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29 Jun 2004 : Column 172W—continued

European Constitution

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the financial impact of Article III-157(3) of the proposed European Constitution; and what representations he has received about its impact. [181108]

Dawn Primarolo: Article III-157(3) of the proposed Constitutional Treaty requires that any proposal in the field of energy that is primarily fiscal in nature must be agreed by unanimity in the Council. This is consistent with the Government's commitment to ensure that unanimity is retained for tax matters decided at the EU level, as set out in the White Paper on the Intergovernmental Conference.

The financial impact of any measures adopted under Article 157(3) would depend upon their nature and content.

The Chancellor has not received any representations about the impact of this provision.

Pension Contributions (Tax Relief)

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the amount of tax relief on pension contributions provided in Scotland in the financial year 2002–03 broken down by (a) higher rate taxpayers, (b) basic rate taxpayers and (c) non-taxpayers. [181280]

Dawn Primarolo: No estimates are available.


Mr. Moore: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many state retirement taxpayers of pension age reside in (a) the parliamentary constituency of Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, (b) the Scottish Borders and (c) Scotland. [180959]

Dawn Primarolo: The requested information is given in the following table.
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State retirement pension age taxpayers in 2001–02

(a) Parliamentary constituency of Tweeddale,
Ettrick and Lauderdale
(b) The Scottish Borders11,000
(c) Scotland390,000

In the Survey of Personal Incomes, the sample size of pensioners living in the Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale constituency is relatively small compared to other constituencies so a reliable estimate cannot be given. Estimates for the Scottish Borders and Scotland are based on the 2001–02 Survey of Personal Incomes.

All estimates should be treated with caution because of sampling variation.

David Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to review the existing law governing National Insurance contributions by working pensioners; and if he will make a statement. [181037]

Dawn Primarolo: Working pensioners do not pay National Insurance contributions. The Government keep under review legislation governing National Insurance contributions.


Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many letters have been sent to people to warn that they may need to pay higher National Insurance contributions to receive a full state pension; how many people have made payments as a result; and what the value is of payments received so far. [180919]

Dawn Primarolo: On 27 October 2003 the Inland Revenue started writing to people with deficient years in their National Insurance records who would have received a deficiency notice for the years since they were suspended in 1998. Not all of these people need to pay extra to ensure a full state pension. This exercise is expected to finish by the end of September this year. As of 20 June 2004, almost 6 million letters had been issued. Nearly 90,000 people have made voluntary payments, paying a total of £16.5 million.

The Inland Revenue plans to resume the annual exercise of sending deficiency notices by the end of the year.

Petroleum Products (Duty)

Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the duty imposed on petroleum products (a) is and (b) was in 1997. [179331]

John Healey: For duty rates imposed on petroleum products in 1997, I refer the hon. Member to the Budget 1997 Press Notice C&E 3 available on the Treasury's website at Current duty rates are contained in Budget Notice 26/04, available on the Customs and Excise website at Copies of these documents are available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from the Royal Automobile Club regarding the level of duty on road fuels. [180611]

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John Healey: I am not aware of any representations having been received from the RAC on this matter.

STEPS Agreement

Denzil Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what mechanism is in place to monitor whether the estimated total savings from the STEPS agreement is being periodically met. [180738]

Dawn Primarolo: Over 80 per cent. of the annual payments made by the Departments to Mapeley relate to Facility Prices on properties that were transferred to Mapeley at the start of the contract. These costs were subject to careful scrutiny as part of the bidding evaluation process, they are fixed—being subject only to indexation—and represent very good value for money. Any additional properties, or contract variations (i.e. the remaining 20 per cent.) which the Departments pay for, are subject to benchmarking to ensure that they also represent demonstrable and auditable value for money.

Warm Front Budget

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what account his Department took of the advice of the Government's Fuel Poverty Advisory Group in assessing the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs settlement under the Comprehensive Spending Review; and what changes will be made in the warm front budget over the next three years. [181213]

John Healey: Treasury Ministers take a keen interest in the Government's Fuel Poverty Strategy and are committed to reaching our targets in this area. The advice of the Government's Fuel Poverty Advisory Group was therefore welcomed as a valuable contribution to the debate. Decisions on future programmes and Government spending to meet these targets are currently being taken in the context of the spending review.


Armoured Vehicle Training System

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the reasons are for the change in the timing of the (a) decision and (b) announcement of the preferred bidder for the private finance initiative contract for the Armoured Vehicle Training System at Bovington and Lulworth in Dorset; and when he expects to make an announcement on the preferred bidder. [180376]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 24 June 2004]: The Armoured Vehicles Training Service is a significant PFI programme over 30 years. Extended evaluation of the very close bids has delayed an announcement that the Department had hoped to make by the end of May.

A decision is expected soon, with an announcement thereafter.

Commercial Exploitation Levy

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the receipts from the commercial exploitation levy on defence exports have been in the past three years. [180144]

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Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) on 10 June 2004, Official Report, column 589W.

Commonwealth War Graves

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which countries have Commonwealth war graves; how many graves are located in each; and how often they are inspected. [180697]

Mr. Caplin: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) maintains over 1,179,000 war graves at 23,203 burial sites in 148 countries around the world. It also commemorates a further 760,193 Commonwealth war dead on memorials to the missing, for whom there is no known grave.

The CWGC inspect their graves and cemeteries on a regular basis, but the inspection cycle varies from country to country. In the United Kingdom, where the care of the majority of war graves in civil cemeteries and churchyards is entrusted to local authorities and contractors, inspections are made every six months; however in churchyards and cemeteries that contain very few war graves, there is a three-year cycle. In more distant locations (e.g. South America), where inspections by CWGC staff may be less frequent, reports are obtained from third parties (e.g. consular staff).

Further detailed information related to the countries which have Commonwealth war graves and how many graves are located in each cemetery is available from the CWGC website at:

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