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9 Jun 2010 : Column 187W—continued

Bradford & Bingley

Dr Pugh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what his policy is on the status of subordinated bondholders in Bradford & Bingley in the event of settlement; [1128]

(2) which former private banking and financial assets are in public ownership. [1234]

Mr Hoban: The Government wholly owns the following three banks: Bradford & Bingley plc; Northern Rock plc; and, Northern Rock (Asset Management) plc. The Government partially owns the following two banks: Royal Bank of Scotland plc and Lloyds Banking Group plc.

The Government's shareholdings in all the above five banks are managed by UKFI (United Kingdom Financial Investments Ltd) whose objectives are to maximise taxpayer value, help maintain financial stability and promote banking competition.

The subordinated bonds issued by Bradford & Bingley plc (B&B) are not covered by the Treasury wholesale deposit guarantee arrangements announced on 29 September 2008. Payments of these bonds, including interest, are entirely a matter for the board of B&B.

The company announced on 23 February 2010 that it will defer payment (principal and interest) on its subordinated bonds until the £18.4 billion statutory debt owed to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and the Treasury is repaid. The deferral of the payments of these bonds is part of the condition for which EC state aid approval was granted on 25 January 2010.

Business: Closures

Mr Sanders: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many of the limited liability companies which ceased operations in the last financial year owed money to HM Revenue and Customs. [1018]

Mr Gauke: The information requested is not readily available and could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

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Child Trust Fund

Mr Umunna: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many children in Streatham constituency have received assistance from the Child Trust Fund; [1088]

(2) what steps his Department takes in respect of stakeholder accounts into which child trust fund vouchers have not been paid by the child's parents within one year of issue. [1089]

Mr Hoban: The annual statistical information on Child Trust Fund accounts, including constituency and regional level data, can be viewed on HMRC's website:

The data shows that 9,626 children born on or before 5 April 2008 in the Streatham constituency have a Child Trust Fund account, of which 2,581 were opened by HMRC.

If the parents or guardians of a child that received a voucher under the scheme have not opened an account within a year of the voucher being issued, HM Revenue and Customs will have opened a stakeholder account for them.

Equitable Life Assurance Society: Compensation

Richard Harrington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department is taking in respect of payment of compensation to Equitable Life policyholders. [1002]

Mr Hoban: The Government have pledged to make fair and transparent payment to Equitable Life policyholders, through an independently designed payment scheme, for their relative loss as a result of regulatory failure.

The Queen's Speech announced the Government's intention to introduce a Bill in the first session of Parliament to enable payments to be made to Equitable Life policyholders.

On the same day, the Government also announced that an independent commission would be established to determine scheme design.

These steps are a sign of the Government's commitment to deliver on their pledge.

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what timetable has been set in respect of ex gratia payments to equitable Life policyholders who experienced losses. [1026]

Mr Hoban: We will establish an independently designed payment scheme that is transparent and fair to both taxpayers and policyholders.

Sir John Chadwick is due to submit his final report to the Treasury by mid-July. While Sir John finalises his report, the Government will consult with others on the next stage of the process.

The Government will then publish Sir John's report alongside a detailed update, giving next steps towards implementing an independently designed payment scheme.

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Excise Duties: Fuels

Kate Hoey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what his policy is on the taxation of road fuel; [1493]

(2) if he will initiate a public consultation on reform of the taxation of road fuel; [1494]

(3) if he will introduce a road fuel discount scheme for drivers in rural areas. [1495]

Justine Greening: The main rate of fuel duty is currently 57.19p per litre. Under plans set out by the previous Government, it is scheduled to rise by:

The coalition Government have committed to investigate measures to help with fuel costs in remote rural areas. The Chancellor keeps all taxes under review.

Office for Budget Responsibility

Dr Pugh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what factors he took into account when appointing Sir Alan Budd as head of the Office for Budgetary Responsibility. [982]

Mr Hoban: Sir Alan Budd was appointed on the basis of his skills and experience in macroeconomics and fiscal policy.

Tax Allowances: Married People

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number and proportion of households in (a) the UK and (b) Bristol East constituency who will be eligible for the proposed transferable tax allowance for married couples. [1093]

Mr Gauke: The Government have not announced their plans for recognising marriage in the tax system, and therefore it is not possible to provide the estimates that the hon. Lady asks for. Proposals will be brought forward by the Chancellor at the appropriate time.

Mr Bain: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on the recognition of marriage in the taxation system. [1185]

Mr Gauke: Proposals that recognise marriage and civil partnerships in the income tax system will be brought forward by the Chancellor at the appropriate time.

Taxation: Financial Services

Mr Allen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to introduce a levy on financial transactions in the UK. [1291]

Mr Hoban: We are working with international partners, looking at all the options, and will be taking note of the International Monetary Fund's report on how the financial sector can make a fair and substantial contribution. We will introduce a banking levy as detailed in the coalition agreement.

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Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost to businesses of implementing the recent temporary reduction in the rate of value added tax. [1139]

Mr Gauke: The previous administration published an impact assessment at the 2008 pre-Budget report, available at:

The November 2008 impact assessment estimated that the total cost for businesses in implementing the reduction at £175 million and the cost of the reversion at £125 million.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has commissioned research to look at the actual costs of complying with the VAT rate reduction and rate reversion. The findings of this work will be published in line with HMRC's stated publication policy following their expected completion later this year.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Aimhigher Programme

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent representations he has received on the future of the Aimhigher programme. [474]

Mr Willetts [holding answer 2 June 2010]: To date, I have received one letter about the future of the Aimhigher programme, which is from the hon. Member.

Alcoholic Drinks: Prices

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what role the Government has in (a) determining the legal implications of setting a minimum price per unit of alcohol in Scotland and (b) ensuring that implementation is compatible with EU competition law. [1522]

Mr Davey: The Scottish Government's Alcohol etc (Scotland) Bill is currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament. At this stage, it is for the Scottish Government to respond to the questions that have been raised about the Bill and to ensure its legislation and actions are compatible with EU law and within competence.

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what legal advice he has received regarding the minimum pricing per unit of alcohol; and what steps he is taking to ensure that minimum price setting is compatible with (a) domestic and (b) EU competition law. [1524]

Mr Davey: As part of the Government's work in examining options for tackling harms associated with excessive consumption of alcohol, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has considered the legal issues associated with a minimum unit price for alcohol. The Department will continue to contribute to the Government's work in this area, including advising how competition law relates to any proposed measures.

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Apprentices: Bexley

Mr Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent assessment his Department has made of levels of demand for apprenticeships in the London Borough of Bexley. [458]

Mr Hayes: We know that the demand from young people and adults for good quality employer-owned apprenticeships is high. Last year, there were 800 starts in Bexley and there have already been 500 starts in the first half of this academic year (up to 31 January).

We intend to increase the number of apprenticeship places for people of all ages, and we are committed to improving the quality of apprenticeships to make them better suited to the needs of employers and learners.

The Government's decision to redeploy £150 million of our savings for 2010-11, creating an additional 50,000 places this financial year, demonstrates our commitment to high-quality skills. We are investing in our future and training the next generation, as well as developing the existing work force, which is vital as we emerge from recession.

Business: Reading Berkshire

Mr Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent steps his Department has taken to assist small and medium-sized businesses in Reading East constituency. [985]

Mr Prisk: The Government are currently setting their policy priorities for the next five years, which will aim to make this the most entrepreneurial decade in history. This means creating the right environment to start and grow a business, including tackling issues such as the availability of finance and skills, the burden of regulation and issues of business confidence and taxation.

The Government are committed to promoting economic growth across the country and will support the creation of local enterprise partnerships to promote local economic development, to replace the regional development agencies. These may take the form of the existing RDAs where they are popular.

The Government are also redirecting £150 million of funding in 2010-11 to create an additional 50,000 high quality employer-led apprenticeship places. These new places will be targeted especially at SMEs to make it easier for small businesses to take on apprentices and access the benefits they can bring to the workplace.

Departmental Official Residences

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether any domestic properties in the gift of the Government have been allocated to the use of Ministers in his Department. [1792]

Mr Davey: No.

Further Education: Finance

Angela Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether he plans to ring-fence funding for further education. [1161]

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Mr Hayes: The announcements on savings to reduce the fiscal deficit made by the Government on 24 May 2010 included a reduction of £200 million in the train to gain budget in 2010-11. However, this resource is being reinvested in more apprenticeship places and further education capital projects. We will set out our plans for future years, including details of any ring-fences, in the forthcoming Spending Review. In general, we will aim to enable each of the sectors we fund to plan ahead with comparative certainty, although every Government needs to retain a capacity, subject to parliamentary scrutiny, to be able to respond to changing circumstances.

Further Education: Student Numbers

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what estimate he has made of the change in the number of students studying at further education colleges in the west midlands between academic years 2009-10 and 2010-11. [1448]

Mr Hayes: The following table shows learners studying at FE colleges in the west midlands Government office region in 2007/08 and 2008/09, the most recent years for which full year data are available.

Learners studying at further education colleges in the w est midlands, 2007/08 and 2008/09
Region 2007/08 2008/09

West midlands



Notes: 1. Further education provision includes general further education colleges including tertiary, sixth form colleges, special college-agricultural and horticultural colleges and art and design colleges, specialist colleges and external institutions. 2. Volumes are rounded to the nearest hundred. 3. Figures for 2008/09 are not directly comparable to 2007/08 due to a change in funding methodology. Source: Individualised Learner Record.

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