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28 Oct 2008 : Column 875W—continued

Television

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate his Department has made of the number of households which are unable to receive all five terrestrial television channels as a result of geography or topography. [229326]

Andy Burnham [holding answer 23 October 2008]: At present, approximately 20 per cent. of UK households cannot receive all five analogue terrestrial channels. However, 98.5 per cent. of UK households can receive BBC1 and 2, ITV and Channel 4 analogue services.

Digital terrestrial coverage allows 73 per cent. of UK households to receive the five services. After digital switchover has been completed, it is expected that 98.5 per cent. of households will receive all of public service television channels.

Television: Licensing

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many households have a free television licence. [230886]

Andy Burnham: As my hon. Friend may know, people who are aged 75 or over are entitled to a free Over 75 TV Licence for their home. In the financial year 2007-08 4.003 million free over 75 licences were issued.

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many households have a television licence. [230887]

Andy Burnham: The following statistics are for licences in force in the UK as at 31 March 2008.

Region Total licences in force (million)

England

20.574

Northern Ireland

0.635

Scotland

2.195

Wales

1.242

Channel Islands

0.093

Total

24.740


Please note these statistics are approximations of the numbers of licences in force (in total, not just in households) and are not exact. They also do not include licences held by premises which are classed as Accommodation for Residential Care (ARC). This is because a detailed breakdown of ARC or other licences by nation is not held.

It may also be interesting to note that figures from the Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board (BARB) estimate that the percentage of households in the UK which have a television is 98 per cent. More information on BARB can be found on their website at


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Veredus

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much has been paid to Veredus in each of the last five years; and how much has been spent in respect of recruitment to the position of Chairman of Sport England. [230080]

Andy Burnham: The release of this information is likely to prejudice commercial interests and therefore cannot be disclosed.

Wines

Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what his Department's practice is on supplying non-alcoholic wine as a choice at official receptions or functions. [229126]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Department supplies good quality soft drinks as an alternative to non-alcoholic wine at official receptions and functions.

Treasury

Bank Services

Mr. Vara: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with HM Revenue and Customs about support for taxpayers who have savings in a bank which has required payments from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme with regard to tax instalments falling due on 31 January 2009. [228411]

Ian Pearson: Treasury Ministers regularly discuss a wide range of issues with their officials in HMRC and other Departments.

HMRC currently offers ‘time to pay’ arrangements to viable businesses facing temporary financial difficulties. These allow outstanding tax to be spread over a period (usually of months) based on what a business can genuinely afford to pay. Interest applies but the rates are competitive compared to commercial lending.

This approach is designed to ensure otherwise viable businesses are not driven into insolvency by HMRC, both supporting business and in turn maximising tax recovery. Similar “time to pay” arrangements apply to individuals who are not classed as “in business”.

Adam Price: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which companies have been appointed to assist his Department in the preparation of his plans for financial support to the banking industry. [228815]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 2008]: The Treasury has taken financial advice from Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank and legal advice from Slaughter and May with regards to implementing the recapitalisation scheme. On matter relating to financial stability, the Treasury also takes advice from the Bank of England and FSA.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what representations he has received from the government of Iceland on the use of anti-terrorist legislation to seize Icelandic bank assets; [229067]


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(2) what steps he is taking to (a) improve relations with Iceland and (b) help that country in its financial difficulties. [229069]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 22 October 2008]: The Government are working closely with the Icelandic authorities to resolve issues of mutual interest related to the financial crisis.

Bank Services: Iceland

Mr. Cawsey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether all UK charities who had deposits with Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander Bank will have those deposits fully protected by the Government. [226826]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 14 October 2008]: The Government have put in place arrangements to ensure that all FSCS-eligible depositors in the Icelandic banks of Landsbanki, Heritable and Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander will receive their money in full. If a charity is eligible to claim compensation from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, it will be entitled to benefit from these arrangements.

Bank Services: Low Incomes

John Battle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department is taking to ensure that banks support low income households in accessing financial services during the current financial situation. [228293]

Ian Pearson: The Government are working closely with banks to ensure that low income households can access a wide range of financial services. In particular, the banks and the Government have agreed a shared goal to halve the number of adults without access to a bank account. Being able to use a bank account continues to be an important factor in whether people can play a full part in society.

Progress towards this goal has been encouraging, and the Government and banks are working together to ensure that this continues.

In December 2007 the banks also committed to support third sector affordable credit, including action to develop new provision in 25 high priority areas identified by the Financial Inclusion Taskforce's third sector credit Working Group. Taskforce and Government will continue to work with the banks to build on these commitments.

Banking Services: Small Businesses

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment the Government has made of the likely effect on small businesses of the collapse of Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander Limited. [227629]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 16 October 2008]: The Government have put in place arrangements to ensure that all FSCS-eligible depositors in the Icelandic banks of Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander will receive their money in full. If a small business is eligible to claim compensation from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, it will be entitled to benefit from these arrangements. Those depositors that are ineligible for FSCS compensation will be creditors of the bank in the normal way.


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Banking Supervision

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer from which budgets capital was made available to (a) support and (b) invest in banks; what considerations were given to presenting a Bill to put the provision of money to banks on a specific legislative footing; and if he will publish on his Departmental website the minutes of meetings held with chief executives and other senior executives from banks and Treasury Ministers, officials and Financial Services Authority officials since 1 September 2008. [227919]

Ian Pearson: This package of measures to support and invest in banks announced on 8 October will be funded through the Government’s ordinary borrowing mechanisms, via the central Government debt and cash management operations. We are investing in the banks themselves on commercial terms.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, other Treasury Ministers and officials regularly meet with representatives of the banking industry. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government’s practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the likely extent of nationalisation of the British banking system which will be necessary. [227994]

Ian Pearson: Both the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made it clear that the Government will do whatever is necessary, whatever is right, to ensure the stability of the financial system. The Chancellor in his statements of 8 October and 13 October detailed the steps taken to ensure financial stability. This package of measures has subsequently been replicated throughout the world.

Banks: Iceland

Tony Baldry: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what protection there is under UK banking regulations for the savings of UK citizens deposited in Icelandic banks trading in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [226237]

Ian Pearson: I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by the Chancellor on 8 October 2008, Official Report, columns 279-80.

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of the current economic situation in Iceland on (a) UK-owned banks and (b) banks located in the United Kingdom. [226243]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 13 October 2008]: I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by the Chancellor on 8 October 2008, Official Report, columns 279-80.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the Seventeenth Report of the Treasury Committee on Banking Reform, HC 1008, what subjects were discussed during the regular contact between the Icelandic regulator and the Financial Services Authority. [230529]


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Ian Pearson: The matter raised in this question is the responsibility of the FSA, whose day to day operations are independent from Government control and influence.

Banks: Insolvency

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effects on financial institutions of the tighter insolvency regime introduced by the Financial Services Authority in 2003, with particular reference to Standard Life; and if he will make a statement. [226624]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 13 October 2008]: This is a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA) as an independent regulator.

Bradford and Bingley

Adam Price: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the Government’s estimate is of the cost to the public purse of the nationalisation of Bradford and Bingley. [226751]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 13 October 2008]: The Government’s objectives in taking Bradford and Bingley into public ownership were to protect depositors and maintain financial stability.

Payments to protect depositors were largely funded by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), with taxpayers providing £4 billion to cover deposits over £35,000. The Government aim to recoup this payment from the proceeds of the wind-down and realisation of the assets of the remaining business of Bradford and Bingley in public ownership.

Bradford and Bingley: Santander Group

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the terms of the agreement were with Santander Abbey over Bradford and Bingley, with particular reference to the balance between cash and other assets covering the retail deposit base. [230177]

Ian Pearson: Details of these arrangements are available on the Treasury’s website at:

Building Societies: Finance

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps the Government has taken to ensure the interests of all building societies are taken into account in the Government’s financial strategy during the current economic difficulties. [228597]

Ian Pearson: The recapitalisation scheme announced on 8 October provides three measures aimed to help not just UK banks (including foreign subsidiaries) but also UK building societies. The extension of the Special Liquidity Scheme will provide short-term liquidity. The recapitalisation through shares (both ordinary and preference) as well as Permanent Interest Bearing Shares (PIBS), will strengthen institutions’ resources, allowing them to restructure their finances while maintaining their support for the real economy. The credit guarantee
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scheme will ensure that the banking system has the necessary funds in the medium term. This scheme, which is now being replicated worldwide, is available for all UK building societies.

Capital Investment

Adam Price: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which capital projects he has identified to date as suitable to be fast-tracked during the current economic uncertainty. [230097]

Yvette Cooper: The Chancellor of the Exchequer will provide an update on the UK fiscal position at the 2008 pre-Budget report. It will set out how we are supporting the economy in the short-term, while taking the necessary decisions to ensure the public finances remain on a sustainable path in the medium term.

Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt

Mr. Hands: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the (a) date and (b) location was of the last meeting of the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt. [230918]

Ian Pearson: The last recorded business meeting of the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt took place on 12 October 1860. The meeting took place at the Offices of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


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