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Alan Johnson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is continuing the process of enhancement of the RDAs started last year with the announcement of additional funding, more spending flexibility and a stronger economic focus. Implementation culminates on 1 April 2002 when the RDAs' existing programmes are brought together into a single, broader and more flexible programme managed through testing outcome and output targets.
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Alan Johnson: I have decided to implement a rolling programme of appointments to avoid a situation in future where all board appointments end on a common date. In order to achieve this I have re-appointed around two thirds of the membership of each board for periods of one, two or three years and asked one third of board members to stand down. I have also taken steps to ensure that business representation is strengthened on the boards. I have placed details of re-appointments in the Library of both Houses. Interviews are now being held in each region to find new members who will be appointed for a period of three years.
Decisions on re-appointments have been made following consultations with RDA chairmen and key national and regional players. A similar consultation exercise will be undertaken before new appointments are made.
Mr. Alexander [holding answer 23 October 2001]: Broadband services via leased line or satellite are widely available around the country. Around 66 per cent. of the population are able to access cable, ADSL or wireless technologies. A geographical breakdown can be found in "UK Online: the broadband future", published in February 2001.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans have been put forward by (a) the Scottish Executive, (b) the Welsh Assembly and (c) regional development agencies for the fund designed to develop innovative schemes to extend broadband networks. 
Mr. Alexander [holding answer 23 October 2001]: The devolved Administrations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus the English regional development agencies, are all in the process of developing action plans for the £30 million fund, consulting with the Government and local stakeholders. The plans will be announced in due course.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans his Department has made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first successful wireless transmission across the Atlantic ocean to the Americas. 
Mr. Alexander [holding answer 23 October 2001]: There are a number of celebratory events planned to commemorate the sending of the first transatlantic wireless transmission that was made on 12 December 1901 from Poldhu in Cornwall to St. John's in Newfoundland, by Guglielmo Marconi. The Government fully back these events, and have been in regular contact with those involved to assist with the arrangements. We have been instrumental in securing agreement from Her
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Majesty The Queen that she will send a commemorative message, which will be transmitted by amateur radio between Poldhu and St. John's on 12 December using equipment donated by the Radiocommunications Agency. The Radiocommunications Agency has also produced a booklet, "100 Years of Radio 19012001", commemorating the achievement, highlighting developments in radio during the subsequent 100 years, including the agency's contribution to those developments.
ECGD has commissioned consultants' reports on the environmental impact assessment report on the Ilisu Dam project and also on the resettlement action plan. These reports are being studied, together with the comments received from non-governmental organisations and the public. The reports and the comments received will be the subject of discussion with other interested Government Departments, in particular the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport prior to any decision being taken regarding ECGD support.
Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assistance is available to businesses eligible for grants from the business recovery fund once the regional development agencies have utilised the initial funding made available. 
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced a £24 million extension to the business recovery fund on 18 October 2001. This will enable RDAs to help hard hit but viable rural businesses in the worst affected areas survive the difficult autumn and winter period by helping eligible small businesses to adapt, restructure, access new markets and invest as part of a business recovery plan.
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introducing consistent financial reporting in the light of responses to the consultation issued by her Department on 30 March. 
Mr. Timms: A consistent financial reporting framework for schools shall be introduced from April 2002, as proposed in the consultation document. The consistent financial reporting framework, and guidance on the headings in the framework, is available on the Department's value for money website. A summary of consultation responses has been placed in the Library.
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 16 October 2001]: The information requested is given in the following table. It is not possible to calculate completion rates from these figures because of the inclusion of part-time courses, which have variable course lengths. The latest figures published by HEFCE estimate that only 17 per cent. of students who started full-time first degree courses in the UK in 199798 will not obtain a qualification.
In 2000, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a table comparing estimates of non-completion rates in member countries. They showed an average of around a third of university students failing to complete their courses in OECD countries. The UK had the second lowest non-completion rate among the 30 OECD countries.
(3) Includes UK domiciled and overseas students, full-time and part-time, including the Open University.
(5) Based on a census count as at 1 December.
(6) Those gaining a qualification during the academic year.
Margaret Hodge: The available information on the social class of higher education students, as given in the following table, covers only those who apply to full-time and sandwich undergraduate courses via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and its predecessor organisations, the Universities Central Council for Admissions (UCCA) and the Polytechnic and Colleges Admissions Service (PCAS); data on the family background of students on postgraduate or part-time courses are not held centrally. Comparable figures for students entering in autumn 2001 will be released by UCAS in December.
|Year of entry|
|IIIN Skilled non-manual||19.7||25.7||28.1||29.7||30.3||31.3||37.3||35.6||36.3||37.8|
|IIIM Skilled manual||23.3||33.9||39.3||40.4||42.5||40.9||44.8||44.2||44.5||44.4|
|IV Partly skilled||12.7||15.8||17.4||18.6||19.8||19.9||23.5||22.7||23.1||24.2|
UCAS for the years 1994 to 2000, UCCA and PCAS for previous years. 1991 was the first year in which both UCCA and PCAS collected social class data
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Margaret Hodge: The available information on non- completion rates are taken from the latest "Performance Indicators in Higher Education" published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency for England, which gives overall non-completion rates for students starting full-time first degree courses in the UK as follows:
|Students starting courses in||Non-completion rate|
Non-completion rates for earlier years were calculated and published by the Department and are shown in the following table. These figures also cover students on full-time first degree courses but the methodology and institutional coverage used by the Department was different to that used by HEFCE, so the two sets of figures are not directly comparable. Neither HEFCE nor the Department have calculated non-completion rates for students on part-time courses. Non-completion rates for part-time courses are intrinsically more difficult to calculate because part-time students can take many years to complete their course.
|Students starting courses in||Non-completion rate|
(7) A range is given for these years because the introduction of a new data source in 199495 made it difficult to measure non-completion, as it was then calculated, accurately
In 2000, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a table comparing estimates of non-completion rates in member countries. They showed an average of around a third of university
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students did not complete their course in OECD countries. The UK had the second lowest non-completion rate among the 30 OECD countries.
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