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Aggregates Levy

Justine Greening: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the change in the tonnage of aggregates extracted as a result of the operation of the aggregates levy, in each year since 2002, broken down by materials (a) subject and (b) not subject to the levy. [207701]

Angela Eagle: Trends in taxable aggregate extraction are available at:

This source also provides information on extraction of tax exempt and relieved aggregates by registered aggregate levy traders, though this is likely to be an incomplete picture as some exempt aggregates will be extracted at sites that are not registered for the levy.

Justine Greening: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of revenue raised from the aggregates levy was contributed to the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund in each year since 2003. [207702]

Angela Eagle: The value of the aggregates levy sustainability fund has been fixed at £35 million each year across the UK. This figure is roughly 10 per cent. of aggregates levy receipts in each year since 2003.


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Australia

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff of (a) his Department and (b) HM Revenue and Customs have visited Australia in an official capacity since 1 January 2008; and what the purpose of each such visit was. [205876]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 22 May 2008]: There have been two visits to Australia by HM Treasury and HMRC staff since 1 January 2008 as follows.

Two Treasury officials visited Australia primarily to discuss matters relating to tax credits. There have been two HM Revenue and Customs staff making visits to Australia, on separate occasions, the first accompanying the Treasury officials mentioned above; the second to represent HMRC at two international groups, that co-ordinated the dates of meeting to minimise cost, and who meet twice a year split between the UK and Australia. The first group met with representatives from UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Netherlands to discuss and review progress on the implementation of work commissioned by the OECD Taxpayer Service Group. The second group “The International Standard Business Reporting Forum” met to resolve a number of international reporting standards to improve financial reporting to Governments. In addition it acts as a mutual assistance group of practitioners from the public and private sector.

Bank Notes

Mrs. James: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate he has made of the number of £5 notes in circulation; whether he has taken steps to encourage the banking industry to make £5 notes available through cash machines; and if he will make a statement. [207492]

Kitty Ussher: Bank of England data show that at the end of February 2008 there was approximately £1,250 million of £5 notes in circulation.

In his speech at the Mansion House in June 2007, the Governor of the Bank of England highlighted that he was concerned about the availability of £5 notes to the public. He also stated that there was an ample supply of £5 notes available from the Bank of England and suggested that banks might need greater incentives to put the available £5 notes into circulation.

Since the Governor’s speech, the annual growth rate of £5 notes in circulation has risen from around 5 per cent. to around 10 per cent. I understand that the Bank of England is currently holding discussions with commercial institutions about this matter.

Borrowing

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether borrowing by housing associations is included in public sector borrowing figures; and if he will make a statement. [207288]

Angela Eagle: Classification of bodies is a matter for the independent Office for National Statistics, who are responsible for producing the national accounts to internationally agreed standards.


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The ONS have classified housing associations to the private sector as non-financial corporations. As these are private sector bodies their transactions will not be recorded in the public sector finances.

Capital Gains Tax: Biotechnology

Stephen Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consideration the Government has given to the possible effect on (a) the competitiveness of the UK biotechnology industry and (b) spending on health and biotech research and development of the removal of taper relief and the imposition of an 18 per cent. rate on capital gains in his recent budget report. [207553]

Angela Eagle: The Government take a range of factors into consideration when formulating tax policy, and keep all aspects of policy under review.

Departmental Domestic Visits

Mr. Willis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what visits he made to (a) Harrogate International Centre, (b) International Conference Centre, Birmingham, (c) Manchester Central, (d) Scottish Exhibitional and Conference Centre, Glasgow, (e) Edinburgh International Conference Centre, (f) Bournemouth International Conference Centre, (g) the Brighton Centre, Brighton, (h) the Riviera Centre, Torquay, (i) Queen Elizabeth Centre, London, (j) Excel Conference Centre, Docklands, London, and (k) Business Design Centre, Islington, London, in the period 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2007; and what events he attended at each. [197167]

Angela Eagle: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions he has visited (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland in an official capacity in the last 12 months. [204387]

Angela Eagle: In the last 12 months, Ministers have visited (a) Scotland five times, (b) Wales five times and (c) Northern Ireland once in their official capacity. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the ministerial code.

Departmental Freedom of Information

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many freedom of information requests made to his Department were (a) answered (i) within 20 days, (ii) within 40 days, (iii) within 60 days and (iv) after 60 days, (b) not answered and (c) answered citing an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as a reason not to provide the requested information in each year since the Act came into force. [201717]

Angela Eagle: The Ministry of Justice has published two annual reports containing statistical information on freedom of information requests received by monitored bodies (including central Government Departments) in 2005 and 2006. These reports can be found at the following address:


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The 2007 annual report is currently being drafted for publication in June 2008. However, statistics on requests received in each quarter of 2007 have been published and can be found via the MOJ website:

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires public bodies to respond to written requests within 20 working days of receipt, but allows additional time for the consideration of the public interest in disclosing the requested information.

The published reports provide statistics on the number of “non-routine” requests received during each period where: an initial response was provided within 20 working days; an initial response was given outside this time but a public interest test extension had been applied; an initial response was given outside this time and no public interest test extension was applied, and where no initial response had been given at the time the statistics were collected.

The 2006 annual report provides statistics on the duration of the public interest test extensions in that year. Corresponding statistics for 2007 will be available when the 2007 annual report is published.

Information requests where deadlines were extended beyond 40 days is not collected in the form requested; however the proportion of resolvable requests the Department answered “in time” (ie meeting the deadline or with a permitted extension) in 2007 was 95 per cent.

For 2005 and 2006, the reports show the number of requests received by the department which were withheld, either in full or in part, where an FOI exemption or EIR exception was applied. For 2007, the number of such requests was 113, based on aggregated quarterly statistics from 2007.

Requests withheld solely under the exemption applicable to “information available by other means” are not included; statistics on these are not collected centrally because they are dealt with as routine business.

Departmental Official Hospitality

Mrs. May: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many receptions he has hosted and funded in his capacity as the Chancellor of the Exchequer 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. [203854]

Angela Eagle: A list providing information relating to official receptions hosted by Ministers in this Department for the financial year 2007-08 will be published in due course.

Departmental Pensions

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what steps his Department has taken to ensure that its members of staff who are entitled to (a) added years and (b) additional voluntary contributions are aware of how to apply; [207426]


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(2) what steps his Department takes to ensure that its staff are informed of the benefits of additional voluntary schemes at the commencement of their employment in the Civil Service. [207427]

Angela Eagle: Pension scheme members receive an annual benefit statement showing the pension built up to date, and also a projection of pension on retirement if the member continues in service to scheme pension age. The benefit statement provides details of the civil service pensions website where staff can obtain further information, including on options for making additional voluntary contributions to boost their pension.

New entrants are informed of pension options in the employment offer and are provided with a pension information pack.

Departmental Standards

Justine Greening: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what projects sponsored by his Department were subject to Gateway reviews in each of the last four years; what status each project was assigned under such reviews; how much his Department spent on Gateway reviews in each such year; and if he will make a statement. [205869]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 15 May 2008]: Gateway reports, including the findings and status, are conducted on a confidential basis for Senior Responsible Owners (SRO). OGC does not, therefore, make this information routinely public.

The following information provides a list of the Gateway Reviews undertaken on OGC projects over the last four years:

2004


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2005


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