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The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The information requested is better obtained directly from the chairman of the relevant committee. I have therefore passed this question to the chairman of the European Union Select Committee, Lord Grenfell, who will reply to the noble Lord.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): The total amount expended on the Defence Stores Management Solution (DSMS) was £148 million and the total amount written off was £118 million. The original objectives of the DSMS were to build a single system to replace the existing Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force Systems, and to provide a deployed inventory management capability. Estimated net savings of £650 million were anticipated over a 10-year period from its implementation.
The hardware comprised the following: IBM mainframe computers, storage servers, firewalls, MIS servers, training and development servers, backup systems and network equipment and infrastructure to support staff and the model office environment.
MMiT has been established to identify and implement a means of giving better visibility of consignments in the defence supply chain. This will enable the supply chain to be managed with increased effectiveness and efficiency and improve the quality of information on forecast arrival dates provided to headquarters and units awaiting the delivery of stores. MMiT will not replace the existing consignment tracking systems but will exploit the data they already contain, converting them into more useful management information and making them more widely and easily available within the supply chain.
MMiT has been allocated £5.866 million to complete the assessment phase of the project. It is estimated that the provision of a suitable system is likely to cost in the region of a further £10 million but this figure will be refined once the optimum solution has been identified and any contracts have been negotiated.
Lord Bach: The prime contractor for the A400M transport aircraft, Airbus Military, selected Europrop International (EPI) on 6 May 2003 to supply the engine to power the A400M. The engine development programme is proceeding to plan.
With regard to investment of government funds, I refer the noble Earl to the answer given by my right honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Ms Smith) on 24 June (Official Report, cols. 678679W) in another place to the honourable member for Twickenham (Dr Cable).
Lord Bach: Section 1 of the Ministerial Code makes clear that Ministers are accountable to Parliament for the policies, decisions and actions of their departments. Individual Ministers' responsibilities are set out in the Cabinet Office publication List of Ministerial Responsibilities which is available in the Library of the House.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Higher Education Bill, published on 8 January, enables higher education institutions to set their own fees, up to a maximum of £3,000 a year, with effect from 2006; individual institutions would be able, if they wished, to charge different fees for different courses. Institutions that wished to charge above the present standard fee (£1,125 in 200304) would only be able to do so if they had in place an access plan approved by the Director of Fair Access. The access plan will include details of the action the institution will take to safeguard access, including offering financial support (including bursaries) and running outreach activities.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Regional higher education entry figures are not available. The latest figure for initial entry to higher education (for 200102) is 43.5 per cent. This is the initial entry rate (IER). Comparable entry rates for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also not available.
Initial participation in higher education is measured by the HE initial participation rate (HEIPR). The latest HEIPR is 43.9 per cent for 200102. Again, comparable initial participation figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not available.
A recent National Statistics quality review of the IER recommended 1 we replace the IER with the HEIPR as the way in which we measure progress toward the 50 per cent target. The reason for the change from IER to HEIPR is to correct for certain weaknesses in the IER. We expect to publish the latest HEIPR figures in spring 2004 (as soon as information becomes available).
Higher education participation in Great Britain by those aged under 21 years is measured by the age participation index (API). The API for 200102 is 35 per cent. The most recent figures for the four constituent countries are given in the table.
(1) These figures may differ from the individual countries' own APIs, which are calculated upon a slightly different basis.