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30 Jan 2006 : Column 63W—continued


Christmas Cards

Mr. Hands: To ask the Prime Minister if he will estimate the cost to his Office of sending Christmas cards in 2005. [45916]

The Prime Minister: Approximately 1,600 cards were purchased for official use at a cost of £325. All expenditure incurred in the purchase and posting of these cards is in accordance with the departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on the principles set out in Government Accounting".

Early Retirement

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Prime Minister how many employees of his Office have taken early retirement due to ill-health in each of the past five years for which figures are available. [46776]

The Prime Minister: For these purposes my office forms part of the Cabinet Office. I have therefore asked my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office (Jim Murphy) to reply. A copy of the reply will be placed in the Library of the House.

Jewish Festivals

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Prime Minister what his Office did to (a) celebrate Hanukkah and (b) mark Yom Kippur in 2005. [46763]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 30 November 2005, Official Report, column 621W.

Special Advisers

Mr. Heald: To ask the Prime Minister (1) how much was spent on special advisers in each year since 1996–97; and what the estimated spend is for 2005–06; [47199]

(2) if he will list the (a) paid and (b) unpaid special advisers working in each Government Department. [47200]

The Prime Minister: Since 2003, the Government have published on an annual basis the names and overall cost of special advisers and the number in each payband. I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial
30 Jan 2006 : Column 64W
statement I made on 21 July 2005, Official Report, 158–61WS. Information on the numbers of special advisers prior to 2003 was provided at regular intervals and this information is available in the Libraries of the House.

Information on special advisers for 2005–06 will be published in the normal way once it has been completed.

Terrorism Victims (Compensation)

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 16 January 2006, Official Report, column 888W, on terrorism victims (compensation), when he expects to be able to report to the House on the results of the Government's consideration of the feasibility of introducing a scheme to provide compensation for UK victims of terrorism referred to in his reply to the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) on 15 October 2005. [46558]

The Prime Minister: I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave the hon. Member on 16 January 2006, Official Report, column 888W.


John Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with President Hu about the destruction of historic buildings by the Chinese Government in Tibet. [45549]

The Prime Minister: I last met President Hu during his state visit in November 2005 where we discussed a wide range of issues. The British ambassador to China raised the destruction of historic buildings in Tibet with the Vice-Mayor of Lhasa in July 2004. He stressed the need to balance modernity with the preservation of Tibetan culture.

The Government monitor developments in Tibet closely and regularly raises Tibet-related issues with the Chinese Government, including during our biannual UK/China human rights dialogue.


David Howarth: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his Oral Answer to the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Mr. Kennedy) of 7 December 2005, Official Report, column 862, whether the definition of torture he uses includes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. [45815]

The Prime Minister: The Government understands the term torture" to have the meaning set out in Article 1 of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT).


Council Tax

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the (a) merits and (b) cost of a revaluation of council tax bands. [46021]

Mr. Woolas: The Government believe that it is right to maintain a fair alignment between house prices and council tax bands. However they announced on
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20 September 2005 that they were postponing the 2007 revaluation of council tax so that revaluation can take full account of Sir Michael Lyons' extended inquiry into local government funding. Sir Michael published his initial findings and research so far in December last year and will publish his final report at the end of this year.

It is not possible at this stage to estimate what the costs of a future revaluation will be.

Coventry City Council

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of Coventry City council housing stock has been sold under the right-to-buy scheme in each year since 1980. [45659]

Yvette Cooper: The proportion of housing stock owned by Coventry City council, sold through the right-to-buy scheme in each financial year since 1980–81, as reported by Coventry City is tabulated. The table shows the number of right-to-buy sales in each financial year as a percentage of the stock at the beginning of that period. There have been no right-to-buy sales since September 2000 when all remaining local authority stock was transferred to a registered social landlord.
West Lancashire; right-to-buy sales

Financial year
Proportion of LA stock
sold through RTB

P1AB returns from local authority to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

Departmental Expenditure

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much was spent by his Department on refreshments in each year since 1997. [41259]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was formed in May 2002. Figures for ODPM are unavailable for 2002–03. The ODPM does not hold separate information on expenditure on refreshments, however expenditure on catering which includes refreshments is held and the figures for these are as follows.
30 Jan 2006 : Column 66W

2005–06 to date203,643.86

All expenditure is incurred in line with the appropriate guidance.

Emissions Targets

Anne Main: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will include emissions targets in the public service agreements his Department has with local and regional organisations. [44392]

Mr. Woolas: Local public service agreements are now negotiated with local authorities and their partners by Government offices as the 'reward element' of local area agreements (LAAs).

The LAA Outcomes Framework, published as part of the LAA Guidance Note in June, 2005, provides for targets to be negotiated relating to concentrations of air pollutants and to the energy efficiency/carbon performance of properties.

Energy Efficiency

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the relationship between the work of the Interdepartmental Taskforce on the Improvement of Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings and the energy review. [45394]

Yvette Cooper: The recommendations of the review of the sustainability of Existing Buildings which, among other issues, is considering measures which could be taken to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings, will be taken into account in the much wider energy review, as stated in the consultation document, Our Energy Challenge: Securing clean, affordable energy for the long-term", that was issued on 23 January.

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