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24 Mar 2005 : Column 944W—continued

Employment (Pudsey)

Mr. Truswell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the levels of long-term (a) adult and (b) youth employment in Pudsey in the last 10 years. [223521]

Mr. Timms: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Paul Truswell, dated 24 March 2005:

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JSA claimants resident in the Pudsey parliamentary constituency claiming for 12 months or more

Annual averagesAdult claimants
(aged 25 and over)
Youth claimants
(aged 18–24)

Jobcentre Plus Administrative system

Freedom of Information

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a list of those individuals who sent e-mails to the official responsible for inadvertently sending information to the BBC about the UK's departure from the ERM which was not to be released in response to the Financial Times' request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in the 48 hours up to the dispatch of the information; and what the (a) titles and (b) copy recipients were of each e-mail. [216792]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 21 February 2005]: No one in the Treasury knew that the information concerned had been inadvertently sent to the BBC on 4 February until the BBC reported the fact on 9 February. As the Treasury has made clear, no Treasury Minister or political adviser received any communication relating to, or had any involvement in, any decision concerning the Freedom of Information Act disclosure in question. It has been the long established practice under successive Administrations not to release the names of individual officials when answering questions about internal communications within a department.

Gaelic Language

Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his Department's policy is on the use of the Gaelic language; and what plans his Department has to prepare and implement a Gaelic language scheme. [217099]

Mr. Timms: Action to support the Gaelic language is primarily the responsibility of Scottish Ministers.

The Treasury regards the promotion and protection of the Gaelic language as an important responsibility, in line with the UK's obligations under the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.
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The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Bill currently before the Scottish Parliament does not extend statutory obligations on UK public bodies in Scotland in relation to the preparation or implementation of Gaelic language plans. However, UK departments and public bodies which operate in Scotland may—like comparable Scottish public bodies—have a role to play in facilitating the use of the language.

The Treasury has been working with colleagues in the Scotland Office and the Scottish Executive on the role we can play, voluntarily, in securing the status of Gaelic.

Gas Appliances

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their homes in the last year for which figures are available. [223564]

Mr. Timms: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Barry Sheerman, dated 24 March 2005:

Ministerial Directions

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list ministerial directions that his Department has been notified of since 30 October 2003. [221878]

Mr. Boateng: The Treasury has not been notified of any ministerial directions for the period since 30 October 2003.

Pensioner Travel (Merseyside)

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what account will be taken in his Budget proposals for free local transport for pensioners of the position of local authorities which have previously funded free local travel for pensioners, with particular reference to Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority; and if he will make a statement. [223747]

Mr. Boateng: Local government will receive increased funding to help meet the costs of providing free concessionary fares for older and disabled people on local off-peak bus services. The additional funding will be provided through Revenue Support Grant as part of the annual local government finance settlement. The amount received by each authority, including the
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constituent authorities of the Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority, will be determined by the settlement in the usual way.


Mr. Viggers: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the Government Actuary's Department's latest estimate is of the net value of the Government's liability for pensions to be paid to its employees; and how much of this sum is in respect of (a) funded and (b) unfunded schemes; [223818]

(2) what estimate he has made of the unfunded liabilities of public sector pension schemes; what the liabilities were in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available; and what proportion of gross domestic product these figures represented in each year. [223799]

Mr. Timms: The total liabilities of unfunded public service pension schemes at 31 March 2004 are estimated to be £460 billion. The last comparable estimate of total liabilities was £425 billion at 31 March 2003; the estimates for the years prior to 2003 were not made on a comparable basis. Comparable information is not held on the liabilities of the funded Local Government Pension Scheme or other funded public sector pension schemes.

Expenditure arising from these liabilities will be spread across many decades into the future.

As a proportion of Gross Domestic Product in the financial year in which the liabilities were assessed, the figure of £425 billion can be expressed as 40 per cent. of the 2002–03 Money. GDP figure of £1,058 billion and the figure of £460 billion can be expressed as 41 per cent. of the 2003–04 Money GDP figure of £1,118 billion. However, as detailed in the Long-term Public Finance Report of December 2004 annual expenditure on these pensions was 1.5 per cent. of GDP in 2003–04 and is projected to rise to 2.2 per cent. of GDP over the 50 years to 2053–54.

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