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16 Dec 2003 : Column 800Wcontinued
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next plans to visit the new visa centres in India; and if he will make a statement on the operation of the new visa centres in India. 
Mr. Mullin: I have no plans at present to make a visit to the new visa application centres in India. Full details of the service offered at the visa application centres can be found at UKvisas' website: www.ukvisas.gov.uk and the websites for our diplomatic posts in India.
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how often he holds meetings with the First Minister of the National Assembly for Wales; what proportion of his working week is spent in the Wales Office; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hain: The First Minister and I meet virtually every Monday and routinely discuss by telephone matters of common interest. I begin my week at my office in Cardiff, travelling up later in the day to the Wales Office in Gwydyr House London to meet ministerial colleagues and Wales Office officials and others as necessary over the rest of the week.
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Sandra Gidley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many people (a) under 50, (b) between 50 and state pension age and (c) over state pension age were in employment, broken down by (i) region and (ii) gender, for each year since 1997; 
Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost to the Exchequer was in tax receipts foregone of the 10 per cent. rate of corporation tax introduced in the 1999 Budget for the smallest companies, in each year since its introduction. 
Dawn Primarolo: The 10 per cent. starting rate of corporation tax is estimated to have reduced the CT liability of small companies with accounting periods ending in 200001 and 200102 by £85 million and £140 million respectively. Estimates are not yet available of the impact of the starting rate on accounting periods ending in 200203.
Jim Dobbin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how he estimates the Inland Revenue's ruling of 24 October will affect the welfare of tenants occupying the housing stock of Craven Housing Limited. 
Jim Dobbin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if the Government will compensate Bury St. Edmunds for the loss of funds available to the Haverbury Housing Partnership following the Inland Revenue's ruling of 24 October 2003; 
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(3) if the Government will compensate Skipton for the loss of funds available to Craven Housing Ltd. following the Inland Revenue's ruling of 24 October 2003; 
(4) if the Government will compensate Hereford for the loss of funds available to Herefordshire Housing Ltd. that will result from the Inland Revenue's ruling of 24 October 2003. 
Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many pay-as-you-earn schemes with one or two employees there were for companies, excluding unincorporated businesses, at April (a) 1997, (b) 1998 and (c) 1999. 
|Gross Cost (£)||Gross Cost as (percentage)|
As my right hon. friend the Chancellor said in his pre-Budget statement, UK public finances are sustainable in the long term. The UK is in a strong position relative to other countries to face the challenges ahead. To revert to the pre-1980 position, an earnings link with pensions wouldby 2050raise deficits by 3 per cent. a year just to cover this one item with the long-term sustainability of public finances undermined. The Government will proceed on a sustainable basis.
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Mr. Webb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the organisations which responded to the consultation document, "Simplifying the taxation of pensions: increasing choice and flexibility for all". 
Ruth Kelly: The Government consulted widely on the proposals in last December's document "Simplifying the taxation of pensions: increasing choice and flexibility for all". The document elicited many responses, copies of which have been placed in the House of Commons Library. A summary of the responses can be found on the Inland Revenue website at www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/pensionschemes.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date board members of Inland Revenue first began planning for project ASPIRE or its antecedents; and who was responsible for project ASPIRE from that date up to 5 September 2002. 
Mr. Gray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the purpose was of the market making exercise run by Inland Revenue as part of Project ASPIRE; what objectives were set to judge its success; and whether these objectives were achieved. 
Dawn Primarolo: Competitions are generally accepted as the best way to deliver value for money. The market-making exercise was designed to encourage the major IT industry players to enter the ASPIRE competition. This objective was achieved and the competition has been genuinely tough and fair. In a written statement to the House on 11 December 2003 (column 107WS) I announced that the result of the competition was that Cap Gemini Ernst and Young had been named as the Inland Revenue's preferred supplier for the ASPIRE contract replacing the incumbent suppliers EDS and Accenture.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the potential suppliers who engaged in the market making exercise in support of project ASPIRE were made aware by Inland Revenue at the outset of the exercise of the identities of the other potential suppliers; whether the methodology adopted by Inland Revenue for the market making exercise provided for discussions
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between Inland Revenue and each of the potential suppliers engaging in the market making exercise; and whether the potential suppliers who responded to the Official Journal of the European Communities Notice placed by Inland Revenue with regard to Project ASPIRE were required in their submissions to provide indicative pricing information. 
Dawn Primarolo: I cannot comment on whether the potential suppliers who engaged in the market making exercise were aware of the identities of the other potential suppliers. However, there were ongoing discussions between the Department and potential suppliers, at their request, throughout the market-making exercise. In addition, as I stated in my reply of 18 September, an open meeting was held for all interested suppliers on 7 March 2002, which was attended by 42 potential suppliers. The potential suppliers were not required to provide indicative pricing information in their response to the Official Journal of the European Communities notice that was placed by the Inland Revenue.
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