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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 12 February 2004



Mr Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the cost to public funds of setting up devolved government in Wales was. [154397]

Mr. Touhig: The Welsh Block has not increased as a result of devolution. Any additional administrative costs arising from devolution are a matter for the Assembly.

Farm Incomes

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the average farm income was in Wales, broken down by (a) constituency and (b) local authority area for each year since 1997. [151725]

Mr. Touhig: The information is not available in the form requested.

Net incomes for all Welsh farms for each year since 1999 are published in "Estimates of Farm Incomes in Wales" and are listed as follows.


(1) Provisional

(2) Forecast

Net farm income is defined as the return to the principal farmer and spouse for their manual and managerial labour and on the tenant type of capital of the business.

Benefit Fraud

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many staff in his Department have been (a) suspended, (b) dismissed, (c) prosecuted and (d) convicted for involvement in benefit fraud in each of the last six years; and what the amounts involved in each of the cases listed were. [154372]

Mr. Touhig: None.

Dee Cockle Regulation Order

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether he has planned discussions with the First Minister of the National Assembly with regard to hastening progress towards the implementation of the Dee Cockle Regulation Order. [154149]

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Mr. Touhig: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 3 February 2004, Official Report, column 773W, I gave assurances that both the Welsh Assembly and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stand ready to respond swiftly and positively to requests for assistance in this matter from the Environment Agency Wales. When the Environment Agency Wales submit a formal application for a Regulation order, the Government will act as quickly as possible.

My right hon. Friend has regular meetings with the First Secretary and I meet the Welsh Assembly Agriculture Secretary and DEFRA Ministers to discuss a variety of agriculture issues, including the cockle industry.

Department Branding

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department and its predecessors spent on branding the Department between 1997–98 and 2003–04, broken down by (a) consultancy fees, (b) design and orders for new stationery, (c) website design and (d) other material featuring new logos. [154077]

Mr. Hain: The Wales Office was created in 1999. We are not able to provide a breakdown of the old Welsh Office spending but between 1997–98 and 1998–99 a total of £5,346,000 was spent on advertising.

Between 1999–2000 and 2003–04, the Wales Office spent the following amounts:

Higher Education

Mr. David: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether it is his policy that the Higher Education Bill should exempt English students studying in higher education institutions in Wales from payment of top-up fees. [153393]

Mr. Touhig: The provisions of the Higher Education Bill would transfer to the National Assembly for Wales responsibility for tuition fee levels in Welsh Institutions and student support for students resident in Wales.

The Assembly Education and Lifelong Learning Minister has given a commitment that variable fees will not be introduced in Wales during the lifetime of the present Assembly. Future policy with regard to tuition fees in Wales will be decided by the Assembly, following an independent review by Professor Teresa Rees.

Miners' Compensation

Donald Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the most recent figure is for sums paid for compensation in (a) final and (b) interim settlements to sick miners in Wales, their widows or families for vibration white finger and respiratory diseases. [154308]

Mr. Touhig: As of 8 February 2004, the total compensation paid out in Wales for Vibration White Finger is £104 million and £292 million for respiratory disease.

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I will shortly write to my right. hon. Friend with a breakdown of these figures in the terms he requests and place copies in the Library of the House.

Ministerial Travel

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last used a train in connection with his ministerial duties. [155166]

Mr. Hain: My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Wales and I both travel by train on a weekly basis in connection with our ministerial duties.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many visits he has made to (a) prisons, (b) police forces, (c) young offenders' institutions and (d) drug rehabilitation centres in Wales since October 2002. [151738]

Mr. Hain: I have visited south Wales Police Force at their headquarters in Bridgend and North Wales Police Force at their headquarters Colwyn Bay. In addition my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales has visited Gwent Police Force at their headquarters in Croesyceiliog and the "Safer Swansea" police initiative. He has also met with the Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys. I have visited one young offenders institution.


Benefit/Tax Credit Expenditure

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out the (a) benefit and (b) tax credit expenditure in the UK for each year since 1996–97, (i) in total and (ii) broken down by (A) contributory, (B) non-contributory and (C) income-related benefits. [154740]

Dawn Primarolo: The information sought on benefit expenditure is available on the Department for Work and Pensions' website, at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/Table3.xls

The information on expenditure on working families and disabled persons tax credits from 1999–2000 to 2002–03 is presented in the Inland Revenue's Annual Reports for the years 2000–01 to 2002–03. These are available on the Inland Revenue's website, at www.inlandrevenue.go.uk.

Block Grant

John Thurso: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Scottish Executive regarding the apportionment of the block grant. [154485]

Mr. Boateng: Treasury Ministers meet Scottish Executive Ministers regularly to discuss a range of subjects.

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Carbon Tax

Bob Spink: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to bring forward proposals for a carbon tax to replace existing levies. [154226]

John Healey: The Government believe the Climate Change Levy is an effective way of encouraging reductions in the use of energy and is an important policy in our climate change programme and therefore we have no plans to introduce a carbon-based tax. The EU emissions trading scheme, a tradable permit scheme that creates a market in carbon, will be introduced from 2005. Decisions on taxation policy are announced by the Chancellor in the context of his annual Budget statement.

Civil Servants

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many civil servants, broken down by grade, there are in the Department and the agencies for which the Department is responsible; and what the figures were in January 1997. [150261]

Ruth Kelly: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Alexander) gave to the hon. Member on 9 February, Official Report, columns 1293–98W.

National Savings and Investments information was not included in the central answer and therefore the information is detailed as follows:

On 1 January 2004, National Savings and Investments employed a total of 119 staff broken down by grade as follows:

RangeCivil Serviceequivalent gradeNumber
ASEO/Grade 6 and 731

As of 31 March 1997, National Savings employed 4,290 full-time equivalent staff. The historical breakdown of grading is unavailable. Of the 4,290 staff, eight were SCS. This information was published in the annual report for 1996–97.

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