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9 Oct 2008 : Column 790W—continued


Mr. Harper: To ask the Prime Minister how many and what proportion of staff in his office are disabled; and what the average salary in his office is of (a) full-time disabled staff, (b) full-time non-disabled staff, (c) part-time disabled staff and (d) part-time non-disabled staff. [220182]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office, my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, East on 8 October 2008, Official Report, columns 651-57W.

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Public Accounts Commission

Building Capacity in the Third Sector

Greg Clark: To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission when the National Audit Office plans to publish its report “Building Capacity in the Third Sector”; and what the reason is for the time taken to publish the report. [225346]

Mr. Alan Williams: The Public Accounts Commission is responsible for oversight of the National Audit Office’s funding and governance, but the Comptroller and Auditor General has complete discretion in the discharge of his work programme. The hon. Member may wish to write directly to the C and AG about the report referred to.


Victim and Witness Support

7. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Solicitor-General what steps the Attorney-General's office and Crown Prosecution Service have taken to improve support provided by the criminal justice system for victims and witnesses with mental health difficulties. [225240]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service has taken a number of important steps with its criminal justice partners to improve support for victims and witnesses with mental health problems. They include needs assessments conducted by the police and witness care officers that assist the prosecutor in considering what support is necessary both in court and outside.

Human Trafficking

8. Mr. Bone: To ask the Solicitor-General how many prosecutions the Crown Prosecution Service has brought for offences of human trafficking in the last three years. [225241]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service's records show that the following prosecutions have been brought on charges under sections 57, 58 and 59 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, alleging trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation in the last three years:

Number of prosecutions







These data relate only to the number of charged offences which reached first hearing in the magistrates courts.

Human trafficking cases may also be prosecuted under other legislation for offences such as assisting unlawful immigration to a member state (facilitation), or other serious offences such as rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment, threats to kill and causing or inciting prostitution for gain.

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Prosecutions: Cannabis

Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Solicitor-General how many prosecutions have been brought by the Crown Prosecution Service against people found running cannabis factories in the last five years. [225234]

The Solicitor-General: Offences relating to the cultivation of cannabis are prosecuted under s6 (2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. However, there is no distinct offence of running a cannabis factory, nor an agreed definition of what constitutes a cannabis factory, and therefore no discrete figures are held for such proceedings.


Aviation: Fuels

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment his Department has made of improvements in aircraft fuel efficiency (a) in the last 20 years and (b) in the next 20 years. [225151]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 8 October 2008]: The Department for Transport published its forecasts of UK air passenger demand and UK aviation CO2 emissions in November 2007. Assumptions on future improvements in aircraft fuel efficiency were inputs to that process and are described in full in chapter 3 of "UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts". An assessment of past trends in fuel efficiency is also presented. The document can be viewed at

Shipping: Fuels

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he plans to take to ensure that changes to the permitted level of sulphur content in marine fuel oils do not lead to disproportionate cost increases for UK ferry operators. [225207]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 8 October 2008]: The Government are currently in the process of transposing the existing Annex VI (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships) of MARPOL into UK law and will be following this legislation with the implementation of the EU Sulphur Content

of Liquid Fuels Directive.

These measures have been agreed internationally and regionally and establish standards for the sulphur content of marine fuels. MARPOL Annex VI applies to all vessels equally while the EC measure targets emissions in port and from vessels engaged in regular service between EC ports.

In implementing Annex VI, the Government have undertaken a series of consultations and sought to ensure that the measures are applied in a fair, transparent and equal manner across the maritime sector to ensure a level playing field for the industry. A further consultation on the EC Directive will be carried out in the spring of 2009.

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Additionally the revisions to Annex VI of MARPOL have been developed as a result of work by an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) group of experts and take account of the cost and availability of fuel. The implementation of this will in due course be subject to UK consultation.

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with his European counterparts about changes to the level of sulphur content in marine fuel oil in ships operating in environmental control areas. [225208]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 8 October 2008]: Department for Transport officials are involved in regular discussions with officials from other member states and the European Commission on the issue of the sulphur content of marine fuels.

Recently there have been a series of both formal and informal experts meetings and other events hosted by the Commission considering emissions from shipping, notably in advance of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) negotiations on the revision of MARPOL Annex VI (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships). These discussions have focused around both the actual standards to be included in the revised Annex and the implications for the cost and supply of fuel.

The successful outcome at IMO on these revisions was in large part down to the work by EU member states to develop a compromise text that was agreed as being a significant advance on current standards while being financially and practically achievable by the international shipping community. Subsequent to this agreement member states have continued to coordinate on the issue in advance of implementation of the revised annex.

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the likely effects on the UK ferry industry of the proposed change to the MARPOL regulations to reduce sulphur levels in marine fuel oil. [225209]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 8 October 2008]: Prior to entering into negotiations on the revised Annex VI package at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the Government consulted the shipping sector within the UK through the relevant trade associations. During work to finalise the revisions, the UK delegation worked closely with industry colleagues to confirm they were content with the final package.

The implications for the ferry industry have been discussed within EU working groups and the European Commission have confirmed they are undertaking work to consider the implications of the proposed package for the short sea sector. Additionally, the UK will undertake an impact assessment considering these issues and officials are currently developing proposals to undertake research into the environmental and economic implications of the revised Annex VI package which will consider the ferry sector.

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Bank Notes: Visually Impaired

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he plans to introduce paper currency with identifiable marks to assist visually-impaired individuals. [225160]

Ian Pearson: The existing features in Bank of England banknotes that are intended to assist the visually-impaired to recognise different banknotes are

This approach reflects consultation with the Royal National Institute of Blind People. The Bank will continue to take account of the views of the RNIB and others representing the partially sighted.

Child Benefit

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average time taken to process child benefit applications in respect of first-born children was in the most recent period for which figures are available. [225158]

Mr. Timms: The information is not available.

Excise Duties: Kerosene

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what level of duty was charged on kerosene in each year since 2001. [225751]

Angela Eagle: Historical duty rates for kerosene are given in HM Revenue and Customs’ website at:

Housing: Valuation

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 7 May 2008, Official Report, columns 912-13W, on housing: valuation, if he will rank each individual locality according to the value significance of its coefficient. [225560]

Mr. Timms: The coefficient referred to is calculated by the automated valuation model using multiple regression analysis. The calculations use information specific to a valuation area (usually a billing authority) and so it is not possible to rank them.

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) of 18 June 2008, Official Report, column 988W, on housing: valuation, how many localities there are in each individual billing area. [225641]

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Mr. Timms: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 7 July 2008, Official Report, column 1258W.

Income Tax: Foreign Workers

John Mann: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much income tax revenue was received from non-UK citizens working in the UK in 2007-08. [225513]

Mr. Timms: Information on income tax contributions paid by non-UK citizens is not reported separately.

Members: Correspondence

Mr. Burns: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will reply to the hon. Member for West Chelmsford's letter of 21 July 2008 concerning Mr. S. Browne of Coval Lane, Chelmsford, sent to the Financial Secretary. [225134]

Ian Pearson: I have replied to the hon. Member.

Repossession Orders

Ms Keeble: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of housing repossessions; and if he will make a statement. [222394]

Ian Pearson: On 2 September, the Government announced a significant package of measures to help borrowers in difficulty, help first time buyers and support the house-building industry. Further details of these measures are available on the websites of the Treasury, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Government also provide assistance for homeowners facing financial difficulties through the provision of debt advice. They announced in May 2008 a £10 million package of measures to ensure that financial advice and support is available for borrowers who may need it. Details of the announcement are available on the Treasury website.

Revenue and Customs

Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many cases were pursued in each of the last nine financial years by HM Revenue and Customs in respect of Regulation 49 of the Income Tax (Employee) Regulations 1993 and section 8 of the Social Security Contributions (Transfer of Functions etc) Act 1999; and of these, how many led to HM Revenue and Customs lodging an appeal in the High Court. [225662]

Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs do not hold this specific data.

Tax Allowances: Pensions

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the proportion of tax relief on pensions which is claimed by higher rate taxpayers. [222942]

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Ian Pearson: The proportion of tax relief on individual and employees' pension contributions that is claimed by higher rate taxpayers is estimated to be 60 per cent. The equivalent figures for employer contributions are not available.

This figure is sourced from 2005-06 survey data that have been adjusted to account for the 2008-09 tax rates, and have been rounded to the nearest 5 per cent.

Tax Yields

John Mann: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his most recent estimate is of the tax revenue accruing to the Exchequer in (a) 2008-09 and (b) 2009-10. [225514]

Angela Eagle: The latest central Government total current receipts forecasts were provided in Budget 2008. Updated forecasts will be provided in the forthcoming 2008 pre-Budget report.

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