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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 18 October 2007


Stamp Duty Land Tax (Zero-Carbon Homes Relief)

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Kitty Ussher): The Finance Act 2007 provides the Treasury with powers to make regulations granting relief from stamp duty land tax on the first sale of a new zero-carbon house. I am pleased to announce that I am today laying before the House of Commons draft regulations under the affirmative procedure entitled The Stamp Duty Land Tax (Zero-Carbon Homes Relief) Regulations 2007.

These draft regulations follow the announcement in the 2006 Pre-Budget Report by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that a stamp duty land tax exemption would be introduced for the vast majority of new zero-carbon homes in 2007. The relief will help kick-start the market for new highly efficient technologies in homes, both for the fabric of the building and in the use of microgeneration ahead of 2016, and it sets a gold standard for green homes.

The draft regulations provide that on the first acquisition of a new house meeting the zero-carbon standard, as set out in the regulations, costing up to £500,000 no stamp duty land tax is payable and on the first acquisition of a new zero-carbon house costing in excess of £500,000 there will be a reduction of £15,000 to the stamp duty land tax bill. The exemption will be time limited for five years until 30 September 2012 but before the end of the time limit the Government will review the effectiveness of the relief and consider the case for an extension.

Following consultation on the draft regulations the definition of the zero-carbon standard for stamp duty land tax has been closely aligned with the zero-carbon requirements set out in Department for Communities and Local Government's Code for Sustainable Homes. The rationale for this change is set out in the summary of responses to the consultation on the draft regulations and the Government's response, published today.

The tax relief will apply retrospectively from 1 October 2007. This means that anyone who completes a transaction on a new zero-carbon home between 1 October 2007 and the date on which the regulations come into force will be entitled to claim the relief.


NHS Annual Health Check

The Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson): Today the Healthcare Commission has announced publication of the 2006-07 Annual Health Check. The report has
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been placed in the Library and copies for hon. Members are available from the Vote Office. The report can also be found at: www.healthcarecommission.org.uk

The Annual Health Check provides an independent assessment of NHS organisations to ensure they meet high standards and deliver for their patients. These independent ratings give a clear picture about quality of services, which matters most to patients.

We welcome the results for 2006-07 showing an overall improvement in quality of services and use of resources. The NHS will continue to focus on improving services for patients and addressing poor performance, and we fully support the independent action of the Healthcare Commission to investigate poor performing trusts.

Cabinet Office

Ministerial Responsibilities

The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband): I have today published a revised edition of the List of Ministerial Responsibilities (October 2007). Copies have been placed in the Vote Office and the Libraries of the House.

The List can also be accessed at: http://www.cabinet office.gov.uk/ministerial responsibilities/.

Leader of the House

Corrections to the Official Report and Publication of NDPB Letters in Hansard

The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): The House agreed to the Second Report from the Procedure Committee Corrections to the Official Report (HC541) on 19 June 2007. The Committee, following representations from my predecessor the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), proposed a new scheme involving a separate section of Hansard for printed corrections. I am today issuing guidance to Departments as to how it will work. A copy has been deposited in the Library of the House and is also available on the Leader’s Office website at:


The procedure will provide greater consistency and improve transparency in this area for Members of the House and the public.

Following further advice from the Procedure Committee, it has been agreed that, where the Minister takes responsibility for the reply, it is acceptable for letters from the heads of NDPBs in response to parliamentary questions to be published in Hansard, in an arrangement similar to the publication of letters from chief executives of agencies.

Both these processes will begin in November 2007.

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Revitalising the Chamber (Modernisation Committee Report)

The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): Today I have published “Governance of Britain—Revitalising the Chamber: the Role of the Back-Bench Member. (The Government’s response to the Modernisation Committee’s First Report of Session 2006-07; HC337)” (CM7231).

The Government are grateful to the Committee for its work and consider the report to be a helpful contribution to promoting greater effectiveness and interest in the work of the Chamber.

The House will have the opportunity to debate the report on Thursday 25 October and I will bring forward the necessary motions to give effect to the relevant parts of the report shortly.

Copies of the Government’s response can be obtained from the Vote Office.

Commons Calendar

The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): I am today announcing details of the House of Commons calendar until October 2008, details of which can be found on the Leader’s Office website www.commonsleader.gov.uk.

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The House will rise for the Christmas recess at the end of business on Tuesday 18 December 2007, returning on Monday 7 January 2008. The constituency recess week will begin at the end of business on Thursday 7 February, and the House will return on Monday 18 February. The House will rise on Thursday 20 March, returning on Tuesday 25 March and further rise on Thursday 3 April, returning on Monday 21 April for Easter recess. The Whitsun recess will begin at the end of the sitting on Thursday 22 May and the House will return on Monday 2 June. The House will rise for the summer on Tuesday 22 July, returning on Monday 6 October.

The Friday dates for consideration of Private Members’ Bills will be 25 January, 1 February, 22 February, 29 February, 7 March, 14 March, 25 April, 9 May, 16 May, 6 June, 13 June, 20 June and 17 October.

There will be an opportunity for the tabling and answering of named-day questions during the summer recess. The expected tabling days are Wednesday 3 September, Monday 8 September and Wednesday 10 September. The dates proposed for answering are Wednesday 10 September, Monday 15 September and Wednesday 17 September.

All dates given are provisional and subject to the progress of business.

Copies of the printed calendar can be obtained from the Vote Office.

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