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17 Oct 2005 : Column 722W—continued

Test Cricket

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will put cricket test matches on the A-list of sporting events. [17091]

James Purnell: No. Cricket test matches played in England are on the list of events which must be offered to the main free-to-air broadcasters, but only for secondary coverage such as highlights.

The decision to end protection of full live coverage was made in 1998 in the light of the recommendations of the independent review undertaken by the advisory group chaired by Lord Gordon of Strathblane.

Income from broadcasting forms 80 per cent. of cricket's income and the increased income since 1998 has allowed the ECB to invest substantial amounts in programmes for grass roots cricket and central contracts for England players, which have helped to contribute to the current success of the England team.

However, this time round, if the ECB had been prevented from considering bids from subscription broadcasters, competition for the rights would have been very limited and the ECB have told me that this would have led to a loss in income of around £80 million, which would have been disastrous for the game.
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The Secretary of State has made it clear that the Government will need to review the list of protected events as digital television take-up increases and viewers have a wider range of options for watching sport. This will provide the opportunity to re-consider the listing of live test cricket. However, this will not affect the 2006–09 contract.

TV Licences

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will reduce the television licence fee for students sharing accommodation in halls of residence; and if she will make a statement.

James Purnell: In the BBC Charter Review Green Paper published in March this year, the Government indicated that it believes the current scope of television licence fee concessions is about right, but undertook to re-examine any anomalies in the existing concessionary arrangements. We shall announce our conclusions in a White Paper which we intend to publish towards the end of this year.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how much has been spent on advertising and promotion of television licences in each of the last five years for which records are available; [18330]

(2) what the cost of employing (a) enforcement officers and (b) detector vans to enforce non-payment of television licences was in the last year for which figures are available. [18332]

James Purnell: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has incurred no such expenditure. The BBC has responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the television licensing system and TV Licensing carries out the day-to-day administration and enforcement under contract to the Corporation. I have therefore asked the BBC's Head of Revenue Management to consider the questions raised by the hon. Member and to write to him direct. Copies of the reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Air Miles

Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many air miles were accrued through ministerial travel in his Department in 2004–05, broken down by Minister; how many were (a) foregone and (b) donated to charity, broken down by charity; and whether air miles accrued by officials were required to be (i) foregone and (ii) given to charity. [17323]

John Healey: The information on the number of air miles accrued and their application could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Ministerial travel is conducted in accordance with the Ministerial Code" and Travel by Ministers". Guidance for Ministers on the use of air miles is set out in the Ministerial Code. The guidance makes clear that air miles should be used only for official purposes or else foregone. However, if it is impracticable to use the
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benefits for Government travel, there is no objection to Ministers donating them to charity if this is permissible under the terms of the airline's scheme and the charity is one chosen by the airline.

Similar rules are in place for officials.

Aviation Tax

Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has examined the impact of (a) the aviation tax in the Netherlands and (b) aviation taxes elsewhere in his examination of the options for possible economic instruments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. [17347]

John Healey: The Government are continuing to explore options for the use of economic instruments for tackling aviation's greenhouse gas emissions. As part of that process, the Government have noted the tax on domestic aviation fuel in the Netherlands, and the aviation taxes applied in other European member states and elsewhere.


Mike Penning: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to vary levels of excise duty on biofuels. [17084]

John Healey: In line with the commitment given in the Alternative Fuels Framework to give a three-year rolling guarantee on duty rates for alternative fuels, Budget 2005 confirmed that the 20 pence per litre duty differentials for both biodiesel and bioethanol will continue until 2007–08, providing further certainty and stability for development.

Climate Change Levy

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received on the level of the climate change levy. [17361]

John Healey: The Chancellor receives many representations covering a wide range of issues including the rates of the climate change levy. These are given due consideration in the Budget process.

Controlled Oil

Pete Wishart: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many registered dealers of controlled oil thereare in (a) the UK, (b) England and Wales and (c) Scotland; [17589]

(2) how many registered dealers of controlled oil have ceased trading since the start of the new HM Customs and Revenue scheme governing them; [17590]

(3) whether HM Revenue and Customs requires registered dealers of controlled oil to have IT systems specifically to deal with the scheme; and whether financial assistance is available for this expenditure; [17591]

(4) how much the new scheme to regulate registered dealers of controlled oil has cost to date; and what its forecast costs are in each of the next five years; [17592]

(5) what mechanisms are in place to monitor the effectiveness of the new scheme to control registered dealers of controlled oil. [17593]

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John Healey: There are 4,723 registrations under the registered dealers in controlled oil (RDCO) scheme in the UK, of which 3,771 are in England and Wales, and 307 in Scotland. Since the start of the scheme, 398 dealers have ceased trading.

Registered dealers in controlled oil must keep revenue records and accounts of controlled oil that they have received and supplied, and provide details to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) monthly. These records and accounts need not be held on a computer, and HMRC does not provide financial assistance to traders wishing to buy IT systems.

The UK oils strategy, of which the RDCO scheme is an important part, received £95.9 million in funding at its launch, in April 2002, for the period 2002–03 to 2005–06. Of that figure, £341,000 was spent on the development of computer systems to handle RDCO data, but more detailed costs for the implementation and administration of the scheme are not available, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Forecast costs for future years are not available

Analysis of RDCO returns allows HMRC to identify suspicious transactions without having to impose on traders more visits than necessary. HMRC also meets the legitimate trade to share intelligence on the oils market, including the effects of the RDCO scheme. As part of the wider oils strategy, the RDCO scheme has contributed significantly to the reduction in the UK market share held by illicit oils from 8 per cent. in 2000 to around 6 per cent. in 2003.

Financial Assistance Scheme

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has met the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions since May 2005 to discuss the Financial Assistance Scheme. [18638]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Chancellor meets the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on a regular basis to discuss a wide range of issues relating to the Government's welfare reform agenda.

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