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6 Dec 2004 : Column 321W—continued


Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make a statement on the change in personal and retirement saving between 1997 and 2004. [201291]

Mr. Timms: Individuals save in a variety of assets, from deposit accounts, pensions, stocks and shares, to homes and businesses.

Total household assets—including savings, pensions, life insurance and housing—currently stand at over £6 trillion. Total household net wealth—the excess of household assets over debt—has risen by around 50 per cent. in real terms since 1997.

The Government are committed to a policy framework that enables people to choose how and when to save across the full range of asset-building activities.

Government policy on saving and pensions has had a very positive effect. The Government provides tax support of £2 billion every year for savers through Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) and other products, resulting in increased take-up of ISAs by both low-income groups and the young. The Government also provides generous tax relief for pension saving worth over £11 billion per year in net terms to individuals and employers and is simplifying the pensions regime by replacing eight regimes with just one, providing greater choice and flexibility to 15 million pension savers.

The Government's wide-ranging support for saving and pensions includes: empowering individuals with financial information; promoting simpler, fairer and more trusted savings and pensions products, including through the suite of 'Stakeholder' products; and providing targeted incentives and support for saving throughout people's lives—from childhood, to working life and into pension age, including through the Child Trust Fund, Individual Savings Accounts, pensions and the use of matching, as in the Saving Gateway.
6 Dec 2004 : Column 322W

Unemployment (Bassetlaw)

John Mann: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) unemployed claimants and (b) long-term unemployed claimants there were in the Bassetlaw constituency in each year since 1990. [201088]

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. John Mann, dated 6 December 2004:

JSA claimants resident in the Bassetlaw constituency

Annual averageAll claimantsClaimants over 12 months(33)

(33) Computerised claims only.
Jobcentre Plus administrative system.

Video Conferencing

Norman Lamb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many video conferencing units are installed in (a) the Department and (b) each agency of the Department; what percentage of offices have these facilities in each case; and what plans there are to increase the number. [200726]

Mr. Timms: The information requested is as follows:

HM Treasury

HM Customs and Excise

Inland Revenue

Royal Mint

Office of Government Commerce

Office for National Statistics
6 Dec 2004 : Column 323W

National Savings and Investments

Valuation Office Agency

Debt Management Office

Government Actuary's Department

Wage Levels

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the lowest living wage in the UK. [201541]

Mr. Timms: Because costs of living vary between households of different types and across the country it is not possible to estimate a definitive living wage for the UK.

The Government have introduced the national minimum wage to ensure a fair minimum income from work, and the working and child tax credits which enhance work incentives and provide financial support to families. The tax credits respond to family size and circumstances, providing additional income on top of earnings targeted on those who need it most.


Anti-war Protesters

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to her answer of 29 November 2004, Official Report, column 4W, on anti-war protesters, whether the three intruders who reached an office within the building were detected immediately on entering the building; and what measures are being put in place to prevent a similar incident in future. [202828]

Ruth Kelly: All four protesters were detected on entering the building; one was challenged immediately, the other three were stopped and challenged a few minutes later once additional security staff had been deployed to the scene. Following the incident immediate measures were taken to reinforce security at the front entrance of the building as a necessary precaution. The Cabinet Office is also reviewing all security procedures.

Cabinet Committee Meetings

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many meetings of each Cabinet Committee of which he is a member have been held since his appointment; and how many of these meetings he has attended. [201874]

Mr. Milburn: I sit on 19 Cabinet Committees.

It has been established practice under successive Governments not to disclose information relating to the proceedings of Cabinet Committees under Exemption 2 of Part II of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
6 Dec 2004 : Column 324W

Departmental Mobile Phones

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many departmental mobile telephones were used by (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) officials in her Department in each year since 1997; at what cost; how many such telephones were lost or stolen in each year since 1997; and what the replacement costs were in each case. [202758]

Ruth Kelly: I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Prisk) on 4 November 2004, Official Report, column 838W.

Ministerial Cars

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) what (a) instructions and (b) guidance her Department has issued to the Government Car Service concerning the procurement of ministerial cars, with particular reference to purchasing British-manufactured automobiles, where British models offer at least as good value-for-money as equivalent overseas models; [202524]

(2) if she will make a statement on her Department's procurement policy with regard to ministerial cars manufactured by British firms. [202565]

Ruth Kelly: The responsibility for the provision of ministerial cars and drivers has been delegated under the terms of the Framework Document to the Government Car and Despatch Agency. I have asked its Chief Executive Mr. Nick Matheson to write to the hon. Member. Copies of his letter will be placed in the Library, and is printed as follows:

Letter from Nick Matheson to Mr. Oliver Heald, dated 6 December 2004:

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