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Bank Services

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what provisions are in place to guarantee the funds of (a) individuals and (b) companies who have received the proceeds from the sale of their homes, or other large transactions, into law firms' client accounts in an insolvent bank; [228193]

(2) whether individuals will be able to claim the £50,000 deposit guarantee on the funds in their own account and on their deposits in a law firm client account in circumstances where such accounts are held with the same bank; [228194]

(3) whether the £50,000 bank deposit guarantee cap will apply to clients with funds in law firms' client accounts. [228195]

Ian Pearson: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is responsible for making the rules of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), including the rule change which increased the compensation limit for bank deposits to £50,000, and the rules which set out how claims in respect of sums held in client accounts are to be treated. The increased compensation limit applies in relation to all claims in respect of protected deposits. The rules on the treatment of claims in respect of sums held in client accounts are set out in the FSA Handbook which is available on the FSA website and guidance is available on the FSCS website. The FSA consultation paper on the review of FSCS limits issued on 3 October includes a section discussing the issue of temporary high deposit balances.

Financial Services: Regulation

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what role his Department played in discussions leading to the decision of the Financial Services Authority of 18 September 2008 to prohibit short selling in financial institutions. [227805]

Ian Pearson: The UK Tripartite authorities, HM Treasury, the Bank of England, and the Financial Services Authority (FSA), have worked, and continue to work, together to take all necessary steps to ensure the stability of the UK financial system. As was the case with
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previous administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such discussions.

HM Treasury welcomes the short selling measures that the FSA has taken against the backdrop of the present turbulence in the markets. The FSA operates within a single legislative framework; independent of Government; separate from the conduct of monetary policy by the Bank of England; and accountable to HM Treasury, Parliament, regulated firms and consumers. The Government do not have a general power of direction over the FSA.

Income Tax: Tax Rates and Bands

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many individuals in Northern Ireland pay more income tax than before following the abolition of the 10 pence band as modified by the changes announced on 13 May 2008. [227222]

Mr. Timms: The removal of the 10p rate is part of a package of reforms announced in Budget 2007 that also included changes to tax credits, which are awarded based on family income. Due to a small sample size for Northern Ireland it is not possible to produce a reliable estimate of the number of households that pay more net tax as a result of those changes and the subsequent increase in personal allowances announced on 13 May 2008.

National Insurance Fund

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the (a) benefit expenditure, (b) balance, (c) surplus above one-sixth of annual benefit expenditure and (d) revenue of the National Insurance Fund was in each year since 1997; [227663]

(2) how much the Government has borrowed from the National Insurance Fund to pay for non-national insurance-funded programmes in each year since 1997. [227664]

Mr. Timms: The information requested is provided in the National Insurance Fund Accounts that are published annually. Copies of the Accounts are available in the Library of the House.

Any surplus in the National Insurance Fund is held in a short-term investment account run by the Commissioners for the reduction of national debt.

Revenue and Customs: Buildings

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many office buildings owned or leased by HM Revenue and Customs are currently not in use in (a) England, (b) the South West, (c) Cornwall and (d) each parliamentary constituency in Cornwall. [227501]

Mr. Timms: No buildings owned or leased by HM Revenue and Customs in England are not in use.

Social Security Benefits

Charles Hendry: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people applied for (a) working tax credit and (b) child tax credit in each month since January 2006. [228029]

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Mr. Timms: The information is not available in the format requested. Child and working tax credits are claimed on the same form so it is not possible to provide separate figures for working tax credit and child tax credit except at disproportionate cost.

Taxation: Invalid Vehicles

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make an assessment of the implications for UK policy of the recent decision by the Dutch authorities in relation to the tax on mobility scooters for the use of disabled people in response to legal action in that country. [222243]

Mr. Timms: The UK must follow European Union classification policy, which currently classifies mobility scooters as

and sets an import duty of 10 per cent. for customs purposes. The UK cannot adopt a decision made in isolation by a national Court in another member state.

The European Commission has been asked to confirm EU policy in the light of a decision by the Dutch authorities. HMRC will continue to work with the British Healthcare Trades Association and others seeking a change in EU classification policy and will be representing the views of UK importers of mobility scooters in future discussions.

Written Questions: Government Responses

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to provide a substantive response to Question 222243, on taxation of mobility scooters, tabled on 21 July 2008. [227545]

Mr. Timms: I have today replied to the hon. Member and regret not having been in a position to do so earlier.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Admiralty House

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Lord Malloch Brown will continue to occupy a ministerial residence in Admiralty House following the recent Cabinet reshuffle and changes to the machinery of Government. [225214]

Gillian Merron: I can confirm that Lord Malloch-Brown will continue to occupy a ministerial residence in Admiralty House.

Belarus: State Visits

Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any Ministers or officials plan to meet the Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus when he visits the UK in November. [226456]

Caroline Flint: At the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 13 October, EU Foreign Ministers agreed to suspend for six months the travel ban against a number of Belarusian figures, including President Lukashenko, and the ban on senior-level political contacts.

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We are under no illusions that the situation on democracy and human rights remains poor. Wider sanctions were renewed for a further 12 months, and if respect for democracy and human rights does not improve, or worsens, the EU will reimpose the travel ban.

The decision was taken because we believe the time is right to re-engage with Belarus, and in recognition of the important step that Belarus has taken in releasing its last remaining political prisoners. Engagement at senior levels will give its leadership the opportunity to hear our message directly. The visit by the Belarusian Prime Minister in November would give us an opportunity to do this, and we are considering appropriate meetings during the course of the visit.

British Council: Performing Arts

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funding his Department provided to the British Council to sponsor British musical and theatrical artists to perform overseas in each year since 1998. [225518]

Caroline Flint: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office provided £190 million grant in aid funding to the British Council in 2007-08. However, it does not hold detailed records on funding for musical and theatrical artists to perform overseas. The British Council currently has three key programme areas: intercultural dialogue, climate change, and supporting the UK's creative and knowledge economy. The British Council's financial systems do not currently hold information at the level of detail to provide this specific breakdown and to obtain it would incur disproportionate cost.

British Nationality: Travel Information

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what procedures are in place to provide advice on security matters to British citizens making arrangements to travel overseas; to which countries such advice relates; and if he will make a statement. [223576]

Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office maintain a web site and a call centre specifically tasked to provide travel advice to British Nationals making arrangements to travel, and while travelling overseas. This advice is constantly amended using information from a range of sources, specific to security, such as the Joint Terrorist Analysis Centre, the security and intelligence agencies, open source/medis reporting and our diplomatic missions overseas.

Travel Advice is available on

or via the Travel Advice Call Centre 0845 850 2829 (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Croatia: Missing Persons

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British citizens were reported as missing in Croatia in each of the last three years; how many of these have not yet been found; and if he will make a statement. [225347]

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Caroline Flint: Our consular staff were made aware of four cases of missing British citizens in Croatia over the past three years, one each in 2006 and 2007, and two in 2008. None are still missing.

Diplomatic Service

Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in which UN member states the UK has no resident British Ambassador or resident British High Commissioner; and from which country British diplomatic representation is provided by accreditation in each of those countries. [Official Report, 3 November 2008, Vol. 482, c. 1MC.] [223091]

Gillian Merron: There are 54 UN member states in which the UK has no resident British ambassador or resident British high commissioner. They are shown in the following table with details of from where British diplomatic representation is provided by accreditation.

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UN member: Accredited:

American Samoa

New Zealand



Antigua and Barbuda








Burkina Faso




Cape Verde


Central African Republic






Congo (Republic of the)

Democratic Republic of Congo

Cote d'lvoire






East Timor


El Salvador


Equatorial Guinea









Dominican Republic










South Africa


Sierra Leone






Sri Lanka



Marshall Islands




Micronesia (Federated States of)







Costa Rica







Saint Kitts and Nevis


Saint Lucia


Saint Vincent and the Grenadines


San Marino


Sao Tome and Principe







South Africa









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