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14 Dec 2006 : Column 1422W—continued


Exchequer Contingent Liabilities

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of contingent liabilities to the Exchequer arising under FRS17. [109351]

Mr. Timms: Where a Department has provided a guarantee of any pension scheme, it is a matter for that Department to report any obligations created by the
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guarantee to Parliament in accordance with the requirements of Government Accounting, and to report the related contingent liability in its Departmental Resource Accounts in accordance with the Government’s Financial Reporting Manual.

Gershon Review

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much has been spent by his Departments and their associated public bodies in order to achieve Gershon efficiency savings; whether these costs have been included in reports of headline efficiency savings; and if he will make a statement. [108340]

John Healey: The Treasury Group has detailed plans and work streams to enable it to meet its efficiency target. These work streams are set out in our efficiency technical note which is available on the Treasury website. Detailed information on the costs of each of these individual work streams is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much efficiency savings have been made in his Departments and their associated public bodies as a result of the Gershon Review; and if he will make a statement. [108347]


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John Healey: The Treasury Group’s performance against its efficiency target is published in the 2006 Autumn Performance Report (Cm 6990), which is being laid before Parliament today.

Heat Wave Deaths

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number of excess deaths resulting from summer heat waves in each year since 1997. [108617]

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 14 December 2006:

Excess mortality during periods of hot weather, England and Wales, 1997-2006
Number of excess deaths Percentage increase in mortality above baseline

    4-13 August 2003(1,2)

    2,139

    16

    1-7 July 2006(3,4)

    No excess

    0

    16-28 July 2006(3,4)

    680

    4

(1) Final data based on deaths occurring each day in this period.
(2) Excess mortality was calculated as observed daily deaths in 2003 minus the baseline (average 1998 to 2002) expected mortality over the same time period.
(3) Estimated data based on deaths occurring each day in this period. Final data will not be available until November 2007.
(4) Excess mortality was calculated as observed daily deaths in 2006 minus baseline (average 2001 to 2005) expected mortality over the same time period.

HM Revenue and Customs Boat Sector

Robert Key: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on operating border controls on uncanalised yacht and pleasure craft entering (a) UK and (b) South Coast waters. [105088]

John Healey: HM Revenue and Customs do not operate border controls on yachts and pleasure craft entering UK waters. HM Revenue and Customs Cutter Service challenge yachts and other pleasure craft sailing in UK waters on an intelligence led basis.

International Finance Facility for Immunisation

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) bond scheme will be available for individual citizen contribution. [108764]

Ed Balls: The International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) bonds are financial instruments aimed at converting long-term aid commitments from donors into frontloaded resources for immunisation. The first IFFIm bond sale was very successful, raising $1 billion and demonstrating not only the powerful moral case for immunisation now, but also the strong commercial attraction of these bonds.

As financial instruments, the IFFIm bonds, like any other, will be repaid with interest. So they do not represent charitable contributions. However, the government strongly welcomes such support for immunisation. The funds raised by IFFIm bonds will be spent by the GAVI Alliance (formerly Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) to help immunise an additional 500 million children and save 10 million lives.

Light Bulbs

Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the merits of (a) reducing and (b) removing VAT on the sale of energy saving light bulbs; and if he will make a statement. [108234]

John Healey: Under the agreements with our European partners that govern the VAT system, we are not able to extend our existing VAT zero rates or introduce any new ones. It is therefore not possible to remove VAT from energy saving light bulbs.


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Under the same European agreements, a reduced rate of VAT of not less than 5 per cent. is available for the construction, renovation and alteration of housing provided as part of a social policy. We have used this provision to introduce a reduced rate of VAT for the installation of a range of energy-saving and energy-efficient products and microgeneration technologies, but it cannot be used to apply a reduced rate for goods, such as light bulbs, which are sold for self-installation by the householder.

Changes to the European agreements governing the availability of VAT reduced rates require the unanimous support of all EU member states. The Government have made the case at European level for changes to VAT agreements that would enable wider use of reduced rates for energy-saving and energy-efficient products. However there is significant resistance to the introduction of new reduced rates for goods from some member states because of the potential impact on the Single Market. We will consider our options and priorities for new reduced rates carefully when the issue next becomes due for discussion at EU level.

The Government remain committed to meeting environmental challenges, and promotes household energy efficiency through a range of tax and other policy measures.

Minimum Wage

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of how many people receive no more than the minimum wage, broken down by local authority area. [108834]

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 14 December 2006:

Ministerial Meetings

Sir Peter Soulsby: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent meetings he has had with (a) ministerial colleagues and (b) Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs officials on the budget for British Waterways. [108692]

Ed Balls: Treasury Ministers and officials have discussions on a range of issues with their counterparts in other Departments and with other organisations as part of the process of policy analysis, development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government’s practice to provide details of all such discussions.


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National Savings and Investment

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 30 November 2006, Official Report, column 836W, what factors were taken into account in deciding not to pass the effects of the Bank of England interest rate rise of 9 November 2006 on to National Savings and Investment customers with (a) investment accounts and (b) easy access savings accounts; and if he will make a statement. [108379]

Ed Balls: The following factors were taken into account in changing the interest rates on (a) investment accounts and (b) easy access savings accounts: the change in the Bank of England base rate, the rates offered by competitors on similar products, the administration costs of running the product, and interest rates offered on other NS&I products.

Politically Exposed Persons Directive

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the implementation in the UK of Commission Directive 2006/70/EC, on Politically Exposed Persons; which categories of people would be covered; to what extent former and serving (a) Cabinet members, (b) Ministers, (c) civil servants, (d) European Commissioners, (e) state employees and (f) hon. Members and their relatives are covered; and what correspondence he has exchanged with the House authorities on this directive. [108374]

Ed Balls: Article 13 of Directive 2005/60/EC (the third EU Money Laundering Directive) imposes responsibilities on firms in the regulated sector to conduct enhanced due diligence on politically exposed persons residing in another Member State or a third country.

Directive 2006/70/EC sets out implementing measures for the third EU Money Laundering Directive. It includes the following definition of politically exposed persons:

Poverty Statistics: Pensioners and Children

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number of (a) pensioners and (b) children taken out of poverty as a result of the measures taken by his Department in each of the last five years. [108765]

Ed Balls: The Treasury has, in partnership with other Government Departments, pursued a comprehensive strategy to tackle poverty and promote economic opportunity through:


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Acting together, compared to 1996-97 and measured after housing costs, these measures have helped lift (a) 2.1 million pensioners out of absolute low income poverty, and 1 million pensioners out of relative low income poverty, and (b) 2.4 million children out of absolute low income poverty and 0.8 million children out of relative low income poverty.

In addition, HMT has estimated the effect on child poverty of Government reforms to the personal tax credit and benefit system since 1997. This suggests that there are around 1.5 million fewer children in relative low income poverty, after housing costs, than if the 1997 personal tax credit and benefit system had simply been uprated in line with prices.

Pre-Budget Report

Mr. Harper: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer why the figure for planned defence expenditure in the resource budget in 2007-08 set out in the pre-Budget report 2006 is lower than that set out in the Comprehensive Spending Review 2004. [108876]


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Mr. Timms [holding answer 13 December 2006]: Table 2.7 in Public Expenditure and Statistical Analyses (PESA) 2006 sets out the difference between plans in PESA 2005 and the latest plans. Transfers to other Government Departments and classification changes account for most of the difference, the principal change being the transfer of responsibility for the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency to the DTI.

Single Parents

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many single parents there were in Beverley and Holderness in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [108466]

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 14 December 2006:


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