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Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the cost was of the implementation of the ITT skills tests in numeracy, literacy and ICT; and if he will make statement. 
Ms Estelle Morris: The cost of the introduction of the ITT numeracy skills tests in summer 2000, and development work on the computerised ITT skills tests in numeracy, literacy and ICT for introduction in 2001 thus far, is £2.45 million. This will ensure that all new teachers have the necessary knowledge and skills in these key areas.
Mr. Wicks: The level of support available to students in 2001-02 will be 2.4 per cent. higher than for 2000-01, in line with forecast price increases. I am today placing a Memorandum in the Library giving details of the new loan, grant and fee rates for 2001-02. These rates will be incorporated in the Education (Student Support) Regulations, which cover support for eligible students under the current arrangements, and in the Education (Mandatory Awards) Regulations and Education (Student Loans) Amendment Regulations, which cover the small number of students who are still eligible for support under the previous arrangements. These Regulations will all be laid before Parliament in due course.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his Department's spending on official publications was for (a) 1996-97, (b) 1997-98, (c) 1998-99, (d) 1999-2000 and (e) 2000-01; and what the planned expenditure was for 2001-02. 
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 11 December 2000]: The spending on official publications since April 1996--which includes the costs incurred by the Department in publishing, preparation, production and purchase of copies for official use--is estimated to be
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Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 12 December 2000, Official Report, column 118W, on the climate change levy, what the time scale is for his work with the Commission in respect of obtaining state aid clearance for the climate change levy. 
Mr. Timms: Paragraph 6.30 of the November 2000 pre-Budget report reports progress in obtaining state aids clearance for the climate change levy package. The Government are continuing to work with the Commission to ensure a timely approval of its application.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the number of firms covered by the exemption for the domestic sector as a result of being small consumers of energy in respect of the climate change levy; and what proportion of small and medium sized enterprises such firms represent. 
Mr. Timms [holding answer 18 December 2000]: All small energy users who benefit from the reduced 5 per cent. rate of VAT on fuel and power will be exempted from the CCL. It is not known how many of these are small businesses, rather than domestic customers.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the cost of the climate change levy for UK salt manufacturers; and what representations he has received from them. 
Mr. Timms: During the development of the climate change levy, the Government have received many representations from business and other interested parties and these views have helped to refine the design of the levy. The financial impact on any sector will depend on a number of factors, including its future energy consumption, the level of employment, eligibility for discounts, use of renewable or combined heat and power energy, and take up of enhanced capital allowances.
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Mr. Timms: The main purpose of the Sustainability Fund is to deliver environmental benefits to areas subject to the environmental costs of aggregates extraction. Marine aggregate extraction is not excluded. Any decisions on the allocation of resources for devolved matters would rest with the relevant devolved Administration and Parliament or Assembly.
Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what plans he has to introduce a lower levy rate in respect of the aggregates levy for quarries that generate lower environmental costs; 
Mr. Timms: Budget 2000 announced that the aggregates levy would be introduced from April 2002 at a prudent and cautious rate of £1.60 per tonne to ensure that the price of aggregates extraction better reflects its social and environmental costs. It will be introduced at a uniform rate in order to keep it simple and to give a clear signal to purchasers of primary aggregates to use more sustainable materials. The Quarry Products Association has proposed at some future stage a lower rate of levy for quarries that generate lower environmental costs. Officials will be discussing this proposal with the Association.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what (a) practical and (b) financial support the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British embassies provided to Lord Levy during his visit to Latin America; and what was the cost of this support, broken down by the principal items of expenditure; 
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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office arranged programmes and provided briefing. The Embassies in the countries concerned provided practical support such as accommodation and local road transport, the cost of which is not individually itemised. Lord Levy was accompanied by a Foreign and Commonwealth Office official from London throughout his visit.
The Prime Minister [holding answer 11 December 2000]: Lord Levy visited Mexico, Venezuela, Uruguay, Bolivia and Ecuador between 8-23 November. He met a range of senior figures, including President Zedillo and President-elect Fox in Mexico, President Chavez in Venezuela, President Batlle in Uruguay, President Banzer in Bolivia and President Noboa in Ecuador. Lord Levy delivered a personal message from me to each Head of State.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Prime Minister on which occasions during Lord Levy's visit to Latin America he (a) made public statements and (b) talked to foreign media, as a representative of (i) the Prime Minister and (ii) the United Kingdom. 
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what the cost to public funds was of Lord Levy's visit to Latin America; what contribution to the costs was made by Lord Levy; and what the purpose was of his visit; 
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(3) from which officials Lord Levy has received briefings on Latin America. 
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Prime Minister with which Latin American political figures Lord Levy held talks (a) on behalf of the Prime Minister and (b) in pursuit of British interests during his visit to Latin America. 
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Prime Minister what private business Lord Levy conducted during his visit to Latin America; and what steps he has taken to ensure that no conflict of interest occurred between Lord Levy's business interests and his mission to Latin America as the Prime Minister's envoy. 
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The Prime Minister [holding answer 18 December 2000]: Lord Levy liaises regularly with me, the Foreign Secretary, and other Ministers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I have spoken to Lord Levy on a number of occasions as has the Foreign Secretary.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Prime Minister what mechanism exists to ensure information gathered by Lord Levy on his visit to Latin America is communicated to him and to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; and if he will make a statement. 
The Prime Minister [holding answer 18 December 2000]: Lord Levy's visits abroad as my personal envoy are reported to me and the Foreign Secretary in person by Lord Levy and by telegram from Ambassadors in the countries concerned.
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