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10 Mar 2009 : Column 260W—continued

Equitable Life Assurance Society

Steve Webb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy to publish all reports submitted to him by Sir John Chadwick in the course of his work on support for Equitable Life policyholders; and if he will make a statement. [253208]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 2 February 2009]: The Government will report to the House on progress made at regular intervals, and will make Sir John Chadwick’s findings public, to the extent consistent with his judgment of the possible impact of his advice on the rights of those involved in the underlying events.

EU Economic Policy

Mr. Cash: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Strategy and Growth Pact came into force; and what information his Department holds on which other EU member states (a) have and (b) have not achieved compliance with the Pact rules to date. [262188]

Ian Pearson: There is no Strategy and Growth Pact. The Stability and Growth Pact fully entered into force on 1 January 1999. The pact was then reformed in 2005. Details on countries' compliance with the pact rules can be found at:

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Financial Services: EU Action

Mr. Cash: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the proposals in the European Commission’s Communication for the Spring European Council, COM(09)114, providing for EU-wide supervision over banks and financial services will be brought forward as legislative proposals to which qualified majority voting will apply; and what the legal basis for each proposal will be. [262186]

Ian Pearson: The Commission communication does not include detail of any legislative proposal, or such a proposal’s possible legal base.

Mr. Cash: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of his letter of 3 March 2009 to other EU Finance Ministers and the Commission on EU-wide supervision of financial services and banking. [262187]

Ian Pearson: I have deposited a copy of the Chancellor’s letter in the Library of the House of Commons.

Local Public Services Review

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the (a) timetable and (b) remit is of Sir Michael Bichard’s review of local public services as part of the Government’s operational efficiency programme. [262654]

Angela Eagle: Sir Michael Bichard will be reporting alongside Budget 2009 as part of the operational efficiency programme.

Sir Michael Bichard is leading the local incentives and empowerment work-strand of the operational efficiency programme, the remit of which was set out as part of the OEP launch prospectus, published in July 2008.

Members: Correspondence

John Penrose: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to reply to the letters of 20 October and 18 November 2008 from the hon. Member for Weston-Super-Mare sent on behalf of a constituent, Mr. Mark Templeman. [252711]

Ian Pearson: A reply has been sent to the hon. Member.

Monetary Policy

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the likely effects on (a) the rate of inflation, (b) the value of sterling and (c) the level of bank lending of implementation of a policy of quantitative easing. [261382]

Ian Pearson: The Chancellor has authorised the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to use the Asset Purchase Facility for monetary policy purposes. The objectives of the Government's monetary policy framework remain unchanged. The Monetary Policy Committees operational target set by the Government remains at 2 per cent., as measured by the 12-month change in the Consumer Prices Index.

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Motor Vehicle Industry

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he plans to take to encourage the development of innovations with fewer negative effects on the environment in the automotive industry, with particular reference to companies which have been adversely affected by the recession. [261641]

Angela Eagle: New green investment is vital to ensure that the automotive industry emerges from the current downturn with the skills and technology base needed to be competitive in the global automotive market. The Government announced on 27 January an Automotive Assistance Programme (AAP). This is a temporary programme aimed at unlocking up to £2.3 billion of investment in low carbon initiatives in the UK automotive sector. On 27 February, the Government obtained European Commission clearance for the AAP and on the same day published guidance and criteria for companies wishing to apply for support under the programme. The guidance and application criteria are available on the BERR website:

In addition to the AAP, an industry-wide technology roadmap plotting the pathways to ultra low carbon vehicles is being developed and finalised by the industry-led New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team. The Government are supporting the associated research agenda to accelerate their market introduction through the Technology Strategy Board-led Low Carbon Vehicle Innovation Platform, which will be delivering over £110 million of public sector support.

Further, on 15 January, the Department for Transport announced £250 million to get more ultra low-carbon vehicles on Britain’s roads, helping motorists to go green by stimulating consumer uptake and helping to reduce emissions from road transport and improve local air quality. Further details of how this money will be spent will be announced later in the year.

Revenue and Customs: Cheques

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans HM Revenue and Customs has to handle cheques when the retail banking function of the Bank of England ceases. [261587]

Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has established the Government Banking Programme to manage the transition to new banking suppliers including the processing of cheques. As part of the programme, HMRC is also improving the processing of cheques across the HMRC estate.

Revenue and Customs: Flexible Working

Philip Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he plans to withdraw provision for flexible working hours from staff in HM Revenue and Customs contact centres. [261356]

Mr. Timms: No.

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Royal Bank of Scotland

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Financial Services Secretary declared an interest in respect of his Gartmore and Nat West pensions to the Permanent Secretary at the time of his negotiations with Royal Bank of Scotland. [262191]

Angela Eagle: In accordance with the Ministerial Code, Lord Myners declared his interests with the Permanent Secretary on appointment to ministerial office. In addition, Lord Myners has declared his interests in the House of Lords Register of Members Interests.

Smuggling: Tobacco

David Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many X-ray scanners HM Revenue and Customs used to detect instances of tobacco smuggling in each of the last five years. [261753]

Mr. Timms: HMRC has had 14 scanners in operation since 2003.

Succession: Regulation

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he intends to publish his proposals for the reform of the regulatory process for inherited estates. [249685]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 20 January 2009]: The regulation of the inherited estates of with profits funds is a matter for the Financial Services Authority.

Tax Allowances: Electricity

Gregory Barker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reasons licensed electricity providers may not claim enhanced capital allowances. [262110]

Mr. Timms: Licensed electricity providers are generally eligible to claim enhanced capital allowances (ECAs) when they purchase plant or machinery that qualifies under any of several ECA schemes. One of those schemes, for energy-saving plant or machinery, provides ECAs for numerous technologies, including combined heat and power (CHP) systems. However, the ECA for CHP is not available to companies whose core business is electricity production in so far as they use the CHP to provide power to unknown end users. This proviso was necessary, in terms of the European Law State aid rules, to prevent any sectoral distortion of competition.

Taxation: Lorries

Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what mechanism is used to determine how much each sub-group of lorries should pay in terms of vehicle excise duty and fuel duty, to ensure that the public costs engendered by their use of the road network are covered in accordance with Government policy; [261874]

(2) whether each sub-group of lorries, according to gross permitted vehicle weight and number of axles, covers the costs to the public purse which they cause in using the road network through the taxation they pay. [261875]

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Angela Eagle: Diesel road fuel duty rates are paid by fuel producers rather than users and are therefore not targeted on individual vehicle types and do not distinguish between different end users.

Vehicle excise duty rates for lorries are set to reflect notional differences in the relative impact of vehicle weight on the United Kingdom’s roads network. The Government do not charge vehicle excise duty on the basis of actual road infrastructure costs.

Trade Unions

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which trade unions are recognised in (a) his Department and (b) HM Revenue and Customs. [262092]

Angela Eagle: I refer the hon. Member to the question answered on 23 June 2008, Official Report, column 129W.

Valuation Office: Cole Layer Trumble

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 19 January 2009, Official Report, column 1113W, on the Valuation Office: Cole Layer Trumble, whether a copy of the agreement between Cole Layer Trumble/Tyler Technologies and the organisation which acts as the agent of the Valuation Office Agency is held by the Valuation Office Agency; and who the parties to the agreement are. [262667]

Mr. Timms: The Valuation Office Agency does not hold a copy of the agreement. The Agency’s IT supplier, Capgemini, manages its own agreement with Cole Layer Trumble/Tyler Technologies. The original agreement was between Cole Layer Trumble and the VOA’s previous IT supplier, EDS.

Valuation Office: Rightmove

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the Answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield of 24 November 2008, Official Report, column 964W, on the Valuation Office: Rightmove, on what date the new contract was signed between plc and HM Revenue and Customs, on behalf of the Valuation Office Agency; and what the (a) minimum and (b) maximum length of the new contract is. [262215]

Mr. Timms: No new contract exists—an existing contract was extended; I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) on 2 February 2009, Official Report, columns 904W and 905W.


Mrs. May: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate he has made of the cost to the Exchequer of the reduction in value added tax to 15 per cent. in the calendar year 2009; [262313]

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(2) what estimate he has made of the annual savings to be made by (a) households and (b) businesses as a result of the reduction in value added tax to 15 per cent; [262316]

(3) what estimate he has made of the annual cost to the Exchequer arising from the reduction in the rate of value added tax on household expenditure. [262315]

Mr. Timms: The estimated cost of the temporary reduction in the standard rate of VAT was published in table B5 of the 2008 pre-Budget report. No calendar year-based estimates have been made.

The cost to the Exchequer represents an equivalent saving to taxpayers in general. It is estimated tentatively that (a) households account for around 70 per cent. of the total, (b) businesses account for around 15 per cent. and (c) other groups account for the remaining 15 per cent.

Welfare Tax Credits: Overpayments

Miss Begg: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate his Department has made of the amount of money outstanding from tax credit overpayments made in (a) 2003-04 and (b) 2004-05 not arising from fraud on the part of the claimant. [262134]

Mr. Timms: The information is not available.

Information relating to outstanding overpayments, including that arising from fraud on the part of the claimant, of 2003-04 and 2004-05 tax credit awards is contained in part 2, table 11 of the report by the comptroller and auditor general, in the HM Revenue and Customs 2007-08 accounts. The publication is available on the HMRC website at:

Work and Pensions

Child Support Agency: Correspondence

Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will arrange for a reply to be sent to the letter of 16 December 2008 from the hon. Member for Walsall, North to the Child Support Agency regarding a constituent, reference CCDBAS12795 and RFA3696328120. [256521]

Kitty Ussher [holding answer 12 February 2009]: The administration of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is a matter for the Commissioner. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

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