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25 Oct 2005 : Column 308W—continued

Departmental Staff

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills of new recruits to his Department. [20995]

John Healey: HM Treasury includes the use of verbal and numerical reasoning tests as part of the selection process for new recruits, in order to assess the applicants' literacy and numeracy skills. The complexity of the roles being recruited to determines the level of difficulty of the test used. The information obtained from such tests together with other selection methods, is used to determine the applicants' suitability for the role.

When using psychometric tests in recruitment and selection, HM Treasury follows the British Psychological Society's Code of Practice on Occupational Testing.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what training in (a) literacy and (b) numeracy is offered to employees of his Department. [21122]

John Healey: Basic literacy and numeracy are the minimum entry-level requirements for the most junior positions within HM Treasury. Consequently, only higher-level training is provided to Treasury staff.

Financial Services Authority

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the work of the Financial Services Authority in monitoring private pension schemes. [19093]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 20 October 2005]: With respect to personal pensions, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has responsibility under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 for the prudential regulation of many providers of these
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schemes and for the way these firms and separate intermediaries market and sell these products to consumers.

The FSA takes a risk-based approach to regulation, ensuring that it regulates in a proportionate and effective way. Irrespective of the product type, the FSA has a wide range of regulatory tools at its disposal, most importantly authorisation, supervision, and where appropriate enforcement and discipline. These tools allow the FSA to take proportionate action in line with its statutory objectives.

Financing Negotiations (EU)

Keith Vaz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how the UK presidency plans to take forward future financing negotiations in the EU. [21594]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK remains committed to working towards a deal on future financing during its presidency of the EU. To this end, the presidency has held bilateral consultations with all member states, Bulgaria, and Romania on future financing and is now reflecting on the results. The Prime Minister will update Heads of State and Government at the Hampton Court informal meeting on 27 October. The presidency will then take the issue forward in November, starting with an initial discussion at the 7 November GAERC. Any decision would be taken at the European Council on 15–16 December.

Fiscal Reform

Keith Vaz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to reform the fiscal rules. [21016]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: There are no plans to reform the fiscal rules at this time. However, as noted in the Government's response to the TSC report on the 2004 pre-Budget report, the Government, of course, keeps the macroeconomic framework under review to ensure that it remains at the forefront of international best practice.

Income Tax

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what percentage of taxpayers in (a) South Swindon and (b) the UK paid tax at the (i) basic rate and (ii) higher rate in 2004–05. [20309]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer my hon. Friend to table 2.1 'Number of individual income taxpayers' on the HM Revenue and Customs internet website–1.pdf

The percentages of individual paying income tax at the basic rate and higher rate in the UK can be calculated from the data provided in the table.

The income tax information is based upon the 2002–03 Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI) projected forward to 2004–05 in line with Budget 2005 assumptions.

Latest information on the estimated number of income taxpayers in South Swindon constituency is shown in table 3.15 'Total Income by Parliamentary
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Constituency' on the HM Revenue and Customs internet website–15.xls

A breakdown by tax bands is not available because the sample sizes for marginal rates at constituency level are very small and demonstrate a large variability year on year.

Investors Compensation Scheme

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the value of professional indemnity insurance when a firm failing its obligations will be eligible for support from the Investors Compensation Scheme. [20903]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: When a person has a claim against a firm the liability is that of the firm. Any professional indemnity policy taken out by the firm should provide it with funds to meet eligible claims, subject to the terms of the policy. Providing its liabilities are all met the firm will be able to continue in business.

The Investors Compensation Scheme (now the Financial Services Compensation Scheme) steps in as a last resort when, despite any claim that may be successful under a professional indemnity insurance policy, there is compensation remaining due to the consumer and the firm is certified as in default. Compensation may then be paid by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme to the consumer.

Local Tax Offices

Mr. Swire: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what public consultation was undertaken before the decision was made that payment of tax would not be accepted at local tax offices after 31 December. [20881]

Dawn Primarolo: The change is consistent with policy adopted, in respect of cash handling, by other large organisations and Government Departments. Customers are able to pay tax by cash at post offices and banks.

Low Value Consignment Relief (Jersey)

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received calling for the reduction or ending of Low Value Consignment Relief on goods sent by mail order from Jersey; what his estimate is of the consequent loss of revenue to his Department; and if he will make a statement. [20889]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government have received a number of representations from stakeholders on this issue and is keeping it under review. We would need to ensure that any decision to change the relief reflected a full consideration of the potential impact on UK businesses, consumers and taxpayers.

The Government estimates that, per annum, around £80 million in potential VAT receipts is lost through this relief, with about £40 million of this attributable to imports from Jersey.
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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for how many deaths malnutrition was given as a cause of death in each of the last 10 years, broken down by age. [20488]

John Healey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.
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Letter from Colin Mowl to Mr. Paul Burstow, dated 25 October 2005:

Number of deaths where malnutrition or deprivation of food(32) was mentioned on the death certificate, persons by age group, England and Wales, 1994 to 2003(33)

Under 1515–4445–6465–8485 plusAll ages

(32) Cause of death was defined using the codes below from the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) for the years 1994 to 2000, and Tenth Revision (ICD-10) from 2001 onwards.
261—Nutritional marasmus;
262—Other severe protein-calorie malnutrition;
263—Other and unspecified protein-calorie malnutrition;
994.2—Effects of hunger.
T73.0—Effects of hunger.
(33) Figures are for deaths occurring in each calendar year.

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