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11 Jan 2006 : Column 640W—continued

Tax Credits

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average length of a phone call to the tax credit helpline was in the last period for which figures are available; what percentage of calls to the tax credit helpline were answered within (a) one minute, (b) two minutes, (c) five minutes and (d) at all; and what the average waiting time was for calls to be answered by a tax credit helpline operator. [9845]

Dawn Primarolo: We do not have available information on the average length of a phone call to the tax credit helpline. Information on percentages of calls answered within specific times other than 20 seconds is not kept.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the cost of the programme to digitise telephone conversations between members of the public and staff of HM Revenue and Customs in relation to queries about tax credits. [21874]

Dawn Primarolo: Total costs incurred to date on the Witness Call Archiving project are around £2 million.

The benefits of the Witness Call Archiving project are that they allow call recordings to be stored in an easily retrievable way that helps with queries, complaints, call monitoring etc. This system allows appropriately authorised users to search and replay calls remotely, this ultimately saves a significant amount of time in the complaints/query process.
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Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many disputed tax credit cases were decided in each month since June 2004; what proportion of disputes have been decided in the disputant's favour; how many tax credit disputes received since April 2003 have yet to be decided; and how many disputes have been raised since June. [29706]

Dawn Primarolo: A monthly breakdown of the number of disputed overpayment decisions is not available for 2004–05.

To ensure they provide the most accurate information available, HM Revenue and Customs has changed its method of counting decisions made in 2005–06 since I answered the hon. Gentleman on 21 July 2005 and 10 October 2005, Official Report, columns 2033W and 282W. Figures for July 2005 to November 2005, inclusive, are around:
Month (2005)Disputed overpayment decisions (households)

For those cases, HMRC wrote off a disputed overpayment in around 35 per cent. of cases up to 30 November 2005.

At the end of November 2005, around 54,000 disputes were awaiting a decision.

Between 1 June 2005 and 30 November 2005 around 187,000 households disputed a tax credits overpayment.

David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many cases of fraud have been detected in Northern Ireland in relation to tax credit claims in each of the last five years. [36506]

Dawn Primarolo: The information requested is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.


John Hemming: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has plans to charge VAT on domestic flights. [38195]

Dawn Primarolo: VAT is already charged on aircraft fuel supplied for flights within the UK at either the standard rate or reduced rate of 5 percent., depending on the type and quantity of fuel being supplied.


Air Quality

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to publish the revised methodology for air quality around airports; and if he will place a copy in the Library. [41045]

Ms Buck: The Department's air quality technical panel process was initiated following commitments in the Air Transport White Paper related to the future
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development of Heathrow. It is expected to complete its report during February. This activity concerns the approach to modelling of air quality at Heathrow only. The report will be placed in the House Library.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 11 July 2005, Official Report, column 759W, on automatic number plate recognition, how long information collected by the police will be held as a record on police computer databases before deletion in (a) the pilot programme and (b) the proposed national scheme. [31501]

Paul Goggins: I have been asked to reply.

Pursuant to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington on 11 July 2005, Official Report, column 759W, my officials have been working closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to ensure that information collected by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technologies and retained by the Police is cognisant of the relevant data protection legislation. The specific ACPO guidance states:

This document covers the European Convention for Human Rights. Data Protection, the Regulatory Investigative Powers Act 2000 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 relating to the Police use of ANPR (excluding speed enforcement devices) and is applicable to all police forces in England and Wales.


Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what estimate he has made of the cost to date of strengthening bridges to accommodate 44 tonne lorries; [40878]

(2) what percentage of the costs of strengthening bridges to accommodate 44 tonne lorries has been borne by (a) the Highways Agency, (b) local authorities, (c) Network Rail, (d) Railtrack, (e) British Rail and (f) other organisations. [41046]

Dr. Ladyman: Since 1 January 1999 the United Kingdom has been required to implement EU Directive 89/460/EC, which allows the use of road vehicles with 11.5 tonne axle loads and plated vehicle weights of 40 tonnes. These vehicles are more demanding in loading terms than a 44 tonne vehicle on six axles. The Directive applies to principal routes" used in international traffic, and in the UK these have been assumed to be motorways, all purpose trunk roads and the primary route network.
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Under The Railway Bridges (Load Bearing Standards) Regulations (England and Wales) Order 1972 (SI 1705/1972) bridges carrying highways over railways are required to take a 24 tonne rigid lorry or a 32 tonne articulated lorry. So any strengthening to take 40 tonne (or 44 tonne) lorries is the sole responsibility of the relevant highway authority.

When the Directive came into force, all bridges on the motorway and trunk road network were able to accommodate 40 tonne vehicles. In the six years from 2001–02 to 2006–07 £205 million has been provided to strengthen bridges on the local authority primary route network to take 40 tonne lorries. In the same period £703 million has been provided to strengthen local authority bridges not on the primary route network, but not all of these bridges are required to take the 40 tonne loading.


Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list bypasses built in each of the last five years. [40569]

Dr. Ladyman: The following table lists the Highways Agency trunk road and local authority bypass schemes (at a cost of over £5 million) which have been completed in each of the last five years:
2000Rainworth Bypass
2001A174 Skelton and Brotton Bypass
Burntwood Bypass Phase 1 and 2, Staffordshire
A151 Weston Bypass
C541 Addlethorpe Bypass and Bernd Improvement
2002A143 Broome-Ellingham
A131 Great Leighs
A6023 Denaby Main Diversion
A511 Ashby Bypass
A27 Polegate Bypass
A43 Silverstone Bypass
A6 Clapham Bypass
A66 Stainburn and Great Clifton Bypass
Wyre Piddle Bypass, Worcestershire
A428 Crick Bypass
2003A350 Semington—Melksham Diversion
Barnsley Coalfields Link Road (aka Shafton Bypass)
A6 Great Glen Bypass
A53 Hodnett Bypass
5 Nesscliffe Bypass
500 Basford, Hough and Shavington Bypass
6 Rothwell—Desborough Bypass
6 Rushden and Higham Ferrers Bypass
6 Alvaston Bypass
650 Bingley Relief Road
4146 Stoke Hammond and Linslade Bypass (Northern Section)
South Thames Development Route
41 Aston Clinton Bypass
527 Biddulph Inner Bypass
Ashton-Under-Lyne Northern Bypass (Greater Manchester)
2004St Clements Way, Thurrock (aka West Thurrock Marshes Relief Road)
A607 Rearsby Bypass
Mansfield Ashfield Regeneration Route
A63 Selby Bypass
A10 Wadesmill Colliers End
2005A167 Chilton Bypass
A21 Lamberhurst Bypass
A47 Thorney Bypass
A142 Fordham Bypass
Gloucester South West Bypass (Castlemeads section)
A5 Weeford-Fazeley Improvement
A158 Coastal Access Improvement Phase 1—Partney Bypass
A428 West Haddon Bypass
A57 Cadishead Way (Brinell Drive to City Boundary) (Greater Manchester)

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