved—has been enormous and collation of data at this time is focused on information relevant to eradication of foot and mouth disease.

Petrol Safety

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received calling for the introduction of third party monitoring of wetstock at petrol retailers. [1577]

Dr. Whitehead: I have been asked to reply.

HSE does not collect statistics on the number of field visits and inspections made by environmental health officers to petrol retail outlets using underground storage tanks. Local authority petroleum officers issue licences under the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928 to petrol retail outlets to ensure the safe storage of petrol.

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what initiatives are being undertaken to ensure that petrol retail site managers are fully trained to assess wetstock risks. [1582]

Dr. Whitehead: I have been asked to reply.

A recent circular, jointly issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authority interests (PETEL 65/34 "leak detection in tanks and pipework"), gives relevant advice to petroleum officers on this topic. Petroleum officers will use this advice when carrying out inspections. The circular is available on the HSE website.

Mobile Telephone Masts

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice she gives to local authorities in relation to planning applications for mobile telephone masts; what research her Department is sponsoring into the health risks involved; and what proposals she has to review such advice. [2118]

Ms Keeble: I have been asked to reply.

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Government planning policy for telecommunications is set out in Planning Policy Guidance note 8 (revised): Telecommunications and the Department's Circular 4–99 "Planning for Telecommunications".

In June 2000, my right hon. Friend the then Minister for Housing, Planning and Construction wrote to Council Leaders in England to explain the action the Government had in hand to take forward the planning recommendations of the Stewart report ("Mobile Phones and Health") published in May 2000, and to give guidance on how local planning authorities should take into account health aspects when considering planning applications.

On 16 March 2001, Official Report, columns 748–51W, my right hon. Friend announced a series of important changes to the planning system for telecommunications masts which will significantly strengthen the current arrangements. On that day, he wrote to the Leaders of all Councils in England and to all hon. Members for constituencies in England to advise them of the proposed changes. Copies of the letter were sent to chief planning officers.

We shall introduce the rules and publish the revised Planning Policy Guidance Note (PPG8) on Telecommunications Development to implement the changes at the earliest opportunity.

In December 2000, the Department of Health announced a new research programme, costing around £7 million and funded jointly by Government and industry, which will be directed and overseen by a task force led by Sir William Stewart. It will carry out research into the effects of mobile phone technology on health and the process will ensure that Government and the public are kept up to date with new research findings.

The Government are keeping the whole area of mobile phone technologies under review in the light of further research.

Millennium Dome

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to clean the roof of the dome; and if she will make a statement. [2092]

Ms Keeble: I have been asked to reply.

None, although English Partnerships, as owners of the dome, will of course keep under review all matters relating to management and maintenance of their assets.

Vitamins and Minerals

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the work of the ad hoc expert advisory group on vitamins and minerals. [1993]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

The Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals was established to review the safety of high-dose vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure that the public are not put at risk.

The group expect to complete the reviews of the relevant scientific information on the safety of individual vitamins and minerals shortly. Following this, the group

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will complete risk assessments for the vitamins and minerals reviewed. Its conclusions will be issued by the Food Standards Agency for public consultation with a view to publishing its final report in 2002. A copy of the final report will be sent to the Scientific Committee on Food to inform deliberations by that committee on a draft proposal for an EU Council Directive relating to the addition of nutrients to foods.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will provide a detailed list of the responsibilities of the Ministers in her Department. [214]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 25 June 2001]: The responsibilities of Ministers in my Department are as follows:


Trainee Teachers

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what is the drop out rate for teacher training courses for (a) PGCE and (b) BEd courses (i) for each institution and (ii) for each year since 1997. [3116]

Mr. Timms: Information for 1997–98 is not available. Information on final year trainees for 1998–99 is available in tables, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House. Information for 1999–2000 will be released on 12 July.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many students dropped out of university courses in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999, (d) 2000 and (e) 2001. [25]

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Margaret Hodge: The latest "Performance Indicators in Higher Education" published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England give an overall non-completion rate for students starting full-time first degree courses in the UK in 1997–98 of 17 per cent., a figure which has stayed roughly constant since 1991–92. Figures for students starting courses in 1998–99 will be published by HEFCE in September.

In 2000, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a table comparing estimates of drop-out rates in member countries. They showed an average of around a third of university students dropping out of their courses in OECD countries. The UK had the second lowest drop-out rate among the 30 OECD countries.


Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average annual standard spending assessment is for each (a) primary school and (b) secondary school pupil in England; what the comparable figures for pupils in Somerset are for the latest available year; what her estimate is of the additional expenditure which would be necessary to bring the per pupil SSA in Somerset up to the average for England; and if she will make a statement. [1380]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 4 July 2001]: The table shows for 2001–02 the education SSA per primary and secondary pupil for England and Somerset.


Primary per pupil2,5882,405
Secondary per pupil3,3133,098

These differences amount to £12.6 million in 2001–02. Since 1997–98 Somerset's recurrent funding, including specific and special grants, has been estimated to have increased in real terms (2000–01 prices) by £570 per 5 to 15-year-old pupil. Total funding for pupils aged 5 to 15 in Somerset LEA has been provisionally estimated to amount to £198.4 million in 2001–02.

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