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11 May 2009 : Column 537W—continued

Fred Goodwin

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress is being made in investigating whether some of Sir Fred Goodwin's pension may be clawed back. [274416]

Ian Pearson: With the agreement of UK Financial Investments Ltd., Sir Philip Hampton, the new chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, has appointed a senior independent QC to carry out a full legal investigation of the issues relating to Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension. This investigation is ongoing.

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Knowledge Network Project

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude) of 26 January 2009, Official Report, column 136W, on the knowledge network project, what procedures exist to enable civil servants to access the manuals and guidance on how to use the Knowledge Network. [273061]

Angela Eagle: There is no single specific guidance document on using the Knowledge Network. Guidance notes and manuals may be produced by individual departments. Buying Solutions is unable to comment on how such manuals and guides are accessed by staff.

Members: Correspondence

Damian Green: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Financial Secretary plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Ashford of 23 October 2008, reference 07649/2008. [266387]

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

Steve Webb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to respond to the letter from the hon. Member for Northavon of 18 February 2009 on behalf of Mr. Drew of Coalpit Heath, acknowledged by his Department with the reference: 1/67589/2009. [273379]

Ian Pearson: I have replied to the hon. Member.

Mr. Malins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to reply to the letter of 24 March 2009 from the hon. Member for Woking on his constituent Mr. P. Burdett. [274330]

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

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire of 18 March 2009, on the Lloyds Banking Group (PO Ref: 1/69452/2009). [274437]

Ian Pearson: Due to the large volume of correspondence received on these issues there has been a delay in sending some responses. The Financial Services Secretary hopes to be in a position to reply to the hon. Member shortly.

National Insurance Contributions

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the effect of employer national insurance contributions increases announced in the Pre-Budget Report 2008 on the level of employment. [269936]

Mr. Timms: Changes to tax and national insurance are informed by a wide range of considerations, and are themselves one of many factors that influence the labour market. The UK has an open and flexible labour market with the Government continuing to take steps to support employment.

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Previous national insurance changes of a magnitude similar to those proposed for 2011-12 do not appear to have had a significant impact on employment.

Parliamentary Questions: Government Responses

Peter Luff: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to answer Question 259158, tabled by the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire on 23 February 2009 on the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme; and what the reasons for the time taken to respond are. [274162]

Ian Pearson: The hon. Member’s question (259158) was transferred to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on 26 February. I replied in my capacity as Economics and Business Minister on 7 May 2009, Official Report, column 417W.

Public Expenditure

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 340W, on the Barnett formula, whether he has set a date for the publication of his Department's factual paper on the Barnett formula. [269709]

Yvette Cooper: No date has yet been set.

Public Expenditure: Coventry

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of the 2009 Budget on (a) young people and (b) families resident in Coventry. [272954]

Mr. Timms: The Government’s aim are that no young person should be permanently disadvantaged by the recession and that all young people should be given the support needed to make or maintain a connection to the labour market. Budget 2009 announced that every young person between 18 and 24 will be guaranteed a job, work placement or work-related skill training for at least six months after claiming jobseeker’s allowance for 12 months.

Budget 2009 announced an additional investment of £251 million in 2009-10 for the education and training of 16 and 17-year-olds. This will provide an extra 54,500 student places in the next academic year, ensuring that every young person has the opportunity to obtain the skills they will need to succeed.

Young people in work will also receive additional support from an increase in the personal allowance from April 2009, worth £26 to a basic rate taxpayer. The Government are also supporting young people looking to enter the housing market for the first time. Since September 2008, the Government have launched homebuy direct, helping first-time buyers get on the property ladder, committed to bring forward spending to deliver new social housing, and announced an extension of the stamp duty land tax holiday for properties under £175,000 to the end of 2009.

Information on the impact of Budget 2009 on specific regions can be found on the Treasury’s website at:

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Regional Planning and Development

Grant Shapps: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much was spent on the review of sub-national economic development and regeneration; what the staffing costs of the review were; and which (a) departments and (b) organisations contributed to the review; [265255]

(2) how many of his Department's staff members were involved in supporting the review of sub-national economic development and regeneration. [265383]

Angela Eagle: The review was lead by the Treasury, the then Department for Trade and Industry, and the Department for Communities and Local Government. A full list of the organisations that contributed to the review can be found in Annex B of the published report, a copy of which is in the Library and can be accessed via the Treasury's public website:

As there were fewer than five staff working directly on the review, it would be inappropriate to provide specific details.

The costs of those working full time on the review were £225,431. That figure does reflect support provided by other staff across the Treasury, whose costs are not available separately.

Revenue and Customs: Closures

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost is of information technology infrastructural changes associated with the implementation of HM Revenue and Customs Workforce Change programme. [273231]

Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) Workforce Change programme will result in accommodation savings of over £230 million by 2011-12 as well as wider business efficiency savings delivered by re-organising staff into larger teams in a fewer offices. In the process of delivering these long-term savings, the Workforce Change programme has involved over 20,000 staff moving location within HMRC in order to release surplus office space, incurring associated one-off IT and telephony costs of approximately £12.7 million to date.

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people work at (a) Shrewsbury, (b) Ludlow, (c) Oswestry and (d) Welshpool HM Revenue and Customs office; how many jobs are expected to be lost with the closure of each office; and what assessment has been made of the economic effect of each closure on the local area. [273235]

Mr. Timms: On 1 April 2009 there were 26 staff working in the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) office in Shrewsbury, 19 in the Ludlow office, 32 in the Oswestry office and 30 in the Welshpool office.

HMRC is committed to working with all staff affected by office closures to find alternative employment arrangements wherever possible, and until this process is concluded it is not possible to say how many staff may leave the civil service.

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Impact assessments were prepared for each office prior to the closure decision, to assess the impact of closure on the local economy, as well as on HMRC’s staff and customers. Those assessments for the offices concerned concluded that, as in each case HMRC employees comprised less than one per cent. of the total numbers employed in the local authority area, the economic impact would be small.

Revenue and Customs: Crewe

Mr. Timpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate has been made of the effect on HM Revenue and Customs’ expenditure of its vacation of two floors in Crewe House, Crewe in the 12 months following vacation. [273639]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 8 May 2009]: HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) vacation of two floors of Crewe House by spring 2010 and the remainder of the building by 2011 will contribute to cumulative estate savings of over £230 million during the period April 2007 to March 2012. Specific estate savings figures for Crewe House cannot be supplied for reasons of commercial sensitivity relating to the accommodation and facility contract between HMRC and its business partner, Mapeley.

Estate savings are only part of the overall savings HMRC expects to achieve as a result of improved efficiencies.

Stamp Duty Land Tax: Tamworth

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many residents of Tamworth constituency have paid less stamp duty land tax from the stamp duty land tax holiday since it began. [274133]

Ian Pearson: Data on property transactions up to 2007—the most recent year for which figures are published—can be found at:

These data include property transactions by type of property and price as well as the number and value of property transactions broken down by parliamentary constituency. Information on property transactions in Tamworth parliamentary constituency is included in the published parliamentary constituency tables.


Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much is owed by businesses in (a) Staffordshire and (b) the UK in respect of schemes to defer payment of liability for (i) pay as you earn, (ii) value added tax and (iii) corporation tax to mitigate the effects of the economic downturn. [270673]

Mr. Timms: On 24 November 2008, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that HMRC had launched a new Business Payment Support Service (BPSS) to allow viable businesses in temporary financial difficulty time to pay their tax bills to a timetable they could afford.

In the period up to 3 May 2009, the total value of time to pay agreed under the BPSS scheme for the United Kingdom amounted to over £2.2 billion of which approximately £320 million was for PAYE, £930 million for VAT and £380 million for corporation tax, helping over 100,000 businesses.

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The total value of time to pay agreed under the scheme for Staffordshire in the same period was £28 million. HMRC is unable to disaggregate this figure further without incurring disproportionate cost.

Valuation Office: ICT

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information technology contracts have been entered into by the Valuation Office Agency or its representatives on its behalf in the last 36 months. [272542]

Mr. Timms: The primary ICT contracts for the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) are accessed HM Revenue and Customs’ Aspire and Sprint contracts.

Outside of these contracts, the VOA has, in the last 36 months, entered into a small system contract with TMS Data Capture to trail a time recording application—called Screen Time—for three months at a cost of £69,100. This project is designed to add capability to allow more detailed analysis of resource usage and costs within the VOA to improve resource allocation, decision-making and performance management.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Brazil: Politics and Government

Mr. Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made representations to the Brazilian government on public security in shanty towns in Brazil and the effects of lack of security on (a) children and (b) other residents. [273336]

Gillian Merron: The Government have been funding activities by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) specializing in security sector reform in “favelas” or shanty towns. As part of this, they have worked with police to train them in community policing methods and with educational institutions for children.

My noble Friend the then Leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Amos, and the then Minister for Latin America, my right hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) visited favelas during their visits to Brazil in 2006 and 2007 respectively. They discussed conditions, including security, with the local government, local communities and NGOs.

We also work with other EU embassies on a regular dialogue with Brazil on the full range of human rights issues and will have the opportunity to feed in views at the 8 June 2009 EU-Brazil Human Rights dialogue.

Entry Clearances: Fees and Charges

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Written Ministerial Statement of 12 February 2009, Official Report, columns 85-88WS, on departmental expenditure limits, what assessment he has made to the merits of establishing reciprocal arrangements with the country of origin when visas are offered gratis to fans visiting the UK to attend sporting events; and if he will make a statement. [261736]

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Mr. Woolas: I have been asked to reply.

Gratis visas may be issued in a range of circumstances, commonly as a matter of international courtesy. This means that the visa applicant does not pay a fee for the application to be considered but another Government Department reimburses the Home Office for the lost fee income.

In May 2008 we accepted 2,169 short-term visit visa applications from fans of F.C. Zenit St Petersburg travelling to Manchester for the UEFA cup final without a fee being paid by the applicant, normally £65. This was in part in recognition of the waiver of visa requirement by the Russian Government for fans of Chelsea F.C. and Manchester United F.C. travelling to the UEFA Champions League final in Moscow later in the same month.

This was an unusual set of circumstances and no further consideration has been given to establishing permanent reciprocal arrangements with other countries.

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