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5 Feb 2008 : Column 1047W—continued

5 Feb 2008 : Column 1048W

Examples of work to support the tourism sector and its productivity include the work we have done with VisitBritain and the Tourism Industry Emergencies Response Group to improve the response to emergencies; the work we have done with local authorities to implement the Good Practice Guide on planning for tourism and the work to firstly prepare and now implement our tourism strategy for 2012 “Winning: A Tourism Strategy for 2012 and Beyond.”


Air Passenger Duty

Justine Greening: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to launch his consultation on the replacement of air passenger duty with a tax payable per plane rather than per passenger as outlined in PBRN 24 on 9 October 2007; and if he will make a statement. [181719]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 24 January 2008]: At pre-Budget report 2007 the Chancellor announced the intention to replace air passenger duty with a new duty charged per plane rather than per passenger, on 1 November 2009. The aim of this reform is to send better environmental signals and ensure aviation makes a greater contribution to covering its environmental costs, while continuing to ensure that the aviation industry makes a fair contribution towards the cost of public services.

The pre-Budget report also set out the intention to consult on this issue and I announced to the House by written ministerial statement the publication of a formal consultation document on 31 January 2008, Official Report, column 22WS. This may be viewed on the Treasury’s website at:

Child Benefit: Personal Records

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost to HM Revenue and Customs has been of the police investigation into the loss of child benefit data. [184086]

Angela Eagle: The investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service has not yet been concluded, and HMRC are not in a position to confirm the costs at this time.

Credit Unions

Mr. Touhig: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures are in place to encourage more credit unions to be set up. [184042]

Angela Eagle: The Government support credit unions and other third sector lenders through the Financial Inclusion Growth Fund. More than £40 million has been provided to date with a further £38 million committed for the period 2008-09 to 2010-11. This funding will include provision of capital to new lenders. In addition, the UK high street banks have committed to support the development of new third sector lending provision in 25 high priority areas
5 Feb 2008 : Column 1049W
identified by the Financial Inclusion Taskforce. The Government are currently reviewing credit union legislation to ensure that the sector has a legislative framework that will facilitate its growth and expansion.

Departmental Internet

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Wikipedia entries have been (a) created and (b) amended (i) by (A) special advisers, (B) Ministers and (C) communications officials and (ii) from IP addresses of (X) special advisers, (Y) Ministers and (Z) communications officials in (aa) his Department and (bb) its agencies since August 2005. [183935]

Angela Eagle: Entries to Wikipedia can be created and amended by an individual from any computer that has access to the internet. Therefore the information requested is not held and could be provided only at disproportionate costs.

Departmental Pay

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department and its agencies spent on end-of-year bonus payments in each of the last five years. [171538]

Angela Eagle: The following table updates a previous answer given to the hon. Gentleman on 8 October 2007, Official Report, column 218W, to give bonuses paid to staff by Department/agency. Further to the previous answer, the table includes data for National Savings and Investments, OGC Buying Solutions and amended figures for the Office of Government Commerce:

Department/Agency 2006-07 2005-06 2004-05 2003-04 2002-03

Debt Management Office






Government Actuary’s Department(1)


HM Revenue and Customs(2)





HM Treasury






National Savings and Investments(3)



Office for National Statistics(2)





Office of Government Commerce






OGC Buying Solutions






Royal Mint






Valuation Office Agency












(1) Data for the Government Actuary’s Department are not available for the period 2002-03 to 2005-06.
(2) Data for HM Revenue and Customs and the Office for National Statistics are not available for 2002-03.
(3) Data for National Savings and Investments are not available for the period 2002-03 to 2004-05.

Excise Duties: Fuels

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will reduce fuel duty in remote and peripheral areas which are highly dependent upon private transport. [183739]

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Angela Eagle: Fuel duty policy is set as part of Chancellor’s annual Budget decision-making process for consistent application across the United Kingdom and there are no plans to change this approach.

The balance of factors includes the equitability of preferential rates’ application between regions, the consistency of environmental signalling and the potential administrative burdens. These factors tend to weigh against the case for preferential rates of fuel duty for remote regions of the United Kingdom.

Far Eastern Investment Corporation

Mr. Spring: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether Richard Branson’s consortium for Northern Rock includes the Far Eastern Investment Corporation. [184855]

Angela Eagle: Details of the members of the Virgin consortium can be found at the Virgin Money and Northern Rock plc. websites.

Financial Services Authority: Northern Rock

Adam Price: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Financial Services Authority officials involved in regulating Northern Rock during the last two years (a) have left the organisation, (b) have received bonuses and (c) are on permanent sick leave. [183895]

Angela Eagle: The matters raised in this question are the responsibility of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), whose day-to-day operations are independent from government control and influence. I have asked the chief executive of the FSA to write to the hon. Member on the issue he raises.

National Identity Register

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans his Department has to make use of data on the National Identity Register when it is established; and what the estimated annual cost to his Department of that use is. [174035]

Angela Eagle: The Treasury will be working with the Home Office prior to the introduction of the National Identity Scheme to establish how identity information held on the proposed National Identity Register might be of assistance. It is too early in the process to establish the detailed costs and benefits.

Northern Rock

Harry Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will instigate an investigation into the sale of Northern Rock shares in relation to share price changes on the stock market. [172035]

Angela Eagle: The principal body responsible for the investigation of possible insider dealing and other market abuse is the Financial Services Authority, which looks into any suspicious activity associated with significant stock price movements.

5 Feb 2008 : Column 1051W

Opinion Leader Research

Mrs. May: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many contracts were awarded by his Department and the agencies for which it is responsible to Opinion Leader Research in each year since 1997; and what was (a) the title and purpose, (b) the cost to the public purse and (c) the date of (i) tender, (ii) award, (iii) operation and (iv) completion and report to the Department or agency in each case. [165328]

Angela Eagle: Opinion Leader Research is an approved supplier of research and development services under a framework agreement awarded by HM Revenue and Customs and available for use by other Government Departments. The framework was awarded by using fair and open competition in accordance with the EU procurement directives. Ministers were not involved in the selection process for either the places on the framework agreement nor the individual contracts called-off from that agreement.

For the Treasury's contracts with Opinion Leader Research, I refer to the answers given by the then Financial Secretary (John Healey) to the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) on 4 December 2006, Official Report, column 196W, and to the hon. Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois) on 18 June 2007, Official Report, column 1495W.

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Since 1997, the Office for National Statistics has commissioned two research projects with Opinion Leader Research. The details of the projects are:

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was created on the 18 April 2005 from the former departments of HM Customs & Excise and Inland Revenue.

Spend for contracts awarded to Opinion Leader Research by the former Inland Revenue and since 2005 by HMRC totals £617,616 (excluding VAT). The data requested are in the following table.

None of the other Chancellor's departments or agencies have had any contracts with Opinion Leader Research in the last three years. Information on contracts, if any, with Opinion Leader Research back to 1997 could not be provided without incurring disproportionate cost due to changes of accounting systems in the intervening years.

5 Feb 2008 : Column 1053W

5 Feb 2008 : Column 1054W
Former Inland Revenue and HMRC contracts with Opinion Leader Research
Project title Year Cost excluding VAT (£) Date put to tender Date awarded to OLR Work carried out (contract start to final payment) Completed and findings put to the Department

CSPI employers



August 2002

September 2002

September 202 to February 2003

February 2003

Call-off contract (capital allowances tax law rewrite







Call-off contract (capital taxes)







LBO CT customers (qualitative)

2003-04 and 2004-05


November 2003

February 2004

January 2004 to April 2004


Tax credit claimants and overpayments



November 2004

November 2004

November 2004 to December 2004

January 2005

Call-off contract—evolution





February 2005 to March 2005


Call-off contract—TLR/CM




January 2005

January 2005 to February 2005


Call-off contract—national minimum wage







Call-off contract (capital taxes)





April 2004


Solicitors practice in recording stamp duty land tax

2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07


November 2004

February 2005

February 2005 to June 2006

December 2006

New taxpayers (research and evaluation to support PSA1)

2004-05.and 2005-06


August 2004

December 2004

December 2004 to October 2005


Agents and IR online services

2004-05 and 2005-06


November 2004

February 2005

February 2005 to October 2005

January 2006

Student loans deduction




April 2004



Research in support of the review of HMRC links with medium sized business




May 2005

May 2005 to October 2005

December 2005

Evaluation of working with the voluntary and community sector to promote take-up of new tax credits among hard to reach groups

2005-06 and 2006-07


August 2005

September 2005

September 2005 to August 2006

May 2006

Investigation of reporting of changes of circumstances and understanding of tax credits

2006-07 and 2007-08


October 2006

November 2006

November 2006 to July 2007

Report awaiting final quality assurance and sign off within the Department



(1) Data not held centrally so could not be provided except at disproportionate cost.

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