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30 Mar 2010 : Column 1034Wcontinued
Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what factors were taken into account in setting the level of air passenger duty in respect of journeys to the Caribbean; and if he will make a statement. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: In reforming air passenger duty (APD) in 2008 the Government sought to ensure that flying contributes fairly to the public finances and, by introducing distance bands, to strengthen the environmental signal of the tax.
Rates are set after careful deliberation by Ministers, taking into account all relevant factors. Ticketing systems are mainly based on national territories, and as such it is straightforward to base the tax rates to specific destinations on countries, where the capital city is the natural proxy for the country. APD levels on journeys to Caribbean countries are therefore based on the distance between their capitals and London.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assets are insured under his Department's Guarantee of Asset-Backed Securities. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The Government announced the asset-backed securities (ABS) guarantee scheme in January 2009, as part of a package of measures to stabilise financial markets, support lending to the economy and promote the transition towards a sustainable unguaranteed market. The ABS guarantee scheme closed on 31 December 2009.
Ms Keeble: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much public funding has been provided to assist banks since the start of the credit crunch. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Details of the financial support provided to UK banks are provided in Budget 2010 and the Treasury's Resource Accounts.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the Financial Statement of 24 March 2010, Official Report, column 258, how much of the £94 billion of new business loans will be provided by (a) RBS and (b) Lloyds TSB; and what steps he plans to take should either bank not meet its loan targets. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: For the second year of the Lending Commitments, Lloyds Banking Group have agreed to lend £44 billion to businesses, and RBS have agreed to lend £50 billion to businesses.
If the Government's judgment is that either bank has failed to meet their lending commitments for year two, or has seriously breached the behaviours set out under their SME Customer Charters, the Government will inform UK Financial Investments, which will work with the remuneration committees of the relevant banks to determine the appropriate consequences of the breach of the year two commitments or the customer charters to the relevant executives.
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number of people resident in City of York constituency who have benefited from the Government's guarantee to depositors with Icelandic banks; and what estimate has been made of the average monetary value of their deposits. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Using orders made under the Banking (Special Provisions) Act 2008, the retail deposit business of the UK subsidiaries of Kaupthing and Landsbanki respectively, Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander (KSF) and Heritable, were transferred to ING.
At the time of the transfer approximately £3.6 billion was paid to ING by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and the Treasury to facilitate the transfer of the retail deposit business. No estimate has been made specifically of the number of KSF and Heritable retail depositors living in York and the corresponding value of their deposits.
Retail depositors with Landsbanki (Icesave) are being compensated on an individual depositor-by-depositor basis by the FSCS. According to the FSCS about 2,369 retail depositors living in York have received payments
from the FSCS. The total sum paid to retail depositors living in York is about £47.3 million, an average of £20,000 per depositor.
Richard Burden: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many businesses in Birmingham had received assistance from the Business Payment Support Service on the latest date for which figures are available. 
Mr. Timms: Since its introduction on 24 November 2008, and up to 21 March 2010, HM Revenue and Customs' Business Payment Support Service (BPSS) has agreed over 307,000 time to pay arrangements with businesses in the UK to spread tax payments of just under £5.2 billion over an agreed period.
During the same period, the BPSS has agreed around 3,800 arrangements worth £71 million in Birmingham.
Mr. Swire: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether he has had discussions with (a) pensioner groups and (b) other representatives of vulnerable people on proposals to end the cheque clearing system; 
(2) what discussions he has had with the Payments Council on plans for alternative payment methods for cheque users should the cheque clearing system be ended. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The closure of cheque and credit clearing, the UK system that processes cheques, is a commercial decision for the Payments Council, an independent body that sets the strategy for UK payment systems, will take.
However, the Government recognise that certain groups (in particular the elderly, small businesses and the Third Sector) still value and are highly dependent on the cheque as a method of payment. We believe it is imperative that adequate alternatives are in place for all users of cheques, ahead of any potential closure of the cheque clearing system.
The Government have received representations on cheques directly from members of the public and Members of Parliament. Treasury officials are engaging with the Payments Council to ensure that the concerns of all cheque users are fully represented in any final decision to be taken in 2016 regarding the closure of the cheques clearing system.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the Valuation Office Agency's Council Tax Revaluation 2007 Programme Board minutes of 26 June 2003, paragraph 5, if he will place in the Library a copy of the paper on recommended choice of Automated Valuation Model vendor. 
Ian Pearson: This paper contains commercially sensitive information on the companies involved in the selection process and cannot be placed in the public domain.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the Valuation Office Agency's Council Tax Revaluation 2007 Programme Board minutes of 19 October 2004, paragraph 3.5, if he will place in the Library a copy of the due diligence review conducted by the IAAO. 
Ian Pearson: This review provides a description of the Valuation Office Agency's (VOA's) implementation of automated valuation modelling technology and a detailed analysis of the results it achieved. This is commercially sensitive and cannot be placed in the public domain.
Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on the provision of (a) financial and (b) other support for credit unions; and if he will make a statement. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Government have set aside almost £100 million as Growth Fund money for onward lending by credit unions and community development financial institutions. Over 240,000 credit union members have benefited from these loans to date with the average loan being around £450.
The Legislative Reform Order for Industrial and Provident Societies and credit unions is currently passing through Parliament using the super-affirmative procedure, while the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies and Credit Unions Act received Royal Assent on 11 March.
"The Government will continue to work to improve the supply of affordable credit for low-income households, including by supporting third sector lenders. It will consult on options to make sure banks make an appropriate contribution to community lenders through regulatory action or a new community levy to be funded by retail banks".
These initiatives show the Government's commitment towards credit unions and other mutual societies in the role they play in providing greater choice and diversity in the financial services sector.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether (a) his Department, (b) HM Revenue and Customs and (c ) the Valuation Office Agency has incurred expenditure on Google Adwords in the last 12 months. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: HM Treasury has not spent any money on Google Adwords. HM Revenue and Customs and the Valuation Office Agency spent £550,000 and £37,000 respectively on Google Adwords in the last 12 months.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department and its agencies have spent on rooms for staff leisure in each of the last five years. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: HM Treasury spending on rooms used for staff leisure is limited to standard maintenance costs and is therefore indistinguishable from spending on rooms used entirely for business purposes.
The Office of Government Commerce spent £10,000 upgrading shower facilities in 2009, with no other separately distinguishable expenditure for earlier years.
The UK Debt Management Office does not have any rooms allocated purely for staff leisure purposes.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his Department provides subsidised gym facilities for its staff. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: In 1 Horse Guards road, the Treasury Sports and Social Club allow the company Energy Fitness Professionals to run a gym and classes to which it provides no financial subsidy other than providing Energy Fitness Professionals with the free accommodation.
Rosebery Court in Norwich has one gym, run by the Rosebery Court Sports and Social Club. Gym users pay to use this gym directly to the social club, and it is not subsidised by either the social club or the department.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department spent on interior design in relation to office refurbishments undertaken in each of the last five years. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 9 March 2010, Official Report, column 266W.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what (a) voltage optimisers and (b) equivalent technologies are used within buildings occupied by his Department. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: In March 2009, HM Treasury Group was the first central Government Department to achieve the Carbon Trust's Carbon Standard for sustained improvement on a range of environmental indicators across its estate, and is committed to further improvements. It has achieved this without the installation of voltage optimisers or similar technology but keeps this under regular review.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department spent on antique furniture in each of the last five years; and what items were purchased in each such year. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: HM Treasury has not purchased any antique furniture in the past five years.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost to his Department was of employing press and media officers in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and what the cost to his Department was of employing such staff in the financial year 1996-97, expressed in current prices. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 23 March 2010, Official Report, column 190W, to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Shapps). Information on the cost of employing Press Officers in 1996-97 could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many complaints his Department received regarding difficulties using its Department's website in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: HM Treasury has received no complaints regarding difficulties operating its website in each of the last three years.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department spent on external website design consultants in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: HM Treasury has not spent any money on external website design consultants between 2006-07 and 2008-09.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many employees in (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies are in transition prior to being managed out; how long on average the transition window between notification and exit has been in (i) his Department and (ii) each of its agencies in each of the last five years; what estimate he 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; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the proportion of staff of (a) his Department and (b) its agencies managed out in the last five years who remain working in the public sector. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Employees across the Treasury Group are kept informed of any forthcoming changes in organisational roles or functions, and full support is given to employees. Staff have six months' notice, more in the case of disabled staff, in order to find alternative employment.
Information covering HM Treasury and the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is set out in the following table. The Treasury and OGC figures for 2008-09 relate to additional time given to employees to seek alternative employment elsewhere in the civil service.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) has not had any employees in transition over the last five years.
Estimates of salary costs, and of the percentage of former staff who remain in the public sector, could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
|Organisation||Average time (months)||Number of staff >6 months|
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