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15 Oct 2009 : Column 1024W—continued


Jobcentre Plus: Manpower

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many disability employment advisers in Jobcentre Plus are in (a) post and (b) training; and what estimate her Department has made of the number of disability employment advisers required by Jobcentre Plus to administer the operation of Pathways to Work
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and the migration of existing incapacity benefit claimants to employment and support allowance in the next four years. [290935]

Jim Knight [holding answer 9 September 2009]: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is the responsibility of the acting chief executive, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves:

LinkAge Plus: Gloucestershire

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans she has to publish a report on the effectiveness and value for money of the Village Agents Scheme in Gloucestershire; and what assessment she has made of opportunities for wider application provided by the Scheme. [292434]

Angela Eagle: The Village Agents Scheme was part of the LinkAge Plus programme financed by DWP, which aimed to improve the well-being of older people, particularly by joining up services and including older people in service design.

There is already a national evaluation of the LinkAge Plus programme and a local evaluation of the Village Agents pilot. The national evaluation shows that there are significant benefits to be gained overall, for both older people and the taxpayer, from a holistic approach to local service delivery. The local evaluation concluded that the work of Village Agents, putting older people in
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touch with different statutory and voluntary agencies, resulted in people receiving more services. As older people have good experiences of receiving services, they are less reluctant to ask for support. This, in turn increased their awareness of preventative measures in relation to their continuing independence.

The principles of LinkAge Plus have been endorsed in the Government's ageing strategy "Building a society for all ages". The experiences and good practices from the Village Agents Scheme are included in a comprehensive LinkAge Plus DVD, which I launched on 20 October 2009. This brings together information, resources, tools, good practice and real life case studies. I will be writing to all local authority chief executives enclosing a copy of the DVD and encouraging its use to support engagement with older people, to build partnerships and to join up local services.

Members: Correspondence

Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when she expects to reply to the letter dated 19 August 2009 from the hon. Member for Walsall, North on her Department's Green Paper on disability benefits; for what reason no acknowledgement has been sent; and what the reasons are for the time taken to provide a substantive response. [293145]

Jonathan Shaw: A reply was sent to my hon. Friend on 12 October 2009. The Department for Work and Pensions does not routinely acknowledge receipt of hon. Members' letters but aims to make a substantive reply within 20 working days. I am unable to give a particular reason for the delay, but I apologise to my hon. Friend for the unacceptable delay that occurred.

State Retirement Pensions: Males

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate she has made of the number of men who will qualify for a full state pension as a result of the reduction in qualifying years for national insurance contributions from 44 to 39. [291465]

Angela Eagle: The number of qualifying years required for entitlement to a full basic state pension for men reaching state pension age from 6 April 2010 will be reduced from 44 years (39 for women) to 30. As a result of this and other changes in the 2007 Pension Act, we estimate that an extra 20,000 men and 40,000 women reaching state pension age in 2010-11 will be entitled to a full basic state pension.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

British Overseas Territories: Renewable Energy

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what legally binding targets have been set regarding renewable energy generation in UK Overseas Territories. [293298]

Chris Bryant: The UK has not set any legally binding targets for the Overseas Territories regarding renewable energy generation.


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Egypt: Borders

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received since July 2009 on the number of tunnels between Egypt and Gaza; what further steps he is taking to assist the government of Egypt to prevent the flow of weapons through the Rafah border crossing into Gaza; and if he will make a statement. [293289]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: There have been a series of meetings of key partners in Copenhagen (February 2009), London (March 2009) and Ottawa (June 2009) to discuss potential counter-smuggling efforts. But given the Egyptian sensitivities to have been seen accepting assistance and the challenges of "upstream" interdiction, these have remained largely discussions and no further discussions are planned.

Gilad Shalit

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had since July 2009 with the International Red Cross on (a) the imprisonment of Gilad Shalit by Hamas and (b) the refusal of Hamas to allow Gilad Shalit visits from the International Committee of the Red Cross; and if he will make a statement. [293292]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: We maintain regular dialogue with the International Committee of the Red Cross, including on the captivity of Gilad Shalit. While we welcome the videotape released by Hamas on 2 October 2009 as part of a prisoner swap deal, the continued captivity of Gilad Shalit is utterly unacceptable.

The UK shares the Shalit family's dismay at Hamas's refusal to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross access to Gilad Shalit. I met Noam Shalit, Gilad's father, in Tel Aviv in August 2009 to demonstrate our ongoing support.

Middle East: Armed Conflict

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made representations to the government of Israel on the findings of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict; and if he will make a statement. [292962]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 14 October 2009]: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu on 18 September 2009 and again on 14 October 2009. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to Israeli Defence Minister Barak on 29 September 2009 and 13 October 2009.

We have made clear that, while the Goldstone report has its flaws, there are serious allegations against both Hamas and Israel. Israel has undertaken a number of investigations. But we do not believe these have yet adequately addressed the concerns. We urge Israel to investigate allegations fully and credibly to ensure that there is full accountability for any breaches of the rule of law.


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USA: United Nations Fact Finding Mission

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the US administration on the findings of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. [292968]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: We have regular discussions with our US counterparts on issues related to the Middle East Peace Process. This includes the findings of the UN-mandated Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the mission's findings with US Secretary of State Clinton on 11 October 2009.

Prime Minister

Members: Surveillance

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden of 21 July 2009, Official Report, column 1166W, on Members: surveillance, whether the Wilson doctrine prohibits surveillance of hon. Members by (a) the police and (b) local authorities under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. [292966]

The Prime Minister: I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave to the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis) on 21 July 2009.

Treasury

Banks: Government Assistance

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much financial assistance was provided by the Government to the banking sector in (a) 2008 and (b) 2009 to date. [293485]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave him on 9 September 2009, Official Report, column 1924W.

Business Interests

David Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether members of the board of (a) his Department and (b) HM Revenue and Customs are vetted for connections to (i) companies involved in tax avoidance and (ii) vulture fund companies. [292180]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The Government cannot comment on individual taxpayers' affairs but do everything they reasonably can to ensure that any arrangement they enter into is fully tax compliant.

The Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs have conflicts of interest policies in place which are guided by the Nolan principles of public life. Board members are required to declare any private interests (or interests of then close families) relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.


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Executive members are bound by the civil service code and independent members are recruited through fair and open competition, consistent with the code set down by Civil Service Commissioners.

Child Tax Credit

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many full-time equivalent staff were employed in the investigation of (a) eligibility of claimants and (b) fraudulent claims for child tax credit in each year child tax credit has existed. [293172]

Mr. Timms: The precise information requested is not available.

The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff deployed on both tax credit and child benefit compliance activity is in the following table.

Date at April Number of staff (FTE)

2009

1,475

2008

1,365

2007

1,405

2006

1,190

2005

(1)1,200

2004

(1)1,200

(1) Approximately. Precise information is not available for 2004 and 2005.

Information on tax credit error and fraud can be found at pages 89 and 99 of the annual departmental trust statements published at:

EU Emissions Trading Scheme

Charles Hendry: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 7 May 2009, Official Report, column 418-9W, on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, what forecast he has made of the price of carbon in the (a) second and (b) third phases of the scheme; and if he will make a statement. [291495]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The prevailing market price of carbon is used to forecast auctioning revenues from Phase II of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

Longer term forecasts for Phase III are based on the Department for Energy and Climate Change estimates of the traded price of carbon in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme up to 2050, which are set out in "Carbon Valuation in UK Policy Appraisal: A Revised Approach".

Excise Duties: Fuels

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the average cost of a litre of petrol for the month of October has been since 2000; and what percentage of such costs was accounted for by road fuel duty in each such month; [291683]

(2) what cost-benefit analysis his Department made of the effects of the change in road fuel duty in September 2009; and if he will make a statement. [291681]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: When making decisions on fuel duty, the Chancellor takes into account all relevant economic, social and environmental factors. The increase in road fuel duty on 1 September this year will help to support the public finances in the medium term.


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The following table sets out the average cost of a litre of petrol for the month of October since 2000, and the percentage of this cost that was accounted for by fuel duty.

Pump price (pence per litre) Fuel duty rate Percentage fuel duty

2000

79.46

47.82

60

2001

75.11

45.82

61

2002

74.44

45.82

62

2003

75.84

47.10

62

2004

83.13

47.10

57

2005

94.00

47.10

50

2006

85.74

47.10

55

2007

97.03

50.35

52

2008

106.03

50.35

47


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