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19 Jun 2008 : Column 1106W—continued

Valuation Office

Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 6 May 2008, Official Report, column 828W, on the Valuation Office, if he will outline how the models differ from each other within the Automated Valuation Model. [211830]

Jane Kennedy: The models adopted by the Valuation Office Agency differ from each other in the variables used, the coefficients calibrated and the time at which the models are calibrated.

Valuation Office Agency: Rightmove

Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 19 March 2008, Official Report, column 1226W, on the Valuation Office Agency: Rightmove, whether the initial contract between the Valuation Office Agency and Rightmove has now ended; and whether a decision to extend the contract has been made by the Valuation Office Agency; [211831]


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(2) what the status of the contract between the Valuation Office Agency and Rightmove.co.uk plc is. [211932]

Jane Kennedy: No contract exists between the Valuation Office Agency and Rightmove. The contract in question is between Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and Rightmove.co.uk Ltd.

While no further payments are required, the benefits of access to Rightmove’s historic records by the Valuation Office Agency, as provided for in the initial contract, remain in place. No decision has been made on extending the contract.

Valuation Office: Freedom of Information

Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Valuation Office Agency will provide a substantive response to Freedom of Information Act request 11335561.1/CEO. [211920]

Jane Kennedy: A substantive response will be provided shortly.

Valuation Office: Geographical Information Systems

Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 19 March 2008, Official Report, column 1226W, on Valuation Office Agency: ICT, what sources will be used to supply the geo-spatial data for the Geographic Information System; and whether this will include (a) ACORN and (b) MOSAIC data. [211665]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar on 21 April 2007, Official Report, column 1688W-1689W.

Valuation Office: ICT

Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the (a) set-up and (b) ongoing annual revenue cost of the Valuation Office Agency’s TENET mapping software was. [211918]

Jane Kennedy: The cost to the Valuation Office Agency of the TENET mapping software (excluding VAT) amounts to:

Valuation Office: Identity Cards

Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many departmental identity cards have been reported lost or stolen in the last 24 months by staff in the Valuation Office Agency. [211644]

Jane Kennedy: In the last 24 months five VOA identity cards were reported either lost or stolen.


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Valuation Office: Rightmove

Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much has been allocated by the Valuation Office Agency for payments to Rightmove.co.uk plc in 2008-09. [211933]

Jane Kennedy: No payments have been specifically allocated by the Valuation Office Agency to this company.

Welfare Tax Credits: Correspondence

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many annual tax credit documentation letters were sent in duplicate to both members of the same household in the latest period for which figures are available. [212273]

Jane Kennedy: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) issue one annual renewal pack per household if a reply is required.

For cases where a reply is not required then one form is sent to each adult claimant in a household playing back the information that HMRC proposes to use to finalise and renew their claim. These are then automatically renewed using these details unless the customer provides updated information by the renewals deadline.

In 2007, HMRC issued renewal packs for around 4.1 million ‘reply required’ claims plus notices for around 2.4 million claims for claims they proposed to renew automatically. It is not possible to say how many of those were issued to joint claimant households. Tax credits notices contain all the information used to calculate an award and it is a requirement of the primary legislation that when HMRC make a decision about tax credit entitlement, they send a notice setting out the decision to each of the partners in a joint claim.

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Carbon Sequestration

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent representations he has received from the Royal Society in respect of the role of carbon capture and storage in combating climate change. [211947]

Malcolm Wicks: I receive many representations from a wide range of organisations, including recently the Royal Society, in respect of the role of carbon capture and storage in combating climate change.

Coal Fired Power Stations: Kingsnorth

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what representations he has received from residents of Southend-on-Sea on the proposed new coal power station at Kingsnorth; what response he has made; if he will place in the Library a copy of each such representation; and if he will make a statement. [210657]


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Malcolm Wicks: This information is not available. The Department has not categorised any of the representations received by geographical location.

Energy Supply

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had with (a) power generation companies, (b) gas distribution companies and (c) Energy Watch on the cost of energy supplies to domestic consumers. [208284]

Malcolm Wicks: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has regular meetings with companies in the energy sector and interest groups where domestic energy prices are discussed.

Energy: Prices

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many people in (a) Wakefield District and (b) Hemsworth constituency are eligible for social tariffs from energy suppliers. [210730]

Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is not available. Energy suppliers voluntarily provide a range of assistance to households vulnerable to fuel poverty, including social tariffs. In April the Government secured the individual agreement of the six largest energy suppliers to increase their collective spend on social assistance to £150 million a year by 2010-11. This will be spent on a number of initiatives including social tariffs, rebates and trust funds.

Nuclear Power Stations: Floods

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment his Department has made of the resilience of nuclear power stations to flooding. [211427]

Malcolm Wicks: UK nuclear power stations are designed to be protected against flooding, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requires flood defence plans to be periodically reviewed by site operators. HSE would also require appropriate flood protection measures and flood defence plans for any new nuclear power station in the future.

The potential impact of flooding would be a relevant consideration in any future siting assessment for any proposed new nuclear build, alongside a range of other considerations. We will be consulting on draft criteria for the Strategic Siting Assessment shortly.

Post Offices: Closures

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many and what proportion of (a) post offices within supermarkets and (b) stand-alone post offices in (i) Southend and (ii) Essex will be closed under the Post Office Network Change Programme; and if he will make a statement. [210658]


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Mr. McFadden: This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. (POL). I have therefore asked Alan Cook, Managing Director of POL, to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Copies of the letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) what annual cash savings the Post Office expects from the closure of post office branches at (a) 42 Vicarage Road, Maidenhead, (b) 55 High Street, Wargrave, near Reading and (c) 49 Wootton Way, Maidenhead. [211063]

(2) what annual cash savings the Post Office expects from the closure of the post office branch at Knowl Hill Stores, Knowl Hill, near Reading. [211064]

(3) what annual cash savings the Post Office expects from the closure of the post office branch at 128-130 Cookham Road, Maidenhead. [211065]

Mr. McFadden: This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. (POL). I have therefore asked Alan Cook, Managing Director of POL, to reply direct to the right hon. Member.

Copies of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Post Offices: Credit Unions

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent steps he has taken to encourage co-operation between post offices and credit unions. [209839]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 9 June 2008]: This is a commercial and operational matter for Post Office Ltd. (POL) and the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd. (ABCUL) who, I understand, maintain a regular dialogue to explore the opportunities for working together. I also understand that ABCUL use the Co-operative Bank as a channel for credit union current accounts and that the bank’s contract with POL enables current account customers of credit unions using this Co-operative Bank service to pay in or withdraw cash and make balance inquiries at post offices.

Post Offices: Standards

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what monitoring of waiting times at post office branches (a) his Department and (b) Postcomm performs; what methodology is used; and if he will make a statement. [207344]

Mr. McFadden: The Department does not carry out any monitoring exercises for waiting times at Post Office branches. Postcomm, the industry regulator, has a limited role in relation to the Post Office network. It monitors the impact of strategic developments in the network, and provides advice to the Secretary of State in the form of an annual report. It is not currently carrying out any research in this area.


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Post Office Ltd. monitors waiting times at branches through its mystery shopper visits. A sample of 1,000 branches are visited on a monthly basis by a mystery shopper and marked against a range of factors, including waiting times. This is to ensure that customer service is being maintained and where branches are identified as falling below standard, this is raised with the sub-postmaster or branch manager.

Private Sector: Renewable Energy

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent steps the Government has taken to encourage private businesses to use energy from renewable sources. [210392]

Malcolm Wicks: The Renewables Obligation (RO) is the Government’s main mechanism for encouraging new renewable electricity generation with all eligible renewable electricity generation installations able to receive Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs). We have announced that under proposed reforms to the RO, microgenerators will be able to claim two ROCs for every one MWh of renewable electricity generated. The Government intend to introduce these changes from 1 April 2009, thus doubling the support they receive through the RO to the highest level available.

Under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP), with an £86 million budget, around £30 million has been allocated to 6,300 projects, including £6.5 million to 154 projects in the private sector. Although all funding streams for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have now closed to new applicants, we are working closely with the Carbon Trust on a number of private sector projects to raise awareness of the potential for combining microgeneration with energy efficiency to develop low carbon buildings. Further details are available at:

Advice is available from a number of sources, including the Carbon Trust who provides site surveys to organisations, including SMEs, looking to reduce their energy demand, save money and manage their carbon emissions more efficiently. Further details are available at:

Further assistance is available through Business Link at:

and regional development agencies at:

The Renewable Energy Strategy consultation due in the summer will include considerations of the role that microgeneration and distributed energy will play going forward. This will consider a range of possible initiatives such as financial or regulatory instruments, voluntary guidance and providing better information to business and consumers.

Small Businesses: Regulation

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform from which regulatory requirements he proposes to exempt those companies with 20 or fewer employees; and if he will make a statement. [204083]


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Mr. McFadden: When we published the Enterprise Strategy next to the Budget in March 2008, we announced that the Government will introduce a new approach to help ensure that regulation affecting small firms achieves the outcomes aimed for while minimising unnecessary impacts. This flexible approach includes considering whether small firms can be exempt from requirements without affecting essential protections or if there is scope for simplified enforcement. This will be applied to new regulation currently under development.

Work already under way to change existing requirements was published in the Enterprise Strategy, a copy of which was placed in the libraries of the House.


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