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27 Oct 2008 : Column 773W—continued

Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in identifying countries with the capability to contribute to the police units for the joint UN-AU hybrid force in Darfur; which countries have pledged to contribute; and what each has pledged to contribute. [226075]

Gillian Merron: When fully deployed, the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur will include 19 Formed Police Units (FPUs) of up to 140 police officers each, in addition to 3,772 individual police officers. An FPU from Bangladesh is already deployed in Darfur, and FPUs from Nepal, Indonesia (two), Nigeria (two), Senegal, Egypt, Togo and Bangladesh (two) are scheduled to deploy by the end of 2008. We understand the UN has received further pledges for additional FPUs including from Uganda, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, Gambia, Rwanda, and Cameroon.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the security situation in Darfur on the number of police patrols UNAMID is able to perform around refugee camps at night. [226089]


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Gillian Merron: Security around refugee camps is improving as more Formed Police Units arrive in Darfur. Most police patrols are in daylight hours. They are being extended to midnight where sufficient manpower and four wheel drive vehicles are available. In some cases, such as around Kalma camp, 24 hour patrolling is now in operation. As additional personnel and vehicles become available, the number of night patrols will increase.

Sudan: Politics and Government

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage the establishment of an effective National Election Commission in Sudan. [225942]

Gillian Merron: Through our embassy in Khartoum, we have pressed the Sudanese Government to appoint a credible and effective National Election Commission (NEC) without delay, as an essential step for free and fair elections. The electoral law, passed on 9 July 2008, stipulated the appointment of the NEC within one month of passage of the law. The NEC is still not confirmed.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance the Government are giving to the conduct of the national elections in Sudan that are scheduled for 2009; and if he will make a statement. [226087]

Gillian Merron: We have worked closely with the UN Mission in Sudan and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) over their technical assistance to the Sudanese government on, for example, the electoral law. We will continue to support the holding of free and fair elections in Sudan, including through contributing to a UNDP managed basket fund.

Treasury

Bank of England Act 1998

Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the operation of the Bank of England Act 1998; what recent representations he has received about this Act; and what (a) statutory instruments, (b) departmental circulars and (c) other documents he (i) has issued and (ii) plans to issue in the next 12 months consequent on the provisions of the Act. [229506]

Ian Pearson: The Bank of England Act 1998 requires that the Chancellor specify what price stability is taken to consist of and the Government’s economic policy objectives at least once in every period of 12 months beginning on the anniversary of the day the Act came into force. The Chancellor last wrote to the Governor of the Bank of England on this matter on 11 March 2008. Consequentially the Chancellor will write again to the Governor on this matter before 11 March 2009.

As part of the Banking Bill currently being considered in Parliament the Government are bringing forward measures to strengthen the Bank of England’s role in financial stability. This includes providing the Bank with a new statutory objective relating to financial
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stability, enhancements to the governance arrangements within the Bank, and new policy responsibilities relating to the special resolution regime for banks, and oversight of inter-bank payment systems.

As part of the process of developing the legislation, the Government, with the Bank of England and FSA issued a consultation document, containing these proposals (“Financial Stability and Depositor Protection—further consultation”)—and on which many respondents commented, and supported.

In line with the Bank of England Act 1998, the Bank of England’s annual report and accounts were laid before Parliament in June 2008. The Treasury issues press notices regarding departing and new members of Court as required.

A full list of orders and statutory instruments that have been issued in relation to the 1998 Bank of England Act are available on the Bank of England website:

Bank Services

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to ensure that British business clients of the Landsbanki bank are able to continue to draw on their overdraft facility notwithstanding the Government's freezing of that bank's assets. [228818]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 21 October 2008]: HM Treasury has granted a licence to allow Landsbanki London branch to carry out commercial finance, asset based lending and capital markets and fixed income activities, as well as operating customers' business accounts.

HM Treasury has issued a series of notices providing guidance in relation to the operation of the Landsbanki Freezing Order 2008. These notices confirm that the Freezing Order is specific to Landsbanki and does not freeze the funds of any other Icelandic banks. It does not affect Icelandic companies with no links to Landsbanki. HM Treasury notices can be found at

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what protection is available for UK depositors in Kaupthing Isle of Man banks. [229059]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 22 October 2008]: Arrangements for depositors in banks in the Isle of Man are a matter for the Government of the Isle of Man.

Deposits with Kaupthing, Singer and Friedlander, Isle of Man, will be subject to the Isle of Man deposit compensation scheme.

In line with usual constitutional arrangements, the Government will represent the Crown Dependencies in its negotiations with the Icelandic authorities.

Bank Services: Guernsey

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the UK Government are responsible for conducting negotiations with the Icelandic authorities on behalf of Guernsey in respect of deposits held by Landsbanki Guernsey; and if he will make a statement. [228251]


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Ian Pearson: Arrangements for depositors in banks in Guernsey are a matter for the Government of Guernsey.

In line with usual constitutional arrangements, the UK Government will represent the Crown Dependencies in its negotiations with the Icelandic authorities.

Bank Services: Local Government

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to introduce a centralised system of credit approval for all loans made by English local authorities; and if he will make a statement. [228635]

John Healey: I have been asked to reply.

We have no plans to introduce any such system. It is for local authorities to assess the creditworthiness of any person to whom they may be making a loan.

Banks

Ann Winterton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the effect the mark to market rules are having on bank liquidity; and what the procedures are for changing those rules. [225934]

Ian Pearson: The Government welcome the steps the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) has taken to revise accounting standards to address concerns that the application of fair value accounting may be exacerbating the reduction in some asset prices in the current extraordinary market conditions, while at the same time ensuring alignment of international and US standards. International Financial Reporting Standards are set by the IASB and adopted for use in the EU.

Adam Price: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consideration he has given to the remutualisation of (a) Northern Rock and (b) Bradford and Bingley. [230107]

Ian Pearson: There has been no consideration of remutualising Northern Rock or Bradford and Bingley.

Banks: Compensation

Harry Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what mechanisms he plans to put in place to ensure that the banking rescue package does not disadvantage banks which do not seek recourse to it. [226264]

Ian Pearson: It should be a commercial decision for each bank whether or not to take part in the package of support measures set out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 8 and 13 October 2008. The investments being made by the Government are on commercial terms.

As the Chancellor made clear in his statements, in reviewing applications for the scheme, the authorities will give due regard to the extent to which institutions have substantial business in the UK and their role in the UK banking system and overall economy.


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Banks: Debts

Harry Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what reports he has received on the extent of bad debt held by (a) UK banks and (b) banks with a base in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [226126]

Ian Pearson: It is a matter for individual institutions to make appropriate disclosures about their balance sheets. The Government do not comment on individual institutions.

Construction Industry Scheme

Mr. Pope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people have lost construction industry scheme status in relation to their tax affairs since 6 April 2007. [229253]

Angela Eagle: Under the construction industry scheme, businesses have to continue to meet certain statutory criteria to maintain registration for gross payment. HM Revenue and Customs have cancelled around 10,000 gross payment registrations since 6 April 2007 and registered those businesses for payment under deduction.

Cost of Living

Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact of the turbulence in the financial markets on the cost of living; and if he will make a statement. [229504]

Ian Pearson: These are difficult times in the global economy. The Government are determined to help families and businesses affected by the global economic difficulties, doing what we can to support those who need it most. The Government will update their forecasts for the UK and world economies, including prices, in the forthcoming pre-Budget report as normal, based on all relevant factors.


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Credit Cards: Debts

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the level of credit card debt in (a) November 2006 and (b) the most recent month for which figures are available. [229839]

Kevin Brennan: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated October 2008:

Departmental Accountancy

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of his Department’s (a) chart of accounts and (b) resource account codes and usage descriptions for the 2008-09 financial year. [210997]

Yvette Cooper: The chart of accounts for 2008-09 reflects the Department’s structure for the year and will not necessarily reflect the 2007-08 structure, or that for future years. The chart shows the relationship between parent codes (used for preparing resource accounts and shown in bold) and children codes (used for more detailed management purposes). Each code has a brief description that describes its use. A copy of the chart has been placed in the Library.

Departmental ICT

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what IT projects (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies is undertaking; and what the most recent estimate of (i) the cost and (ii) the completion date of each is. [229155]

Angela Eagle: The information is as follows.


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IT project Recent estimate of the cost (£) Recent estimate of the completion date

OGCbs

Introduction of new video conferencing equipment at our main office locations in Liverpool and Norwich plus the installation of an additional private network connection between the two sites for video traffic.

100,000

End of December 2008

OGCbs

Transition to a new web hosting platform to improve performance and resilience.

100,000

End of December 2008

OGCbs

Implementation of the Zanzibar electronic marketplace for internal purchasing of goods and services.

132,000

February 2009

OGCbs

Upgrade to Supplier and Contracts database and creation of the Management Information Collection Application. This will allow us to better manage suppliers and report on customer spending through our arrangements.

55,000

End of February 2009

HMT

OGC Laptop Refresh Project—Planned replacement of obsolete equipment with new devices with remote working capabilities.

461,000

November 2008

HMT

Group Networks—Implementation of new Restricted network infrastructure for shared services.

580,000

31 October 2008

HMT

Common Infrastructure Management Tools—implementation of single toolset and process for systems management across multiple networks Confidential and Restricted including deployment of software/upgrades and security patches.

450,000

28 November 2008

HMT

Firewall Replacement Project—Planned replacement of obsolete firewalls to ensure security and compliance of networks and services.

254,000

31 October 2008

HMT

Switch Replacement Project—Planned replacement of obsolete network infrastructure to ensure delivery, security and performance of networks and services.

675,000

10 November 2008

HMT

OGC Blackberry—implementation of Blackberry servers and devices to support the business requirements.

52,000

21 November 2008

DMO

Portfolio Management System

105,000

March 2009


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