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13 Dec 2006 : Column 1198W—continued


Treasury

2012 Olympics

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his Department approved the decision by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to commission a report by KPMG into the cost of the 2012 Olympics. [105561]

John Healey: No. This is a matter for DCMS.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) pursuant to the answer of 4 December 2006, Official Report, column 210W, on the Olympics, how many staff in his Department's Public Services and Growth Directorate spend more than 70 per cent. of their time on work related to the 2012 Olympics; and what the pay band is of each such staff member; [105598]


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(2) how many staff in his Department have work objectives that make reference to the Olympics; and what the pay band is of each such staff member. [105599]

John Healey: Work on the Olympics cuts across a number of Treasury directorates and a large number of policy teams' and officials' objectives.

Annuities

Paul Holmes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether options are available to (a) non-religious people and (b) people of religions other than Plymouth Brethren who seek to opt out of annuities; [108311]

(2) what assessment he has made of the compatibility of the provision of alternatively secured pensions with human rights legislation; [108312]

(3) what mechanisms are in place to prevent abuse of alternatively secured pensions; and what evidence of such abuse he has collected; [108313]

(4) what religions other than Plymouth Brethren qualify for alternatively secured pensions; [108314]

(5) what guidance his Department has issued to tax accountants as to how they certify clients' religious objections to annuities. [108315]

Ed Balls: The 2006 pre-Budget report announced changes to the pensions tax regime for alternatively secured pensions (ASP) with effect from 6 April 2007.

There will be a requirement to withdraw a minimum level of income each year from an ASP fund, the maximum annual withdrawal limit from an ASP fund will be increased and the facility to transfer funds on death as a lump sum to pension funds of other members in the scheme will be removed from the authorised payment rules. Further details are in pre-Budget report note 13 available at

These proposals will bring practice and policy intention into line and provide a fair balance between meeting the needs of those with principled religious objections to annuitisation and the needs of the wider public.

Published alongside the pre-Budget report, is a document: The annuities market, which clearly sets out the Government's position regarding annuities in general and ASPs in particular.

Child Trust Fund

Jon Cruddas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the take-up has been of the Child Trust Fund, broken down by (a) social class and (b) region. [105501]

Ed Balls: The latest set of Child Trust Fund statistics showing UK-wide information was published byHM Revenue and Customs on 29 September at www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/child_trust_funds/child-trust-funds.htm—these show that over 75 per cent. of parents are using their child’s voucher to open a Child Trust Fund account.


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Child Trust Fund information on take up at constituency level will be available early next year. A detailed distributional analysis of the Child Trust Fund looking at take up by income group will also be published in 2007.

Departmental Energy Policy

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he plans to make his Department carbon neutral. [105747]

John Healey: HM Treasury has signed up to the Government-wide target to achieve carbon neutrality across the central Government office estate by 2012.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 23 November 2006, Official Report, column 206W, on departmental staff, how many of the total civil service staff for each period given were frontline professionals as defined in the Gershon Report. [105595]

John Healey: Due to the wide variety of work carried out by the civil service, there is no single central definition of ‘front line’. The Gershon Review discussed reallocations to front-line posts in the context of workforce reforms being undertaken in the Department for Work and Pensions and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs as part of their respective efficiency programmes. It is for these departments to decide to which posts these reallocations will take place.

Financial Ombudsman Service

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many bank-related services complaints were received by the Financial Ombudsman Service about (a) mortgage products, (b) current accounts, (c) credit cards, (d) loans other than mortgages, (e) other banking services and (f) savings and deposit accounts in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [105601]

Ed Balls: The following table shows the number of bank related services complaints that have been received by the Financial Ombudsman Service in each category.

To year ending 31 March
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006

Mortgage products

3,876

9,438

3,220

3,001

3,942

Current accounts

1,280

1,602

2,106

2,521

3,543

Credit cards

372

864

1,444

1,599

2,124

Loans other than mortgages

556

933

1,116

1,133

1,507

Other banking services (which includes: cheque clearing, money transfer, cash machines)

803

1,485

1,106

1,083

1,360

Savings and deposit accounts

1,230

748

806

1,154

1,233


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Foreign Visits

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what foreign visits have been undertaken by Office of Government Commerce staff on official business in the last 12 months; what the total cost was of each visit; and how much of that sum was accounted for by (a) travel expenses, (b) expenses claimed and (c) accommodation in each case. [105571]

John Healey: OGC staff have undertaken a total of 85 overseas trips in the last 12 months, from December 2005 to December 2006, at a total cost to OGC of £71,000. That total has been broken down into travel costs and subsistence costs below, but to break down the cost into individual visits could be done only at disproportionate costs.

£000

Travel costs

57

Subsistence

14

Total cost

71


HM Revenue and Customs Boat Sector

Robert Key: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many intelligence officers are (a) employed by HM Revenue and Customs and (b) assigned to the uncanalised yacht and pleasure craft sector of HM Revenue and Customs' responsibilities. [105084]

John Healey: In September 2006 Intelligence became part of a new Risk and Intelligence Directorate and currently deploys 1200 staff.

It is not possible to extract the specific numbers of staff assigned to the uncanalised yacht and pleasure craft sector for the reasons given in the written answer by the Paymaster General on 19 July 2006, Official Report, column 521W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew).

HM Revenue and Customs Contact Centres

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether Revenue and Customs (HMRC) contact centres undertake work on behalf of private companies; whether HMRC receives financial incentives for the volume of calls processed (a) from his Department and (b) private companies; and if he will make a statement. [107987]

John Healey: HMRC contact centres undertake no work on behalf of private companies nor does HMRC receive any financial incentives for the volume of calls processed.

HM Revenue and Customs Surveys

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much was spent by HM Revenue and Customs on the survey Welsh do it online for Christmas; and why the survey was commissioned; [105441]

(2) how much was spent by HM Revenue and Customs on the survey Scots go online for Christmas; [105442]

(3) what the total cost was of the recent survey UK’s web users invest time online, commissioned by HM Revenue and Customs was; and what purpose it served; [105463]


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(4) for what purpose the survey South West Web Users Invest Time Online was commissioned; and what its total cost was; [105493]

(5) for what purposes HM Revenue and Customs commissioned the survey Scots go online for Christmas (HMRC release 1 December 2006). [105539]

John Healey: The total cost to HM Revenue and Customs of the survey was £4,425.

The survey was conducted nationally and the purpose it served was to gain an insight into taxpayers needs and behaviours around filing and payment of self assessment.

IT Projects

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many information technology projects within the responsibility of his Department, its agencies and their predecessors have been cancelled since 1997; what the total cost was of each project at cancellation; and if he will make a statement. [105486]

John Healey: No information technology projects within the Royal Mint, the Valuation Office Agency, the Debt Management Office, the Government Actuary’s Department, National Savings and Investments and the Office for National Statistics have been cancelled since 1997.

No information technology projects within HM Treasury have been cancelled since 2003. Information prior to 2003 is not held in the form requested, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

No information technology projects within the Office of Government Commerce or for OGC.buying.solutions have been cancelled since 2001. Information prior to 2001 for OGC and its predecessor organisation, the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

HMRC cancelled an element of the Child Trust Fund (CTF) project when it was determined that this element was not necessary for the implementation of CTF and was not a strategic value for money project in its own right. However, a first release of this element was successfully developed and deployed. This release was critical for the smooth implementation and ongoing running of the Child Trust Fund project. The cost at cancellation for 2004-05 was £5.532 million and for 2005-06 £9.818 million.

Middle East

James Duddridge: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much time officials from his Department have spent in (a) Israel and (b) the Occupied Palestinian Territories on official business in each of the last three years; and at what cost. [108947]

John Healey: In the last three years, Treasury officials have made a small number of short visits to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including in support of the Chancellor’s visit to Israel last year. Finding the precise information requested would involve disproportionate costs.


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Mortality Statistics

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the mortality rate was of (a) men and (b) women in Stroud district in each year since 1991. [105504]

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 13 December 2006:

Table 1: Age-standardised mortality rates( 1) , Stroud local authority, 1991-2005( 2)
Deaths per 100,000
Males Females

1991

879

515

1992

815

556

1993

899

559

1994

843

526

1995

844

591

1996

892

521

1997

769

549

1998

827

524

1999

780

550

2000

791

545

2001

705

538

2002

719

515

2003

715

518

2004

655

474

2005

680

455

(1) Age-standardised mortality rates per 100,000 population, standardised to the European Standard Population. Age-standardised rates are used to allow comparison between populations which may contain different proportions of people of different ages.
(2) Using local authority boundaries as of 2005 for deaths for all years shown.

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