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28 Mar 2006 : Column 974W—continued

Lisbon Agenda

Keith Vaz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on progress against the objectives of the Lisbon Agenda. [61016]

John Healey: At the 2005 Spring European Council, European leaders agreed to re-launch the Lisbon Strategy with a renewed emphasis on growth and jobs. Since 2001, average growth has been just 1.4 per cent. in the euro area and there are around 20 million unemployed.

Strengthening economic reform in Europe is a key priority for the UK. During the UK Presidency of the EU, member states submitted their first Lisbon National Reform Programmes which set out policies to promote growth, employment creation and productivity. The UK will continue to press for progress on this agenda.

Personal Debt

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the levels of personal debt were in each of the last two years for which figures are available. [61112]

John Healey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 28 March 2006:

Amount (£ billion)
end-2005 quarter 31249.3

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PFI Contracts

Adam Price: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of the estimated payments under private finance initiative contracts contained in Table C19 of the Budget of March 2006 are included in Departmental Expenditure Limits and fall within the Barnett Formula; and what percentage of such payments will be allocated to the Welsh Assembly budget under the Barnett Formula calculations for comparable expenditure. [62083]

John Healey: All central Government unitary charge payments made under the private finance initiative are included in Departmental Expenditure Limits. Further, revenue support grants to local authorities, which fund a proportion of local government unitary charge payments, are also in Departmental Expenditure Limits. The devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland receive block budgets. Changes in these budgets and revisions to Departmental Expenditure Limits feed through to devolved Administrations through the Barnett Formula. The devolved Administrations allocate their block budgets to services in accordance with local needs and priorities and it is a matter for the devolved Administrations to decide whether to purchase services through direct spending or via PFI schemes. Therefore all unitary charge payments from PFI projects signed by the devolved Administrations are paid for from the budgets of those administrations, as would be the case for an English Department.

Public Sector Pensions

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he expects his long-term estimate of the cost to public sector pension schemes published in the long-term public finance report to be revised. [61345]

John Healey: The projections of expenditure by unfunded public service pension schemes contained in the latest long term public finance report are consistent with the latest published accounts for those schemes. Changes to accounting assumptions on discount rates which affect the reported liabilities do not affect the cash flows. The cash flow projections will be reviewed as usual in preparation for the next long term public finance report.

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 2 March 2006, Official Report, column 388, on public sector pensions, and the technical note placed in the Library, if he will break down the liability referred to in paragraph 12 by age of affected member in five year age bands. [61346]

John Healey: This information cannot be provided without disproportionate cost. Paragraph 12 of the Technical Note explained that differences between experience of pay increases in 2004–05 and long-term actuarial assumptions on pay increases accounted for £10 billion of the increase in liabilities reported by all unfunded public service schemes in that year, and that £7 billion of this was attributable to pay reforms in the NHS. A breakdown of the estimate by amounts attributable to members of schemes in different age bands is not available.
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Superannuation Liability

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what total amount of employers' normal contributions accruing superannuation liability charge has accounted for by his Department in each of the last five years for which data is available. [61354]

John Healey: This information is contained in HMT's resource accounts (in the note on staff numbers and costs). For the four years from 2001–02 these are available on HMT's public website at

The 2000–01 resource accounts—are available from the House of Commons Library (HC 573, 31 January 2002).

Tax Credits

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps the Government are taking to reduce delayed payment of tax credits; and if he will make a statement. [60228]

Dawn Primarolo: The vast majority of claimants get their payments on time.

HM Revenue and Customs are working hard to improve administration and address technical issues in order to minimise impact on claimants.

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he will take to ensure that there is an adequate supply of tax credit application forms in West Dorset; and if he will make a statement. [61650]

Dawn Primarolo: Tax credits claim forms may be obtained by calling the national tax credits helpline or the national orderline.

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many tax credit awards which had been terminated mid-year due to the return of an incomplete renewals form were subsequently found to be due to the unsuccessful scanning of the form by HM Revenue and Customs in the last period for which figures are available; [62074]

(2) in how many and what proportion of cases where a tax credit award was suspended due to the return of an incomplete tax credit renewals form HM Revenue and Customs (a) attempted to contact the claimant concerned for the missing information and (b) was successful in obtaining the information necessary for the completion of the renewal form in the last period for which figures are available; [62079]

(3) how many tax credit awards were terminated following the return of an incomplete tax credit renewal form in each year since 2003. [62080]

Dawn Primarolo: The information requested is not available.

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many households have moved from having a tax credit award to no form of tax credit award mid-year; and what the reasons are for this occurring. [62081]

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Dawn Primarolo: The latest annual information is for 2004–05 awards. About 600,000 tax credit awards were ceased or terminated during that year. The main reasons were:

For both ceased or terminated awards a household, or individuals from the household as part of a new household, may be able to apply for new, subsequent awards starting in the same year.

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