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10 Jan 2011 : Column 195Wcontinued
Susan Elan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what estimate he has made of the average timber content of new buildings in each of the last five years; 
(2) whether his Department has made an assessment of the likely effects on the environment of the implementation of a statutory minimum level of use of timber in new building construction; and if he will make a statement. 
Andrew Stunell: The Department has made no estimate of the timber content of new buildings nor has it made any assessment of the effects of implementing a statutory minimum.
Building regulations set requirements on the performance of completed buildings and do not prescribe how this performance should be achieved or what materials should be used. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is exploring the promotion of the use of timber in construction and we will work closely with DEFRA and external partners on this.
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what support his Department plans to provide to the biennial conference of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum. 
Robert Neill: My right hon. Friend recognises the importance of Her Majesty's Government being represented at the biennial conference of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, and it is hoped that Baroness Hanham will attend the conference.
David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what funding his Department provides to organisations that help migrant workers integrate into their local community. 
Andrew Stunell: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to Lord Roberts of Llandudno by my hon. Friend Baroness Hanham on 22 July 2010, Official Report, House of Lords, column 245WA.
Julian Sturdy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what financial assistance his Department has provided to the YORbuild Framework. 
Robert Neill: The YORbuild Framework, for the efficient procurement of construction projects, was developed and implemented by YoHr Space, a locally owned and led partnership of authorities in the Yorkshire and Humber area (latterly the area's Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership).
The Department provided annual, un-ringfenced funding to YoHr Space from 2004-05 to 2010-11 inclusive to support its development of a range of projects designed to help authorities improve service delivery and achieve greater value for money. YoHr Space confirms that £475,000 of this funding has been used in support of YORbuild.
Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions his Department has had with local authorities on steps to reduce the number of elderly people who die because of cold weather. 
Andrew Stunell: My Department has had no such discussions but I encourage local authorities to work with their local NHS partners on the recently launched Keep Warm Keep Well campaign. The campaign provides advice on staying warm over the winter and staying in touch with people who may be vulnerable during cold weather, including the elderly, in order to reduce illness and deaths.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on how many occasions his Department has provided embargoed media briefings prior to an oral statement to the House since 26 May 2010; in respect of how many such briefings his Department was informed that the embargo had been breached; what steps were taken as a result of each such breach; and on how many occasions his Department has provided media briefings without an embargo prior to an oral statement to the House since 26 May 2010. 
Robert Neill: The Department for Communities and Local Government has not provided any embargoed media briefings prior to an oral statement to the House since 26 May 2010.
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many copies of each publication to which his Department subscribes it received in (a) June, (b) July and (c) August 2010. 
Robert Neill: We have interpreted this question as asking about hard copy corporate subscriptions to journals and publications. The Department also purchases subscriptions for the Department for Transport under a shared service agreement.
Identifying such subscriptions and any subscriptions purchased outside of the corporate agreement could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Ministers have made £15,000 a year of revenue savings by consolidating the seven sets of papers and periodicals that Ministers and special advisers were receiving. As outlined in my answer of 7 December 2010, Official Report, column 178W, significant savings have been made in relation to the wasteful and excessive spending on press cutting that Ministers inherited from the last Administration.
The information requested has been deposited in the Library of the House.
Catherine McKinnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) the non-departmental public bodies for which he is responsible have taken to comply with the Guidance of the Office of Government Commerce on promoting skills through public procurement issued in 2009. 
Robert Neill: The Department has issued guidance to all its buyers, agencies and non-departmental bodies specifically on apprenticeships and small to medium enterprises.
Details of any activities undertaken by the Department's agencies and non- departmental bodies are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he made of the number of vacant properties in the (a) social and (b) private rented sector in (i) England, (ii) Leeds and (iii) Leeds North West constituency in each of the last five years. 
Andrew Stunell: Information is not collected by constituency nor is information collected on the number of vacant dwellings in the private rented sector.
The Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (HSSA) collects information from local authorities on the number of vacant dwellings within each local authority area as at 1 April.
The Regulatory Statistical Return is collected by the Tenant Services Authority and collects information on vacant dwellings from housing associations as at 31 March. However, the number of vacant dwellings recorded includes general needs dwellings only.
The following table shows the number of vacant dwellings owned by local authorities and housing associations in Leeds and England in each year for the past five years.
|Vacant social housing dwellings, as at 1 April for local authority and as at 31 March for housing association|
|Local authority||Housing a ssociation|
| Note: Housing association dwellings includes general needs dwellings only. Sources: 1. For local authority vacants, Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (HSSA). 2. For housing association vacants, Regulatory Statistical Return collected by the Tenant Services Authority.|
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much his Department has spent on staff entertainment since 1 June 2010. 
Robert Neill: We have interpreted entertainment to mean attendance at spectator type events such as concerts or sports. Departmental records show no such expenditure since 1 June 2010.
Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what contingency plans (a) his Department and (b) local authorities have made to respond to flooding resulting from melting snow. 
Robert Neill: My Department is the lead Government Department for the national coordination of recovery from all sources of flooding in England. The Department has a dedicated team to coordinate Government activity to support recovery as required. This includes 24/7 duty cover and resilience teams across the country who work closely with local responders to enable central Government to provide support to local areas if required.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is the lead Government Department for the central response to flooding events.
The Civil Contingencies Act (2004) requires Category One Responders (such as local authorities, police and fire and rescue authorities) to have plans in place to respond to all emergencies. For many parts of England, flooding poses a significant risk and is well recognised within many Community Risk Registers.
Most local authorities, and the Local Resilience Forums of which they are part, have multi-agency flood plans, based on guidance produced by central Government, which set out their response and recovery plans to flooding. They also benefit from the daily flood forecasts
from the Flood Forecasting Centre, which include assessments of the risk of flooding from snow melt at an individual county level.
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) when he expects to announce his plans for the future of the Homelessness Basic Revenue Grant; 
(2) what the total monetary value was of grants provided by his Department to tackle homelessness in (a) London and (b) England since 6 May 2010; 
(3) how much funding his Department provided for measures to tackle homelessness in each year from 1997-98 to 2009-10. 
Grant Shapps: We announced as part of the spending review outcome that we will invest £400 million in Preventing Homelessness Grant over the next four years to support the work of local authorities and the voluntary sector, maintaining current levels of investment. Allocations of Preventing Homelessness Grant for local authorities were published on 13 December 2010 as part of the provisional local Government settlement for 2010-11. This can be found on the Department's website at
Since May 2010, we have allocated £70.9 million in homelessness grant to local authorities in England, of which £37.6 million was to local authorities in London. This included £10 million to support London authorities in their preparatory work for implementation of the housing benefit reforms. We have also allocated £20.7 million directly to voluntary sector organisations.
The following table gives homelessness grant spend from 1997-98 to 2009-10.
|Homelessness Grant Spend 1997-98 to 2009-10|
Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether individuals not in accommodation owing to an inability to pay rents under the proposed changes to local housing allowance may be declared intentionally homeless. 
Grant Shapps: Under the homelessness legislation that applies to England (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996) a person becomes intentionally homeless if he or she is required to leave accommodation as a consequence of his or her own deliberate behaviour, and, but for that behaviour, it would have been reasonable for that person to continue to occupy the accommodation. A person who does not have accommodation owing to an inability to pay rents may or may not have become intentionally homeless, depending on the circumstances of the case. However, it is for local housing authorities to make decisions in individual cases.
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authorities have unallocated financial reserves of over (a) 10 per cent., (b) 20 per cent., (c) 30 per cent., (d) 40 per cent. and (e) 50 per cent. of their budget for 2010-11. 
Robert Neill: I have today placed in the Library of the House a table that gives, by each local authority in England, and for each class of local authority in England, the budgeted non-school reserve level and unallocated reserve level figures at 31 March 2011. Included in this table are also total non-school and unallocated reserve levels at 31 March 2011 as a percentage of budgeted revenue expenditure in the financial year 2010-11.
Reserves set aside for a specific purpose by local authorities are known as 'earmarked reserves'. Some will reflect statutory constraints on the use of some categories of income, such as on-street parking charges.
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many representations his Department has received on reductions in the formula grant for 2011-12. 
Robert Neill: The consultation on the provisional Local Government Finance settlement for 2011-12 was announced by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, on 13 December 2010, and will continue until 17 January 2011. A number of representations on our proposals have been received, and I expect more.
Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will estimate the level of cost inflation in respect of local authorities; and if he will make a statement. 
Robert Neill: The information requested is not collected centrally.
Chris Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the largest formula change component is in the local government grant allocation he made in his announcement of 13 December 2010 in respect of the 8.4 per cent. reduction in spending power for Nottingham city council. 
Robert Neill: The four components to the changes in an individual authority's allocation of formula grant are changes in:
the size of the relative needs and relative resource blocks;
No formal analysis of this kind has been undertaken, but the change in control totals is likely to be the main driver. The changes to the distribution formulae are set out in the consultation paper on the provisional settlement.
Chris Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what his Department has identified as the most statistically significant change in the new formula for the Supporting People allocation announced on 13 December 2010 in respect of the reduction affecting Nottingham city council compared with the formula used in 2010-11. 
Grant Shapps: The Supporting People allocation as described in annex K of the draft "Local Government Finance Report (England) 2011/2012" remains unchanged from the underlying formula used for the 2010-11 allocations. The data used have been updated.
The previous Administration removed the ring fence for Supporting People funding in April 2009. In distributing the 2010-11 Supporting People allocations via area-based grant, the allocations to local authorities were damped to ensure that no authority received a large cut year-on-year. Since Supporting People was one of the services transferred into formula grant from 2011-12, it is no longer damped separately but instead is included in the damping applied to total formula grant which also ensures that no authority receives a large cut year-on-year on a like-for-like basis.
I have written an open letter to the leader of Nottingham city council which sets out how funding for vulnerable people has been protected and clarifies how the local government finance system works in relation to the 'formula grant', which includes funding for Supporting People, that Nottingham city council will receive. I have placed a copy of the letter in the Library of the House.
Karen Lumley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the average change in grant funding to each district council in Worcestershire in 2011-12. 
Robert Neill: The provisional local government finance settlements for 2011-12 and 2012-13 were announced by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, on 13 December 2010. Details of the provisional settlement for 2011-12, and of the local government finance settlement for 2010-11, are available at:
Mr Iain Wright:
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Hartlepool of
26 July 2010, in respect of his constituent Mr Richard Wilson and building regulations. 
Andrew Stunell: 1 have now replied to the hon. Member's correspondence.
Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans he has for the future (a) funding of and (b) distribution of funding by the Migrant Impact Fund. 
Andrew Stunell: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to Lord Roberts of Llandudno by my hon. Friend Baroness Hanham on 22 July 2010, Official Report, House of Lords, column 245WA.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 29 November 2010, Official Report, column 480W, on planning permission: appeals, whether he plans to put in place measures to prevent local authorities from granting permission for developments that are not in accordance with locally agreed plans; and if he will make a statement. 
Greg Clark: Legislation already requires local authorities to make planning decisions that are in accordance with the statutory development plan-unless material considerations dictate otherwise. The Localism Bill includes provisions to establish neighbourhood plans which when adopted would become part of the statutory development plan.
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in respect of what types of development he plans to enable neighbourhood residents to exercise planning control. 
Robert Neill: Communities will be able to use neighbourhood planning to set policies for, and enable the delivery of, a wide range of development schemes including residential, commercial and leisure development proposals. The scope of neighbourhood planning is flexible. It will be for communities to determine the issues or areas to cover and what level of detail they want to provide.
However, certain types and classes of development are not considered appropriate for neighbourhood planning-either because of their scale, their impacts or their complexity. These include most types of waste development, all minerals applications, all nationally significant infrastructure projects and development proposals which fall within Annex 1 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (e. g. oil refineries). These exclusions are set out in Schedule 9. section 61L. of the Localism Bill.
We have also taken a power in the Localism Bill to prescribe further types or classes of development which are not considered appropriate for neighbourhood planning.
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he plans to bring forward proposals to enable communities to hold referendums on industrial or commercial developments which require permission from a planning authority. 
Robert Neill: Where an individual planning application is submitted for determination by the local planning authority, it will be for that authority to decide whether or not permission should be granted. In taking such decisions a local planning authority must have regard to the local development plan for its area (which will incorporate any relevant neighbourhood development plans) and any other material considerations. (It is unlikely that the fact that there has been a "yes" or "no" vote in a referendum on a specific development proposal would be a material consideration-i.e about the planning merits of an application-which the local planning authority could take into account). Individual planning applications would not be determined by referendum.
Local referendums on any issue should not be confused with referendums as part of the Localism Bill's neighbourhood planning provisions. Under these provisions, a community can bring forward a neighbourhood development order which permits certain types of development (e.g. for commercial development) in outline or full in their neighbourhood. A community referendum must be held into any neighbourhood development order.
Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps he is taking to reduce dependence of local areas on public sector employment; and if he will make a statement. 
Robert Neill: In our White Paper 'Local Growth: Realising Every Place's Potential' Government set out a new approach to local growth that is based on decentralisation and localism. Top down targets will be replaced with incentives for local action, and regional agencies and strategies are being removed so local communities can set their own priorities. Local enterprise partnerships are coming on stream, reflecting natural economic geographies rather than imposed and artificial regional boundaries.
Some places have developed an over-reliance on public sector employment and we want to support them in the
process of adjustment. That adjustment will involve a bigger role for the private sector, and the £1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund has been established to help achieve this in those places that are over-reliant on public sector employment.
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance his Department has issued to local planning authorities on regional spatial strategies since 25 November 2010. 
Greg Clark: On 10 November there was a written ministerial statement and the chief planner wrote to all local planning authorities about regional strategies. These can be found at:
A note on the status of the chief planner's letter in the light of current legal proceedings can be found at:
Simon Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many social houses have been built in (a) Norwich South constituency and (b) Norfolk in each year since 1997; and how many social houses he estimates will be built in (i) Norwich South constituency and (ii) Norfolk in each of the next two years. 
Andrew Stunell: The available information, showing the number of new build affordable homes delivered for each local authority district in Norfolk, is provided in the table. This information is not collected by parliamentary constituency.
Not all affordable housing is provided through new build completions as supply can also come from the acquisition and refurbishment of private sector homes. In 2009-10, for example, a total of 1,220 affordable homes were provided in Norfolk through new building, acquisition and refurbishment.
The Department does not forecast levels of future house building as delivery will be determined by local housing plans.
|New build affordable homes supplied by local authority district in Norfolk|
|Breckland||Broadland||Great Yarmouth||Kings Lynn and West Norfolk||North Norfolk||Norwich||South Norfolk||Total|
Figures rounded to nearest 10 homes.
Homes and Communities Agency; Local authorities
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he expects to announce his plans for the future of the Generations Together Grant. 
Tim Loughton: I have been asked to reply.
The generations together grant was used to fund the demonstration intergenerational programme, Generations Together, which will cease in March 2011. After this date future intergenerational work will be a matter for local partners, who may wish to work with those local authorities who took part in the demonstration programme.
Rachel Reeves: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average change in the number of people purchasing an annuity from a provider other than their existing pension provider was in each year since the review of the Open Market Option commenced. 
Mr Hoban: The Government do not collect data on purchasing of annuities. However, the Association of British Insurers has provided the following figures for the proportion of people purchasing an annuity from a provider other than their pension provider:
|Percentage buying from alternative provider||Change from previous year|
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps HM Revenue and Customs takes to ensure that a company registered as dormant is not trading; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs checks, on a risk basis, whether there is evidence that a company claiming to be inactive is actually active. These checks include reviewing Companies House records, other HM Revenue and Customs records, and third party information.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions HM Revenue and Customs initiated a request for a company to be struck off the Register of Companies in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10. 
Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs has no record of initiating any request.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether HM Revenue and Customs requests information from banks on accounts held for UK registered limited companies for the purposes of comparison with lists of dormant companies; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs can and does request information from banks in appropriate cases when checking whether a company has come within the charge to corporation tax.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to how many notices of intention to strike a company from the Register of Companies HM Revenue and Customs raised an objection in each tax year since 2007-08. 
Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs objected to the following number of notices of intention to strike a company from the Register of Companies.
|England and Wales|
HM Revenue and Customs do not keep a central record in relation to the Register of Companies, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the five reasons HM Revenue and Customs has most frequently given in objection to the striking off of a company from the Register of Companies since 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Gauke: For reasons of taxpayer confidentially, HM Revenue and Customs do not give Companies House a reason for objecting to the striking off of a company from the Register of Companies. HM Revenue and Customs write to the company explaining why an objection has been made. The precise reasons can vary from cases to case. The most common reasons are that the company owes money to HM Revenue and Customs, that an inquiry is being conducted into the company's tax affairs, or that a Corporation Tax return is outstanding.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many notices of intention to strike a company from the Register of Companies HM Revenue and Customs received in the tax year (a) 2007-8, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10. 
Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs received the following number of notices of intention to strike a company from the Register of Companies for England and Wales:
HM Revenue and Customs does not keep a central record of the number of notices of intention to strike a company from Register of Companies for Scotland or Northern Ireland received for these years.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in how many cases where HM Revenue and Customs raised objection to the striking off of a company by the Register of Companies was that objection acted upon in (a) 2007-8, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10; in how many such cases was additional tax revenue raised as a result in each such year; and how much additional revenue was raised in each such year. 
Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs keeps no central record of action taken by Companies House following an objection to the striking off of a company. Such objections might be made by several parties in relation to any proposal. HM Revenue and Customs keep no central record of the amount of tax protected as the result of objecting to the striking off of companies.
Harriett Baldwin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward legislative proposals to give the Treasury Select Committee the power of veto over the appointment of the Chief Executive of the Consumer Protection and Markets Authority. 
Mr Hoban: The process for selecting a chief executive-designate of the new CPMA has commenced. The successful candidate will join the Financial Services Authority (FSA) as a managing director and main board member until the CPMA is established, at which point they will take up their role as the head of the new organisation. The appointment will be made in line with the normal process for appointing FSA executives, which does not include a role for the Treasury Select Committee.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many companies which submitted form CT41G Dormant Company Insert in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10 were granted dormant company status and were not asked to submit corporation tax returns; and how many other companies were granted exemption from filing corporation tax returns on the grounds that they claimed to be dormant companies in each such year. 
Mr Gauke: The number of companies at the beginning of each tax year for which HM Revenue and Customs had not issued a notice to deliver a return of corporation tax is in the following table.
|As at 1 April each year||Number|
This includes companies treated as inactive and newly incorporated companies that were not yet due to deliver a return.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether a standard period of exemption from filing corporation tax returns was granted to companies which claimed to be dormant in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Gauke: There is no exemption from filing a tax return for Corporation Tax. HM Revenue and Customs reviews companies treated as inactive on a risk basis, and in all cases reviews companies that it has recorded as being inactive every five years.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many inquiries into the suspected abuse of dormant company status for corporation tax purposes were undertaken in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10. 
Mr Gauke: Where HM Revenue and Customs suspects that a company that was treated as inactive has come within the charge to Corporation Tax but has not informed the Department, a notice requiring a return to be delivered is sent. The Department does not keep a central record of how many notices requiring a return are sent in such cases.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the monetary value was of penalties charged in respect of late submission of corporation tax returns in respect of accounting periods ending in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10. 
Mr Gauke: The information is held in relation to account years running from 1 November to 31 October. The amounts, rounded to the nearest £100,000, were as follows:
November 2006 to October 2007: £191,100,000
November 2007 to October 2008: £232,200,000
November 2008 to October 2009: £207,700,000
November 2009 to October 2010: £327,600,000.
The following amounts were discharged as allowed by law or on an appeal in each of the four years:
November 2008 to October 2007: £91,400,000
November 2007 to October 2008: £51,600,000
November 2008 to October 2009: £198,700,000
November 2009 to October 2010: £225,900,000.
The discharged amounts relate to penalties charged in the year or in an earlier year.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in respect of how many (a) CT41G and (b) CT41G Dormant Company Insert forms submitted to HM Revenue and Customs in (i) 2007-08, (ii) 2008-09 and (iii) 2009-10 HM Revenue and Customs undertook an investigation. 
Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs does not conduct investigations into CT41Gs or CT41G Dormant Company Insert forms as such. Checks are made, on the basis of risk, to provide assurance that companies that have not been required to deliver a return are not chargeable to corporation tax.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many companies which submitted HM Revenue and Customs forms CT41G in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10 also submitted form CT41G Dormant Company Insert in each such year. 
Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs does not record this information.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many CT41G forms HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) sent to newly-formed companies in tax years (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10; and how many such completed forms HMRC received in each such year. 
Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs sent the following number of forms CT41G:
The number completed and returned is not recorded.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the monetary value was of corporation tax penalties waived in respect of (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10. 
Mr Gauke: The information is held in relation to account years running from 1 November to 31 October. The amounts of penalties remitted, rounded to the nearest £100,000, were as follows:
November 2006 to October 2007: £35,000,000
November 2007 to October 2008: £42,300,000
November 2008 to October 2009: £89,600,000
November 2009 to October 2010: £88,000,000.
Amounts remitted are not formally waived and can be reinstated if new considerations come to light.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the monetary value was of penalties levied but unpaid in respect of late submission of corporation tax returns in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10. 
Mr Gauke: Outstanding amounts charged and not discharged, remitted or paid, rounded to the nearest £100,000, were as follows:
31 October 2007: £237,300,000
31 October 2008: £338,700,000
31 October 2009: £248,500,000
31 October 2010: £228,100,000.
These unpaid amounts relate to penalties charged in the year or in an earlier year.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average duration was of an exemption from filing corporation tax returns granted to a company which claimed to be dormant in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10. 
Mr Gauke: A company must deliver a return if it receives a notice from HM Revenue and Customs requiring it to do so. The Department issues notices to companies that it believes to be active, and thus within the charge to the tax because they are active. A company must inform the Department if it has become chargeable to corporation tax but has not received a notice requiring it to deliver a return. The period for which a company might not be active depends on the circumstances of the company.
HM Revenue and Customs could not provide information about the average duration for which it treats companies as inactive without disproportionate cost.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many corporation tax payers submitted a corporation tax return to HM Revenue and Customs in respect of an accounting period ending in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10; how many of those declared profits giving rise to corporation tax liability in each such year; what the combined (i) monetary value of such profits and (ii) associated liability for corporation tax was in each such year; how many returns declared a loss in each year; what the combined monetary value of such losses was in each such year; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Gauke: No figures are available for (c) 2009-10 because corporation tax returns are submitted up to 12 months after the end of an accounting period.
Figures for the number of companies with chargeable profits and the amount of these profits along with the tax charge for the years 2007-08 and 2008-09 are given in table T11.3 on HMRC's website:
The number of companies submitting a tax return in (a) 2007-08 is estimated at 1.68 million and in (b) 2008-09 is estimated at 1.83 million.
The number of returns with gross trading losses in (a) 2007-08 is estimated at 330,000 with an amount of £82.8 billion and in (b) 2008-09 is estimated at 390,000 with an amount of £161.8 billion.
Andrew Bridgen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions his Department has had with its international counterparts on the sustainability of sovereign debt amongst countries in the Eurozone. 
Justine Greening: 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.
David Tredinnick: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what timetable has been set for the repair of the ground floor windows in his Department's building facing Parliament Square and Whitehall. 
Mr Gauke: I have been asked to reply as the windows that were damaged were in HM Revenue and Customs' office at 100 Parliament street.
Repairs to the windows are expected to commence in January 2011.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department spent on overtime for staff working in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's private office in each of the last five years. 
Justine Greening: Staff overtime payments made since 2005-06 in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's private office are shown in the following table.
Priti Patel: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what expenditure (a) his Department and (b) its non-departmental public bodies incurred on sponsorship in each year since 1997 for which figures are available. 
Justine Greening: Neither the Treasury nor the Royal Mint Advisory Committee has incurred any spending on sponsorship since 2002-03. Information on spending prior to 2002-03 is no longer available due to the introduction of a new accounting system at that time.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has made an equality impact assessment of the likely effects of changes in disability living allowance. 
Maria Miller: I have been asked to reply.
We are currently running a public consultation on the proposed changes to disability living allowance. The consultation seeks views on our proposals to inform the development of firm proposals. We are considering equality impacts as the policy develops and will produce an Equality Impact Assessment at the same time as the legislation passes through Parliament.
Nic Dakin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward proposals for a compensation scheme for individuals who have experienced financial loss due to parties who have acted fraudulently or have changed legal identity. 
Mr Hoban: The Government have no plans to propose such a scheme.
Kate Green: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether his estimate of savings from reforms to tax credits and housing benefit have taken into account increases in housing benefit entitlement attributable to changes in tax credit entitlement; 
(2) what plans he has to (a) monitor and (b) record changes to expenditure on housing benefit which is attributable to changes in his Department's budget for tax credits; 
(3) what estimate he has made of the likely change in expenditure on housing benefit attributable to his proposed reduction in the proportion of childcare costs to be covered by the childcare element of working tax credit. 
Mr Gauke: Full details of the savings from reforms to tax credits and housing benefit are available in the published document "Spending Review 2010 policy costings", available on HM Treasury's website at:
Philip Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what work his Department has commissioned from Linklaters in each of the last five years; and what the monetary value was of the contracts for such work in each such year. 
Justine Greening: HM Treasury has commissioned the following work from Linklaters in the period from 1 April 2005 to 31 March 1010. HM Treasury has not commissioned work from Linklaters in the current financial year.
|Financial year||Advice||Monetary value (£000)|
Establishment of and advice to Infrastructure Finance Unit Limited
Advice in relation to financial stability contingency planning
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to respond to the letter from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton of 11 November 2010 concerning Ms K Chung. 
Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs sent a reply to the right hon. Gentleman on my behalf on 23 December 2010 and they apologise for the delay in doing so.
Stephen Mosley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the withdrawal of National Savings and Investment Fixed Interest Savings Certificates from the market is a temporary measure. 
Justine Greening: National Savings and Investments (NS&I) expect Fixed Interest Savings Certificates to remain off sale for at least the rest of this financial year (end March 2011). Sales volumes in the first part of this year far exceeded those either anticipated or required by NS&I under their net financing target. NS&I continue to follow a policy of acting transparently and balancing the interests of their savers, the taxpayer and the stability of the wider financial services market. The position will be kept under regular review and sales will be resumed when NS&I can be confident that conditions will enable them to operate within and to their publicly agreed targets.
Dr Poulter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the merits of extending business rate relief to businesses in rural areas with poor broadband provision. 
Robert Neill: I have been asked to reply.
We have no plans to provide a specific business rates relief for rural areas with poor broadband provision. However, we are bringing forward powers, through the Localism Bill, to allow local authorities to grant discounts on business rates bills, as they see fit.
Mr Alan Campbell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which Ministers of his Department have visited the North East since their appointment; and what the (a) date and (b) purpose was of each such visit. 
Justine Greening: Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings in all parts of the country 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 meetings.
Alun Cairns: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward proposals for a pensions saving fund that would enable access to the sums accrued during (a) periods of unemployment and (b) other periods before retirement. 
[holding answer 20 December 2010]: The Government are committed to a fair and sustainable
pensions system which encourages pension saving and allows individuals appropriate flexibility to plan for their retirement.
Early access to private pension savings is an area the Government are keen to consider in this context. The Treasury published a call for evidence on 13 December, which follows the commitment in the Coalition Agreement to explore the potential to allow early access to pension savings.
The document seeks evidence from interested parties on the extent to which early access to pension savings may help encourage higher levels of retirement saving by giving increased flexibility to individuals, or help those facing certain instances of hardship, such as unemployment or repossession of their home.
The Government are also keen to understand the potential administrative burdens any reform may place on industry.
The call for evidence is open until 25 February 2011. Based on the responses received, the Government will then consider whether there is a case to develop a firm proposal in this area.
Hywel Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will place in the Library a copy of the business case for HM Revenue and Customs for outsourcing the collection of tax debts of the value of £10,000 and under; 
(2) how many debt collection agencies have secured contracts with HM Revenue and Customs to collect tax debts; and what mechanisms are in place to regulate activities relating to the collection of tax debt. 
Mr Gauke: The expanded use of debt collection agencies (DCAs) in 2010-and, as announced in the spending review, also now in subsequent years to 2015-builds on earlier work where HMRC successfully piloted the use of DCAs in 2009-10.
The pilot demonstrated that DCAs can be used cost-effectively and securely to collect debt on HMRC's behalf and without compromise to HMRC's high quality standards. HMRC subsequently published an evaluation report on the pilot-available at:
During 2010-11 HMRC will use the services of four private sector DCAs drawn from an existing government framework contract. Contractual arrangements have not yet been finalised beyond 2010-11.
HMRC require DCAs working on its behalf to comply with strict codes of conduct and the contracts require that they maintain HMRC standards in relation to customer service, data security and professionalism. There is a robust audit and assurance process in place which builds on the experience gained during the 2009-10 pilot.
Hywel Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax debts recorded by HM Revenue and Customs were of the value of (a) £10,000 or under and (b) over £10,000 in the last five financial years for which figures are available. 
Mr Gauke: The information requested is not centrally collated and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Tony Lloyd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on the use of e-mail by those wishing to contact HMRC who are profoundly deaf and who indicate that they are prepared to enter into an agreement to indemnify HMRC against any breach of confidentiality arising from the use of e-mail. 
Mr Gauke: In recognition of the value of e-mail contact to customers, HMRC has developed a range of structured and secure econtact solutions for use by all of its customers, including those who are deaf and hard of hearing. These solutions are only introduced where HMRC is certain about the authenticity of the person sending the e-mail and where there are strong controls around the data being sent. These restrictions apply even where the customer is prepared to accept the risk of a breach of confidentiality occurring.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate he has made of the effect
of student loan repayments, including the repayment of new loans, on the Government's cash requirement for each of the next 10 years under (a) the newly-proposed system for higher education funding and (b) its predecessor system; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the effect of issuing student loans, not net of repayments, on the Government's cash requirement for each of the next 10 years under (a) his proposed system for higher education funding and (b) the present system. 
Mr Willetts: I have been asked to reply.
Using estimates of the gross cash outlay on student loans and graduate repayments supplied by my Department, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) published its assessment in November of the effect on the Government's net cash requirement of all the student loans BIS expects to issue and the increase attributable to new arrangements in each of the next financial year until 2015-16. No estimates have been made beyond 2015-16 and none have been made of the Government's cash requirement excluding repayments since that is a measure of net spending. The following table reproduces the figures in the OBR's report. Since most repayments relate to loans made several years previously and students need not make any contribution until they have graduated and are earning over £21,000 under the new system, there would be no significant difference in repayments between the old and the new systems in the years covered by the OBR's report.
|Impact of student loans on central Government net cash requirement|
Robert Halfon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the total tax receipts from Harlow constituency in each year since 2000. 
Mr Gauke: Estimated income tax liabilities by parliamentary constituency for 2002-03 to 2007-08, based on the Survey of Personal Incomes, can be found in Table 3.15 'Income and tax by Parliamentary Constituency' on the HM Revenue and Customs website at:
Any inference from the information in table 3.15 should take into account the confidence intervals in table 3.15a 'Income and tax by Parliamentary Constituency, Confidence Intervals'. Estimates for earlier periods are not available.
Information on income tax receipts and receipts from other taxes is not available at parliamentary constituency level.
Mike Weatherley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether he has made an assessment of the effect of withholding tax on creative industries at source on a territorial basis in the creative industries on (a) multi-territory licensing of copyright and (b) the competitiveness of the UK as a location for the creative industries; and whether he plans to have discussions with his EU counterparts on this issue; 
(2) what recent representations he has received on the practice of withholding tax at source for copyright royalty income in the music and other creative industries; and what recent assessment he has made of the effects of this practice on the UK economy. 
Mr Gauke: Treasury Ministers and officials receive representations from 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 representations.
No assessment has been made during this parliament of the impact of withholding tax on the creative industries.
Withholding tax affecting UK creative industries is largely levied by other countries and any changes therefore require international agreement. In the EU this could involve significant extension to the interest and royalties directive, and the Government would have to weigh this against their commitment to no further transfer of sovereignty to Europe over the course of this Parliament.
Alun Cairns: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much revenue was generated from SA300 statement of account forms for amounts less than the administrative cost to HM Revenue and Customs of processing the form in the last five years; 
(2) how much was spent by HM Revenue and Customs on processing SA300 statement of account forms for amounts less than the administrative cost of processing the form in the last five years; 
(3) how many SA300 statement of account forms were processed for amounts less than the administrative cost to HM Revenue and Customs of processing the form in the last five years; 
(4) what estimate he has made of the average cost to HM Revenue and Customs of processing a SA300 statement of account form. 
Mr Gauke: The information is available only at disproportionate cost.
Frank Dobson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received from UK banks on the Government's response to the banking and credit situation in the Republic of Ireland. 
Mr Hoban [holding answer 21 December 2010]: The Government have various meetings with banks on a regular basis to discuss a range of issues. Consistent with previous practice the details of such discussions are not published.
Graeme Morrice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment his Department has made of the distributional effect on each income decile of the population in (a) the UK and (b) Scotland of the change to the basic rate of value added tax. 
Mr Gauke: Annex A of the Budget document sets out the impact of Budget measures, including the rise in the standard rate of VAT. Charts A1 and 2 show the impact of measures across the income distribution, in both absolute terms and as a proportion of income. Charts A3 and 4 set out the impact of the VAT rise alone across the expenditure distribution, in absolute terms and as a proportion of income. This analysis shows the impact across the UK. Lower level geographical disaggregations do not provide sufficiently robust results.
Graeme Morrice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his most recent estimate is of the likely (a) cost to and (b) time taken by small businesses to implement the proposed changes in the rate of value added tax. 
Mr Gauke: The Impact Assessment published at June 2010 Budget includes information on (a) compliance costs to and (b) time taken by a typical small business of implementing the increase of VAT to 20% in January 2010.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will bring forward proposals to reduce the maximum monetary value eligible for low value consignment relief to £8; 
(2) when he expects to make an announcement on the future of the Low Value Consignment Relief scheme applying to the Channel Islands. 
Mr Gauke: As I told the House in my written answer to the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid) on 13 July 2010, Official Report, column 661W, the Government are actively reviewing the operation of Low Value Consignment Relief. In assessing the case for change, the Government will take into account the need to balance often conflicting considerations including the impact on consumers, UK businesses and Royal Mail and other parcel operators, as well as the overall fiscal position and the practicality and cost of enforcing any changes to the operation of the relief.
If it is concluded that changes to the operation of LVCR are desirable, I would hope to be in a position to make announcements by the time of the 2011 Budget.
Miss Begg: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent research he has commissioned on the link between tax credit taper rates and incentives to work. 
Mr Gauke: The Government review new research and evidence on incentives to work on an ongoing basis, and uses this to inform policy development. A comprehensive review of such research has been prepared for the Commission on Reforming the Tax System for the 21st Century, chaired by Sir James Mirrlees, and can be found at the following address:
Similarly, HMRC publishes its research as part of its Research Report Series available at:
Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security in relation to (a) Afghanistan and (b) Iraq; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Bellingham: The Government remain committed to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and subsequent related resolutions. The UK National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325-Women, Peace and Security was launched on 25 November 2010. A copy of the National Action Plan can be obtained from the House Library. It is also available to download from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at:
We are taking a comprehensive approach to supporting the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Afghanistan.
Our actions include: providing funding and visible political support to female Afghan MPs; providing support to ensure that National Security Strategy consultations include local women's groups and are set out in a specific country-level plan for UNSCR 1325 in Afghanistan; and providing funding and support to the Criminal Justice Task Force to ensure female prosecutors and judges receive high profile cases and can establish a sustainable career path. These and the other programmes we are undertaking in Afghanistan form part of the broader UK National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
In Iraq, we have undertaken a number of programmes in support of UNSCR 1325. For example, we have provided training to empower the Iraqi judiciary in dealing with sexual and gender-based violence and we have equipped women's centres which help to provide wide-ranging training and assistance to Iraqi women.
We hope to expand the number of specific plans for countries experiencing or emerging from conflict as we review the National Action Plan. Our goal is to fully mainstream the work of UNSCR 1325 across our diplomatic, defence and development activities.
Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to promote human rights in Afghanistan. 
Alistair Burt: We continue to press for the Afghan Government to implement the national and international human rights legislation to which it has committed.
The UK has provided funding to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. We have also provided financial support for the Human Rights Support Unit of the Afghan Ministry of Justice, which opened on 29 September 2010.
Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Government of Afghanistan on the treatment of religious minorities in that country. 
Alistair Burt: We continue to remind the Afghan Government of its duty to abide by its national and international commitments on freedom of religion and belief and to respect the freedom of worship as enshrined in the Afghan Constitution.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will initiate an inquiry into the reasons for the UK incursion into Helmand province in 2006. 
The Government announced their first deployment of troops to Helmand in January 2006, as part of the International Security Assistance Force
(ISAF) expansion to the south of the country. Since 2006, the UK's troop presence in Helmand has grown from an initial deployment of 3,150 to approximately 7,700 troops.
This Government remain committed to the international effort in Afghanistan. Our aim, along with that of other ISAF partners, is that the Afghan National Security Forces should be in a position to take the security lead across the whole country by the end of 2014. The role of UK and other international forces and their number will gradually change as this happens. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is clear that that there will not be British troops in a combat role or in the numbers they are now in Afghanistan in 2015.
At the present time, there are no plans to initiate an inquiry into the reasons for the UK deployment to Helmand. It would be wrong to consider holding an inquiry while our troops are still risking their lives and while operations are ongoing.
Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the number of people imprisoned in Afghanistan for converting from Islam to other religions over the last three years. 
Alistair Burt: We have received two reports during 2010 of the detention of individuals who have converted to Christianity from Islam. We continue to monitor these cases.
Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the imprisonment in Afghanistan of Said Musa. 
Alistair Burt: We are aware of this case and we are working with the international community to monitor developments. We continue to remind the Afghan Government of its duty to abide by its national and international commitments on freedom of religion and belief.
Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of diplomatic, economic and military ties between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and the Russian Federation; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Jeremy Browne: We are aware that there are ties between some of these countries. We have an interest in aspects of these relationships which relate to the Government's foreign policy priorities, in particular, counter proliferation, human rights, and economic development.
Given the number of countries included in this question and the broad areas of interest listed, it would not be possible to compile the information required to answer this question without incurring disproportionate cost.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to prepare for the second Preparatory Committee on the Arms Trade Treaty in February 2011; and which officials of which grades from his Department will attend the Preparatory Committee. 
Alistair Burt: The UK continues to engage actively with international partners, representatives from civil society and the defence industry in preparation for the next Arms Trade Treaty Preparatory Committee meeting in February 2011. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is also funding a range of projects in support of the Arms Trade Treaty through its strategic programme fund. Our ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament at the UK Arms Control and Disarmament Mission in Geneva, John Duncan, will lead the UK delegation, supported by appropriate officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other Government Departments; the precise details of the full UK delegation will be finalised during January 2011.
Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will invite the Prime Minister of Kosovo to talks in London to promote a settlement of stability in the Western Balkans. 
Mr Lidington: The Government have no current plans to invite the Prime Minister of Kosovo to visit the UK. Parliamentary elections took place in Kosovo on 12 December and a new Kosovo Government has yet to be formed. The UK looks forward to supporting and working with the incoming Kosovo Government, once formed, in its effort to make further progress towards fulfilling Kosovo's European perspective. We continue to believe that a European future for Kosovo and all its neighbours is crucial for guaranteeing stability and prosperity in the Western Balkans.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions his Department has recorded adverse comments from UK embassies and High Commissions in respect of the BBC World Service in the last five years. 
Mr Jeremy Browne: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) carries out an annual survey of its heads of mission on the effectiveness of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service in the countries to which they are accredited. Their comments are used for internal discussions of priorities both within the BBC World Service and between the World Service and the FCO.
Posts overseas have the opportunity to contribute to discussions between the FCO and the BBC World Service on the respective priorities and objectives of the two organisations. They may also comment at other times.
We do not keep a list centrally of all comments received about the BBC World Service, whether positive or negative. The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the treatment of supporters of democracy in Belarus; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Lidington: I am receiving regular updates from officials on the ground on the situation in Belarus. We issued statements on 20, 22 and 31 December 2010, strongly condemning the violence surrounding the presidential election, urging the Belarusian authorities to release those detained for politically motivated reasons and to ensure that all detainees are given access to proper medical care and legal representation. I met the Belarusian ambassador on 22 December to voice my grave concerns in person.
We have been vocal in advocating a tough EU response to events and encouraged the EU High Representative Baroness Ashton to issue a strongly worded joint EU-US statement, which was released on 23 December 2010. The UK, along with other EU member states, is looking at concrete steps which the EU can take to put pressure on the Belarusian authorities to release political prisoners.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Mauritius on their claim to the Chagos archipelago. 
Mr Bellingham: The UK values its bilateral relationship with Mauritius and remains keen to engage with Mauritius on a wide range of issues. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I met Prime Minister Ramgoolam on 3 June 2010 and I met Foreign Minister Boolell on 22 July 2010.
The offer of a third round of bilateral talks on the British Indian Ocean Territory has been on the table since July 2009 but has not, so far, been taken up by the Mauritian Government.
The UK has no doubt about its sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory which was ceded to Britain in 1814 and has been a British dependency ever since.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consideration his Department's consular directorate has given to the merits of the memorandum of understanding prepared by SAMM Abroad; and what response has been sent to SAMM Abroad on the memorandum. 
Mr Jeremy Browne:
I met with Eve Henderson, Director of Support and Murder and Manslaughter (SAMM) Abroad, on 13 October 2010 to discuss the support we provide to bereaved families, and wrote to her on
22 December 2010. I have been clear in our commitment to work for a joined up approach across the various agencies and Departments involved in responding to a death overseas. My officials are discussing with these agencies what is the best mechanism for ensuring that co-ordination and that bereaved families understand the role of all the relevant agencies in the UK. The proposals from SAMM Abroad are an important part of those discussions.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of incidences where a bereaved family has been informed through the media of the murder or manslaughter of a relative abroad before being contacted by representatives of his Department. 
Mr Jeremy Browne: We have not made such an estimate of this figure because of the considerable resources required to do so. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office works hard to deliver a high level of consular assistance to those involved in incidents abroad including contacting their relatives in the UK. Since 1 November, the assistance provided by Victim Support National Homicide Service is available to anyone in England and Wales if a family member or friend has been killed as a result of a crime abroad. We notify Victim Support within 24 hours of receiving information about a death.
Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps he has taken to address the human rights situation in Burma. 
Mr Jeremy Browne: The Government remain deeply concerned over Burma's human rights record. We seek to raise the issue at every opportunity directly with the regime, with regional countries of influence and in the UN. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister discussed Burma during his visits to China and India, and we continue to work to build international support for the UN to consider a Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights abuses in Burma. At the UN General Assembly Third Committee, we pressed the regime to improve their human rights record through a toughly worded resolution and the UK will reiterate our concerns during the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Burma.
Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the protection of the human rights of trades unionists in Colombia. 
Mr Jeremy Browne:
The safety of trade unionists in Colombia remains of great concern. Officials at our embassy in Bogota continue to visit individuals who are under threat and to make representations to the Colombian authorities in cases of violence or intimidation against trade unionists. We raise our concerns regularly with senior Colombian Ministers, and work with unions and employer organisations to strengthen labour relations
in Colombia. We are working with the UN on a research initiative to help improve trade unionists' human rights protection and the development of positive labour relations.
We welcome President Santos' commitment to tackle human rights issues and the Colombian Government's recent announcements recognising that civil society, and specifically human rights defenders, has a vital role to play in overcoming the challenges that exist.
We should acknowledge this political will. However, it needs to translate into results on the ground. The UK government takes seriously its responsibility to assist in making this happen and continues to work with Colombia to this end.
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to strengthen links with local and national governments overseas as part of the biennial conference of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum. 
Mr Bellingham: The Government have undertaken to strengthen the United Kingdom's relationship with the Commonwealth and to ensure that the United Kingdom is at the centre of plans to reinvigorate this unique organisation. To achieve this we are working closely with the Commonwealth network and member states. We welcome the opportunity offered by the biennial conference to strengthen relations with key Commonwealth partners, including local governments.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions his Department has provided embargoed media briefings prior to an oral statement to the House since 26 May 2010; in respect of how many such briefings his Department was informed that the embargo had been breached; what steps were taken as a result of each such breach; and on how many occasions his Department has provided media briefings without an embargo prior to an oral statement to the House since 26 May 2010. 
Alistair Burt: There have been no embargoed or non-embargoed media briefings prior to an oral statement to the House from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since 26 May 2010.
Mr Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the letter from the Minister for Europe of 11 November 2010, on the European Union Bill, what his objectives in the EU are for achieving an open external market. 
In the current economic climate it is important that the EU focus its efforts on delivering growth for its citizens. A key component to achieving the growth the EU needs will be the furthering opening of external markets. The Government will therefore encourage the EU to use its competence on trade to ensure greater openness globally and within Europe, focusing specifically on progressing the Doha Development
Round, completing ambitious EU free trade agreements that deliver for EU (and UK) business particularly those under negotiation with India, Canada, the Mercosur countries and Singapore, and improved market access in key markets notably China.
Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who is to take responsibility for the (a) selection and (b) purchase of Government wines under his proposals to end the Government Hospitality Advisory Committee for the Purchase of Wines. 
Mr Bellingham: The proposal outlined in the Cabinet Office announcement on Public Bodies Reform did not announce the abolition of the Government Hospitality Advisory Committee for the Purchase of Wine (GHACPW). The GHACPW will cease to be a registered non-departmental public body. The Government Hospitality wine cellar and the Committee's future role are under review.
Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what acquisitions the Government Wine Cellar has made since 1 November 2010. 
Mr Bellingham: Since 1 November 2010 Government Hospitality has acquired the following English wines:
Camel Valley Bacchus Dry 2009
Chapel Down Chardonnay 2009
Chapel Down Pinot Blanc 2009
Three Choirs Willow Brook 2009
Denbies Cubitt Reserve 2006
Nyetimber Classic Cuvee Brut 2005.
Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received reports on allegations of attempts by Hungarian diplomats to disrupt a talk at the Wiener Library in London on the rise of anti-Semitism and hostility to Roma in Hungary. 
Mr Lidington: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has received no reports via the Diplomatic Protection Group or any other channel relating to Hungarian diplomats attempting to disrupt the recent presentation on anti-Semitism and the hostility to Roma at the Weiner Library.
Mrs Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Iranian authorities on the recent trial of Mrs Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr Afif Maimi, Mr Saeid Rezaie, Mrs Mahvash Sabet, Mr Behrouz Tavakkoli and Mr Vahid Tizfahm. 
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I have repeatedly expressed our strong concerns about the flaws in the trial of these seven members of
the Baha'i community in Iran, and the harsh sentences handed down. I have raised their cases with the Iranian ambassador, and continue to call on the Government of Iran to review their case urgently, and to ensure that no-one in Iran faces imprisonment simply for practising their faith.
Nicky Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Iranian authorities on the recent trial and sentencing of Mr Youcef Nadarkhani. 
Alistair Burt: I am aware of the reports that Mr Youcef Nadarkhani has been sentenced to death. Our embassy has asked the Iranian authorities for clarification of the sentence and charges against Mr Nadarkhani. The UK is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. We will continue to urge the Iranian Government to guarantee freedom of religion to all its citizens, in line with its international obligations.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings the UK diplomatic representative to the Ivory Coast has had with each presidential candidate; and what reports he has received of the conduct of the presidential election in all parts of that country. 
Mr Bellingham: Our ambassador to the Ivory Coast met presidential candidates Laurent Gbagbo, Alassane Ouattara and Henri Konan Bédié on 31 October 2010, during the first round of voting. He also met Mr Gbagbo and Mr Ouattara on 28 November 2010 following the second round of voting. On 4 January 2011, the Political Counsellor from the embassy met President Ouattara at the Hotel Golf.
In line with his certification mandate from the United Nations, the Secretary-General's Special Representative in the Ivory Coast, Mr Choi Young-Jin, has reported on the conduct of the presidential elections. Mr Choi's report confirmed the results of the Independent Electoral Commission which declared Mr Alassane Ouattra as the winner of the election. International monitoring teams including from the EU, also observed the election and reported overall satisfaction with the conduct of the vote.
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