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Mr. Lewis: Government policy on membership of the single currency is unchanged. It remains as set out by the Chancellor in his statement to the House of Commons in October 1997, and again in the Chancellor's statement of the Five Tests assessment in June 2003.
Budget 2005 noted that the Government did not propose a euro assessment be initiated at the time of the Budget and that the Treasury will again review the situation at Budget time next year, as required by the Chancellor's June 2003 statement.
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Special analysis of MRSA deaths are undertaken by the Office for National Statistics and are published annually in Health Statistics Quarterly. These are for England and Wales only. The latest year for which figures are available is 2003. Numbers of deaths where MRSA was a contributory factor in NHS general hospitals within England and Wales are given in the table below.
|Number of deaths|
Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many recipients in Stroud constituency have been identified as having received over-payments of tax credits; and how many of these over-payments are due to computer software problems. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the highest level of over-payment of tax credit is; and what arrangements have been put in place to recoup such over-payments without breaching Government guidelines of not putting families into hardship. 
Mr. Lewis: Under agreements with our European partners that govern the VAT system, we can apply a reduced VAT rate of no lower than 5 per cent. on goods and services from within a prescribed list in the Sixth VAT Directive (Annex H). There is no provision in this list for a reduced rate of VAT on audio books.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions the Government (a) has had, (b) is having and (c) is scheduled to have with (i) the European Commission and (ii) members and representatives of EU member state Governments on adjusting VAT ratings on particular goods and services; if he will list the (A) goods and (B) services under discussion; who initiated each discussion; and if he will make a statement. 
The Commission's review of reduced rates was adopted on 23 July 2003. Since then, a range of goods and services has been discussed, such as restaurant services, compact discs, repairs to listed places of worship, energy-saving materials for do-it-yourself installation, energy-saving products, memorials, and the labour-intensive services listed in Annex K of the Sixth VAT Directive (small repairs, house repairs, window cleaning, cleaning in private households, domestic care services, and hairdressing).
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether the Government plans to require some form of identification to be shown in order to vote at a polling station. 
Harriet Harman: The Government currently have no plans to require a form of identification to be shown in order to vote at a polling station, but we will consider the issue along with discussion of improvements to postal voting security.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the Government's policy is on extending the use of individual electoral registration from Northern Ireland to other parts of the United Kingdom. 
The Government's view on voter registration, expressed in our response to the Electoral Commission's Voting for Change report, is that while we are sympathetic to the principles of individual
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registration and recognise its potential benefits, we are concerned to maintain a straightforward system and comprehensive electoral registers.
Our preferred solution is to collect the additional individual identifiers recommended by the Electoral Commission (signature and date of birth), but to do so through an adapted household form. We believe that this system will improve security in the same way as individual registration, but will reduce the risk of falling levels of registration.
We are currently discussing this proposal with electoral administrators, the political parties and other stakeholders. If a decision is made to take this policy forward, we intend to do so through an Electoral Administration Bill, when parliamentary time allows.
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many and what proportions of (a) requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 from (i) journalists, (ii) Members of Parliament and (iii) others and (b) written parliamentary questions tabled since 1 January 2005 have been referred to the Central Clearing House. 
Harriet Harman: Since the Freedom of Information Act is requestor blind, there is no way to provide exact figures relating to the number of requests that have been referred to the Clearing House from either journalists or Members of Parliament. However, we estimate that, through self-identification of media requestors, that of the nearly 2000 cases referred to date, approximately 830 (42 per cent.) of requests have come from journalists and 130 (7 per cent.) have been from Members of Parliament.
As written parliamentary questions are not counted as requests for information within the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, these are not referred to the Clearing House for advice. Departments are instead expected to seek guidance from their parliamentary branches as normal.
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the budget of the Central Clearing House is; how many officials work there; on what date it was established; by whom; and to whom it is responsible. 
Harriet Harman: The Clearing House was established in September of 2004. It is part of the Information Rights Division in the Constitution Directorate of Department of Constitutional Affairs and is ultimately responsible to the Permanent Secretary, Alex Allan. There are currently 12 posts within the Clearing House, two of which are directly funded by Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to provide expertise on the environmental information regulations.
The implementation costs of the Clearing House totalled approximately £196,000, while its current operational cost and budget which includes IT, staffing costs including those posts funded by DEFRA and maintenance of the central monitoring system, currently stands at £511,404 per annum.
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Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will place in the Library a copy of the (a) terms of reference and (b) mission statement for the Central Clearing House. 
Harriet Harman: The Clearing House does not have an individual mission statement, however it sits within the Information Rights Division, part of the Constitution Directorate in Department for Constitutional Affairs. Its role is to offer advice and assistance to Whitehall Departments in dealing with information requests made under the Data Protection Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and the Environmental Information Regulations. It has responsibility for those requests which are particularly complex or have cross Government implications and to ensure a consistent and appropriate approach is taken in the application of the legislation.
Its terms of reference are further defined in the Clearing House toolkit, a document produced for departmental FOI practitioners. This document is currently being revised to reflect experience over the period since the FOIA came into force. However, once this revision is complete, we will be placing copies on the DCA website, which is expected by the early summer.
Michael Connarty: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many inquiries have been made to Government Departments under the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and what estimate has been made of the number which have been refused. 
Harriet Harman: We are committed to publishing a quarterly bulletin on the performance of Central Government under Freedom of Information and this will include details on the numbers of requests and rates of refusal. The information for the first bulletin is currently being validated for publication next month.
However, in a recent trial of this monitoring system with 27 Central Government Departments and Agencies, including all Departments of State, we collected information on those requests received in the month of January. This indicated that, in the first month of implementation, 4,462 requests were received by those monitored of which only 484, or 14 per cent., of those processed were refused in full.
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