Previous Section Index Home Page

20 May 2009 : Column 1396W—continued

Unemployment Benefits

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 12 January 2009, Official Report, columns 2-4WS, on support for jobseekers, from what budget the funding to be made available to eligible customers will be drawn. [276541]

Mr. McNulty: The package of measures announced on 12 January is to be delivered by both the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and is expected to cost £500 million over the two years to March 2011.

HM Treasury provided DWP with an additional £295 million of funding and the Department will fund the balance of its own expected costs through a package of savings, including consequential programme savings.

Women and Equality

Age: Discrimination

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps the Government Equalities Office is taking to prevent age discrimination against 18 to 25 year olds. [275275]

Maria Eagle: The Government introduced protection from unjustifiable age discrimination in employment in 2006, which provided protection to employees of all ages including those aged 18 to 25. Our new Equality Bill, which had its second reading on Monday, will outlaw unjustifiable age discrimination against people
20 May 2009 : Column 1397W
18 or over in the provision of goods and services and the exercise of public functions. It will also, as part of an extended public sector equality duty, require public authorities to consider the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations for people of different ages.

Departmental Mobile Phones

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many (a) BlackBerrys and (b) other mobile telephones have been provided to (i) Ministers, (ii) special advisers and (iii) civil servants in the Government Equalities Office in each year since its establishment. [268286]

Maria Eagle: The Government Equalities Office was established on 12 October 2007. Since then a total of 14 BlackBerry's and six mobile phones have been purchased for civil servants only. These purchases were made in the following financial years :

BlackBerry 's Mobile phones










(1) Purchases to date

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many completed cases originating in (a) Wales, (b) Scotland and (c) England the Equality and Human Rights Commission has taken up on behalf of individuals since its inception; and how many such cases concerned (i) disability discrimination, (ii) sexual discrimination and (iii) racial discrimination. [273630]

Maria Eagle: Between October 2007 and 31 March 2009, the Equality and Human Rights Commission undertook 203 completed cases on behalf of individuals:

Three cases concerned more than one strand of equality.

Equality and Human Rights Commission: Resignations

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many staff have resigned from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the last 12 months. [274137]

Maria Eagle: From 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009, 34 permanent members of staff resigned from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Equality: Legal Costs

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what the cost of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) intervention in the case of (a) Basildon District Council v. McCarthy and Others
20 May 2009 : Column 1398W
[2009] EWCA and (b) Baker and Others v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the London Borough of Bromley was; and which barristers were retained by the EHRC in relation to each case. [274630]

Maria Eagle: (a) Baker and Others v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the London Borough of Bromley [2008]:

(b) Basildon District Council v. McCarthy and Others [2009]:


Banks: Finance

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to his Department's press notice of 19 January 2009, on the asset protection scheme, if he will undertake further due diligence in respect of securities identified as triple-A rated before they are included in the scheme. [276234]

Ian Pearson: The Treasury and its advisers are continuing to work with participating banks to conduct due diligence on the assets intended for inclusion in the scheme.

Further detailed information will be provided after the final contracts are signed.

Child Tax Credit: Underpayments

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps HM Revenue and Customs has taken to inform people in cases where their child tax credits have been underpaid; and if he will make a statement. [275901]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 15 May 2009]: Tax credits is an annual system which is designed to be responsive to changes in families’ circumstances. This is particularly important when income falls and around 355,000 households who were living on a lower income in March are receiving on average £35 more per week in tax credits.

HMRC calculates an initial award for claimants based on their income for the previous year and their current family circumstances. Awards can be adjusted if claimants tell the Department of a change in their circumstances during the year. After the end of a year, HMRC sends tax credits customers an annual renewal pack asking them to provide or confirm details of their income and circumstances. This information is necessary to determine whether claimants have received the correct amount of tax credits in the tax year just ended. Tax credits customers can complete the process by returning the annual declaration and renewal forms or by calling the tax credits Helpline, usually by 31 July. Detailed information can be found on the Department’s website at

20 May 2009 : Column 1399W

Underpayments are calculated automatically and any amount still due is paid as a lump sum after a tax credits award is finalised and the customer is informed of the amount on their final award notice.

Child Trust Fund: Fife

Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Child Trust Fund vouchers have been issued in North East Fife constituency in the most recent year for which figures are available; how many accounts have been opened by residents of the constituency; and what his estimate is of the value of those accounts. [276535]

Ian Pearson: HM Revenue and Customs estimates that 640 child trust fund vouchers were issued in North East Fife to children born between 6 April 2006 and 5 April 2007 and that 450 child trust fund accounts were subsequently opened by the parents or guardians of those children.

HM Revenue and Customs does not have data on the value of child trust funds at constituency level.

Departmental Pay

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of staff in his Department and its agencies received bonus payments in 2008-09; how much expenditure his Department incurred in respect of staff bonuses in 2008-09; what the largest single staff bonus payment was in that year; and if he will make a statement. [270023]

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies paid in end-of-year performance bonuses to (i) all staff and (ii) senior Civil Service staff in 2008-09; and how many such payments were made. [275246]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 24 April 2009]: Audited out-turn figures for 2008-09 are not yet available. The Treasury Group’s Annual Report and Accounts will include details of the performance payments made by the Treasury Group, divided by its member organisations, and on the performance pay awarded to individual members of the Treasury Board. Performance pay in this context refers to variable pay which is not consolidated into base pay and is non-pensionable.

Finance Act 1987

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) for what reason HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has decided to close schemes permitted under section 58 of the Finance Act 1987; for what reason the decision was made with retrospective effect; what factors were taken into account in determining that the period of such retrospective effect would be seven years; and what the policy of HMRC is on charging interest on sums owed as a result of retrospective closure; [276192]

(2) what impact assessment HM Revenue and Customs has made of the effect of the retrospective closure of schemes permitted under section 58 of the Finance Act 1987; and if he will assess the effects of the closure on the financial situation of households operating such schemes. [276193]

20 May 2009 : Column 1400W

Mr. Timms: Section 62 Finance (No. 2) Act 1987 retrospectively restored the principle that double taxation treaties do not affect a UK resident’s liability to UK tax on their income or gains. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) does not believe that any tax avoidance schemes were permitted under that legislation—although the tax avoidance schemes in question here purported to circumvent it.

Evidence emerged that a large number of people were using the scheme and in light of a number of factors (including the widespread use, aggressive nature and artificiality of the scheme, the deliberate attempt to flout the clear intention of Parliament in 1987 and the need to ensure fairness and certainty for all taxpayers), the Government introduced legislation at section 58 Finance Act 2008 to put beyond doubt that none of the schemes worked—and never had done.

Although, like the 1987 legislation, it is indefinitely retrospective, HMRC is not aware of any relevant schemes prior to 2001. Any tax paid late will be subject to interest in accordance with the relevant legislation on late payments.

Formal impact assessments are not published in respect of measures where the impact is only on those who are avoiding tax and thus one was not published for this particular measure. Such decisions on the production of an impact assessment are taken on a case-by-case basis. As indicated in the 2008 Financial Statement and Budget Report, it is estimated that the tax at stake on the schemes that purported to circumvent the 1987 legislation is around £200 million. Those who used those schemes are, like ail other UK taxpayers, required to pay tax on the profits that they earned.

Financial Markets: Credit

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what oversight his Department exercises over credit default swap contracts with consortia in which it has a financial stake; what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of such oversight; if he will consider the merits of introducing independent scrutiny of such contracts; and if he will make a statement. [272316]

Ian Pearson: The Government's shareholdings in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group (Lloyds) are managed on a commercial basis by an arm's length company, UK Financial Investments Ltd (UKFI). UKFI's objective is to protect and create value for the taxpayer as shareholder with due regard to the maintenance of financial stability and to act in a way that promotes competition.

The framework document between HM Treasury and UKFI sets a requirement that UKFI will not intervene in the day-to-day management decisions or operational decisions of investee companies. The companies will retain their own independent boards, which will manage the banks and determine their strategy.

HM Treasury and UK Financial Investments does not comment on individual contracts offered by or commercial decisions taken by its investee companies.

20 May 2009 : Column 1401W

Income Tax: Tax Rates and Bands

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what percentage of taxpayers in Lancashire were paying income tax at the higher rate on the latest date for which figures are available. [276309]

Mr. Timms: Around 54,000, or 9 per cent. of taxpayers in Lancashire, paid income tax at the higher rate for 2006-07. This information is based on the latest survey of personal incomes.

International Assistance: Sri Lanka

Tom Brake: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with (a) his international counterparts and (b) Ministerial colleagues on the cancellation of the IMF loan to Sri Lanka. [276125]

Ian Pearson: The Government are concerned about the continuing humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka and is committed to helping Sri Lanka avoid an economic crisis that would hurt Sri Lanka’s poor most. No IMF loans to Sri Lanka have been cancelled. The IMF has not yet presented a programme to the board for decision.

Members: Correspondence

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to reply to the email from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire of 15 April 2009, on green businesses. [276554]

Angela Eagle: Receipt of the correspondence referred to could not be traced. Copies have been requested from the hon. Member’s office and will be dealt with as soon as possible following receipt.

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 small businesses in Coventry. [272955]

Angela Eagle: Building on the £20 billion fiscal stimulus announced in the pre-Budget report, the Chancellor set out a Budget which will provide further targeted support for individuals and businesses through the current downturn, while ensuring the economy is able to make a strong and sustainable recovery.

Tax policies announced from the 2008 pre-Budget report are delivering £3 billion to improve business cash flow, complemented by £2 billion of lending support. Budget 2009 announced a further £3 billion to improve business cash flow and encourage future investment, as well as up to £5 billion of trade credit insurance support.

Budget 2009 also announced the expansion of HMRC's Business Payment Support Service to offer enhanced support for firms making losses now. Since the 2008 pre-Budget report this service has reached 490 agreements with businesses in Coventry to spread tax payments worth £10 million.

Details of the impact of Budget measures on the west midlands region can be found at

Next Section Index Home Page