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7 Apr 2005 : Column 1565W—continued

MOD Land (Purchases)

Mr. Luff: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy to buy the site of the Army Medal Office, Ordnance Survey Office and Customs and Excise Office from the Ministry of Defence. [224568]

Dawn Primarolo: HM Customs and Excise have a strategy to concentrate non-location specific work such as the majority of work carried out in the Droitwich into principal office sites. In the West Midlands these are located in Birmingham and Wolverhampton. The
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formation of HM Revenue and Customs requires savings to be made on accommodation costs, to achieve this Customs are seeking to maximise use of their existing accommodation at these principal offices.


Hugh Bayley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the current average outstanding balance on mortgages for homes in (a) the UK, (b) Yorkshire and (c) York; what the typical month's interest payable on each of those balances was at the latest date for which figures are available; and what estimate he has made of what the interest on each balance would have been (i) in May 1997 and (ii) immediately after the pound fell out of the exchange rate mechanism in 1992. [224812]

John Mann: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate he has made of the average size of mortgages in (a) Bassetlaw and (b) the East Midlands. [225027]

Mr. Timms: An approximate estimate for the current UK average outstanding mortgage balance is £77,000, based on Bank of England and Council of Mortgage Lenders' data. No geographic breakdowns of the data are provided. The average mortgage interest rate, based on National Statistics data, was 5.2 per cent. in January 2005, 6.7 per cent. in May 1997 and 10.6 per cent. in September 1992.

National Insurance

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many telephone calls have been made by officials in his Department to persons concerning deficiencies in their national insurance contribution records in each of the past five calendar years; and what advice was tendered by officials to persons in this position. [224935]

Mr. Timms: Deficiency notices are issued to individuals with a gap in their national insurance contributions record. The notice gives them the opportunity to query their record or to pay voluntary contributions to make up the record. Individuals can ring a dedicated helpline for information to enable them to decide what to do. They will only receive a telephone call if they ask to be rung back. No records are kept of the calls made.

No. 11 Downing Street (Entertaining)

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the individuals who were entertained at 11 Downing street in 2004. [223764]

Mr. Timms: A wide range of individuals and organisations attend official functions at No. 11 Downing street. All such functions are held in accordance with the provisions of the Ministerial Code.

Patient Numbers (Southend)

Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions the Office for National Statistics has had with Southend primary care trust on the number of patients registered in Southend. [224918]

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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. David Amess, dated 7 April 2005:

Pensioner Households (Additional Payments)

Lady Hermon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 22 March 2005, Official Report, column 706W, on Northern Ireland, what the duration in Northern Ireland will be of the additional £200 payment to over-65 pensioner ratepayer households equivalent to that in Great Britain. [224175]

Mr. Timms: The one-off additional payment of £200 to be paid to council tax (or rate) paying households with someone aged 65 and over announced in Budget 2005 will be made alongside the 2005 winter fuel payments in Great Britain, i.e. before the end of December 2005.

Northern Ireland Ministers will be introducing similar arrangements to those being introduced in Great Britain. The details are matters for Northern Ireland Ministers.

Rateable Values (Stables)

John Mann: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the system of assessing rateable values of properties with stables where the stables are used entirely for non-commercial gain. [224875]

Mr. Timms: No such assessment has been undertaken.

Tax Credit

John Mann: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects the tax credit case of Simone Farrell of Bircotes in Bassetlaw constituency to be resolved. [225025]

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John Healey: I understand that the Tax Credit Office advised the hon. Member earlier today that they would be writing to his constituent about this matter very shortly.

Taxes and Benefits

Peter Bottomley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the average effect of taxes and benefits in (a) 1979, (b) 1997, (c) the current financial year and (d) five years' time on each decile of (i) individuals and (ii) household incomes for (A) pensions and (B) families with children. [225022]

John Healey: The detailed analysis requested cannot be undertaken in the time available before Parliament is Prorogued later today.


Burmese Teak

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what policy direction she has given to lottery distributors regarding the use of Burmese teak. [224767]

Estelle Morris: I have issued no such policy direction. The policy directions issued to the lottery distributors set out the framework for the wider aims of lottery funding, and do not specify detailed criteria.

The directions do include the need for the distributing bodies to further the objectives of sustainable development when awarding lottery grants. The lottery distributing bodies are strongly committed to sustainable development, including the procurement of timber from legal and sustainable sources.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the use of Burmese teak in the Lottery-funded restoration of HMS Warrior; and what assessment she has made of whether importing Burmese teak for such use is in line with Government policy regarding trade with Burma. [224768]

Estelle Morris: In December 2000, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a grant of £725,000 to the Warrior Preservation Trust for the restoration of HMS Warrior, the Royal Navy's first ironclad and the most revolutionary warship of her age. The award was conditional upon the trust satisfying HLF that the teak came from a sustainable source.

The Heritage Lottery Fund agreed new guidance on timber procurement in January 2005. Under this guidance, all timber used on HLF-funded projects must be obtained from verifiable legal sources. The preference must always be for HLF grant recipients to use timber that can be shown to have been obtained from sustainably managed forests. The guidance has been developed with the assistance of the UK Government's 'Central Point of Expertise on Timber' (CPET). Although there is no ban on companies trading with Burma, the Government does not encourage trade and investment with that country; neither does it give financial support to promote trade missions there.
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