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4 Jun 2008 : Column 922W—continued

Departmental Pay

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much was paid in end-of-year performance bonuses to (a) all staff and (b) staff at senior civil service level in his Department in the 2007-08 financial year; and how many payments were made. [207476]

Mr. Paul Murphy: No bonus payments have been made this financial year.

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many and what proportion of employees in
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his Department who received a performance-related bonus at their last appraisal were (a) male, (b) female, (c) from an ethnic minority, (d) disabled and (e) not heterosexual; and if he will make a statement. [208370]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Staff appraisals for the year 2007-08 have just been completed.

No performance-related payments have been paid to date, and so a breakdown is not available.

Prime Minister

House of Lords Reform

Q15. David Taylor: To ask the Prime Minister when he expects Government policy on reform of the House of Lords to be implemented. [207958]

The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Straw) to the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) on 2 June 2008, Official Report, column 641W.

Developing Countries: Disease Control

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Prime Minister (1) pursuant to his recent announcement on the provision of bed nets, what discussions he had with the All-Party Parliamentary Malaria Group prior to the announcement; [207610]

(2) pursuant to his recent announcement on the provision of bed nets, what the basis was for the announcement that US$200 million would be spent on 20 million bed nets; what estimate he has made of the market price of bed nets; and on what type of bed net this estimate was based; [207632]

(3) what arrangements he made to inform hon. Members of the arrangements for provision of 20 million additional bed nets. [207640]

Gillian Merron: I have been asked to reply.

Please see the combined response.

Officials from the Department for International Development (DFID) have regular contact with the All-Party Parliamentary Malaria Group (APPG) about all aspects of malaria containment and treatment.

The Prime Minister's announcement pledged the UK to provide 20 million bed nets as a contribution to the wider effort needed to meet universal coverage. A fixed cash sum was not committed to the actual costs will vary by country depending on market conditions and individual country costs.

DFID anticipates a bed net unit cost of about £4.50 but precise costs will vary from country to country. Decisions on type of bed net will be taken according to specific country needs.

The decision to pledge twenty million bed nets represented an intensification of one part of the UK's existing policy towards malaria containment and is in response to the initiative to increase global bed net coverage.


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Scotland

Scottish Business

7. Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps the Government are taking to ensure a long-term stable economic environment for Scottish business. [207936]

Des Browne: This Government's fiscal rules and economic policies have established the conditions which have allowed more than a decade of macroeconomic strength for the UK.

Child Poverty

8. Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the representatives of anti-poverty groups in Scotland on the Government's policy on child poverty. [207937]

David Cairns: I hosted a roundtable meeting on child poverty in Scotland in January, which brought together key Scottish charities and Members of this House. All sides welcomed the chance to make better connections on tackling child poverty, and I will maintain an ongoing dialogue.

Postal Services

9. Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on postal services in Scotland. [207938]

David Cairns: My right hon. Friend and I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues on a range of issues.

Wave and Tidal Power

10. Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on the development of wave and tidal power generation in Scotland. [207939]

David Cairns: My right hon. Friend and I have regular discussions with our Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform colleagues on a range of issues. We fully recognise the potential Scotland has to develop wave and tidal power electricity generation. The European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, which has already benefited from £2 million of funding from the UK Government, will play a key part in advancing such technology.

Renewable Energy

11. John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on the proportion of Scotland's energy requirements met by renewable energy. [207940]


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David Cairns: My right hon. Friend and I have had no such recent discussions with the First Minister. As this Government's Energy Bill makes clear, our energy requirements can only be met from a mix of sources, including renewables.

Card Accounts

12. Sir Robert Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the payment of pensions and benefits in Scotland through card accounts. [207941]

David Cairns: None. The current Post Office Card Account contract ends in March 2010. The DWP is leading on procuring a successor and expects to announce the successful bidder later this year. The existing Post Office Card Account is a product provided by Post Office Ltd and is available throughout Great Britain. The successor product will also be available throughout Great Britain.

The Government remains committed to allowing people to access their pension and benefit in cash at the post office if they choose to do so, and there is a range of accounts which make that possible. The new account will need to be available on a national basis and accessible to those who need it.

Energy Demand

13. Mr. Doran: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on energy demand in Scotland. [207942]

David Cairns: My right hon. Friend and I have regular discussions with our Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform colleagues on a range of issues. The Energy Bill, which will update and strengthen the legislative framework so that it is appropriate for today's energy market and fit for the challenges we face on climate change and security of supply.

HMS Gannet

14. Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next expects to meet Ministry of Defence officials to discuss HMS Gannet at Prestwick airport. [207943]

Des Browne: I regularly meet with officials to discuss a range of matters and, as my hon. Friend will be aware, I visited HMS Gannet on 29 February 2008.

Electricity Generation

Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment he has made of electricity generation capacity in Scotland. [207931]

David Cairns: I refer the Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Glasgow, East (Mr. Marshall) on 5 March 2008, Official Report, column 1730. The most recent assessment we have made is that Scotland has about 10.5 GW of electricity generation capacity.


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The Government's Energy Bill highlights the need to have a diverse electricity generation mix in the future. This includes renewables, clean fossil fuel technology and nuclear.

Treasury

Corporation Tax: EU Action

Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the European Commission on proposals for a harmonised EU corporate tax base; and if he will make a statement. [208075]

Jane Kennedy: The Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his officials have regular discussions with the European Commission on a broad range of tax issues.

The Government are not in favour of a common consolidated corporate tax base as we are sceptical about both the principle and the practicalities.

Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects the European Commission to make further proposals on a harmonised EU corporate tax base; and if he will make a statement. [208076]

Jane Kennedy: The European Commission has the right of initiative in proposing EU legislation. The publication of legislative proposals, including the timing of any proposal, are matters for them.

Departmental Official Hospitality

Bob Spink: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the budget of each Minister in his Department is for entertainment in 2008-09. [202086]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 28 April 2008]: Treasury Ministers are not allocated a budget purely for entertainment. Such spending would form part of their conference and hospitality budgets covering internal and external conferences, catering and meeting refreshments.

The conference and hospitality budgets for each minister in 2008-09 are as follows:

£

Chancellor

25,000

Chief Secretary

5,000

Exchequer Secretary

2,500

Economic Secretary

4,500

Financial Secretary

1,500


Excise Duties: Motor Vehicles

Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what research he has (a) undertaken and (b) plans to undertake into the effects of the increase in excise duty on certain vehicles in the 2009-10 financial year, with particular reference to the effects on the retail value of such vehicles; and if he will make a statement. [206123]


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Angela Eagle: Budget 2008 reformed the VED structure to strengthen the environmental incentive to develop and purchase fuel-efficient cars, as well as to ensure that existing cars that should pay VED that is more closely related to the level of carbon dioxide that is emitted.

The Government took into account a number of factors, including the social, economic and environmental impact of changes to VED, before announcing these changes.

Justine Greening: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the Financial Secretary’s statement of 14 May 2008, Official Report, column 1470, on vehicle excise duty (1) what his Department’s definition of low income is; and if he will make a statement; [207112]

(2) what estimate his Department has made of the (a) number and (b) proportion of low-income households which have bought cars in band (i) A, (ii) B, (iii) C, (iv) D, (v) E, (vi) G; and if he will make a statement. [207115]

Angela Eagle: There are numerous definitions of what constitutes a low-income household, and the Government do not collect data from drivers when purchasing tax discs according to their household income.

However, the best available relevant data suggests:

Gift Aid

Mike Penning: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what level of take-up of Gift Aid tax relief was assumed in the projected current receipts for 2008-09 contained in the 2008 Red Book. [208489]Jane Kennedy: The Red Book estimates of current receipts for income tax in 2008-09 allow for both Gift Aid basic rate repayments to charities (£0.9 billion) and higher rate relief to donors who are higher rate taxpayers (£0.2 billion).

Housing: Prices

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of (a) the likely trend in house prices over the next 12 months and (b) the impact of that trend on the United Kingdom economy. [207660]


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Angela Eagle: The Government included a discussion of house price prospects in paragraphs B.69 and B.70 of the 2008 Financial Statement and Budget Report (HC 388). Box B7 of the same document discusses the relationship between house prices and consumer spending.

Income Tax: Tax Allowances

Mr. Brady: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the savings in payments of (a) council tax benefit, (b) housing benefit and (c) pension credit that will arise as a result of the increase in the personal allowance for income tax announced on 13 May 2008. [207966]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 2 June 2008]: The increase in personal allowances will primarily affect housing and council tax benefit recipients who are in work. The number of in-work recipients of housing benefit is relatively small—around 300,000 for the last year of published data—and not all of these people will be taxpayers.

The personal allowance change can only affect pension credit where someone aged under 65 is part of a claim, and as with housing and council tax benefit, not all these people will be taxpayers. Pensioners aged 65 or over normally have a five-year assessed income period (AIP), meaning they do not need to report changes to their retirement provision (income from capital, annuities or pension) that occur within those five years. Couples where one pensioner is over 65 and their partner under 65 are also eligible for an AIP. Overall therefore the effect of the increased personal allowance in 2008-09 is very small.

The combined savings from these benefits is therefore both modest in relation to the cost of the increased allowance, at around £30 million, and uncertain. A breakdown between benefits is not possible because of the small size of the effects and the associated uncertainties.


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