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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 19 March 2009

Church Commissioners

Historic Churches

8. John Barrett: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what recent discussions the Church Commissioners have had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on funding for the preservation of historic churches. [264467]

Sir Stuart Bell: Church of England staff have been meeting regularly with officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The focus of these discussions continues to be around identifying national, regional and local sources of funding and support for faith groups which will enable them to adapt their buildings for community use and build on their capacity to engage at local and regional level.

A joint paper is being produced by the Treasury, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Office of the Third Sector, DCMS and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in conjunction with representatives of the Church of England. Bringing together all these Government Departments illustrates the huge potential that church buildings have to help Government meet their agenda.

Water Charges: Churches

Dr. Pugh: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what recent discussions the Church Commissioners have had with Government Ministers on levels of utility charges on places of worship. [264464]

Sir Stuart Bell: Church representatives are continuing to engage not only with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs but also with a number of Government officials and representatives of Ofwat about the grossly unfair water charging regime. The Archbishops Council takes the lead in these discussions but it does so with the Church Commissioners’ support.


Banks: Finance

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost to the public purse was of the (a) legal and (b) accountancy advice received by his Department in respect of (i) the break-up of Bradford and Bingley, (ii) the merger and recapitalisation of Lloyds TSB and HBOS and (iii) the recapitalisation of the Royal Bank of Scotland. [261589]

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Ian Pearson: The Treasury has received legal advice from Government and commercial lawyers, and financial advice from accountancy firms and investment banks.

The Treasury’s external adviser fees will be shared between the banks participating in the Government’s recapitalisation. Those costs related to the nationalisation of Bradford and Bingley will be fully recovered from Bradford and Bingley.

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the relationship between his Department, UK Financial Investments Ltd and Jerseyco referred to in the bank recapitalisation agreements is; and who regulates Jerseyco’s activities in the UK. [264110]

Ian Pearson: Neither HM Treasury nor UKFI has any contractual arrangement or other direct relationship with the companies referred to as “Jerseyco” in the recapitalisation agreements.

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with banks in receipt of recapitalisation or asset-based loan guarantees on the future use of (a) direct tax avoidance practices and (b) special purpose vehicles by such banks. [264458]

Ian Pearson: We cannot comment on affairs of individual taxpayers because of taxpayer confidentiality. We vigorously challenge tax avoidance—through the courts if necessary—including where the taxpayer is partly owned by the Government and we expect banks to fully comply with their tax obligations. That is why the Chancellor of the Exchequer has asked HM Revenue and Customs to publish shortly a draft code of practice on taxation for the banking sector—so that banks will comply not just with the letter but the spirit of the law.

Further information about the undertakings made by participating banks will be available when the detailed terms of entry into the Asset Protection Scheme have been finalised.

Banks: Iceland

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will request the Financial Services Authority to undertake an investigation of the appropriateness of advice given to local authorities and police authorities by Butlers in relation to the depositing of funds in Icelandic banks. [261638]

Ian Pearson: Financial advisers are regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), and it is for the FSA to determine whether or not any particular firm is meeting its regulatory obligations. Local authorities are responsible for their own investment decisions and guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government requires them to produce an annual investment strategy which is approved by the full council.

Banks: Regulation

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce legislation to disqualify from holding directorships or board memberships of UK-registered (a) banks and (b) companies all people who have been directors and non-executive board members of (i) Northern Rock, (ii) Bradford and Bingley, (iii) Royal Bank of Scotland and (iv) Halifax Bank of Scotland since 2005. [260181]

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Ian Pearson: Provisions already exist in the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 to maintain the integrity of the business environment by providing for the Secretary of State to bring disqualification proceedings against directors and shadow directors whose conduct makes them unfit to be concerned in the management of a company.

Cash Dispensing

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many of the 600 free automated teller machines for low-income areas proposed in December 2006 are in operation in (a) the UK, (b) Wales, (c) Denbighshire and (d) Conwy county borough. [264593]

Ian Pearson: Further to the written statement I issued on 18 December 2008, 37 more free-to-use ATMs are in operation in the low-income target areas across the UK, bringing the total to 564. Of these 564 machines, 76 are located in Wales, two in Denbighshire and two in Conway council.

Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the costs incurred by his Department in (a) legal and (b) accountancy fees relating to (i) Kaupthing, Singer and Friedlander and (ii) Kaupthing, Singer and Friedlander (Isle of Man) in each of the last six months. [258317]

Ian Pearson: The figures in relation to Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander will be included in the Treasury annual resource accounts 2008-09 in due course.

Arrangements for depositors in banks in the Isle of Man, including Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander, Isle of Man, are a matter for the Government of the Isle of Man. The Treasury has not engaged external financial advisers in relation to Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander, Isle of Man.

Minimum Wage

Jon Cruddas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff there are in the national minimum wage regional compliance team in (a) Aberdeen, (b) Belfast, (c) Birmingham, (d) Cambridge, (e) Cardiff, (f) East Kilbride, (g) Exeter, (h) Maidstone, (i) Teesside, (j) Portsmouth, (k) Romford, (l) Sheffield, (m) Ashton, (n) Shipley, (o) Wigan and (p) Leicester; how many staff he expects there to be in each such team in 2010; and how many cases each such team presented to employment tribunals on behalf of employees in (i) 2007 and (ii) 2008. [264273]

Mr. Timms: The following table contains the current number of staff in post in each national minimum wage (NMW) compliance team. Projected staffing figures for 2010 are not available, due to HM Revenue and Customs' current review of its business operations and practices.

NMW compliance officers do not present cases to employment tribunals on behalf of low-paid workers. Where an employer appeals against the issue of an enforcement notice by a compliance officer, a compliance officer may appear as a respondent.

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Team Staff in post













East Kilbride
























Jon Cruddas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of the estimated £29 million recovered on behalf of employees who were underpaid or not paid the minimum wage under the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 had been repaid to such employees on the latest date for which figures are available. [264357]

Mr. Timms: Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs does not keep separate statistics on the amount of arrears paid or not paid to workers.

Public Expenditure

Justine Greening: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what money was spent in each Department from the Modernisation Fund in (a) each of the last four years and (b) 2008-09 to date. [244470]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 16 December 2008]: The Modernisation Fund provides support to Departments to meet the transitional costs associated with releasing savings over the CSR period and embedding ongoing efficiencies over the longer-term.

The Modernisation Fund has been in operation since 2007-08. Amounts drawn down by Departments are shown in the following table and are also set out to Parliament in Supplementary Estimates.

All Departments are also expected to improve services and deliver improved value for money from within their spending review settlements.

Department 2007-08 2008-09

HM Revenue and Customs



National Savings and Investments


Charity Commission


Ministry of Justice


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Royal Bank of Scotland

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what meetings were held between Lord Myners and representatives of the Royal Bank of Scotland between 6 and 12 October 2008 inclusive; which officials of his Department took part in each meeting; and if he will place on his Departmental website agendas and minutes of each meeting. [261509]

Ian Pearson: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the remarks made in the other place by the Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners) in response to Lord Smith and Lord Howard on 2 March, Official Report, House of Lords, columns 585-86.

Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government’s practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Tax Havens

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many legal notices requiring information on offshore bank accounts have been (a) served and (b) complied with in each of the last three years; and how many such accounts have been disclosed since the offshore disclosure facility was ended. [264247]

Ian Pearson: The cost involved in providing the information requested is disproportionate.

In regards to the specific Offshore Disclosure Facility (ODF), the facility was launched in April 2007 to deal with the detailed information we had obtained from a number of major banks on around 400,000 UK-based offshore account holders.

HMRC is pursuing those with offshore accounts who did not come forward under the arrangements or where there is a risk that the full amount has not been declared. It is also making inquiries where people appear to have undeclared liabilities but have not come forward.


Motor Vehicles: Testing

Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost to the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) was of vehicle testing in each of the last five years; and how much VOSA received in fees for vehicle testing in each such year. [264730]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA)'s testing figures in the last five years are as follows:

Financial year Income Cost
















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