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12 Oct 2004 : Column 241W—continued

Tunes Plateau Windfarm

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the latest position on the proposed offshore windfarm at Tunes Plateau. [189766]

Mr. Gardiner: The development consortium continues to undertake feasibility studies within the area which could potentially accommodate a wind farm. It has not as yet made an application for the development of a wind farm at Tunes Plateau. Should such an application be received it will be subject to full public consultation.


Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what arrangements are in place to monitor the financial position of Northern Ireland's universities. [189672]

Mr. Gardiner: The Department for Employment and Learning engages the services of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to monitor the financial position of the two Northern Ireland universities through the examination of various annual financial returns. HEFCE is a non-departmental public body of the Department for Education and Skills. In addition, HEFCE assesses annual reports from each university's Audit Committee, internal auditors and external auditors, as well as carrying out periodic review visits to Queen's University and the University of Ulster. The books and records of the universities are also audited and certified annually by the universities'
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external auditors. These are also open to inspection by the Department's internal auditors, HEFCE's Audit Service and the Northern Ireland Audit Office.



Tom Cox: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) part-time and (b) full-time workers are in employment in the Greater London area. [190260]

Mr. Timms: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Tom Cox, dated 12 October 2004:

Anne Picking: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many jobs have been created in East Lothian constituency since 1997. [190145]

Mr. Timms: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Ms Anne Picking, dated 12 October 2004:

Number of employees(16) with workplace in East Lothian parliamentary constituency: 1997 and 2002

Number total
Change from 1997 to 2002(17)1,500

(16) Employee jobs only, not self-employed jobs.
(17) The 1997 to 2002 change has been rounded to the nearest hundred separately from rounded levels for 1997 and 2002.
1997; Annual Employment Survey, rescaled. 2002; Annual Business Inquiry.

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Lorry Road User Charging

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people are employed working on the project to introduce lorry road user charging; and what their budget is. [190173]

John Healey: The Chancellor of the Exchequer made clear in the 2004 Spending Review (Cm 6237), that the Government remain committed to ensuring that all hauliers, regardless of their nationality, pay an amount related to the distance they travel on UK roads. It will be revenue neutral overall to hauliers who already contribute through UK fuel duty.

In 2003–04, the last complete year for which figures are available, around 70 people were employed by the Lorry Road-user charging (LRUC) programme.

HM Customs and Excise's most recent resource allocations and accounts were published in their Annual Report and Accounts 2002–03 (HC 52) and Spring Report 2004 (Cm 6224) and updated in the 2004 Spending Review. The allocated budget for LRUC in 2004–05 is £30 million. It would be inappropriate to disclose estimates for future years: exemption 7 (Effective management and operations of the public service) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information applies.

National Insurance Contributions Office

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many citizens in this financial year to date have been sent a letter by the National Insurance Contributions Office announcing a shortfall in contributions to state pensions; how many of those letters have been shown to be wrong; and how much of this is due to lost records. [189699]

Dawn Primarolo: I gave written statements to the House, on 16 May and 18 June 2003, that Inland Revenue was to resume the issue of letters telling people about shortfalls in their national insurance contributions records. That exercise has now been successfully completed. As stated in my answer of 5 February 2004, Official Report, columns 1350–351W, Inland Revenue sent out over 10 million letters between October 2003 and September 2004. These show any gaps in the recipient's contribution record for the years 1996–97 to 2001–02 and invite them to inform the Inland Revenue if the information shown is incomplete or incorrect, so that records can be corrected. Corrections to national insurance records may be necessary for a number of reasons but it is not possible to identify separately those resulting from lost records.

Tax Credits

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many adjustments have been made to payments in respect of tax credit claim 2004/08 001519 as a result of errors in his Department; and if he will list the stages in determining payment under this claim, showing the calculations at each stage. [190282]

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Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue may need to adjust payments during the year as a result of a change of circumstances, for example to avoid paying too much tax credits over the year as a whole. They will also adjust payments to recover an overpayment of tax credits from a previous year. Their approach to payment adjustments and the recovery of overpayments is explained in the Code of Practice 26 'What happens if we have paid you too much tax credit?' and a copy has been placed in the Commons Library.

It would not be appropriate for me to discuss publicly the cases of individual customers. However, the Inland Revenue wrote to the hon. Member on 9 September 2004 and the Tax Credit Office are speaking regularly with the constituent concerned about their tax credits claim and payments.

John Thurso: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many overpayments of tax credits have been made in Scotland in this financial year; what the value of those overpayments is; and how many of these overpayments are subject to recovery. [190163]

Dawn Primarolo: Overpayments of 2004–05 awards will normally be recognised after the end of the year when incomes for the year are known and final decisions taken on entitlement.

Awards are also adjusted during the year to take account of changes of circumstance or income. Where the amount payable is reduced, payments are adjusted so as to pay out the right amount for the year as a whole. This is part of the normal operation of the tax credit system, and no count of such occurrences is maintained.

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