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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 21 March 2003


Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

Tony Wright: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission what the cost of the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards was, including staff, in each Session since 1996–97. [103502]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: The costs of the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, by financial year, are shown in the following table (the figures by Session are not available), and are mainly direct staffing costs. Most of the general office running costs, including accommodation and IT/IS support, are absorbed by other parts of the House administration and cannot easily be disaggregated.

Costs for financial years 1996–97 to 2001–02

Staffing etc149,269222,902230,450267,070228,994294,209
Running costs2,1371,1374,1781,4966,1032,003


London Underground

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his Written Ministerial Statement, on 4 February 2003, Official Report, column 10WS, on London Underground, what amendments he proposes to ensure that the operation of London Underground's contracts is not affected when they are transferred from one body to another; whether the PPP Consortia and lenders have a veto over the transfer of London Underground and Transport for London; and if he will make a statement. [103305]

Mr. Jamieson: The Government's proposals for amendments to the Greater London Authority Act 1999 are contained in clause 108 of the Railways and Transport Safety Bill as amended in Standing Committee D, which is available on the House website.

The Secretary of State told the House in his written statement, on 4 February 2003,Official Report, column 10WS, that the transfer of London Underground Ltd. to Transport for London will only take place ahead of such amendments to the Greater London Authority Act 1999 with the agreement of the PPP consortia and lenders.

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South Central Electrostar Train

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much compensation is payable to Bombardier as a result of the lack of power for the South Central Electrostar trains. [98397]

Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail authority is leading an industry wide project to upgrade the power supply in the southern region. Development of the project is advanced and discussions have begun on the project's financial implications for the SRA, Network Rail, train operators and other parties such as the rolling stock manufacturers. Details are still emerging, but any compensation to Bombardier is likely to be a matter between them and their client for the new trains, Go-Via.


Children at Risk

Alistair Burt: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what plans the team looking at the Green Paper for Children at Risk have to recommend a review of educational and social institutions designed to provide a more nurturing environment for children whose lives are fragmented; [103844]

Mr. Boateng: The Green Paper on Children at Risk, to be published this spring, is examining the range of services available to children and young people who are at risk of educational failure, offending, victimisation and abuse, and poor health.Whilst its too early to comment on the detail of the Green Paper on Children at Risk, the role of parents, schools and children's professionals in improving the outcomes for children are at the core of the work. The Green Paper is looking at how parents can be enabled to support their children best, from preparing for parenthood, throughout the key early years and as their children grow towards adulthood.

Positive experiences of schools and of after school leisure activities outside of schools, play a pivotal role in building self-esteem and enabling children to succeed, educationally, socially and in employment in later life. The Green Paper is considering how mainstream services and institutions can ensure they are positive and accessible environments for the most vulnerable children and young people.

The Green Paper is also looking at ways to improve common training across the professionals who work with children and young people to ensure a shared understanding of child development and safeguarding children.

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Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the cost to British financial institutions in the last two years from (a) stolen corporate identities and (b) hoax e-mails. [102001]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I have been asked to reply.

While there have been incidents of corporate identity fraud in the UK in the last two years which have been investigated by UK law enforcement agencies, these cases have not resulted in any reported loss to the financial institutions concerned. With regards to incidences of hoax e-mails, more commonly known as advance fee or '419' fraud, once again there has been no reported financial loss to UK financial institutions. Losses have been sustained by a number of individual victims of such crime and in the years 2001 and 2002 National Criminal Intelligence Service figures detail reported losses of £19,451,000. This however is likely to be only a small percentage of losses as few victims are prepared to acknowledge their losses to Law Enforcement.

Inland Revenue

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax returns were reported lost or mislaid by the Inland Revenue in each of the last five years. [104103]

Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue do not keep records of the number of tax returns reported lost or mislaid.

Every year the Revenue receive and process around nine million self assessment tax returns. Over 99 per cent. of returns received by the due date (31 January) are processed by 31 March.

Personal Tax

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the recalculation of personal tax liabilities. [103915]

Dawn Primarolo: An individual's personal tax liability will depend on a number of factors including the income tax rates and bands and the level of personal allowances. It will also make a difference if the individual has savings or investment income that is subject to income tax.


Civil Contingency Planning

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will make a statement on his Department's (a) responsibilities and (b) assets with regard to civil contingency planning; what funds are committed; what action he is taking within his Department to improve such planning; and what action he is taking in collaboration with other departments. [102625]

Mr. Alexander: I refer the hon. Member to the statement my hon. Friend the Home Secretary made on civil contingencies on 3 March 2003, Official Report,

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column 72WS, as part of the debates on the approval of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 Order 2003 and the Intelligence and Security Committee report on the Bali bombing. The statement refers to the Lead Government Department Paper which Cabinet Office placed in the Library of the House on 23 July 2002 and which sets out the role of the lead Government Departments in planning for and managing crises.

The Civil Contingencies Secretariat, a part of the Cabinet Office, supports the Home Secretary in co-ordinating the work to enhance civil contingency planning.

Its current objectives are to:

To carry out this role, £39.5 million was allocated to the CCS in February 2003. This included the £10 million administration and capital costs of the Secretariat, the £19 million Local Authority Grant and £10 million to the Met Office. In addition the Office of the e-Envoy has a budget of just over £6. 9 million for the Emergency Communications Network.

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