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Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to encourage the recycling of (a) waste plastic and (b) waste silage film from farms. [48260]

Mr. Meacher: Waste plastic packaging, of which some 1.7 million tonnes is expected to arise in the UK waste stream this year, is one of the materials covered by the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (as amended). Since the introduction of these Regulations in 1997, and in particular the recovery and recycling targets for packaging waste which took effect in 1998, the amount of plastic packaging waste recycled has risen from 7 per cent in 1998 to 12 per cent at the end of 2000. Final outturn figures for 2001 are not yet available, but we expect this to have risen to around 15 per cent last year.

We will be addressing the question of how to deal with waste non-packaging farm plastics, including waste silage film from farms, in the forthcoming consultation document on agricultural waste. We will consider whether a statutory scheme should be introduced in the light of responses to this consultation exercise.


Press Officers

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many press officers there were in her Department on (a) 1 May 1997 and (b) the latest available date. [46881]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding reply 10 April]: The average number of staff within the Department for Education and Employment/Department for Education and Skills Press Office for 1997 and 2002 are:

YearPress Office Total

*Excludes five members of staff transferred to the Department for Work and Pensions as part of the Machinery of Government changes following the general election.

19 Apr 2002 : Column 1199W

Graduate Earnings

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the average level of graduate earnings, broken down by social class. [49804]

Margaret Hodge [holding reply 17 April]: The table below shows the estimated average gross weekly earnings of graduates with a first degree and in full-time employment. The figures include all graduates who are currently in the labour market and employed full-time, irrespective of age and how long ago they graduated.

Current socio-economic classificationAverage gross weekly earnings of graduates in full-time employment
Higher managerial and professional£730
Lower managerial and professional£520
Intermediate occupations£310
Lower supervisory and technical£410
Semi-routine occupations£270
Routine occupations£240
Never worked, unemployed and not
elsewhere classified£230


Labour Force Survey, Autumn 2001.

Business Development Unit

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many civil servants are employed in the Business Development Unit in her Department; what the Unit's annual budget is; and if she will make a statement on the Unit's activities. [50598]

Mr. Timms: The Business Development Unit operates under contract to my Department and is staffed mainly by non-civil-servants, but currently includes one civil servant on secondment from the Department. Its budget for 2002–03 is £482,278. The Unit's role is to manage and develop relationships with appropriate key business partners, promoting their understanding of and responses to our educational policies, and securing sponsorship and other support for specific national projects particularly for the schools sector.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many staff were involved in each of the last three years in preparing draft answers to written parliamentary questions; [49154]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 17 April, Official Report, column 929W by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House of Commons. Since the election the hon. Member has tabled 225 questions to this Department.


Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the cost was of media

19 Apr 2002 : Column 1200W

advertising in each of the past five parliamentary Sessions including the current session, for her Department in (a) England, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland; and for the last two parliamentary Sessions and the current parliamentary Session, what the media advertising expenditure was per month in (i) England, (ii) Wales and (iii) Northern Ireland. [37414]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department does not target Wales and Northern Ireland with its advertising. This means that regional media outside England is not used for Departmental advertising. However, our campaigns do unavoidably receive some coverage in Wales and Northern Ireland through the use of national newspapers, satellite television and other national media which reaches outside England.

It is not possible to provide the information as requested by Parliamentary session, or by month, except at disproportionate cost. The figures by financial year are as follows:

2001–02 (to date)17,665


Departmental Events

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 26 March, Official Report, column 795W, on departmental events, how many such events have taken place on departmental premises in each of the last four years; and at what cost to public funds. [50395]

Ms Hewitt: No central records are kept that would enable the information to be supplied, and it could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Publicity Expenditure

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 26 March 2002, Official Report, column 793W, on publicity expenditure, how much money her Department has spent on advertising since May 1997. [50396]

Ms Hewitt: DTI spending on advertising through the Central Office of Information from 1 April 1997 to 31 March 2002 has been £29,614,332.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the percentage change was in the unit cost of administering bankruptcy and compulsory liquidation in December 2002 by comparison with (a) December 2000 and (b) December 1999. [47339]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The unit cost of case administration in December 2001 had (a) increased by 2.7 per cent in comparison with December 2000 and (b) increased by 2.6 per cent in

19 Apr 2002 : Column 1201W

comparison with December 1999. The increase was principally the result of the cost of IT investment and change.

National Australia Bank

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make representations on behalf of Clydesdale Bank employees and other UK staff whose jobs are under threat from plans by National Australia Bank to cut its European workforce; and if she will make a statement. [50573]

Alan Johnson: Whilst job losses are always of great concern, this is a commercial matter for the firm concerned and I have no plans to make representations.

Biotechnological Co-operation (Israel)

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the objectives are of the Britech programme of biotechnological co-operation with Israel; how many (a) British and (b) Israeli companies are involved; what the cost is of the programme; and what monitoring is undertaken to ensure that companies and individuals located in the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza are not involved. [49736]

Ms Hewitt: The Britain-Israel Technology Fund "Britech" was established by an intergovernmental Agreement between the UK and Israel in May 1999 and

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each country is contributing £7.75 million over five years. The objectives are to encourage and support alliances between private sector businesses in the UK and Israel, for joint industrial research and development and subsequent joint management and marketing of new products. To date, 12 projects, each involving one UK and one Israeli company have been approved and £4.74 million have been committed. Of these, 4 projects are in the area of biotechnology and £1.71 million have been committed. Project proposals are presented to the Britech Board for approval and details of the location of the participants are included. The Britech Chief Executive advises the Board of potentially sensitive projects. No projects are located in settlements in the West Bank or Gaza.

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