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24 Mar 2005 : Column 947W—continued

Road Expenditure

Mr. Cash: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what basis the Office for National Statistics defines current spending for repairs and maintenance on roads as capital expenditure. [222370]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 17 March 2005]: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. William Cash, dated 24 March 2005:

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RU64 Suitability Standard

Mr. Spring: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment his Department has made of the effects of the extension of the RU64 suitability standard to all stakeholder financial services products on (a) the provision of financial advice to those at whom stakeholders products are aimed and (b) consumer choice in the financial services market; what representations he has received on those matters from (i) financial services providers and (ii) consumer groups; and what discussions he has had with the Financial Services Authority on these matters; [223623]

(2) when the Financial Services Authority expects to publish further guidance on the RU64 suitability standard; and if he will make a statement; [223624]

(3) when the Financial Services Authority expects to publish its consultation paper on the RU64 suitability standard that has applied to the sale of personal pensions since 1999; what the timescale for the consultation will be; and if he will make a statement. [223625]

Mr. Timms: The FSA is responsible for setting standards about the quality of advice on investment products. It indicated in its consultation paper 04/11, published in June 2004, that it did not intend to extend the particular suitability test that currently applies to the sale of stakeholder pensions—known as 'RU64'—to the wider suite of stakeholder products that will be launched in April 2005. The FSA has confirmed to me that this position has not changed since the publication of that paper.

The FSA has more recently made public its intention to consult shortly on removing 'RU64' from its rules in relation to stakeholder pensions. The issues that this proposed action would give rise to will be discussed fully in the FSA's consultation document when it is published. Officials meet with representatives of industry, consumer groups and the FSA from time to time to discuss a variety of issues regarding financial services.

Stamp Duty

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the reduction in stamp duty yield from residential property which would result from raising the threshold at which stamp duty is applicable at 1 per cent. from £60,000 to £100,000. [222950]

Mr. Timms: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 14 March 2005, Official Report, columns 85–86W, to the hon. Member for Perth (Annabelle Ewing) The stamp duty threshold for residential property at which the 1 per cent. rate applies has been raised from £60,000 to £120,000 with effect from 17 March 2005.

Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many transactions there were of residential property sales between (a) £60,000 and
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£120,000 and (b) £250,000 and £500,000 in Greater London in each of the last five full financial years; and how much stamp duty was raised from them in each year. [223593]

Mr. Timms: Estimates of the numbers of residential property transactions and amount of stamp duty raised from residential property sales in Greater London between £60,000 and £120,000 and between £250,000 and £500,000 are given in the following table:
Number of transactions (thousand)Stamp duty
(£ million)
Number of transactions
Stamp duty
(£ million)

Sue Doughty: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many properties in England and Wales on which stamp duty was levied at a rate of one per cent. were sold at between £60,000 and £120,000 in each year since 2000; and how many of these properties were sold to first time buyers in each year. [223802]

Mr. Timms: Estimates of the number of residential properties selling for between £60,000 and £120,000 in England and Wales, on which stamp duty was levied at 1 per cent. are given in the following table for 2000 to 2003 inclusive. Estimates for 2004 will be available later in the year.

It is not possible to provide this information for first time buyers.

Estimated number of residential properties sold for between £60,001 and £120,000

Tax Credits

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how his Department plans to ensure that those who are entitled to claim tax credit are informed of their eligibility. [223384]

Dawn Primarolo: Around 6 million families are benefiting from tax credits. The Inland Revenue encourage people to claim tax credits and they maintain awareness of tax credits through a range of advertising and publicity activities. In particular, information about tax credits is included in the Bounty Bags" that new mothers receive. And there is an ongoing advertising campaign designed specifically to encourage claims from ethnic minority communities is another priority, using local radio and advertising in the ethnic press and magazines and appropriate intermediary organisations through in-community work.

All our advertising campaigns, whether aimed at encouraging early renewal of awards, or about reporting changes of circumstances serve to maintain
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awareness of tax credits generally—research shows 95 per cent. awareness—and experience has shown that such campaigns do prompt people to make inquiries to the Tax Credits Helpline.


Affordable Homes

Mr. Amess: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many affordable homes he plans to deliver (a) over the forthcoming spending review period and (b) in each year after the end of that period; and if he will make a statement. [223451]

Keith Hill: The funding provided in the Spending Review will, along with efficiency improvements, produce 75,000 social rented homes and 40,000 homes for low cost home ownership (including essential public sector workers) over the three years to 2007–08.

In addition, Sustainable Communities: Homes for All" sets out the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's plans to deliver more affordable housing over the five years to 2009–10. Measures include assisting over 80,000 first time buyers and keyworkers to achieve their home ownership aspirations.

The delivery of outputs from 2008–09 will be dependent upon the outcome of the next Spending Review in 2006.

Civil Justice (Repossessions)

Simon Hughes: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 21 February 2005, Official Report, column 332W, when the Civil Justice Council and Department for Constitutional Affairs will issue a pre-action protocol for possessions cases; and when the cross-Whitehall group on possessions and evictions will issue good practice guidance. [223780]

Keith Hill: A consultation exercise on the pre-action protocol for possession cases is planned to take place this summer. The cross-Whitehall group aim to issue their good practice guidance on possessions and evictions in summer 2005. This group has been working closely with the Civil Justice Council and the Department for Constitutional Affairs to ensure that the pre-action protocol and the guidance are complementary. This will be a practical guide on the management of rent arrears, which make up 93 per cent. of possessions cases; and is aimed at all social housing organisations and specifically cabinet and board members, housing practitioners and stakeholders. It will set out the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's policy position that possession action should only be taken where strictly necessary.

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