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16 Apr 2007 : Column 402Wcontinued
Mr. Cash: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the statement that the euro makes us strong contained in the Berlin Declaration of 25 March 2007 forms part of the Government's European policy. 
Ed Balls: The Government's policy on membership of the single currency was set out by the Chancellor in his statement to the House of Commons in October 1997, and again in the Chancellor's statement on the five tests assessment in June 2003. The determining factor underpinning any Government decision on membership of the single currency is the national economic interest and whether the economic case for joining is clear and unambiguous.
The Chancellor announced in Budget 2007 that, the Government does not propose a euro assessment to be initiated at the time of this budget. The Treasury will again review the situation at Budget time next year as required by the Chancellor's June 2003 statement.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward fiscal measures to assist householders living in older housing stock to insulate their homes to reduce energy wastage and carbon emissions. 
Ian Pearson: I have been asked to reply.
DEFRA funds the Energy Saving Trust which works to increase demand for energy efficiency through raising awareness and providing advice and support for action by householders. In addition, the Energy Efficiency Commitment has placed an obligation on energy suppliers to promote improvements in household energy efficiency.
Since its launch in June 2000, the Warm Front Scheme has assisted over 1.2 million households in fuel poverty in England, mainly through energy efficiency measures, including loft and cavity wall insulation.
Fuel poverty is a devolved matter and, in Wales, the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) funds insulation and heating measures in order to reduce fuel bills and improve domestic energy efficiency.
Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will offer fiscal incentives to those on low incomes to encourage the use of low energy light bulbs. 
John Healey: Support is available for the purchases of low energy light bulbs under the Governments Energy Efficiency Commitment, which will have provided 40 million bulbs to consumers by 2008, and through the Warm Front Scheme for vulnerable households.
Our existing European agreements prevent us from reducing the VAT rate on low energy light bulbs. However, to encourage the purchase of such bulbs and to reduce their upfront cost, the Chancellor has written to European Finance Ministers and the European Commission to recommend the introduction of a reduced VAT rate for energy efficient products.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he plans to use end year flexibility to provide the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council with funds for (a) postdoctoral fellowships and (b) other purposes. 
John Healey: The allocation of end-year flexibility to specific research councils is a decision for the Secretary of State for the DTI.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a list of the attendees, with their affiliations, of public events hosted at 11 Downing street on European Community matters in the last two years. 
John Healey: Number 11 Downing street is used as a venue for Government meetings, official meetings, meetings with external stakeholders and events by charities. As was the case with the previous administration, it is not the Government's practice to disclose lists of individuals.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures were funded in the UK under the Europe for Citizens programme in the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
Mr. Woodward: I have been asked to reply.
The Europe for Citizens programme began on 1 January 2007. Therefore, no measures were funded in the last 12 months.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue HM Treasury raised through the duty on (a) cider, (b) sparkling cider, (c) beer, (d) wine, (e) sparkling wine and (f) spirits in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
John Healey: The total duty receipts by type of alcohols products (cider, beer, wine and spirits) can be found in the HM Revenue and Customs Beer & Cider Bulletin, Wine of Fresh Grapes or Made Wine Bulletin and Spirits Bulletin, which are available from the HM Revenue and Customs website addresses at:
HM Revenue and Customs only collects total duty receipts for alcohol products and does not split the receipts into still or sparkling alcohol products.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce measures to assist rural users of four wheel drive vehicles. 
John Healey: The Government believe that it is important that all cars registered from March 2001 are treated consistently on a carbon dioxide emissions basis under vehicle excise duty.
Vehicle excise duty for cars was reformed in 2001 and is now based on graduated CO2 emissions bands, which give a clear signal to motorists to choose less polluting vehicles. The structure of vehicle excise duty means that vehicles in the same class or of a similar size are in different bandsfor example, there are various models of four wheel drive vehicles not in bands F and G. This enables people to choose less polluting vehicles but keep the same type of vehicle.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will exempt Land Rovers and similar vehicles in use in rural areas which are necessary for those who work and live there from the additional excise duty mentioned in the Budget. 
Mr. Harper: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of his Budget measures on the vehicle excise duty on drivers resident in rural areas. 
John Healey: Vehicle excise duty for cars was reformed in 2001 and is now based on graduated carbon dioxide emissions bands, which give a clear signal to motorists to choose less polluting vehicles.
Budget 2007 announced rates for the next three years including increases in band G in 2007-08 and for 2008-09 followed by a freeze for 2009-10, along with a reduction in the band B rate for low carbon cars in 2007-08 which will be frozen for the subsequent two years. Band G rates will apply to all cars with emissions above 225 grams CO2 per kilometre registered from 23 March 2006 onwards.
Budget 2007 changes to vehicle excise duty apply across the UK and across manufacturers, sharpening the environmental signal to all UK motorists to purchase more fuel efficient vehicles. The sharpening of environmental signals will help deliver a 0.1-0.17 MtC reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020.
Agricultural vehicles are exempt from payment of vehicle excise duty benefiting 283,000 vehicles in 2005.
Gordon Banks: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to ensure the independence of the Independent Adviser to the Financial Ombudsman Service. 
Ed Balls: The role of the independent assessor to the Financial Ombudsman Service is not set out in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
Following consultation, the board of (the Financial Ombudsman Service set up the post in 2001, under terms designed to secure the independence of the person appointed.
Under his terms of reference, the independent assessor can consider complaints about the Financial Ombudsman Service's procedures and the behaviour of its staff. Disagreements about the merit of decisions are specifically excluded from his jurisdiction. The independent assessor is authorised to make findings and recommendations for redress in cases where he believes it is justified.
Each year, the independent assessor writes an annual report, which is contained with the Financial Ombudsman Service's annual review. In it, he details the number and nature of the cases referred to him and the outcome of his investigations.
Following a national advertisement and open selection process, Sir Edward Osmotherly was appointed to the post of independent assessor in December 2001. The present incumbent, Michael Barnes CBE, succeeded him in April 2002.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 15 March 2007, Official Report, column 474W, on financial services: EC law, which other European Union member states have transposed the Markets in Financial Instruments
Directive since 31 January; and when the Government expects those states which have not yet transposed the Directive to do so. 
Ed Balls: The Commission has asked all member states to confirm when they will complete transposition of the two MiFID directives and this information is available at
According to the responses provided so far to the Commission on the above website, as of November 2004 the UK, Ireland and Rumania had reported that they had fully transposed both MiFID directives. Lithuania reported it had transposed the level 1 MiFID directive. And by the end of the summer, the majority of countries plan to have completed transposition.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the system is for the regulation of independent financial advisers. 
Ed Balls: The provision of financial advice is regulated under the terms of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001. Regulatory principles and detailed rules are made and enforced by the Financial Services Authority. These principles and rules require advisers to take a number of steps to ensure they provide suitable advice and treat their customers fairly. Where consumers have a complaint against a financial adviser which cannot be resolved through the adviser's own complaints process, they have access to the Financial Ombudsman service.
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the Government rules are on charging by departments for services to the public, with particular reference to full cost recovery. 
Mr. Timms: Government charging policy applies to all services provided by public bodies such as departments, agencies and NDPBs. Charges for statutory services to the public are normally set to recover the full administrative costs of the service (full cost recovery), unless legislation explicitly provides otherwise. The same principle applies where public bodies provide services to one another.
Where public bodies provide discretionary services to the public, often into competitive markets, the policy is that charges should reflect the market price, in the interests of fair competition.
The main exception is charges for information. Government policy is that certain information services should be provided free of charge or at substantially reduced cost.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met a foreign Head of State with the Prime Minister. 
John Healey: No. 10 issues press conference transcripts following meetings with Heads of State. In addition to meeting the Prime Minister some Heads of State have on occasion also met with the Chancellor.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average wealth Gini coefficient was between (a) 1979 and 1990, (b) 1979 and 1997 and (c) 1997 and 2006; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: Estimates for the wealth Gini coefficient from 1979-2003 are published in Table 13.5 on the HMRC website at
Figures for subsequent years are not yet available.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average income Gini coefficient was between (a) 1979 and 1990, (b) 1979 and 1997 and (c) 1997 and 2006; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the DWP publication "Households Below Average Income" and the ONS publication "The Effects of Taxes and Benefits on Household Income, 2004-05".
Michael Gove: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average inheritance tax paid was in each year since 1996-97. 
Dawn Primarolo: 94 per cent. of estates do not pay inheritance tax. For estates that did pay tax, the average amount of inheritance tax paid is shown in the following table, rounded to the nearest £1,000.
|Average UK Inheritance Tax Bill|
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