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17 Oct 2002 : Column 912W—continued


Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his Department's travel advice on Indonesia. [76174]

Mr. Straw: On the night of Saturday 12 October, as soon as we heard of the atrocity in Bali, we recommended against all travel to Bali and all but essential travel to elsewhere in Indonesia.

In the light of further information and consideration, I have now agreed that we should advise against all travel to Indonesia and recommend that all British citizens should consider leaving Indonesia if their presence is not essential.

I have also authorised the withdrawal of some dependants and non-essential staff from the British Embassy in Jakarta.

British citizens who remain should exercise extreme caution especially in public places, including clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, places of worship, outdoor recreational venues and other locations frequented by foreigners.

Baroness Amos, Foreign Office Minister responsible for consular issues, will arrive in Bali this evening, where she will meet with British nationals, their families and friends caught up in this terrible incident. She will also be talking to senior members of the Indonesian Government in Jakarta on Saturday both to discuss the operation in Bali and how to strengthen our co-operation against international terrorism.

We have a 24 hour operation on the ground in Bali, made up of consular officers, police officers trained in family liaison, and volunteers. We will be reinforcing this team further.

We are also revising our travel advice for a range of other South East Asian countries to highlight the need for vigilance given the ongoing risk of terrorist activity.

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Alcohol and Tobacco

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what the rules are governing the consumption of alcohol and tobacco (a) on Court Service premises, (b) in administration areas and (c) by staff on duty outside Court Service premises. [74161]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Staff are expected to use their judgement about alcohol consumption. Any member of staff unfit for work due to the consumption of alcohol could be subject to disciplinary action and dismissed. Members of the public will not be admitted onto court premises whilst significantly under the influence of alcohol, and are forbidden from bringing alcohol onto court premises.

The smoking policy guidelines aim to provide smoke-free working conditions for those staff who want them, while offering limited facilities for smokers, and help for those who wish to stop smoking. Local arrangements may differ, but in general, those offices and courts with a smoking policy will enforce ''no smoking'' in staff corridors, toilets, lifts and other common areas, and at meetings and seminars. Before local arrangements are introduced the views of smokers and non-smokers are sought and any differences resolved by agreement. Overall consideration has to be given to the wishes of non-smokers.

Income Tax

Andy Burnham: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what the Lord Chancellor's proposals are for the amalgamation of divisions of the General Commissioners of Income Tax in Cleveland and North Yorkshire. [76118]

Ms Rosie Winterton: On 1 October 2002 an Order the Lord Chancellor made came into force, under Section 2(6) of the Taxes Management Act 1970, amalgamating Divisions in both North Yorkshire and Cleveland as follows. The Hartlepool and Stockton Divisions shall be merged into one new Division to be called Hartlepool with Stockton; and the Teeside South and Langbaurgh Divisions shall be merged and into a new Division called Teeside South with Langbaurgh. The amalgamation was made at the request of the General Commissioners in all of the Divisions with the aim of improving the organisational efficiency of the Divisions in the Counties of Cleveland and North Yorkshire. I have placed a copy of the Order amalgamating the Divisions in the Library of this House.


University Places

Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what mechanism she intends to use to guarantee places at universities for students whose exam marks are upgraded as a result of re-marking. [74623]

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Margaret Hodge: Universities UK and SCOP, the representative bodies of universities and Higher Education colleges, have already advised all their members to honour the offers they made prior to the publication of A level results in August. If, as a result of the review, a student is now eligible to take up a place, they will be able to do so, either this year or in 2003.


Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what meetings she has held since 1 September with Universities UK and higher education providers to discuss the implications of downgrading of A-levels and the implementation of guaranteed places. [74694]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 15 October 2002]: My right hon. Friend met Professor Roderick Floud, President of Universities UK, on 27 September in order to discuss the implications of the A-level grading review.

Individual Learning Accounts

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much money for individual learning accounts has been (a) claimed, (b) paid and (c) withheld or is in dispute in each month since August 2001; and if she will make a statement. [74291]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The amounts claimed, paid, and withheld at the end of each month from August 2001 to end September 2002 are set out in the following table. The amounts in the withheld column relate to those claims from registered Individual Learning Account (ILA) providers which are subject to validation checks and/or investigation. The claims withheld are those which are in dispute.

At the time of closure on 23 November a total of #19.4 million relating to learning episodes confirmed on the ILA Centre system was awaiting payment and therefore outstanding. Following validation checks payments for eligible learning relating to this amount were subsequently made in December and January.

ILA programme rules allowed bookings to be made 6 months in advance of the learning episode, so booked learning could be confirmed up to and including 22 May 2002. A paper based claims and payment system was introduced in January 2002 to allow providers to confirm and claim for delivery of this advanced booked learning. Claims, payments and amounts withheld are reflected in the table. In addition an estimated sum of #5.3 million remains unclaimed relating to advance booked learning by providers who cannot be invited to claim until all investigations are complete.

MonthAmount claimedAmount paidAmount withheld/in dispute
August 200124,672,600*26,216,1741,580,245
September 200126,401,84225,818,692583,150
October 200139,173,099*39,251,2490
November 200151,334,14131,789,658113,100
December 200103,495,59411,280,502
January 20020*2,241,2382,422,450
February 2002559,290*507,636107,854
March 20023,299,073*1,937,8401,365,652
April 20022,078,824*1,555,490540,489
May 20021,048,282*928,924199,303
June 2002380,898*382,37168,672
July 2002424,740*376,857170,918
August 200220,535*20,5641,702
September 200222,069*23,6710


(Payments marked * include amounts released from earlier claims which had been previously withheld.)

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Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people have been (a) arrested, (b) charged, (c) released without charge, (d) cautioned, (e) prosecuted, (f) acquitted,

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(g) convicted, (h) fined, (i) given a community service and (j) jailed in connection with abuse of individual learning accounts, in each quarter since October 2001; how many registered individual learning account providers have been referred to the individual learning accounts compliance unit; and if she will make a statement. [74289]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: In connection with abuse of the Individual Learning Account (ILA) programme, which was closed on 23 November 2001, at the end of September 2002 (a) 57 individuals have been arrested (12 individuals were arrested in September 2001), (b) 11 charged, (c) 12 released without charge, (d) 10 cautioned, (e) 1 prosecuted, (f) none acquitted, (g) 1 convicted, (h) none fined, (i) 1 given a community service order and (j) 1 jailed. The table below shows the position by quarter from October 2001.

Quarter Ending(a)(b)(c)(d)(e)(f)(g)(h)(i)(j)
Dec 012711111
Mar 026101210
June 022
Sept 0210


698 registered learning providers have been referred to the Department's Compliance Unit.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many cases of apparent abuse of individual learning accounts by providers have been referred to (a) the Individual Learning Accounts Compliance Unit (b) her Department's Special Investigations Unit and (c) the police; and if she will make a statement. [74290]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Since 23 November 2001, 698 registered Individual Learning Account (ILA) providers have been referred to the ILA Compliance Unit. Of these, 150 have been passed onto to the Department's Special Investigation's Unit (SIU). The Compliance Unit has completed reviews on a further 228 providers. For 70 providers no evidence of irregular claims was found. The remaining 158 providers were sent letters by 1 October setting out the results of the review work and the basis for a settlement. In addition a further 320 providers are awaiting follow-up by the Compliance Unit.

Of the 150 registered learning providers referred to the SIU, 99 have been referred to the police.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many individual learning account providers currently have payments withheld; and if she will make a statement. [74292]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: From commencement of the Individual Learning Account (ILA) programme to the end of September, #16.8 million of claims from 267 registered learning providers has been withheld pending the results of investigations.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when an announcement will be made on a successor scheme to the individual learning account. [74293]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government is committed to introducing a successor scheme to Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs). The new scheme will build on the best and most successful features of ILAs and take into account the lessons we have learnt from the design and delivery of the programme. It is our intention to make a further announcement later in the autumn.

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