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1 May 2008 : Column 628W—continued


1 May 2008 : Column 629W

Departmental Data Protection

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what information Departments are required to hold on whether their employees are married to other employees. [202648]

Mr. Watson: Departments are not required to hold such information.

Departmental Pensions

Danny Alexander: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the effect on his Department's expenditure would be of increasing the employee contribution to each pension scheme for which his Department is responsible by one per cent.; and if he will make a statement. [200749]

Mr. Watson: Any increase in the employee pension contribution would be met by the employee, and not by the Department.

Treasury

Banks

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make an assessment of the effectiveness of the board members of the Financial Services Authority in undertaking regulation of the banking sector. [202698]

Angela Eagle: The regulation of the banking sector is ultimately a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA). The FSA is independent from the Government although subject to the provisions of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA).

Child Trust Fund: Credit Unions

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what provisions apply to the utilisation of child trust funds by parents through credit unions in (a) England and Wales, (b) Scotland and (c) Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [203229]

Angela Eagle: The rules by which credit unions must abide to be a child trust fund provider are set out in the Child Trust Fund Regulations 2004 (S.I. 2004/1450) as amended. These rules apply across the whole of the UK.

Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal Implementation Project

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assistance the Office of Government Commerce provided to, and what contact it has had with (a) the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, (b) the Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel and (c) the Valuation and Lands Agency in relation to the gateway review for the Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal Implementation Project. [203123]


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Angela Eagle: The Office of Government Commerce has not provided any assistance to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency or the Valuation and Lands Agency. Since 2006, however, the Office of Government Commerce has arranged several OGC Gateway‚"Ę reviews for the Department of Finance and Personnel on a number of their projects.

Departmental Pay

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was claimed in reimbursable expenses by Senior Civil Service staff in his Department and its agencies in the last 12 month period for which figures are available. [187547]

Angela Eagle: The Treasury and Valuation Office Agency’s accounting systems do not hold data on reimbursable expenses by grade and the information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. For information on Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs I refer to the answer I gave the hon. Member on 5 February 2008, Official Report, columns 1055-56W.

The Government Actuary’s Department does not employ any members of the senior civil service and the Royal Mint made no such payments in 2006-07. The following payments were made in 2006-07: Debt Management Office £1,000; National Savings and Investments £15,000; and OGCbuying.solutions £15,000.

Electronic Government

Mr. Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether mechanisms are in place to monitor the extent to which his Department’s (a) internal and (b) external (i) correspondence and (ii) distribution of publications is carried out electronically. [199184]

Angela Eagle: The Treasury’s correspondence handling system electronically records and monitors the majority of correspondence received.

All Treasury publications are placed on the Treasury’s website thereby reducing, where possible, the need for printed copies.

Employment: EU Nationals

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the average duration of employment of EU A8 nationals working in the UK since 2004. [177481]

Angela Eagle: None.

Endowment Mortgages

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether HM Treasury has investigated the role played by the Financial Services Authority in the regulation of the sale of endowment mortgages. [200190]

Angela Eagle: The Treasury has not investigated the role of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the mis-selling of endowment mortgages.


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The FSA has invested in supervisory work to ensure firms handle mortgage endowment complaints in a fair and timely way, including formal enforcement action and fines against some ten major firms for mis-selling mortgage endowments and/or mishandling complaints about them.

Excise Duties: Fuels

Mr. Bone: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 24 April 2008, Official Report, column 2212W, on motor vehicles: petrol alternatives, what the differentials in fuel duty are for (a) petrol, (b) diesel, (c) natural gas/biogas, (d) hydrogen and (e) bioethanol; and what changes are planned in these rates for the future. [203168]

Angela Eagle: Duty rates are available from HMRC’s website at: www.hmrc.gov.uk The current rates are 50.35p per litre for petrol and diesel; 13.70p per kilogram (the equivalent of 9.47p per litre) for natural gas, including biogas and hydrogen used in an internal combustion engine; and 30.35p per litre for bioethanol.

Budget 2008 announced that the duty differential for natural gas would remain at its equivalent level until 2010, the duty differential for biogas would remain at its current level at least until Budget 2012, and the duty differential for biofuels would cease from 2010, with future support for biofuels being provided under the renewable transport fuel obligation.

Excise Duties: Motorcycles

Joan Walley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what factors are considered when determining the level of road tax applicable to 125cc motorbikes; and if he will make a statement. [202997]

Angela Eagle: Vehicle Excise Duty for motorbikes is banded under four engine capacity based rates with the lowest rate of £15 applying to bikes with engines not over 150cc capacity.

In taking taxation decisions as part of the Budget process the Government considers a range of factors including relevant environmental, social and economic factors.

Population: Bridgend

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the likely effects of migration on population density in Bridgend constituency over the next 10 years. [202106]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I have been asked to reply.

Population density in Bridgend rose steadily from 1995 to 2006 as set out in the Chancellor’s answer of 3 March 2008, Official Report, column 2190W and a net inflow of migration has contributed to this. Population projections within Wales, including the analysis of migration trends are a matter for the Welsh Assembly Government but migration patterns are difficult to predict.


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Private Finance Initiative

Joan Walley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what steps his Department has taken to monitor the effect of its private finance initiative policies on (a) value for money and (b) staff terms and conditions; and what assessment he has made of the effect of private finance initiative projects on staff terms and conditions; [203311]

(2) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of measures introduced in 2004 to protect the workforce in private finance initiative projects. [203312]

Angela Eagle: The 2006 PFI Value for Money Assessment guidance(1) sets out the robust qualitative and quantitative assessment that needs to be undertaken to determine if PFI is a suitable procurement method. In assessing value for money in PFI, all procuring authorities should ensure PFI is used only where it is value for money and is not at the expense of employee terms and conditions. This was reiterated in HMT’s recent policy document “Infrastructure procurement: delivering long-term value”(2), which also states that, working with key stakeholders, Government will continue to monitor the impact on staff.

Public Expenditure

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will extend the remit of the Audit Commission to central government spending. [203119]

Yvette Cooper: The Comptroller and Auditor General (C and AG) is responsible for audit in central government. The Government have accepted the recommendations of the Public Accounts Commission for improving the accountability and governance of the National Audit Office, which supports the C and AG.

Revenue and Customs: Northern Ireland

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many HM Revenue and Customs staff are employed (a) full-time and (b) part-time in Northern Ireland. [203228]

Jane Kennedy: The number of full and part-time staff employed by HM Revenue and Customs in Northern Ireland at 1 April 2008 are as follows:

Stamp Duties

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) when the scheme for stamp duty tax relief on new zero-carbon homes will expire; [203112]

(2) what estimate his Department has made of the number of (a) houses and (b) flats which will attract the stamp duty tax relief on new zero carbon homes during the scheme’s duration. [203113]


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Angela Eagle: We expect the numbers of qualifying transactions for both houses and flats to be initially low but to rise as more properties eligible to claim the relief go on the market. For example, in December 2007 the Government announced details of 200 new homes to be built to a zero-carbon standard in Hanham Hall, near Bristol. The media release can be found at:

The stamp duty land tax relief for new zero carbon homes is 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.

Taxation: Aviation

Mr. Brady: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 24 April 2008, Official Report, column 2184, on air passenger duty, what representations his Department has received from overseas governments on the legality of the proposed aviation duty. [203020]

Angela Eagle: The consultation on the proposed aviation duty closed on 24 April 2008. This consultation considered all aspects of the duty, including basis and scope of the duty, possible exemptions, impact of the inclusion of freight and transit/transfer traffic and the operation of the duty.

A summary of responses will be published in due course.

Welfare Tax Credits

Danny Alexander: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many complaints about tax credits HM Revenue and Customs received from (a) hon. Members and (b) members of the public by (i) telephone, (ii) letter and (iii) e-mail in each month since April 2003; [194467]

(2) how many (a) letters, (b) e-mails and (c) telephone calls on tax credits have been received by (i) his Department, (ii) HM Revenue and Customs and (iii) the Tax Credit Office from (A) hon. Members and (B) members of the public in each quarter since April 2003. [194469]

Jane Kennedy: Overall, the Tax Credit Office (TCO) post room handles around 3.5 to 4 million items of post each year. Quarterly information for the years for which the information is available is shown in the following table.

Items of post received in Tax Credit Office
Quarter ending 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08

June

1,119,000

917,500

998,000

807,500

September

1,210,500

1,069,000

1,173,500

1,211,000

December

948,500

936,000

984,500

793,000

March

924,500

908,000

898,000

(1)637,500

(1) Final quarter to 18 March 2008.

Information separately identifying the number of items of post received from hon. Members and members of the public is not available.


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HMRC does not separately record if complaints are made by letter, in a phone call or by way of an e-mail. For details of the number of people who sent complaints to TCO up to 31 December 2007, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink) on 18 February 2008, Official Report, columns 374-75W.

2008 Number of complainants (approximate)

January

3,250

February

3,200


Information about the number of complaints sent by right hon. Members and hon. Members in each quarter is shown in the following table.

MP complaints addressed to Tax Credit Office (approximate)
Quarter ending 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08

June

800

1,900

1,900

1,650

September

1,250

2,550

2,100

1,500

December

2,250

2,700

2,150

1,650

March

2,900

2,500

2,000

(1)850

(1) Final quarter only to 29 February 2008.

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