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3 Jun 2010 : Column 98Wcontinued
Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what plans he has for the future of the Warm Front scheme; and what recent representations he has received on the time taken for applicants under that scheme to receive assistance. 
Gregory Barker: Funding for the scheme is just over £1.1 billion for the current three year spending period to March 2011. This includes a cash provision of £345m for 2010-11. Funding for future years will be considered as part of the budget and spending review processes.
The scheme continues to experience very high levels of demand. In order to manage this demand within the available budget, insulation work is currently taking up to three months to complete and new or replacement heating systems up to six months to install.
Mr Watson: To ask the Prime Minister whether a document security briefing has been provided to Mr Andy Coulson since 6 May 2010. 
The Prime Minister: All individuals with access to Government papers are reminded of the security regulations surrounding documents.
Helen Goodman: To ask the Prime Minister how many special advisers he (a) has appointed and (b) plans to appoint. 
The Prime Minister: Information relating to special adviser appointments will be published shortly at which time I will arrange for copies to be placed in the Libraries of the House.
Mr Watson: To ask the Prime Minister whether he plans to use a mobile telephone for official business. 
The Prime Minister: I will conduct business in the most appropriate manner and as circumstances dictate.
Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Prime Minister when he plans to visit the Middle East. 
The Prime Minister: As set out in the Queen's Speech, in the Middle East the Government will work for a two state solution that sees a viable state of Palestine existing in peace and security alongside Israel. As I made clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu, we deplore the loss of life off the coast of Gaza in recent days. I will of course update Parliament on progress including any visits to the region.
Andrew George: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to regulate account charges by banks and other investment and lending bodies on (a) personal and (b) business account holders. 
Mr Hoban: The Government have stated in the coalition agreement that
"we will introduce stronger consumer protections, including measures to end unfair bank and financial transaction charges".
We are considering how best to implement this commitment and will bring forward proposals in due course.
Catherine McKinnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for the future level of investment allowances for manufacturing businesses; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Gauke: The Coalition Agreement sets out the Government's aim to:
"reform the corporate tax system by simplifying reliefs and allowances, and tackling avoidance, in order to reduce headline rates. Our aim is to create the most competitive corporate tax regime in the G20, while protecting manufacturing industries."
The Chancellor of the Exchequer will make a further statement at the emergency Budget on 22 June 2010.
Michael Fallon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy to ensure that any changes to capital gains tax do not discourage employee share ownership; and if he will make a statement. 
Justine Greening: We are seeking ways of taxing non-business capital gains at rates similar or close to those applied to income, with generous exemptions for entrepreneurial business activities. Further details will be provided at Budget.
Fiona Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will discuss with Ministerial colleagues steps to ensure that the application of the small company tax rate does not disadvantage individuals who operate more than one small company; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Gauke: The Government recognise the essential role of small businesses in the economy. They have set out their intention to reform the corporate tax system and create the most competitive tax regime in the G20.
The associated company rules are an important element of that regime and provide protection for the Exchequer. The Government keep all taxes under review to ensure they are as fair and simple as possible.
Mr Anderson: To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what his estimate is of the cost to the public purse of proposed reductions in numbers of non-frontline staff in his Department and its agencies; 
(2) what his most recent estimate is of the annual cost to his Department of redundancy payments for (a) front line and (b) other staff employed by (i) his Department and (ii) its agencies. 
Justine Greening: Our aim will be wherever possible to manage any necessary staff reductions within the Treasury and its agencies through natural wastage at no additional cost.
Mr Anderson: To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) front-line and (b) other staff were employed by (i) his Department and (ii) each of its agencies in the latest year for which figures are available; and what his most recent estimate is of the annual cost to the public purse of employing staff of each type at each of those bodies. 
Justine Greening: Details of Treasury Group staff numbers and the administration budget outturn for the Group in 2008-09 are shown in the Treasury's Annual Report and Accounts available from
Neither the Treasury nor any of its agencies employs front line staff.
Mr Iain Wright: To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of the (a) implementation of penalty clauses and payments in its contracts and (b) potential legal action arising from the deferral and cancellation of contracts and projects under his Department's plans to achieve cost savings; and whether those estimates are included in the total cost savings to be achieved by his Department. 
Justine Greening: The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is undertaking work to review major projects and support the renegotiation of contracts on behalf of Central Government to seek efficiencies in the region of £1.7 billion. The analysis of all contingent liabilities, in order to achieve maximum actual savings, is a core part of the review methodology. The OGC will be taking into account the potential costs of deferment or cancellation and advise Departments on next steps accordingly.
Michael Fallon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the (a) amount and (b) nature is of the liability of the United Kingdom for stability in the eurozone under the agreement of 9 May 2010. 
Mr Hoban [holding answer 2 June 2010]: Under the agreement reached on 9 May by EU Finance Ministers, the Council agreed to establish a European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism, totalling €500 billion.
The mechanism consists of two parts:
up to €440 billion to be provided by euro-area member states (and others who choose to participate) through a special purpose vehicle.
up to €60 billion of emergency finance provided in accordance with article 122(2) of the Lisbon treaty.
The UK will not participate in the special purpose vehicle, and there is therefore no question of any liability arising to the UK.
Should the €60 billion element of the mechanism be called upon, the European Commission would raise the money on capital markets. Loans would be granted in parallel with IMF programmes and would be subject to policy conditionality. The EU budget would be used to guarantee the loans. Only where there were defaults on loan repayments would there be a cost to the EU budget. Member states would be liable for a share through their monthly subscriptions to the EU budget: based on the UK's contribution to the 2010 EU budget, the UK's share would be approximately 13.6% of any increase, or up to a maximum of around €8 billion.
Ian Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of the implementation of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Ombudsman's report on Equitable Life. 
Mr Hoban: We will establish an independently designed payment scheme that is transparent and fair to both taxpayers and policyholders.
Sir John Chadwick is advising the Treasury on the relative losses suffered by Equitable Life policyholders in relation to those accepted cases of maladministration resulting in injustice. He will submit his report by mid-July.
As recognised by the parliamentary ombudsman in her report, any scheme will need to take the potential impact on the public purse into account.
The Government are working hard to address the situation quickly, while ensuring that our approach is thorough and fair.
Mr David Hamilton: To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made on the most recent EU review of minimum rates of excise duty to be applied to alcohol and alcoholic beverages. 
Justine Greening: The European Commission proposed revisions to the EU Directive setting minimum rates of excise duty on alcoholic beverages in September 2006. Following two discussions at Ministerial level at ECOFIN in November 2006, when it was not possible to reach agreement, successive EU Presidencies have chosen not to schedule further Council discussion of the dossier.
The Commission is currently in the process of reviewing the EU rules on alcohol duty again and will report the findings of their review to the Council in due course. It is unclear at this stage whether they will propose changes to EU legislation on minimum rates of duty.
Dr Pugh: To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much funding he has allocated to the budget of the Office of Budget Responsibility; 
(2) whether any posts in his Department are to be deleted as a consequence of the establishment of the Office of Budget Responsibility; 
(3) what estimate he has made of the net change in total Government expenditure consequent on the establishment of the Office for Budget Responsibility. 
Justine Greening: The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) was established on an interim basis on 17 May 2010 and is funded from within HM Treasury's existing departmental budget, it is led by a three-person Budget Responsibility Committee, supported by a small secretariat of economists and public finance experts redeployed from within the Treasury. The interim OBR is also drawing on experts remaining within the Treasury.
Sir Alan Budd, as Chair of the Budget Responsibility Committee, will be advising the Chancellor on the arrangements for the permanent body and legislation will be brought forward in due course.
Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 26 May 2010, Official Report, columns 2-3WS, on savings (2010-11), which buildings will be affected by the proposed £170 million reductions in property costs. 
Danny Alexander: The £170 million savings figure reflects a range of measures and decisions that will need to be taken to improve the management and use of government property, including reviewing and agreeing a disposals programme, delaying acquisitions, improving space usage, and giving up leases. The figure includes savings from both running costs and capital expenditure.
It is not possible to provide a list of buildings at this stage since in a number of cases this will involve commercial confidentiality issues.
Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 26 May 2010, Official Report, columns 2-3WS, on savings (2010-11), what estimate he has made of the effect on the number of private sector jobs of the proposed changes to contracts. 
Danny Alexander: As part of the contribution to achieving the savings outlined by the Government on 24 May, Government will be seeking to achieve greater value for money in the purchasing of goods and services from third parties. At this point in time no detailed estimates have been made as to the effect on the number of private sector jobs of the proposed changes.
Mr Meacher: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce a tax upon financial activities. 
Justine Greening: We are working with international partners, looking at all the options. We will introduce a banking levy as detailed in the coalition agreement.