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29 Mar 2007 : Column 1749W—continued

Departments: Public Appointments

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the former hon. Members who left Parliament in 2005 who have since been appointed to public bodies by his Department, broken down by party; and who was responsible for making each appointment. [130140]

John Healey: The Treasury has not made any such appointments.

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Lynda Waltho: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proposals he has to increase employment. [130455]

John Healey: The Government’s measures to increase employment build on a platform of macro-economic stability and economic growth, and include continued investment in the New Deal, investment in skills and training, welfare reform to help people move from inactivity to work, and the National Minimum Wage and Tax Credits to make work pay. Employment is now at a record high, with over 2.5 million more people in work than in 1997, and the highest employment rate of the G7 economies.

Low Incomes: Housing

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how his Department is working with counterparts in Government on providing more affordable homes. [130152]

John Healey: The Government recognise concerns over housing affordability, particularly among first-time buyers, and is acting to alleviate these pressures on various fronts including by tackling supply constraints; bringing forward public sector land for development; doubling the stamp duty threshold; building more social housing; and helping people into home ownership through supporting shared equity schemes. The Treasury is working with Departments across Government in support of this agenda.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the answer of 1 March 2007, Official Report, column 1494W, on ministerial visits, in which publication the locations of visits by the Economic Secretary to the Treasury in 2005 to 2006 are listed. [128486]

Ed Balls: As set out in my answer of 7 February, Official Report, column 1032W, since 1999 the Government have published information on an annual basis listing overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500 and the total cost of all ministerial travel.

The locations of overseas visits by junior Ministers are not routinely published. However, as stated in my answers of 18 January 2007, Official R eport, column 1341W and 7 February 2007, Offic i al Report column 1032W, I can confirm that I visited Israel and the Occupied Territories in December as part of the work Jon Cunliffe and I are leading on opportunities to support economic development to accompany and enhance the Middle East peace process. I can also confirm that I travelled again to the region on 12-13 March for the same purpose.

NHS Finance

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his reference in his Budget 2007 speech on 21 March 2007 to the £8 billion increase in
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the national health service budget for England in financial year 2007-08, whether this figure takes account of the private finance initiative debt owed by primary care trusts. [130030]

Mr. Timms: As stated in the budget, total NHS spending in England is expected to increase by over £8 billion in 2007-08. NHS organisations are responsible for how they spend their allocations to meet the health needs of their local populations. Where NHS organisations have invested in improved local services they must meet the costs of this investment, whether it is procured through public or private finance, from their allocated budgets.

Office of Government Commerce

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will estimate (a) the savings delivered to the
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Exchequer by the activities of the Office of Government Commerce (OCG) in each year since it was established and (b) the savings made on each OCG programme in each year. [107777]

John Healey: The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) reports against two Public Service Agreement targets, and the following tables detail the savings made against these two major programmes.

Value for Money

OGC reports value for money (vfm) gains in central Government civil procurement through improvements in the success rate of programmes and projects and through other commercial initiatives:

£ million
Total vfm gains Direct Negotiations Joint Procurement Reduced process costs Gateway and other improved contract or asset management





































The Efficiency Programme

The 2004 Spending Review set targets for the Government to achieve annual efficiency gains of over £20 billion and gross workforce reductions of more than 84,000

by 2007-08.

Progress is as follows:

Efficiency Gains (£ billion) Comments

2005-2006 - year one of programme

9.8 (by 31 March 2006)

Figure published in HMT CSR 07 document (13 July 2006)

2006-2007 - year two of programme

(1)15.5 (by 31 Dec 2006)

Figure announced in budget 2007

(1) Cumulative figure covering first 21 months of programme.

Planning Gain Supplement

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the timetable is for the (a) consultation process, (b) further publications, (c) introduction of legislation and (d) ratification and implementation in relation to planning gain supplement. [114368]

John Healey: The 2006 pre-Budget report announced that the Government will move forward with the implementation of the planning-gain supplement (PGS) if, after further consultation, it continues to be deemed workable and effective. In response to views expressed by consultation respondents on specific policy areas, the Government have published three further consultation papers on elements of the design of PGS and the new approach to planning obligations. The consultations are:

The period of consultation on these documents lasts until 28 February 2007 and copies of the consultations are available in the Library of the House and from departmental websites.

The Government also announced at the 2006 pre-Budget report that a workable and effective PGS would not be introduced earlier than 2009.

Public Sector: Pensions

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his latest estimates are of spending on public service pensions as a share of gross domestic product in each year from 2005-06 to 2050-51; and if he will make a statement. [130182]

Mr. Timms: The latest public service pension projections covering a 50-year horizon were published by HM Treasury in the 2006 Long-Term Public Finance report, table 5.1. The report shows that spending as a share of GDP is projected to be very stable over the coming
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decades, fluctuating between 1.8 per cent. in 2015-16 to 2 per cent. of GDP in 2055-56. The report publishes projections on a 10-year basis.

Tax Allowances: Pensioners

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will hold discussions with HM Revenue and Customs on changing the personal allowance threshold for pensioners. [130113]

Ed Balls: At PBR, the level of the special age-related income tax allowances for 2007-08 was announced. These were increased in line with inflation to £7,550 for those aged 65-74 and £7,690 for those aged 75 and over. This year’s Budget announced that the age-related income tax allowances will rise by £1,180 above indexation in April 2008 and that by April 2011 no pensioner aged 75 or over will pay any tax until their income reaches £10,000 a year.

Working Tax Credit

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many families are entitled to working tax credit, broken down by region and nation; and how many and what proportion of eligible families are claiming the credit; [130253]

(2) how many families in Stroud constituency are entitled to claim working tax credit; and how many and what proportion of such families are claiming the credit. [130254]

Ed Balls: Estimates of child and working tax credit take-up rates for 2004-05 are available on the HMRC website at:

Take-up rates at United Kingdom level are shown in table 1. Take-up rates for working families with children at country and regional level are shown in table 9.

Take-up rate estimates are not available at parliamentary constituency level.

Youth Sport Trust

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he expects the National Youth Volunteering Organisation to play a role in administering funds for the Youth Sport Trust programme he announced on 7 February. [129327]

Edward Miliband: I have been asked to reply.

The Youth Sport Trust programme is being funded by v following their successful application to v's grants 1 funding round. The Youth Sport Trust programme aims to provide technical coaching, such as refereeing and umpiring, to 16-19 year olds, creating over one thousand volunteering opportunities.

As the grant provider, v will monitor the grants made by the Youth Sport Trust, ensuring the funds are spent to agreed quality standards, deliverables, timescales and budget.

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Northern Ireland


Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what procedures are in place to manage traffic on the A2 Bangor to Belfast road following accidents on that road; what assessment he has made as to whether these procedures were followed following the accident there on 16 March; and if he will make a statement. [129649]

Paul Goggins: During the period 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2006 there have been 119 road traffic collisions on the A2 Belfast to Bangor road, (between the junctions of Knocknagoney road and Abbey street/Brunswick road, Bangor). The vast majority of these collisions have been dealt with causing minimum disruption to the motoring public.

The nature of this route is such that there is almost constant congestion during rush hour; unfortunately any collision or road closure inevitably results in that congestion becoming extreme. The options available to relieve this route are limited and

incapable of coping efficiently with diversions.

A serious road traffic collision occurred on the A2 Bangor to Belfast road at approximately 7.45 am on 16 March 2007.

The collision, which was close to the Culloden Hotel, involved four vehicles and blocked both Belfast bound and Bangor bound traffic lanes. In this regard it was necessary to implement a closure of the road in both directions.

All available police resources were tasked to the area to deal with the accident investigation, assist with the casualties and manage the necessary diversions to keep traffic disruption to a minimum.

In addition the Northern Ireland fire and rescue service and the Northern Ireland ambulance service attended the scene.

Debris and a petrol spillage resulted on the road that required the attendance of DRD Roads Service before the route could be safely re-opened.

Police reopened the road on a phased basis as soon as was practically possible, with one Bangor bound traffic lane being reopened initially, followed by the second Bangor bound traffic lane, followed by both Belfast bound traffic lanes.

Full use was made of local media to advise motorists of the incident and text alerts were circulated to members of a local community information network scheme.

Police in North Down are reviewing this incident and a further serious road traffic collision, which occurred in the same vicinity to ascertain if there are any learning points.

The procedure to deal with any road traffic collision will be dependent on the prevailing circumstances and the PSNI made every effort to deal with the incident on 16 March 2007 in a professional, effective and efficient manner and return the area to normality as quickly as possible.

Any disruption to traffic flow and inconvenience to motorists is regrettable; however the primary policing
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objectives of the protection of life and property must be the paramount and overriding considerations in response to this type of incident.

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