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25 Jan 2005 : Column 219W—continued


Keith Vaz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what instructions his Department has given concerning the closure by the Royal Bank of Scotland of bank accounts used by terrorists. [210753]

Mr. Timms: HM Treasury has given no instructions to the Royal Bank of Scotland to close bank accounts used by terrorists.

From time to time the Bank of England, on HM Treasury's instructions, directs all UK financial institutions to freeze funds (not close accounts) belonging to an individual or entity listed by the UN Security Council, associated EC Regulations or domestic legislation on countering terrorist finance. All organisations and individuals whose assets have been frozen in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions, associated EC Regulations and domestic legislation are listed, by HM Treasury instruction, on the Bank of England's Financial Sanctions website.

VAT (Trade Union Subscriptions)

John Mann: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether VAT is charged on trade union membership subscription. [211003]

Dawn Primarolo: VAT is not charged on trade union membership subscriptions.

Trade union" in VAT legislation has the meaning assigned to it by section 1 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.
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Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will reply to the letter from the honourable Member for the Isle of Wight dated 26 October 2004 concerning John Havies. [211021]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The hon. Gentleman's letter was received on 29 October, unfortunately, due to an administrative error, it was overlooked for which I apologise. It has now become apparent that the hon. Gentleman's concerns are the responsibility of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and his letter is being transferred to them with a request that they respond as soon as possible.

Home Workers

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she plans to publish the results of her consultation on changes to the law on the rights of home workers. [210209]

Mr. Sutcliffe: We aim to issue a Government response to the consultation on the Discussion Document on Employment Status in relation to Statutory Employment Rights this year. This review has been considering the position of diverse groups of working individuals, including the clergy, agency workers and home workers.

Internet Shopping

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the number of purchases made on the internet in 2004 where the goods (a) never arrived and (b) were of inferior standard to those advertised. [210011]

Mr. Sutcliffe: I have no estimates of purchases made last year on the internet.

Consumers are protected by the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 which stipulate that unless the parties have agreed otherwise, the supplier must deliver the goods within 30 days; and that if the goods are unavailable the consumer must be informed and reimbursed. Consumers purchasing goods over the value of £100 by credit card in the UK are protected by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, if the seller fails to honour the contract consumers may claim costs from the credit card company.

Also, advertising material on websites must not be misleading and goods supplied must be as described and of satisfactory quality. Trading Standards or the Office of Fair Trading can, where appropriate, take action against suppliers breaching these requirements.

The Home Office launched a website to combat fraud over the internet. The 'e-tailing mini site' forms part of the Crime Reduction Website and includes information to help on-line consumers protect themselves from fraud.

Government is also involved in the development of Project Endurance, an initiative that will launch an internet security public awareness campaign in spring this year. The project is an alliance of public and private sector, which brings together a number of UK
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Government Departments and law enforcement organisations with a number of high-profile private sector companies. This campaign is to be targeted at micro businesses and consumers, primarily aimed at helping these users gain confidence in using the internet.

We will continue to monitor and review the effectiveness of these many different initiatives.

Subsidiary Companies

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to ensure that United Kingdom registered companies apply operational standards in operating subsidiaries located abroad which are compatible with legislation on environmental and social protection that applies in the United Kingdom. [205898]

Ms Hewitt: UK companies that operate overseas are subject to the laws applicable in those countries which will take account of the particular circumstances and practices of each host country. We encourage companies to apply high standards of corporate behaviour by addressing their environmental and social impacts wherever they operate, including adhering to relevant internationally agreed norms and initiatives. In line with this, we promote the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises which recommend standards of responsible business conduct for businesses operating in or from the 37 adhering countries and will be writing to the FTSE 100 companies to raise awareness of these expectations. We have also set out our approach to encouraging environmentally and socially responsible practice internationally in our draft international strategic framework on Corporate Social Responsibility.


Departmental Running Costs

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the running costs of the Cabinet Office were in each year since 1997, broken down by (a) electricity, (b) water, (c) gas, (d) telephones, (e) mobile phones and (f) televisions. [206667]

Mr. Miliband: It is not possible to provide information for all the Cabinet Office Estate for running costs since 1997 as these costs are not held centrally and are not separately identifiable on the Department's accounting system. It cannot therefore be readily retrieved without incurring disproportionate cost.

Ministerial Cars

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office which individuals other than Ministers have had the use of Government cars provided for ministerial use in each year since 2000. [210420]

Mr. Miliband [holding answer 24 January 2005]: The responsibility for the provision of ministerial cars and drivers has been delegated under the terms of the Framework Document to the Government Car 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.
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Social Justice

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what definition her Office uses of the term social justice in Cabinet Office documents. [204279]

Mr. Miliband: As far as I am aware the Cabinet Office has not used the term social justice in any of its documents.


Immigration (Appeals)

Mr. Malins: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the average waiting time was for the determination of an application for permission to appeal to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal, at the latest date for which figures are available. [210892]

Mr. Leslie: Latest provisional information taken from the IRIS database of the Immigration Appellate Authority indicates that applications for permission to appeal to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal, promulgated within the period 1 October 2004 to 31 December 2004, took an average time of 15.5 weeks to process from receipt to determination.


Council Tax

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the composition is of the monies being re-allocated from her Department to local authorities as part of the re-allocation from Government Departments to reduce the council tax in the next financial year. [207312]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: In his pre-Budget report on 2 December the Chancellor announced a total of more than £600 million in additional revenue support grant and specific formula grant over and above Spending Review plans for 2005–06, including the £100 million children's safeguarding grant to local authorities. It also included a further £25 million from general underspends within my Department's programmes.

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