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11 Dec 2007 : Column 375Wcontinued
Danny Alexander: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was spent on average per year on the administration of tax credits over the last five years; and what proportion was spent on the delivery of frontline services. 
Jane Kennedy: The costs of managing and paying child and working tax credit in the financial years from 2003-04 are shown at figure 1 in chapter 2 of the NAO 2006-07 Standard Report Costs relating to 2007-08 will be published in the Departmental Trust Statement at the end of June 2008.
Information on the proportion of costs spent in the delivery of tax credits frontline services is not available.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of telephone scripts used by call centre staff for the tax credits helpline. 
Jane Kennedy: Advisers do not use scripts, but do have access to online support and advice tools to help them in answering customers questions. To put these online tools into a format suitable for publication would incur disproportionate cost. However the tax credit manual and the tax credit technical manual are already publicly available on the HMRC website at:
Danny Alexander: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of calls received by the tax credits helpline were from a mobile phone in the last period for which figures are available. 
Jane Kennedy: HMRC estimate that around 21 per cent. of the calls made to the tax credit helpline during the November 2007 were made from a mobile phone.
Shona McIsaac: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people aged over 65 resident in Cleethorpes constituency died during the winter months in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.
Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 11 December 2007:
The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question asking how many people aged over 65 resident in Cleethorpes constituency died during the winter months in each year since 1997. I am replying in her absence. (172712)
Figures for winter deaths are calculated using a definition of winter as a four-month period from December of one year to March of the next year. The table below provides the number of winter deaths of people resident in Cleethorpes parliamentary constituency over the age of 65, for the years 1996/97 to 2005/06 (the latest available).
|Table 1: Winter deaths of persons over the age of 65( 1) , Cleethorpes parliamentary constituency( 2) , 1996-97 to 2005-06|
|(1) Winter deaths are defined as those occurring in December of one year, plus those occurring in January to March of the following year.|
(2) Using boundaries as of 2007 for all years.
Anne Main: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what response he has made to the European Unions decision to implement the World Customs Organisations ruling that mobility scooters should be classified as leisure vehicles for tax purposes; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: Officials from HM Revenue and Customs are advising the industry on the options available to pursue a change to the customs classification. The officials have written to the European Commission asking to have the classification referred back to the World Customs Organisation. The submission also included a request for an import duty suspension to be introduced while the scooters remain classified in a heading that attracts import duty.
Classification for import duty purposes under the Customs regime has no direct bearing on VAT liability, which is determined by VAT law. For VAT purposes, mobility scooters may qualify for the zero-rating that applies when disabled people purchase certain carriages or other equipment specifically designed to meet their needs. The Government have no plans to change the scope of this VAT relief.
Mr. Fallon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will answer question 162908 tabled by the hon. Member for Sevenoaks on 7 November on the bank depositors' protection scheme; and what the reasons are for the time take to reply. 
Kitty Ussher: I answered the hon. Gentleman's question yesterday and regret not having been in a position to do so earlier.
11. Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he is taking to increase Parliaments ability to scrutinise the Governments actions under the Royal Prerogative. 
Mr. Wills: On 25 October the Ministry of Justice jointly published with the MOD and FCO a public consultation document which proposes reforms to the way the powers to make decisions to deploy the armed forces into armed conflict abroad and to ratify of treaties are exercised. The consultation closes on 17 January 2008.
The Governance of Britain Green Paper also states that the Government would undertake a wider review of the remaining prerogative powers.
12. Chris Mole: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department is taking to prevent young people reoffending. 
23. Sarah McCarthy-Fry: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he is taking to prevent young people reoffending. 
Mr. Hanson: Between 2000 and 2005 youth re-offending has reduced by 2.5 per cent. The Youth Justice Board have worked with partners to improve practice, ensure the right performance frameworks and indicators are in place and put in place a delivery plan to reduce youth reoffending.
13. Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he is taking to reduce adult reoffending. 
20. Ms Butler: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he is taking to reduce adult re-offending. 
Mr. Hanson: The Government are committed to reducing adult reoffending. The latest figures show that reoffending is down by 5.8 per cent. since 2000. We are now consulting on a new strategic plan to build on our success in reducing reoffending.
14. Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will take steps to enhance public confidence in community sentences. 
Maria Eagle: Community sentences are already widely used and are associated with reduced reoffending. Activity is already underway to communicate the effectiveness of community sentences and the professionalism of probation officers to the public.
15. Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he is taking to improve the protection afforded by the criminal justice system to those vulnerable to forced marriages. 
Bridget Prentice: The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 will provide civil remedies for those who are being forced into marriage or have been forced into a marriage. Existing criminal offences also offer protection for those being forced into marriage. These include common assault, kidnapping, child abduction, rape and threatening to kill.
16. Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has to restart the cross-party talks on party funding. 
Bridget Prentice: Arrangements are in hand for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Straw) to meet with other political parties.
17. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has to bring forward proposals to amend the law to change the test for the defence of self-defence put forward by residents accused of assault during the course of burglary. 
Mr. Straw: I announced my intention to review the law on self-defence at the Labour Party Conference in the autumn. Our aim has been to complete this work in time for the issue to be addressed in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. That remains the case and we intend to table amendments to the Bill for Report.
18. Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has to amend guidelines issued by his Department on sentencing policy; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hanson: The Government do not issue guidelines on sentencing. Sentencing guidelines are issued by the independent Sentencing Guidelines Council or in some cases by the Court of Appeal.
The Government have accepted a recommendation from Lord Carter of Coles report on prisons to set up a working group to consider the advantages, disadvantages and feasibility of a structured sentencing framework and permanent Sentencing Commission.
19. Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he is taking to improve the access of young people in custody to education and training; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hanson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families announced that we will consult in the new year on whether and how local authorities should lead on education and training in custody. This would mean that for the first time young people in custody would have access to education services that are consistent with what happens in schools, colleges and wider providers across the country.
21. Ms Barlow: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he is taking to implement the recommendations of the Corston report; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hanson: I refer my hon. Friend to my written ministerial statement of 6 December 2007, Official Report, column 96WS, which announced the publication of the Governments response to the Corston report. The response sets out the commitments that have been made across government to take forward the recommendations. The response provides a summary of timescales for actions over the next 12 months.
22. Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the effect of prison overcrowding on prisoner rehabilitation programmes. 
Maria Eagle: The main risk entailed by population pressures is that prisoners do not complete offending behaviour programmes because they are transferred to another establishment before the programme is completed.
The Prison Service monitors the delivery of all offending behaviour programmes closely. Less than 1 per cent. of those who started offending behaviour programmes in 2006-07 failed to complete because of transfer.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will order an independent inquiry into the circumstances which allowed Anthony Sweeney to be released from prison on a temporary basis. 
Mr. Hanson: There has been an investigation by the Prison Service into Mr. Sweeneys release. I believe his release was in accordance with Prison Service policy. I will however, write to the hon. Gentleman shortly.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what proportion of posts in his Department have been recategorised from back office to frontline posts as classified by the Gershon efficiency review in each year since 2004. 
Maria Eagle: No posts have been reclassified from back office to frontline posts in the Ministry of Justice.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the standard terms and conditions of purchase used by his Department in the procurement of goods and services from the private sector prohibit the assignment of debt. 
Maria Eagle: The Ministry of Justices standard terms and conditions of contract contain a clause preventing third parties from deriving any benefits from the contract, unless this is explicitly agreed by both parties to the contract. This clause would prevent the supplier assigning the benefits of the contract to meet obligations such as debts. We also have a clause that prevents the supplier from assigning the contract without our consent.
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