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VAT: Repairs and Maintenance

Jo Swinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider the merits of reducing the rate of value added tax on home maintenance and repairs to the minimum rate allowed under EU law. [276838]

Mr. Timms: EU Finance Ministers recently agreed to allow all member states to apply a permanent reduced VAT rate of 5 per cent. to a list of labour intensive services, including the “renovation and repairing of private dwellings, excluding materials which account for a significant part of the value of the service supplied”.

The Government apply reduced VAT rates only where we believe these would provide well-targeted and cost-effective support for its policy objectives, compared with other measures, and we continue to keep the impact of VAT on different types of building work under review.

Welfare Tax Credits: Fife

Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many individuals in North East Fife constituency have been (a) overpaid and (b) underpaid tax credits (i) once, (ii) twice and (iii) three or more times since April 2003. [276520]

Mr. Timms: The following table provides a snapshot of information on the number of families in the North East Fife constituency with one, two and three or more underpayments or overpayments of tax credits between 2003-04 and 2006-07. This is based on families who had a 2006-07 tax credit award and lived in North East Fife as at 31 August 2006. Information for 2007-08 is not yet available at parliamentary constituency level; more information can be found at:

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Regularity with which overpayment or underpayment of tax credits occurred Number of awards underpaid Number of awards overpaid

(a) Once



(b) Twice



(c) Three or more times



Welfare Tax Credits: Overpayments

Tom Brake: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many overpayments of tax credit to residents of Carshalton and Wallington there were in the last 12 months; and what proportion of the number of tax credits for such residents this represents. [276684]

Mr. Timms: Estimates of the number of families with tax credit awards, including information on overpayments by constituency, based on final family circumstances and incomes, for 2003-04 to 2006-07 are available in the HMRC publications, “Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics, Finalised Annual Awards. Supplement on Payments, Geographical Analyses”, for each relevant year. These publications are available on the HMRC website at:

Information for 2007-08 is not yet available at parliamentary constituency level. The geographical finalised awards publications have been delayed following a problem identified with the delivery of geographical information, although this does not affect the UK level statistics which were published on 19 May 2009. More information can be found on the HMRC website at:

Written Questions: Government Responses

Mr. Hague: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to answer Question 267825, tabled on 25 March 2009, on the overseas price mechanism. [277488]

Yvette Cooper: I have replied to the right hon. Member.


Departmental Employment Tribunals Service

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many actions under employment law have been brought against his Department in each of the last three years; how many such actions were brought under each category of action; and how many such actions were contested by his Department at an employment tribunal. [277420]

Ann McKechin: The Scotland Office has not contested any actions under employment law at an employment tribunal.

Departmental Stationery

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what proportion of office supplies purchased by his Department were recycled products in the latest period for which figures are available. [275339]

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Ann McKechin: The Office does not record this information in the form requested.

House of Commons Commission


David T.C. Davies: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what the cost to the public purse was of providing security for parts of the Parliamentary Estate occupied by the House of Commons in the latest period for which figures are available. [276730]

Nick Harvey: The resource cost was £20.7 million in 2008-09.

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Advantage West Midlands: Finance

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform with reference to Table 26 of the Annual Report and Accounts 2006-07 for Advantage West Midlands, what the nature was of the related party transaction made to (a) the Liberal Democrats, as declared by Ms Diane Rayner and (b) the Labour Party, as declared by Mr. Gerard Coyne. [274341]

Ian Pearson: In 2006, the agency paid £10,000 for exhibition space, and room hire at the Labour party conference in Manchester. In addition, payments of £200 were made to the Labour party for two-day passes to the conference. Mr. Gerard Coyne is a member of the Labour party and this therefore qualifies as a related party transaction.

No payments were made to the Liberal Democrats in 2006 and therefore no disclosure was made by Ms Diane Rayner in that period.

The Related Party Transaction disclosure documents the level of financing that AWM has provided directly to organisations that board members have an interest in, as declared in their register of interests. The individual is considered to have an interest in the transaction only inasmuch as they have a relationship with both AWM and the organisation in question.

Business: Government Assistance

Mr. Amess: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assistance his Department provides to individuals in financial difficulty; what recent representations he has received on this issue; and if he will make a statement. [276870]

Mr. Thomas: The Department provides a broad package of support to individuals in financial difficulties.

Since 2006, we have run the Face-to-Face Debt Advice Project, employing around 500 advisers in England and Wales, which has now helped over 220,000 people. We are responsible for the Government's drive to tackle
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illegal money lending, operating a network of enforcement teams nationwide, in which we have invested £16.5 million. We have invested an extra £10 million in the Citizens Advice network to increase their opening hours to help consumers access general advice services in the recession; and we now provide £3.5 million each year to the freephone National Debtline phone service (increased from £1 million last year to deal with extra demand in the recession).

The Department receives frequent representations from stakeholders on our assistance programmes.

Departmental Correspondence

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the average time taken by his Department to (a) acknowledge and (b) respond to letters from hon. and right hon. Members was in the latest period for which figures are available. [275444]

Mr. Thomas: The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members’ correspondence. The report for 2008 was published on 1 April 2009. This report and reports for earlier years are available in the Libraries of the House.

Departmental Official Hospitality

Bob Spink: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much his Department has spent on (a) conference services and (b) banqueting services in each of the last five years. [274513]

Mr. Thomas: The Department (including UKTI) has spent the following on conference services in the last five years:












The Department does not distinguish or have an Accounting Code entitled “banqueting services”, so no expenditure has been recorded under this title.

Departmental Public Relations

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on what dates since 1 January 2007 (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had discussions with (i) Brunswick and (ii) Alan Parker on matters within his Department's responsibility; and what matters were discussed on each occasion. [272380]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 5 May 2009]: No Minister has had any discussions with either Brunswick or Alan Parker on matters within BERR's responsibility. Information about officials' meetings is not collected centrally and it would be disproportionately expensive to provide the information.

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Domestic Violence

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what contribution his Department has made to the cross-Government consultation, Together We Can End Violence Against Women and Children, and to the development of Government policy in this area. [274231]

Ian Pearson: The Violence Against Women and Girls consultation was launched by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Office on 9 March 2009. Although led by the Home Office, it is a cross-Government consultation.

This Department contributed to the consultation document, and BERR officials are members of the cross-Government steering group which met prior to the publication and will meet, following analysis of the consultation responses, to discuss each Department’s input into the Violence Against Women and Girls strategy. The consultation formally closed on 29 May 2009.

East Midlands Airport: Radio Frequencies

Ms Hewitt: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the effect on the average ticket price of a flight from East Midlands Airport of the use by that airport of administered incentive pricing for the aeronautical radio spectrum. [274094]

Mr. Thomas: These are matters for the Office of Communication (Ofcom), the independent regulator for the UK communications industry, and I understand that Ofcom is explicitly considering the impact on East Midlands airport (as well as on others) and expects to publish a revised set of proposals, including impact assessment, in June.

EC Internal Trade

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment his Department has made of the effect on local authority (a) trading standards, (b) licensing, (c) e-government and (d) environmental health functions of implementation of the EU Services Directive. [270247]

Mr. Thomas: The effect of implementation of the directive was assessed in an independent report commissioned by the former DTI when it was being negotiated, which can be found at

and BERR also published an impact assessment of its proposals for implementation in November 2007, but these assessments were not broken down into categories that correlate to the question. A revised impact assessment will be published in May this year and a final version will be published later this year.

BERR’s assessment is that the most significant impact of the directive on local authorities will be to enable users to apply electronically and remotely for licences and authorisations in scope of the directive (including
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those that local authorities administer) through a Point of Single Contact (PSC) the Government are required to establish.

The PSC is being funded by BERR and delivered by Business Link. It will include provision for a central application process that local authorities can use, but will also enable them to utilise their own online facilities where these exist.

While the directive is likely to result in a minor increase to the consumer regulations that trading standards officers are able to enforce under the Enterprise Act 2002, it is not expected that this will result in any consequential increase in trading standards activity.

EU External Trade

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of arrangements for monitoring the diagonal culmination of origin between the EU, the Western Balkan countries and Turkey. [277129]

Mr. Thomas: No such assessment has been made. However, although the system of diagonal culmination between the Western Balkans and Turkey is a recent development, European Commission officials are understood to be content with the ability of the countries concerned to effectively control the culmination arrangements.

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on how many occasions third countries have imposed punitive tariffs on EU exports since 1997; and what estimate was made of the cost to the UK economy in each case. [277190]

Mr. Thomas: Information on punitive tariffs levied against the EU since 1997 could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Nor is there any accepted definition of the term “punitive” in the context of tariffs. However, the World Trade Organisation publishes statistics on the number of Trade Defence measures (anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard measures) imposed by its members. Measures against the EU as a whole or some of its member states over 1997 to 2008 were as follows:

Anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard measures( 1) levied against the European Union or individual member states, 1997 to 2008

Against the EU as a whole Against the UK individually Against other individual member states( 2)





Countervailing Duties








(1) Usually in the form of tariffs, but are sometimes in the form of quotas or other non-tariff restrictions.
(2) These numbers overstate the number of measures, as in some cases the same anti-dumping or countervailing measure is levied against a number of member states simultaneously, so there is some double-counting. For example, an anti-dumping measure levied against the EU as a whole would be recorded once, but a measure against France, Germany and the UK only would be recorded as three separate measures in the table.
World Trade Organisation.

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