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Deregulation

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) regulations and (b) requirements to make returns have been removed from business since 1997. [51480]

Ms Hewitt: Records relating to repealed regulations and requirements to make returns that have been removed from business are not held centrally.

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Our continued aim is to identify and bring forward proposals to reduce the regulatory burden on business. The Regulatory Reform Action Plan sets out our key current initiatives. It represents a good beginning, but the Government will continue working to reduce the overall impact of regulations on business.

Manufacturing Exports

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures have been taken since 1997 to assist manufacturers in exporting. [51481]

Ms Hewitt: Trade Partners UK, a joint DTI and FCO operation, was created in 2000 to strengthen the provision of support to exporters, including manufacturers. It provides a range of information, advice and support to potential and existing exporters.

In November 2001 we launched "Trade Partners UK—Your Passport to Export Success", a new assessment and skills-based package for new and inexperienced exporters to provide them with the training, planning and ongoing support they need to succeed overseas.

Correspondence

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what reason she has not sent a substantive answer to the letter of 18 February from the hon. Member for Yeovil, regarding the activities of the Radiocommunications Agency; and if she will make a statement. [51178]

Mr. Alexander: I sent a substantive reply to the hon. Member on 18 April.

British Coal Workers

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many equal value claims from former female British Coal canteen workers and cleaners have been met; at what total cost; and what the (a) highest, (b) lowest and (c) average individual settlement is. [51805]

Mr. Wilson: To date we have made 1,370 payments the total cost of which is around £11 million. The highest settlement is £40,000 and the minimum settlement is £3,000, with the average settlement being around £10,000.

Complaints

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many complaints were registered against her Department and its predecessor departments in (a) 1990 to 1996 and (b) 1997 to 2002; how many are current; and what proportion were (i) taken up and (ii) upheld by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration in those periods. [51225]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 19 April 2002]: Information concerning the number of complaints received by the Department is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The Department and its Agencies have published complaints procedures that are available to the public either from headquarters offices or from the respective websites. The Departments' complaints procedure can be found at http://www2.dti.gov.uk/ complaints/default.htm

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In respect of the number of complaints taken up and upheld by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Parliamentary Ombudsman) I refer the hon. Member to the information contained in the Parliamentary Ombudsman's annual reports covering the periods specified. Copies of the annual reports specified are available in the Library of the House and for annual reports from 1997–98 on the Parliamentary Ombudsman's website at: www.ombudsman.org.uk/pca/document/part01/ index.htm.

EDUCATION AND SKILLS

Individual Learning Accounts

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will, subject to the agreement of Capita and following the deletion of commercially confidential information, place a copy of the contract for the delivery of individual learning accounts in the Library. [37273]

John Healey [holding answer 26 February 2002]: I have placed a copy of the contract between the Department and Capita Business Services Ltd. in the Library. Commercially confidential information has been removed from the version available to Members.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills at what target groups the ILA scheme was aimed; and what steps were taken by her Department to ensure the scheme assisted those target groups. [49882]

John Healey [holding answer 15 April 2002]: Anyone aged 19 or over was able to open an individual learning account. Within the universal offer ILAs were targeted toward four key groups—young people aged 19–30 with few or no skills or qualifications, women returning to the labour market, the self-employed and non-teaching school staff. An advertising campaign between October and December 2000 concentrated on two of these groups—young people aged 19–30 with few or no qualifications and women returning to the labour market. The campaign used local and commercial radio and was supported by national and regional newspapers.

In addition, further steps were taken to ensure the programme reached those in the target groups. The Department targeted self-employed/owner mangers through the small firm learning account (SFLA) pilot project. Over 200 small businesses actively participated in the pilot and 1,242 employees opened an ILA. From January 2001, the Department funded five ILA community projects in Liverpool, Sheffield, Kent and London and 3,279 accounts were opened. These projects placed particular emphasis on targeting hard to reach groups and the pilots were successful in engaging black and ethnic minority groups and people with no existing qualifications. The Department also worked with the TUC to engage groups of learners that were traditionally hard to reach through the Union Learning Fund and Learning Representatives. 79 per cent. of TUC ILA users were from priority groups, least likely to participate in learning.

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School Broadband Networking

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much money has been allocated for the broadband networking of schools; which schools are involved; and what individual allocation has been made for each of those schools. [49850]

Mr. Timms: Funding for broadband connections to schools is administered through the Standards Fund. For 2001–02, this was set at £42 million and for 2002–03 it will be £70 million.

Money from the fund is allocated to LEAs based on a formula. This formula takes account of the number of schools in the LEA and includes a sparsity weighting to recognise increased costs for rural areas. The funding is then pooled for spending by the Regional Broadband Consortia—the bodies tasked with planning and implementing broadband connections across England.

The target for August 2002 is to have 20 per cent. of schools in England connected to broadband, including all secondary schools, at a minimum of 2 megabits per second. Targets for August 2003 are being agreed and we hope to announce these soon. The types of school to be connected include: primary, secondary, nursery, and special schools.

Information and Communication Technologies

(Training)

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what efforts the Department has made at EU level to raise the level of investment in new information and communication technologies training. [51233]

John Healey: The Department for Education and Skills has overall responsibility, working in conjunction with the devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for the implementation of the SOCRATES, LEONARDO da VINCI and YOUTH programmes, which focus respectively on EU cooperation in the areas of education, vocational training and youth. The UK ensured that, in the negotiation of the current generation of these programmes which began in 2000, increased importance was given to the acquisition of information and communication technology (ICT) skills, which is an important element in each of them.

Prior to the 2001 election, the then Department for Education and Employment was also responsible for the European Social Fund. Activities supported by ESF include training to improve information and communication technology skills.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures the Department has taken since 1997 to increase the availability of training for workers in the use of new information and communication technologies. [51231]

John Healey: The Department has introduced an extensive range of measures that provide opportunities for training in the use of information and communication technologies (ICT).

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These include:


These examples are in addition to the large number of ICT courses provided by further education colleges and adult education centres funded through the learning and skills councils, and a wide range of opportunities for job seekers to gain and improve their ICT skills through New Deal.

The Department has also introduced reforms to the national curriculum in England—all pupils, from age 5–16, are taught ICT, either as a separate subject or through other subjects—ensuring that the work force of the future is properly equipped for the demands of the 21st century.


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