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21 May 2008 : Column 302W—continued

21 May 2008 : Column 303W


Shipping: Safety

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress the Council of Ministers has made on a common framework for the permanent exclusion by member states of vessels in repeated breach of EU safety regulations. [206700]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The UK already has a framework for restricting vessel access to UK ports which is set out in The Merchant Shipping (Port State Control) Regulations 1995 [SI 1995 No. 3128 as amended] and the associated Merchant Shipping Notice 1775 (M).

The original proposal of the recast of the EU Directive on Port State Control, one of the Third Maritime Safety Package proposals, included provisions to permanently ban vessels which have been detained for a third time following inspection at a Community port. The Council was not persuaded that a permanent ban was proportionate or legally enforceable. It considered that ships which have been banned under the terms of the directive should be allowed back into Community ports once stringent safety criteria, including a further inspection of the ship concerned, have been satisfied.

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the progress made by EU member states on implementing the provisions of the Erika II legislative package enabling the competent authorities in member states to prevent ships from setting sail in very bad weather. [206810]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The UK has implemented these provisions.

Regulation 13 of the Merchant Shipping (Vessel Traffic Monitoring and Reporting Requirements) Regulations 2004 covers measures to be taken in the event of exceptionally bad weather or sea conditions.

The Government also have procedures in place so that if an incident is reported to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, a counter pollution and response officer and, if necessary, the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP) will be alerted.

The Government have made no assessment of the progress made by other EU member states in implementing these provisions.


Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions she has had with the European Commission on the work of the CURACAO User Group; whether she has allocated resources to the project in relation to road pricing schemes; what discussions she has had with the project on advice to local authorities on road pricing; what assessment she has made of the contribution of the project to the development of proposals for road pricing schemes in England; and if she will make a statement. [206343]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: CURACAO is a European Commission funded project which aims to co-ordinate research and monitor the results of the implementation of road user charging as a demand management tool in urban areas. The Department has had no direct contact with the Commission about the project, nor allocated funding, but officials have provided some input to the project at a technical level to ITS (university of Leeds) and Transport Travel and Research, two of the three UK-based project partners in CURACAO. The Department has had no discussions with them on our advice to local authorities and has made no assessment of the project.

Transport Appraisal

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason the methodology used in the New Approach to Transport Appraisal treats a decision by an individual to leave his or her vehicle at home and use public transport as a disbenefit; and if she will take steps to change this attribution. [205161]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 12 May 2008]: The methodology recommended in the “New Approach To Appraisal” (NATA) does not treat a decision by an individual to leave his or her vehicle at home and use public transport as a disbenefit.

Instead, an assumption of appraisal is that a decision of this sort largely reflects the individual comparing the advantages and disadvantages of the form of transport they choose, in terms of journey time, journey costs and, in some circumstances, measures of other journey characteristics such as crowding, and judging there to be an overall ‘benefit’ through changing from one mode to another.

However, costs and benefits under the NATA methodology are not assessed only from the view of the transport user as there may be further impacts on transport providers, the Government, wider society or the environment. NATA seeks to ensure that all impacts are taken into account to give a complete picture.


Capital Gains Tax

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 26 November 2007, Official Report, column 47W, on capital gains tax, if he will estimate the revenue implications of taxing capital gains at the same marginal rates as income tax with indexation from April 2008. [206394]

Jane Kennedy: A reform of this kind would result in a large behavioural response and as such estimates are susceptible to a wide margin of error.

A broad estimate of the eventual steady state impact, taking account of the likely taxpayer response to such a change, is additional receipts in the order of £2 billion a year by comparison with the capital gains tax regime contained in the Finance Bill 2008.

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Child Tax Credit Helpline

Jo Swinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how long the standard training period for staff joining the Child Tax Credits Helpline service is. [206920]

Jane Kennedy: HMRC operates the tax credits Helpline. This covers both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) on 31 January 2008, Official Report , column 683W.

Child Tax Credits

Jo Swinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how long on average it takes for his Department to process an application for child tax credit. [206922]

Jane Kennedy: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) aim to pay 60 per cent. of all new Child and Working Tax Credit claims in 15 calendar days and all new claims in 20 calendar days

Council Tax: Wales

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1688W, on the Valuation Office, how many households in Wales received a visit from a Valuation Office Agency representative as part of the 2005 council tax revaluation. [204879]

Jane Kennedy: Details as to the number of properties visited by the VOA as part of the 2005 council tax revaluation cannot be provided other than at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Pay

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total cost was of salaries for (a) permanent civil service posts, (b) permanent non-civil service posts and (c) temporary or agency workers in his Department in each month since May 2005. [200174]

Angela Eagle: Details of the wages and salaries paid by the Department to permanent staff, Ministers and special advisors and other staff are shown in Table 6.1 of the Treasury's Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06 (HC 1344) and 2006-07 (HC 518). Copies of the documents can be found at:

A monthly breakdown of the figures could be provided only at disproportionate costs.

Income Tax: Tax Rates and Bands

Mr. Godsiff: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the estimated cost would be of reintroducing the 10 pence tax band with effect from the beginning of the 2008-09 financial year. [206575]

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Jane Kennedy: Reintroducing the 10p starting rate for non-savings income would cost around £6.7 billion for 2008-09. This estimate assumes the personal allowance had remained at £5,435 and not been increased by £600 as announced by the Chancellor on Tuesday 13 May.

Members: Correspondence

Tim Loughton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will reply to the letter of 12 March from the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham on the small and medium enterprises threshold for the purposes of the research and development tax credit in relation to Allergy Therapeutics in Worthing. [207141]

Angela Eagle: As I believe the hon. Member knows, the Treasury has no record of having received his letter. A copy has been requested and will be dealt with as soon as possible.

Revenue and Customs: Manpower

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many full-time equivalent staff of HM Revenue and Customs have had forensic accounting duties in each year since 2001. [206688]

Jane Kennedy: This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. A large number of HMRC staff have forensic accounting duties in a wide variety of roles.

Shares: Sales Methods

Mr. Evans: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has had with the Financial Services Authority on illegal share sales by boiler room operations; and if he will make a statement. [206945]

Kitty Ussher: The Chancellor meets senior members of the FSA on a regular basis to discuss a wide range of economic and financial issues.

Other Treasury Ministers are also closely engaged with the FSA, other Government departments and law enforcement agencies in discussions on counter-fraud work. An inter-ministerial group met in April, for instance to discuss priorities for the National Fraud Strategic Authority.


Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate how many trusts became resident in the UK as a result of the trust modernisation programme changes effected on 6 April 2007. [206684]

Jane Kennedy: This information is not available.

Valuation Office: Surveys

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the Valuation Office Agency's most recent staff survey. [202820]

Jane Kennedy: A copy of the agency's most recent staff survey has been placed in the Library.

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Welfare Tax Credits

Danny Alexander: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether requests for TC647 forms are recorded by the Tax Credit Office or HM Revenue and Customs; how many TC647 forms were sent to tax credit claimants in each year since their introduction; and how many claimants have been sent them. [205815]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 15 May 2008]: Requests for TC647 forms are recorded on each individual customer's tax credit record and it is not possible to provide the number of requests.

The number of TC647 forms issued in the last four years was:

Number of forms TC647 issued









Information is not available for 2003-04.

The marked reduction in the numbers of TC647s issued in 2006-07 and 2007-08 illustrates the improvements made to the award notice from April 2006, which now provide the information tax credits customers need to help them better understand their awards.

This information corrects the figure provided on 29 November 2005, Official Report, column 348W


Departmental Official Hospitality

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many receptions he has hosted and funded in his capacity as Secretary of State in the last 12 months; which individuals and organisations (a) were invited to and (b) attended each reception; and what the cost was of each reception. [203852]

David Cairns: The Scotland Office has published information about some hospitality events in its annual report for 2008. The Office plans to publish a full list of events in future annual reports. The Secretary of State hosted a total of nine events during financial year 2007-08 and the total cost for these in the last financial year is £28,719.95. The Office does not hold a full list of those guests invited or who attended these events.



Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) apprenticeships and (b) advanced apprenticeships there were in (i) his Department and (ii) the agencies for which he is responsible in the most recent year for which figures are available. [206803]

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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: All civilian apprenticeships are advanced. In 2006-07, there were 5,326 military apprentices in the Ministry of Defence. There were 1,973 advanced military apprentices, 234 advanced civilian apprentices and 282 advanced apprentices in agencies.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles: Hearing Impaired

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what dates since 1992 his Department has undertaken studies into the potential damage to hearing from prolonged driving of armoured vehicles. [201579]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There have been no studies specifically into hearing damage from prolonged driving of armoured vehicles. Noise exposure assessments are however undertaken and suitable protection provided.


Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 12 May 2008, Official Report, column 48WS, on UN Forces (Cyprus), what the cap badge will be of the 250 reservists. [206642]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Individuals will be selected from within 2 Division, based largely upon HQ 32 Signal Regiment. The process of selection and training of reservists to serve on the next deployment for Operation Tosca with the UN in Cyprus will culminate in full notice of call-out (which is a minimum of 28 days) prior to their mobilisation. This will not need to take place until later this year, and until then, I cannot confirm which cap badges will be worn. When the units deploy they will all wear the UN blue beret and UN cap badge.

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