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Financial Services Authority

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what guidelines the FSA has issued to companies about reinsurance practices following the disclosure of Irish European Reinsurance Company's involvement with (a) Independent Insurance and (b) Equitable Life. [19633]

Ruth Kelly: The FSA's Interim Prudential Sourcebook for Insurance Companies already makes provisions covering reinsurance practices. In particular, it requires insurance companies to prepare their accounts following the insurance accounting guideline contained in the ABI Statement Of Recommended Practice. This covers the treatment of reinsurance contracts in some detail, and requires that the accounts should properly reflect the economic substance of any transaction.

The Interim Prudential Sourcebook also requires companies to have appropriate procedures for assessing the creditworthiness of counterparties, including in particular reinsurers.

In addition, the FSA has placed a responsibility on all firms to be "open and honest" with the regulator and, for certain firms covered by schemes of operation, there will be a specific requirement to disclose reinsurance arrangements and to notify the FSA of a material change to these.

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The FSA intends to review the use of financial reinsurance within the insurance market and the extent of the industry's reliance on it.

Customs and Excise

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he intends to publish the next departmental report and expenditure plans for HM Customs and Excise. [20201]

Mr. Boateng: In April 2002.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he intends to publish the annual report 2000–01 for HM Customs and Excise. [20202]

Dawn Primarolo: Customs hope to publish the annual report for Customs and Excise in late January 2002.

Equitable Life

Mr. Chope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 19 November 2001, Official Report, column 135W, on Equitable Life, if he will give the total cost of the review; what is the sum of the costs which have already been recovered by way of fees imposed by (a) the PIA and (b) the Treasury; and what the total is of the remaining costs to be recovered by the FSA by way of fees. [20286]

Ruth Kelly: The FSA has informed me that its total costs in preparing the review were around £4 million, of which £1.3 million was incurred in the FSA's financial year ending 31 March 2001. These costs will have been recovered by £1.07 million of fees charged on behalf of the insurance directorate and £0.23 million on behalf of the PIA. The balance of £2.7 million will be recovered by subsequent fees.

Aggregates Levy

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to publish draft regulations to implement the aggregates levy. [20196]

Mr. Boateng: Customs are in intensive discussions with representative industry bodies about detailed implementation of the levy and aim to issue draft regulations reflecting those discussions by the end of December.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the rate of aggregates levy (a) imposed and (b) planned by each member state of the European Union. [20198]

Mr. Boateng: The aggregates levy is designed to address the environmental effects of aggregate extraction in the UK. Aggregate taxes in other EU member states are a matter for the individual states themselves.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the likely differential impact of the aggregates levy on each of the regions of the United Kingdom. [20197]

Mr. Boateng: A regulatory impact assessment for the aggregates levy was published at the time of Budget 2000. It is available from the Customs and Excise website.

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Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if imported concrete products will be subject to the aggregates levy. [20199]

Mr. Boateng: No concrete products are subject to the aggregates levy.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what arrangement he plans under the aggregates levy for bad debt relief. [20195]

Mr. Boateng: Primary legislation gives the Commissioners of Customs and Excise the power to make regulations relating to bad debt relief. Customs are in intensive discussions with representative industry bodies about this subject and aim to issue draft regulations reflecting those discussions by the end of December.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how he plans to regulate the relationship between the aggregates levy and existing contracts for aggregates. [20188]

Mr. Boateng: Appropriate provision has been made in section 43 of the Finance Act 2001.


Public Service Agreements

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the public service agreement targets for a 1 per cent. reduction in unit spending per full-time equivalent (a) higher and (b) further education student in 1999–2000 over 1998–99. [14052]

Margaret Hodge: Between 1989 and 1997, publicly planned funding per full-time equivalent higher education student fell by over 36 per cent. from just under £7,600 to just over £4,800. Lord Dearing's national committee of inquiry into higher education concluded in 1997 that higher education institutions could not absorb the reduction planned by the previous Government of over 6 per cent. He proposed that higher education institutions should be asked to deliver no more than a 1 per cent. reduction in costs and the Government accepted his recommendations.

In practice, the actual reduction in unit of funding per student in 1999–2000 was 0.3 per cent.

Last November, the Government announced cash increases in publicly planned funding of £412 million, £268 million and £298 million over the three years to 2003–04. This means that for the first time in over a decade there will be a real-terms increase in the unit of funding per full-time equivalent student of 0.7 per cent. in 2001–02, with fully funded increases in student numbers over the following two years.

The current PSA target for higher education is that while maintaining standards we will increase participation towards 50 per cent. of those aged 18 to 30 by the end of the decade.

It is too early to comment on the achievement of the PSA target for further education. Data for 1999–2000 are not yet available. However, while there was a real-terms per capita funding cut of 5.8 per cent. between 1995–96 and 1998–99, under the current Government's spending

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plans funding to the sector has increased overall. The Government have announced year-on-year increases of £527 million and £237 million in 2001–02 and 2002–03 in publicly planned further education funding allocated to the Learning and Skills Council.

Women Role Models

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps have been taken to provide female students at all levels with women role models who have succeeded in traditionally male dominated fields. [16265]

Margaret Hodge: A number of steps have been taken, both by my Department and other Government Departments, as well as by institutions in the education sector, to provide both women and men with role models to encourage them to learn, train and work in non-traditional fields.

For example, as a result of a very successful pilot programme offering girls work experience in non- traditional work areas such as construction, engineering, IT and telecommunications, my Department is taking forward taster days for girls and is currently working with the national education business partnership network on a roll-out of the programme for girls at key stage 4.

The science and engineering ambassadors scheme is being launched in January 2002 as part of Science Year and has been jointly developed by DfES/DTI. It will give more young people the opportunity to interact with female role models who are practising scientists and engineers. The DTI, through the work programme of its promoting SET (science, engineering and technology) for women unit and engineering policy unit enables organisations such as the SETpoints, the careers education and business partnerships, Let's Twist at Bradford college and the WISE campaign to run events with women scientists and engineers, produce posters and magazines such as SPARK that promote positive images of women in non-traditional careers. Science Year is particularly targeting some of its resources and publicity at girls. For example, television advertisements and a careers video have featured girls and women. The faces of modern science photographic project includes a large number of role models for all under-represented groups and will result in the production of a book for use by careers advisers and ConneXions officers.

Many colleges and training providers are actively engaged in programmes to attract more women into male dominated fields and a number of initiatives funded by the European Social Fund involve the use of women role models. WISE, mentioned above, the Association for Women in Science and Engineering, the Women's Engineering Society and the British Council are all proactively using women role models from within industry as a mechanism for encouraging other women to study in non-traditional fields.

We are also encouraging men to undertake work in areas where they are under-represented, such as child care. The second phase of our national recruitment campaign, "Do Something You Love for a Living" is actively promoting the recruitment of men and people from ethnic minority backgrounds into the work force while placing a heavy emphasis on training and qualifications. We

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featured a male nursery nurse in one of our advertisements and screened this at times when there was likely to be a large male audience. Men are also featured in the campaign booklet and accompanying case studies and research into the effectiveness of the campaign showed that the advert featuring the man was the best-recalled one. Aside from raising the status of working in the sector, the focus on training and qualifications should encourage more men to respond to the campaign.

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