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29 Jan 2010 : Column 1139W—continued

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As a result of the £2 billion transitional relief scheme we have put in place, no property (including petrol retail outlets) will see its rates rise by more than 11 per cent. in 2010-11 as a result of revaluation, with increases capped at just 3.5 per cent. for small properties.

Shops: Empty Property

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer to the hon. member for Meriden of 15 October 2009, Official Report, columns 1073-4W, on shops: empty property, what information his Department used to assess (a) levels of deprivation and (b) shop vacancy rates. [313808]

Barbara Follett: The Department for Communities and Local Government is providing £5.6 million to 107 local authorities to support approaches for making use of vacant shops and other ideas for boosting high streets and town centres affected by the recession. We have targeted this funding at councils showing relatively high levels of deprivation as these areas have been hit hardest by the recession.

The local authorities receiving funding are in the top half of the index of multiple deprivation (IMD) and show relatively high shop vacancy rates based on data provided by the market analysts Experian.

Southend Airport

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons he issued an Article 14 direction with regard to the proposed runway extension at London Southend Airport. [312996]

Barbara Follett: The Article 14 Direction was issued to enable the Secretary of State to consider whether to call-in the application for his own determination.

Travelling People: Caravan Sites

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer of 21 October 2009, Official Report, column 1512W, on travelling people: caravan sites, what figures (a) his Department and (b) the Planning Inspectorate holds on the number and proportion of planning appeals that were (i) granted and (ii) dismissed, (A) prior to the year that Circular 01/06 came into force and (B) subsequent to the year that Circular 01/06 came into force. [308797]

Mr. Ian Austin: It is not possible to search the Planning Inspectorate's database for appeals that solely concern travelling people or caravan sites.

Cabinet Office

Departmental Correspondence

Mr. Maude: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what targets (a) her Department and (b) the Government Communication Group have for the time to (i) acknowledge and (ii) provide a substantive reply to external correspondence. [312290]

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Tessa Jowell: The Cabinet Office target for responding to correspondence with a substantive reply is 15 working days.

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many employees in (a) her Department and (b) its agency are in transition prior to being managed out; how long on average the transition window between notification and exit has been in (i) her Department and (ii) its agency in each of the last five years; what estimate she has made of the salary costs of staff in transition in each such year; and what proportion of employees in transition were classed as being so for more than six months in each year. [313249]

Angela E. Smith: On 31 December 2009, Cabinet Office had 17 staff without permanent roles who were being supported to find new permanent roles. The Department introduced a brokerage service in July 2007 to provide tailored support to redeploy staff without permanent roles. Figures on staff without permanent roles are only available since that date.

Since July 2007, 115 staff without permanent roles have been redeployed. The average time between staff being declared surplus and redeployment to a new permanent role is set out in the following table. The table also gives details of the proportion of employees without a permanent role for longer than six months.

Average time from declared surplus to redeployment (Months) Proportion of CO employees without a permanent role for six months or more (Percentage)










(1)Information on salary costs of staff without permanent roles is not held. However, there are no additional staff costs to the Department arising from staff without permanent roles, since they are deployed in interim or temporary roles while they are looking for permanent employment, saving the Department the cost of fees on agency and interim staff.

Departmental Meetings

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what (a) meetings and (b) other contacts (i) Ministers and (ii) officials in her Department have had with (A) Niall Fitzgerald, (B) Keith Craig, (C) Sir Rod Eddington, (D) Sir Kieran Prendergast, (E) Robert Webb QC and (F) Mark Getty since 1 January 2009. [313775]

Angela E. Smith: Ministers and officials meet with a wide range of organisations and individuals. To provide the information requested could be met only at disproportionate cost.

Government Communications: Political Parties

Mr. Maude: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office whether the Permanent Secretary for Government Communications has issued advice to political parties on the use of the (a) Real Help Now and (b) Building Britain's Future brands. [312521]

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Tessa Jowell: The Permanent Secretary for Government Communications has not issued advice to political parties on these subjects.


Norman Baker: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office with reference to the answer of 5 November 2009, Official Report, columns 1228W, on Hakluyt, what contacts Ministers in her Department have had with Hakluyt and Co. since 1 January 2009. [312789]

Angela E. Smith: No Ministers in my Department have met with Hakluyt and Co. since 1 January 20009.

Power of Information Taskforce

Grant Shapps: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office which recommendations in the Power of Information Taskforce Report have been (a) rejected, (b) fully implemented and (c) partly implemented. [309847]

Tessa Jowell: The Government Response to the Power of Information Taskforce report accepted, at least in principle, all of the recommendations. Action on Recommendations 4, 9, 13, 16, 18, 19, 17, 20 and 22 is complete. Other recommendations are in the process of being implemented.

Third Sector: Cheques

Lorely Burt: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the likely effect on third sector organisations of proposals to phase out the cheque clearing system. [313359]

Angela E. Smith: I am very concerned about the withdrawal of cheques, planned for October 2018, and the potential impact on the sector. We are in discussion with the Payments Council, which is planning to meet with charities to consult over their plans.


Banks: Iceland

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations (a) he and (b) his officials have received from the Icelandic government since 5 January 2010 regarding the renegotiation of terms to repay debt to the Government for the compensation of depositors who held accounts with Icesave. [313620]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Treasury Ministers and officials have discussions 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 discussions.


Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out, with statistical information as closely related to Chorley constituency as possible, the effect on that constituency of the policies of his Department since 1997. [314239]

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Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The Neighbourhood Statistics Service provides a wide range of statistical information at parliamentary constituency level, taken from the 2001 census and other sources. This service is available on the National Statistics website at:

The Government have put in place a broad programme of reform since 1997. Over the decade to 2007, the economic performance of all parts of the UK has improved considerably.

The global recession has had a negative impact on economic activity in all areas of the UK. However, the economy was starting from a position of strength and is actively supported by policies implemented by the Government, including the fiscal stimulus and a significant package of support for those out of work. In Chorley people are benefiting from this investment. Over the second half of 2009, more than 500 people moved off of the claimant count each month on average. The claimant count fell over the last three quarters and now stands 14 per cent. below its April level. At the end of 2009, long-term youth unemployment and long-term unemployment are both nearly 90 per cent. lower than in May 1997.

Civil Service: Location

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the suitability of the West Midlands as an area to which civil service posts could be relocated. [307311]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 16 December 2009]: The Lyons review of 2004 suggested that a Government relocation programme could generate savings over a 15 year period and demonstrated the positive impact that well planned relocations can have on local economies.

Pre-Budget report 2009 announced that nearly 21,000 posts had been moved out of London and the South East by June 2009. Of these, 2,069 have been relocated to the West Midlands.

"Smarter Government", published in December 2009, went further and announced that Ian Smith would lead a review to look at the efficiencies that moving further posts might bring, outlining how at least 10 per cent. of all civil service posts currently based in London and the South East can be relocated in the medium term.

The terms of reference I have agreed for this review are to produce recommendations on:

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The review should also aim to deliver a specific, significant relocation example in time for Budget, demonstrating the seriousness of the Government's intent.

Departmental Written Questions

David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what average time his Department took to answer questions for (a) ordinary written answer and (b) written answer on a named day in the last 12 months. [313651]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: In the calendar year 2009, Treasury Ministers answered ordinary written questions substantively in an average of seven working days. 2,163 of the 2,804 questions concerned (77.1 per cent.) were answered within a week of tabling. Treasury Ministers answered named day questions in an average of five working days. 685 of the 884 questions concerned (77.4 per cent.) were answered on the nominated day.

With effect from the current Session of Parliament, each Department will provide the Procedure Committee with sessional statistics on the time taken to answer written questions. This implements recommendation 24 of the third report from the Procedure Committee, Session 2008-09.

Economic Situation: Portsmouth

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the recession on the economy in Portsmouth South constituency; and if he will make a statement. [313074]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The Government recognise that the global economic downturn has affected all regions within the UK, including Portsmouth and the wider Hampshire economy. Government Departments and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), as the regional development agency in the region, have taken forward a number of initiatives to provide assistance to families and businesses in these difficult times. The Chancellor will provide an update on the state of the economy at a national level in the 2010 Budget report later this year.

Excise Duties: Alcoholic Drinks

Paul Rowen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what checks are carried out by HM Revenue and Customs to ensure alcoholic goods have been correctly exported before duty is repaid. [314165]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: It is a condition of reimbursement of UK duty under the drawback provisions that the claimant must be able to demonstrate that the goods to which a drawback claim relates have been exported from the UK and that duty has been paid or secured to the satisfaction of the fiscal authority in the member state of destination.

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HMRC test the veracity of the evidence claimant's use in support of their claims. More detailed information cannot be disclosed as this would provide information of value to those seeking to circumvent HM Revenue and Customs' controls.

Excise Duties: Beer

Paul Rowen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what mechanism is in place to monitor the movement of beer under duty suspension to the EU. [314167]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The movement of beer in duty suspension between EU member states is governed by EU Council Directive 92/12/EEC. This states that movements within the EU must take place between approved businesses and must be accompanied by an Administrative Accompanying Document (AAD) at all times. Once the goods have been received at their destination, the consignee must discharge the movement by returning a report of receipt to the consignor.

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