Previous Section Index Home Page

23 Mar 2010 : Column 189W—continued

Departmental Food

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to ensure that the meat and dairy products procured by his Department and its non-departmental body are free range or produced to standards equivalent to those of the RSPCA Freedom Food scheme. [323073]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Meat and dairy products are provided to HM Treasury staff in London under a facilities management contract. In line with guidance from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, suppliers under this contract procure meat and dairy products which have been produced under industry welfare standards. Directly procured dairy products are also produced under appropriate industry standards.

Departmental Information Officers

Grant Shapps: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) press officers and (b) communications staff were employed by his Department (i) in each of the last five years and (ii) on the latest date for which figures are available; and what the cost of employing such staff was in each such year. [310209]

23 Mar 2010 : Column 190W

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The number of full-time equivalent press officers employed by HM Treasury is nine. In addition HM Treasury employs 22 staff working directly on publishing, digital communications, internal communications and strategic communications. Information on the costs for each year could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

For information on press officers for the previous five years I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answers given to the hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Osborne) on 11 January 2005, Official Report, column 445W, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) on 5 June 2006, Official Report, column 177W, the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) on 8 October 2007, Official Report, column 213W, the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Browne) on 21 February 2008, Official Report, column 939W and the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) on 19 June 2009, Official Report, 546W.

Previous information on communication staff is not available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Publications

David Davis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the dates of publication of any regular statistics or reports by his Department have been affected by planning for the forthcoming general election. [323661]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: On the announcement of a General Election, the Cabinet Secretary issues guidance to Departments on their activities during the pre-election period. This will be published on the Cabinet Office website.

Regular statistical releases and reports will continue to be issued and published during the election period on dates which have been pre-announced.

Departmental Visits Abroad

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department and its agencies, HM Revenue and Customs and the Valuation Office Agency spent on visits abroad by (a) Ministers and (b) officials in each of the last three years. [321175]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry [holding answer 8 March 2010]: All travel undertaken by Ministers and civil servants is in accordance with the "Ministerial Code" and the "Civil Service Management Code" respectively. All spending on subsistence is made in accordance with the principles set out in "Managing Public Money".

The Government published a list of all overseas travel by Ministers costing over £500 on 16 July 2009, and this is available at:

Equitable Life Assurance Society

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department has taken to ensure that its database of contact details of former Equitable Life policy-holders eligible for payments under any payment scheme is accurate and up-to-date. [323356]

23 Mar 2010 : Column 191W

Mr. Byrne: Officials have been carrying out work on scheme design in parallel with Sir John Chadwick's work. Ensuring contact details are up to date and accurate is part of this work.

Industry: Private Sector Investment

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate his Department made of the level of private sector investment in industry in real terms in (a) 1994, (b) 1999, (c) 2004 and (d) 2009. [322804]

Angela E. Smith: I have been asked to reply.

23 Mar 2010 : Column 192W

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated March 2010:

Business investment, industrial sector-chained volume measure, 2005 prices
£ million
Private sector

Manufacturing Other production Construction Distribution services Other services Public corporations Total business Investment

































ONS Business Investment

Infrastructure UK: Legal Opinion

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what criteria were used to select Linklaters as legal adviser to Infrastructure UK; how the contract for those services was advertised; how many other companies tendered for that contract; and what the monetary value is of that contract. [323345]

Ian Pearson: The requirement for legal services was competed under the Office of Government Commerce buying solutions "Legal Services - major projects (including complex, innovative PFI/PPP)" framework ref RM373/L8. The requirement was "advertised" via a collaborative Framework Agreement.

The following evaluation criteria were used:

Responses were received from eight firms, three of whom were invited to interview.

No monetary value was assigned to the contract. A schedule of hourly rates was agreed subject to staff seniority.

Members: Correspondence

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the reply from the Minister for the Cabinet Office dated 9 March 2010, Official Report, column 299W, on Members: correspondence, when he expects to reply to the letters of 10 December 2008 and 15 July 2009 which were transferred to his Department on 22 December 2008 and 22 July 2009. [323331]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Our records show a reply was sent to the hon. Member on 7 January 2009, however, a scanned copy of the reply was not retained. I have provided a replacement to the hon. Member.

Non-Domestic Rates: Ports

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the performance of the Valuation Office Agency in respect of the separate rating of port businesses. [323597]

Ian Pearson: The performance of the Valuation Office Agency has been considered in a Framework Review, conducted by an HMRC Director reporting to the Minister then responsible for the Agency, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. It was also dealt with in the Government's response to the Treasury Select Committee's (TSC) First Report of Session 2008-09, Administration and expenditure of the Chancellor's Departments, 2007-08 (HC 35).

The Framework Review is available at:

Non-Domestic Rates: Valuation

Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many public houses there were on the Rating List in each local authority area in England in (a) 1997 and (b) 2010. [323199]

Ian Pearson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 16 December 2009, Official Report, column 1303W, in respect of the 1997 data. Information for the draft 2010 Rating Lists was first published by the Valuation Office Agency on its website on 18 December 2009.

23 Mar 2010 : Column 193W

Information for Public Houses can be found under:

Public Sector: Pensions

Natascha Engel: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the net cost to the Exchequer was of public sector pensions in each year since 1980, expressed in (a) cash terms and (b) 2010 prices. [321900]

Mr. Byrne: The net cost to the Exchequer (on a national accounts basis) of public service pensions for years 2003-04 to 2008-09 is shown in the "Contribution to TME" line of table D.1 of Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA) 2009,

Earlier years back to 1993-94 are available in previous editions of PESA. However, data in previous PESAs are not directly consistent with PESA 2009 due to changes in data coverage and classification changes and therefore are not presented on a comparable basis.

Data on other public sector schemes are not held centrally.

Revenue and Customs: Chorley

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the outcome was of the moderation process in respect of relocation of HM Revenue and Customs customer operations staff from Lingmell House, Chorley; and if he will make a statement; [317911]

(2) what role (a) his Department and (b) HM Revenue and Customs plays in the moderation process in respect of relocation of staff consequent on the closure of Lingmell House, Chorley; and if he will make a statement; [317913]

(3) what commitments HM Revenue and Customs management have made to customer operations staff at Lingmell House, Chorley; and if he will make a statement; [317916]

(4) on what dates HM Revenue and Customs wrote to customer operations staff at Lingmell House, Chorley to indicate an intention to move them to employment in a benefits and credits team; on what date HM Revenue and Customs wrote to their staff to rescind that intention; who was responsible for the reversal of that decision; if he will investigate the reasons for that reversal; and if he will make a statement. [319173]

Mr. Timms: Moderation formed part of the Human Resource (HR) procedures put in place by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to facilitate the redeployment of staff from its offices, including Chorley, affected by the decisions arising from the Regional Review Programme undertaken between 2006 and 2008.

The moderation process was developed by HMRC, in consultation with trade unions, to help staff and managers identify whether proposed redeployment options were within the pre-defined Reasonable Daily Travel limits. The process was agreed across the Department together with trade unions, with decisions taken at a local level
23 Mar 2010 : Column 194W
within line management chains and with independent support and advice to ensure fairness and consistency. Moderation groups were established to make relocation decisions based upon information provided by staff during one-to-one meetings held with their managers.

As part of the moderation process each individual's case was considered individually and personal circumstances were taken into account when deciding if a move was within reasonable daily travelling time for the person concerned.

In February 2008 HMRC announced that Lingmell House would close with the expectation that staff working in customer operations would relocate with their work to customer operations strategic sites in Manchester or Bootle. In line with departmental guidance, customer operations staff working in Lingmell House were then considered for transfer to Manchester and Bootle.

Following one-to-one meetings between managers and staff, decisions were taken by a moderating panel as to whether it was reasonable for an individual to relocate to one of these sites within reasonable daily travel, taking their individual personal circumstances into account. Staff were notified of the outcome of this process by letter in April 2008.

In July 2008 a second moderation process was mistakenly carried out to consider moves for customer operations staff in the Chorley office to the Tax Credit Office in Preston. As an outcome of this moderation on 29 July 2008 HMRC wrote to customer operations staff at Lingmell House, Chorley, who were within reasonable daily travel of Preston, to indicate that they could be relocated to the Tax Credit Office at Preston.

The outcome of this second moderation is invalid, as it was not carried out in accordance with the processes agreed between HMRC and departmental trade unions. These processes required that Chorley customer operations staff be moderated within their own business stream-customer operations-and were therefore not eligible to be moderated with the tax credits office in Preston. Changes to the business and staffing requirements in the Tax Credit Office in the second half of 2008 resulted in recruitment of further staff stopping, with no likelihood of future vacancies in that location.

Those staff members unable to travel to their nearest customer operations strategic site at Manchester or Bootle were informed of this in an office meeting in March 2009 and issued with pre-surplus letters on 17 March 2009 to give them priority access to other jobs or to apply for early release schemes. This decision was taken by HMRC's senior regional manager for customer operations.

After being made surplus in January 2010 some Chorley customer operations staff and the local trade union representative contacted HMRC to clarify the position with regard to the letter they had received in July 2008 about transferring to TCO Preston. The regional director's support team replied giving more details as to why the second moderation process was invalid and apologised for the confusion and unwarranted expectations that had arisen as a result of this moderation.

Next Section Index Home Page