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3 May 2007 : Column 1805W—continued


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects the Planning White Paper to be published; and what provision will be made in the White Paper relating to (a) increasing public participation and (b) third party rights of appeal. [132493]

Yvette Cooper: The White Paper will be published later this spring. The Government of course recognise the importance of effective public participation in this area and the White Paper will propose arrangements for achieving this. The issue of third party rights of appeal was carefully considered when we developed proposals for radical reform of the planning system in 2001; the Government concluded then that such a proposal could add unacceptably to the costs and uncertainties of planning.


Pedestrian Crossings

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the document setting out the criteria used to determine the location of zebra and pelican crossings in England; what the requirements are for the minimum distance from which such crossings must be visible to oncoming motorists; and if he will make a statement. [135596]

Gillian Merron: There are no national criteria for the placing of pedestrian crossings in England. It is for the local highway or traffic authority concerned to decide on suitable crossing types and locations. The Department’s published guidance, Local Transport Note 1/95, The Assessment of Pedestrian Crossings, recommends a decision framework approach which includes making an assessment of the visibility distance of crossings. Local Transport Note 2/95, The Design of Pedestrian Crossings, provides guidance on visibility distances. I have arranged for copies of both publications to be placed in the Libraries of the House.

International Development

Palestinians: International Assistance

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how a terrorist is defined for the purposes of the Temporary International Mechanism. [135562]

Hilary Benn: The Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) does not make payments to individuals if they appear on the following internationally-recognised terrorist lists:

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The TIM has also set up a comprehensive accounting and audit system to track payments.

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many social welfare payments under the Temporary International Mechanism have been stopped by HSBC because of concerns of terrorism. [135563]

Hilary Benn: The purpose of terrorist checks under the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) is to provide assurance that EU assistance is not being used to support terrorism. Between 27 August 2006, when payments under the TIM began, and 1 May 2007 one welfare payment has been withheld because the individual's name was on one of the internationally recognised terrorist lists.

Sudan: Internally Displaced Persons

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance he is (a) providing and (b) planning for policing in the internally displaced people's camps in Darfur. [135514]

Hilary Benn: Under the Darfur Peace Agreement, responsibility for monitoring security in camps for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Darfur rests with AMIS. The UK is currently paying the staff costs of the African Union Mission in Sudan’s (AMIS) civilian police and military staff, as well as helping AMIS with its running costs.

The UK also has seconded 12 police officers to the EU Supporting Action to AMIS in Darfur to train and advise AMIS’ civilian police force. These civilian police officers represent just under a half of the total EU contribution and cost the UK around £1 million a year.


Climate Change Levy

Gregory Barker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received on the use of clean coal technology and the administration of the climate change levy. [135593]

John Healey: The Government receives a range of representations on the climate change levy and considers these representations, alongside other policy advice within the normal PBR and Budget cycle.


Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people are in (a) full-time and (b) part-time employment in each constituency; what the corresponding figures were in 1997; and what the percentage change in numbers has been in each constituency. [135561]

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

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 3 May 2007:

Loans: Students

Alan Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much the Government received for the sale of student loans in (a) 1998 and (b) 1999; and what the face value was of each of these loans at the time of sale; [132261]

(2) how much interest was paid to banks by the Government in support of the student loans scheme in each year since its inception. [132260]

Bill Rammell: I have been asked to reply.

In 1998 the Government received £1 billion for the sale of student loans with a face value of £1.02 billion. In 1999 the Government received £1 billion for the sale of student loans with a face value of £1.03 billion. These are UK figures.

The following table shows the amount of interest subsidy paid to the debt sale owners in each year since 1998.

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Financial year Subsidy (£000)

















Figures are for England and Wales

Revenue and Customs: Manpower

Mr. Anthony Wright: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many HM Revenue and Customs offices are currently unstaffed; and what the estimated cost to the public purse is of such offices. [134311]

Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs currently holds 12 unstaffed offices which are still part of the estate due to various lease and legal title issues and longstanding commitments with other Government Departments.

The estimated annual cost of these offices is £1,435,512. HMRC is working to cease its liability for these offices as soon as is practical.

Skills in the UK Independent Review

Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost was of employing Opinion Leader Research to organise the Skills Challenge: A Public Debate held on 8th February 2007 to discuss the Leitch Review. [133721]

Phil Hope: I have been asked to reply.

On behalf of the DfES, the Central Office of Information (COI) managed a competitive tendering process to organise and deliver “The Skills Challenge: A Public Debate” to be held on 8 February 2007. The tender was won by Opinion Leader Research, with a contract value of £153,484.38.

Stamp Duty: Suffolk

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many properties sold in (a) Bury St. Edmunds constituency and (b) the Suffolk county council area in each of the last three years attracted stamp duty at (i) zero per cent., (ii) 1 per cent., (iii) 3 per cent. and (iv) 4 per cent. [134687]

Ed Balls: Estimates of the number of property transactions for 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 are given in the following table for Bury St. Edmunds parliamentary constituency and Suffolk county, grouped by stamp duty band.

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3 May 2007 : Column 1810W
Property transactions attracting 0 per cent. rate( 1) Property transactions attracting 1 per cent. rate( 2) Property transactions attracting 3 per cent. rate( 3) Property transactions attracting 4 per cent. rate( 4) Total

Bury St. Edmunds














1 ,500
























(1) Residential threshold £60,000 in 2004-05, £120,000 in 2005-06 and £125,000 in 2006-07. Non-residential threshold £150,000 in all years.
(2) £60,001 to £250,000 range for residential transactions in 2004-05, £120,001 to £250,000 for residential transactions in 2005-06, £125,001 to £250,000 in 2006-07, £150,001 to £250,000 for non-residential transactions in all years.
(3) £250,001 to £500,000.
(4) £500,001 or more.

The number of transactions bearing stamp duty will be lower than the number shown in the non-zero bands due to the use of various reliefs, e.g. disadvantaged area relief, group relief, registered social landlord relief etc. There are also some lease transactions which fall in the 0 per cent. band on account of consideration, but which bear stamp duty on the lease rental.

Tax Credits: Overpayments

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many legal proceedings were instigated for recovery of tax credit overpayments in each (a) year and (b) quarter since April 2003; what the average level is of overpayment outstanding for which legal action has been instigated; what the total value is of overpayments for which legal action has been instigated; what the average cost has been of pursuing a case through the courts; and how much has been recovered through court action. [133995]

Mr. Timms: In 2006-07 some 38,000 legal proceedings were commenced at an average value of £2,260 and an average cost to HMRC of £135 to instigate proceedings. The other information is not available.

Taxation: Agriculture

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reasons he plans to withdraw writing down allowances on industrial and agricultural buildings between 2008-09 and 2010-11; what assessment he has made of the likely impact of this change on the farming industry; how many farm businesses he estimates will be affected; and to what value. [135573]

John Healey: The Government’s decision to withdraw the industrial and agricultural buildings allowances were based on an assessment of a number of issues, common across industry sectors. The Government have not sought to target the farming industry or any other industry with this change.

Industrial buildings allowances (IBAs) and agricultural buildings allowances (ABAs) were introduced in 1945 to encourage post-war reconstruction. They are now a poorly focused subsidy, selectively available on a disparate range of assets, including some that typically appreciate in value. IBAs and ABAs have long been recognised as a significant distortion in commercial property investment. These issues are compounded by the compliance burden imposed by their complicated rules.

The withdrawal of IBAs and ABAs is not an isolated measure. The Budget also announced cuts in both the basic rate of income tax and the main rate of corporation tax and introduced a new annual investment allowance (AIA) of £50,000 for business investment from 2008. Taken as a whole, these reforms to the business and personal tax systems are designed to deliver increases in investment and growth overall.

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