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15 May 2008 : Column 1738W—continued

National Savings and Investments: Telephone Services

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the performance of National Savings and Investment’s telephone service; and if he will make a statement. [205235]

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Kitty Ussher: NS&I have two service delivery measures (SDMs), set by HM Treasury, relating to overall customer service. For 2006-07, the last year for which there are currently audited results, these were:

Performance against these measures is assessed through measurement of average performance against key performance indicator targets. This includes assessment of the standard of the NS&I telephone service, which is monitored regularly against monthly key performance indicators.

The target for the NS&I inquiry line is that 90 per cent. of delivered, answerable calls should be answered and for the sales line that 90 per cent. of delivered calls should be answered within 20 seconds of becoming answerable. Latest data available demonstrates that these targets were comfortably exceeded.

Pre-School Education: Finance

Susan Kramer: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much he plans his Department will spend on extending the universal early years education entitlement to 15 hours per week in each of the next five years; and if he will make a statement. [205621]

Beverley Hughes: I have been asked to reply.

The extension of the free entitlement will enhance the opportunities available to every three and four year old, giving them the best possible start in life. Providing 15 more flexible hours will also ensure that families are able to use the entitlement in a way which best helps them to balance work and family life.

The Government invest more than £3 billion per year in the existing entitlement. In addition, the extension to the free entitlement is being funded through a new investment of £590 million over 2008-11 (£80 million in 2008-09, £170 million in 2009-10 and £340 million in 2010-11.

Funding beyond 2011 will, of course, be a matter for future spending reviews.

Public Expenditure

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the figures in tables 1.7 and 1.10 of Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis 2008, HC489, 2007-08, are presented gross or net of operating and non-operating appropriations in aid. [205310]

Yvette Cooper: The figures in tables 1.7 and 1.10 are presented net of income treated as negative DEL. Operating and non-operating appropriations in aid is an Estimates term. Budgeting treatment does not follow from the Estimates treatment; this is explained in the Consolidated Budgeting Guidance, which can be viewed at the following link:

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to tables 1.7 and 1.10 of Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis 2008, HC 489, if he
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will provide a breakdown of the equivalent figures for 2001-02 on the same basis. [205360]

Yvette Cooper: Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis (PESA) 2007, CM7091, provides data for 2001-02. However data for 2001-02 have since been archived, and due to Machinery of Government and Classification changes, data for 2001-02 are not available on the same basis as the data provided in PESA 2008.

Revenue and Customs: Correspondence

Damian Green: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what target he has set HM Revenue and Customs on the time taken to reply to correspondence from hon. Members; and if he will make a statement. [205414]

Jane Kennedy: HMRC aim to reply to 80 per cent. of all correspondence within 15 working days, and 95 per cent. within 40 days. Hon. Members can use the dedicated hotlines that HMRC have in place for specific issues, such as the ‘MP hotline’ for telephone queries regarding hon. Members’ constituents’ tax credits claims.

Transfer Pricing

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff in his Department deal with transfer pricing matters as their main responsibility. [205249]

Jane Kennedy: At the present time, the number of staff in HMRC who deal with transfer pricing as their main responsibility is 67.

Valuation Office: Wales

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost of extending the Automated Valuation Model of the Valuation Office Agency to Wales is. [205445]

Jane Kennedy: No separate cost has been determined.

VAT: Sports

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on the VAT treatment of sports and leisure trusts; and if he will make a statement. [205745]

Jane Kennedy: As provided for by our European VAT agreements, the supply of sporting services is exempt from VAT when supplied by non-profit making organisations such as sports and leisure trusts.

However this VAT exemption applies only to sporting services and cannot extend to the use of saunas, steam rooms, or to season tickets which entitle customers to use both sports and other, non-sporting, facilities. Such supplies have been subject to VAT since 1973 when the tax was introduced.

HM Revenue and Customs is aware that a number of organisations have been applying the VAT rules in this area incorrectly, and published Revenue and Customs Brief 50/07 in July 2007 to clarify the matter. However,
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this brief did not change any of the VAT rules, nor did it impose VAT on supplies that were properly exempt from VAT.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 14 March 2008, Official Report, column 722W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford).

Welfare Tax Credits: Fraud

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 25 April 2008, Official Report, column 2313W, on welfare tax credits, when David Wilshaw and Nancy Stevenson first made a fraudulent tax credit claim; and when fraud was first detected in any of their claims. [205331]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the Press Notice issued by HM Revenue and Customs on 10 April and available at:

Information not included in the Press Notice or disclosed in Court remains confidential.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Subsidies

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many appeals have been lodged under the single payment scheme appeal procedure since its inception; and how many appeals have been upheld. [205617]

Jonathan Shaw: The Single Payment Scheme Appeal Procedure has two stages. Stage 1 is an internal review of the case by the Rural Payments Agency. If customers are dissatisfied with the outcome they can take the case to Stage 2 where an Independent Appeal Panel reviews the case and makes a recommendation to Ministers. Ministers take the final decision to uphold or reject the appeal.

At 13 May 2008 901 Stage 1 appeals had been considered of which 318 were successful or partially successful. At Stage 2 the Minister had made his decision on 156 appeals of which 12 were successful.

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of Single Farm Payments due in 2007 has been paid. [205892]

Jonathan Shaw: Payments made under the 2007 Single Payment Scheme (SPS) total £1.255 billion, which is 86.5 per cent. of the estimated total fund of £1.45 billion. 97,809 customers have received a full SPS payment for the 2007 scheme, representing 91.7 per cent. of the estimated total claimant population of 106,700.

Animal Welfare

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the introduction of
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cost and responsibility sharing for animal health; and what annual savings he expects this to generate for his Department. [205140]

Jonathan Shaw: A consultation on responsibility and cost sharing for animal health and welfare closed on 15 April. A further public consultation on fully costed proposals is planned for this autumn.

Animals: Exports

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many live (a) cattle, (b) horses, (c) sheep and (d) ponies were exported from the UK in each of the last three years. [205138]

Jonathan Shaw: The number of cattle, horses, ponies, sheep and goats exported from the UK in each of the last three years can be found in the following table:

2005 2006 2007





Horses and ponies (a)




Sheep and goats (b)








(a) These figures are based on animal health certification and the animal health conditions for horses and ponies are the same. Therefore, the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) makes no distinction between the species so they are combined. In addition, the Tripartite agreement between the UK, France and the Republic of Ireland means that horses that move between these countries do not need a health certificate and as such we do not have records of these movements.

(b) It is not possible to separate sheep from goats for all years so they are combined.

These figures are based on the number of animals which, following official veterinary inspection, were shown to have met the rules for intra-community trade. Actual numbers traded may be less (as some animals may not be loaded on vehicle). They represent trade from the UK to other EU member states (excluding Switzerland, Norway, UK-UK trade, Channel Islands, transit to third countries, and including/excluding Romania/Bulgaria depending on year).

Beekeeping: Research

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research projects on beekeeping have been funded by his Department in the last five years; what bids for funding for such research projects his Department has not accepted during that period; and if he will make a statement. [205250]

Jonathan Shaw: The following projects have been funded by DEFRA in the last five years.

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Project From To Cost (£)

HH0817THB: The control of exotic bee diseases and their likely interactions with UK conditions




HH0819SHB: Fungal control of Varroa jacobsoni (destructor)




HH3126SHB: Evaluation of TaqMan real-time PCR for detection of Aethina tumida (Small Hive Beetle)




HH3223SHB: Minimisation of oxytetracycline levels in honey after antibiotic treatment




HH3234SHB: Optimisation of detection methods for Melissococcus plutonius (European foulbrood, EFB)




HH3235SHB: Honey bee virus detection and discrimination




HH3815SHB: A promotional publication summarising the DEFRA Bee Health Research and Development activity over 10 years




PH0410: The taxonomy of UK and exotic honey bee viruses: a molecular approach (PhD Fellowship)




PH0502: Assessing the effectiveness of the shook swarm method for controlling European Foul Brood




PH0503: Development of a monitoring system for the small hive beetle, Aethina tumida (Murray)




PN0936: The effects of endocrine disrupters on honeybee populations




PN0945: Assessing the impact of mixtures of pyrethroids and fungicides on honeybees




PS2322: Assessment of the risk posed to honeybees by systemic pesticides




VM02140: Investigation of the fate of veterinary drugs used in apiculture




VM02156: Investigation into the experimental protocols required to determine Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) in honey: Preliminary study using organic acids as model compounds to propose ways in which withdrawal times might be calculated




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