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Rochdale Infirmary

Simon Danczuk: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to make a decision on the future of (a) the accident and emergency unit and (b) the maternity unit at Rochdale Infirmary. [37196]


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Mr Simon Burns: This is a matter for the local national health service.

This Government are committed to devolving power to local communities-to the people, patients, general practitioners (GPs) and councils who are best placed to determine the nature of their national health services locally. The Government have pledged that all service changes must be led by clinicians and patients, not be driven from the top down. To this end, we have outlined new, strengthened tests that decisions on NHS service changes must meet.

They must focus on improving patient outcomes; consider patient choice; have support from GP commissioners; and be based on sound clinical evidence.

We have asked the local NHS to look at how schemes that are ongoing meet these new tests-including those that impact on the Rochdale Infirmary, namely Healthy Futures.

We are clear that services should be driven by the need to improve patient outcomes. NHS North West board has agreed that the evidence provided for Healthy Futures has met the four tests and should therefore proceed.


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Simon Danczuk: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions he has had with NHS executives in Rochdale on diabetic care at Rochdale Infirmary. [37197]

Paul Burstow: No recent discussions have taken place between the Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale primary care trust and the Department or Ministers with regard to diabetic care at Rochdale Infirmary.

South London Healthcare NHS Trust

Mr Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent estimate his Department has made of the number of (a) medical and (b) non-medical vacancies at South London Healthcare NHS Trust. [36803]

Mr Simon Burns: Figures on the numbers of medical and non-medical vacancies at South London Healthcare National Health Service Trust as at 31 March 2010 are provided in the following table.

Total and three month vacancy rates and numbers for all Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS) doctors (excluding doctors in training and equivalents) and all non-medical staff at South London Healthcare NHS Trust

Total vacancy rate (percentage) Total vacancy (number) 3 month vacancy rate (percentage) 3 month vacancy (number)

All HCHS doctors (excluding doctors in training and equivalents)

4.3

17

0

0

All non-medical staff

0.8

40

0

0

Notes:
1. Data are from the Vacancies Survey 2010 as at 31 March.
2. A vacancy is defined as one which employers are actively trying to fill as at 31 March.
3. Total vacancy rates are total vacancies expressed as a percentage of total vacancies plus staff in post from the previous September medical and dental and non-medical work force censuses (full-time equivalent).
4. Three month vacancies are vacancies as at 31 March which trusts are actively trying to fill which had lasted for three months or more (full-time equivalents).
5. Three month vacancy rates are three month vacancies expressed as a percentage of three month vacancies plus staff in post from the previous September medical and dental and non-medical workforce censuses (full-time equivalent).
6. Vacancy numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number.
7. Percentages are calculated on unrounded figures and are then rounded to one decimal place.
Sources:
The NHS Information Centre for health and social care Medical and Dental Vacancies Survey.
The NHS Information Centre for health and social care Non-Medical Vacancies Survey.
This work remains the sole and exclusive property of The Information Centre and may only be reproduced where there is explicit reference to the ownership of The Information Centre.

Steroid Drugs: Essex

Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many units of each inhaled corticosteroid have been prescribed in South East Essex Primary Care Trust in each of the last five years. [37310]

Paul Burstow: Prescribing information broken down by primary care trust (PCT) is available only for the four most recent complete financial years. Information on inhaled corticosteroid items prescribed in the South East Essex PCT area is shown in the following table. The figures relate to items prescribed rather than units as the term unit can mean different things for different drugs and a unit of one drug may not be comparable with a unit of another due to variation in the formulations.

Number of items prescribed (thousand)
Name of items prescribed 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10

Beclometasone Dipropionate

32.8

31.3

30.3

30.7

Budesonide

16.8

17.7

20.2

22.1

Ciclesonide

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.1

Fluticasone Propionate

38.0

42.1

45.3

48.6

Mometasone Furoate

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

All inhaled corticosteroids

87.8

91.3

96.0

101.6

Notes:
1. South East Essex PCT came into existence in October 2006 as an amalgamation of two existing PCTs, namely Southend-on-Sea PCT and Castle Point and Rochford PCT. Figures for financial year
2. 2006-07 are the sum of prescribing from all three PCTs combined.
Source:
NHS Information Centre for health and social care.

Suicide

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 13 January 2011, Official Report, column 459W, on suicide prevention strategy, whether he expects his Department's suicide prevention strategy to be published before 30 April 2011; and what definition of spring his Department uses. [37497]


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Paul Burstow: It is currently our intention to publish the suicide prevention strategy before 30 April. This Department does not use a precise definition of the seasons, but the months generally considered to be spring are March, April and May.

Tobacco

Graham Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to (a) publish his Department's Tobacco Control Plan and (b) announce his plans for implementation of point of sale display legislation and consultation on the introduction of plain packaging. [37567]

Anne Milton: As set out in November's White Paper "Healthy Lives, Healthy People", the Tobacco Control Plan is due to be published in the winter of 2010-11.

We want to make it easier for people to make healthy choices. The Tobacco Control Plan will set out details of what more we intend to do to protect children from taking up smoking and to help those trying to quit, including our plans for the display and plain packaging of tobacco.

Visual Impairment

Mr Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make the reduction of avoidable sight loss an indicator in the public health outcome framework. [37216]

Anne Milton: The Public Health White Paper, 'Healthy Lives: Healthy People', set out our intention to establish a public health outcomes framework. We are currently consulting on proposals for such an outcomes framework and ask within the consultation document 'Healthy Lives: Healthy People-Transparency in Outcomes', a copy of which has already been placed in the Library, a question on the coverage of the proposed indicators. We are seeking views on which other indicators should be included for consideration within the list.

Subject to the outcome of the consultation-including the consideration of new or different indicators proposed by stakeholders-we will publish a final outcomes framework for public health in the summer of this year.

Wrightington Hospital

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will meet the hon. Member for West Lancashire and clinicians to discuss the future of the Wrightington Hospital site. [37446]

Mr Simon Burns: This Government are committed to devolving power to local communities-to the people, patients, general practitioners (GPs) and councils who are best placed to determine the nature of their national health services locally. The Government have pledged that all service changes must be led by clinicians and patients, not be driven from the top down. To this end, we have outlined new, strengthened tests that decisions on NHS service changes must meet.

They must focus on improving patient outcomes; consider patient choice; have support from GP commissioners; and be based on sound clinical evidence.


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Any proposals for significant change to services at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust will be expected to take these tests into account and be subject to full consultation with members of Parliament, clinicians, patients, the public and other interested stakeholders.

Deputy Prime Minister

Primary Elections

Jon Trickett: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what discussions he has had with representatives of political parties on proposals for all-postal primaries; [36946]

(2) what consultation he has undertaken on proposals for all-postal primaries; [36947]

(3) when he plans to announce his proposals on all-postal primaries; [36949]

(4) what expressions of interest he has received in holding all postal-primaries; [36950]

(5) which civil service unit will be responsible for administering funds for the proposed all-postal primaries; and to which Minister it will report; [36951]

(6) how many seats held by each political party will receive funding for all-postal primaries under his proposals; [36998]

(7) what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of the proposed 200 all-postal primaries at the next general election; [36999]

(8) from which budget the proposed all-postal primaries will be funded; [37000]

(9) what discussions he has had on proposed all-postal primaries since his appointment; [37009]

(10) whether he plans to bring forward legislative proposals in relation to all-postal primaries. [37010]

Mr Harper [holding answer 31 January 2011]: The Government have not made a detailed assessment of the cost of funding the all-postal primaries, and no decisions have yet been taken on how funds would be allocated to political parties or administered.

I have not held discussions with representatives of political parties on this issue and have not undertaken any formal consultation on the proposal. To date, no expressions of interest have been received in holding all-postal primaries, although I have received correspondence and parliamentary questions requesting further information on the Government's proposals.

The Government have embarked on a major programme of constitutional reform, including the introduction of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies (PVSC) Bill which provides for a referendum to be held on the voting system for the House of Commons and for a review of constituency boundaries in order to create fewer and more equally sized constituencies. The Government's proposals for a boundary review under the PVSC Bill-where the number of MPs will be reduced from 650 to 600-will have particular implications for all-postal primaries which we will need to consider. I would highlight the point made by the Boundary Commissions Secretaries when they appeared before the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee that all seats (with the exception of the constituencies of
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Orkney and Shetland and Na h-Eileanan an Iar) are likely to be affected by the boundary review. As a consequence, far fewer will meet the criteria set out in the coalition programme.

We will consider how best to take forward the proposal concerning all-postal primaries in light of these other significant changes impacting upon our electoral process.

Energy and Climate Change

Energy Saving Trust: Finance

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what proportion of the funding of the Energy Saving Trust was contributed by his Department and each devolved administration in 2009-10; and what he expects the figure to be for 2011-12. [36907]

Gregory Barker: The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) contributed 67% to the Energy Saving Trust's (EST) total turnover in 2009-10. This figure is based on information in EST's 2009-10 annual review.

DECC will grant fund EST to deliver comprehensive, high quality telephone and online advice to consumers in 2011-12. However, DECC has not yet finalised the grant funding level.

The devolved Administrations should be contacted directly for the proportion of funding they contribute to EST.

Energy Supply: Costs

Dan Byles: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) what estimate he has made of the average system cost in 2030 of electricity per kWh generated by (a) unabated coal-fired power stations, (b) unabated gas-fired power stations, (c) carbon capture and storage-equipped coal-fired power stations, (d) carbon capture and storage-equipped gas-fired power stations, (e) new-build nuclear power stations, (f) onshore wind turbines, (g) offshore wind turbines and (h) solar photovoltaics; [36987]

(2) what estimate he has made of the average system cost of electricity generation per kWh of (a) unabated coal-fired power stations, (b) unabated gas-fired power stations, (c) carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipped coal-fired power stations, (d) CCS-equipped gas-fired power stations, (e) new build nuclear power stations, (f) onshore wind turbines, (g) offshore wind turbines and (h) solar photovoltaics in 2020; [37047]

(3) what estimate he has made of the average system cost of electricity generation per kWh for (a) unabated coal-fired power stations, (b) unabated gas-fired power stations, (c) carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipped coal-fired power stations, (d) CCS-equipped gas-fired power stations, (e) new nuclear power stations, (f) onshore wind turbines, (g) offshore wind turbines and (h) solar photovoltaics. [37048]

Charles Hendry: Last year DECC commissioned Mott Macdonald to give a comprehensive update of the costs of power generation technologies including how costs
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are likely to change over time. The costs in these report do not include "system costs". System costs relate to a specific generation mix rather than a specific generation technology. The Mott Macdonald report can be found through the following link:

Key information is summarized on pages 67 to 70.

Energy: Housing

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what the name is of each energy efficient product and measure which is to be eligible for funding under the Green Deal. [37663]

Gregory Barker: The Government will set out in secondary legislation the criteria to determine the types of measures that will be eligible for Green Deal finance. These will be defined in consultation with industry and stakeholders in 2011.

A key element of the Green Deal finance arrangements is that only measures that can demonstrate payback through energy efficiency savings, which are equal to or greater than the installation costs, will qualify. The criteria will therefore be based on evidence related to the performance and cost effectiveness of measures, and are likely to specify that measures must be those which are fixed to the fabric of buildings.

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps his Department is taking to encourage the takeup of energy efficient glazing; and what steps it is taking to ensure glazing is a viable measure in the Green Deal. [37702]

Gregory Barker: The most energy efficient glazing is eligible for support through the current Carbon Emissions Reduction Target. In addition, the Government are taking forward the Energy Bill which will promote the uptake of energy efficiency measures through a Green Deal. The Green Deal will enable the installation of a range of energy efficiency products in buildings at no upfront cost.

The measures eligible for Green Deal finance will be based on criteria set out in secondary legislation, which will be formally consulted on later this year. Our initial assessments suggest that glazing may, in some cases, qualify for some level of finance.

Fuels: Prices

Naomi Long: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he plans to take to mitigate the adverse effects of regional variations in fuel prices on (a) economic activity and (b) social cohesion in rural areas. [37354]

Charles Hendry: The Government recognises the impact that high fuel costs in rural areas can have on the local economy and community, and is committed to investigating ways of ameliorating these effects. The Government are exploring the relationship between energy consumers in fuel poverty and those who are off the gas grid and opportunities for consumers in rural areas to benefit
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from carbon reduction and renewable energy initiatives. The Government have also announced its intention to introduce a pilot scheme that will deliver a maximum of 5p per litre duty discount on petrol and diesel in the most remote rural areas.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has launched a market study into the supply of off-grid energy which is anticipated to cover competition and consumer issues for heating oil, liquid petroleum gas and renewables. The study will provide an independent assessment of the off-grid market and establish what further action may be necessary to ensure it works properly.

Natural Gas

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many applications for test-drilling using the process of hydraulic fracturing for (a) shale-gas and (b) coal bed methane have been (i) submitted and (ii) approved; and what the location is of each. [36796]

Charles Hendry: The Department has received applications for, and given drilling consent to, two wells targeted on shale and eighty-four wells targeted on coalbed methane in the UK. The shale gas wells are located in Lancashire and the coalbed methane wells are located in the following regions: Cheshire, Clackmannanshire, Clwyd, Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, Glamorgan, Humberside, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Lothian, Mid Glamorgan, Merseyside, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Yorkshire.

All drilling operations are subject to notification to the Health and Safety Executive. The environmental implications would be assessed on a site specific basis by the relevant environmental agency (in England and Wales, the Environment Agency, and in Scotland, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) who regulate discharges to the environment as well being a statutory consultee in the planning process.

The Department does not retain information on the use of hydraulic fracturing, but this technique is standard for gas shale production and can also be employed in coalbed methane development.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will assess the proposals in the report on shale gas by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. [37462]

Charles Hendry: The Department has been looking at the Tyndall Centre report. The Tyndall Centre report's key proposal is that shale gas extraction in the UK should be delayed until clear evidence of its safety can be presented, and that we should await for results of the US EPA investigation.

As I said in the answer I gave to the hon. Member on 20 January 2011, Official Report, column 942W, there is a robust regulatory regime in place, the technology is understood, and on the basis of available information, the Department sees no need for a moratorium on shale gas activities in the UK.

The UK's geology and regulation is different from the US. It should not be assumed that US experience will necessarily be equally relevant to UK conditions or to the UK regulatory framework.


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Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether he has examined the (a) legislative and (b) regulatory framework relating to drilling for shale gas and coal bed methane; and if he will make a statement. [37474]

Charles Hendry: The UK has a robust regulatory regime to cover shale gas and coal bed methane activities. In the answer I gave on 24 January 2011, Official Report, column 67W, I set out the regulatory bodies and provisions in place relevant to these activities.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will examine the potential effects of the extraction of shale gas and coal bed methane in the UK on performance against the Government's objectives for (a) reducing carbon emissions, (b) energy security and (c) energy affordability. [37476]

Charles Hendry: Shale gas and coal bed methane have not yet been commercially proven on a large scale in the UK, so it is too early to examine any potential effects on the Government's objectives in relation to carbon emissions, energy security and energy affordability. However, we will be keeping this under review.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the potential effects of shale gas and coal bed methane extraction on the development of low-carbon energy sources. [37477]

Charles Hendry: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 20 January 2011, Official Report, column 941W.

Natural Gas: Prices

Dan Byles: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what forecast he has made of the average wholesale price of natural gas in each of the next 20 years. [36984]

Charles Hendry: DECC does not produce forecasts for wholesale natural gas prices. However, for the purposes to inform government analysis of different policy options DECC does produce a set of fossil fuel price assumptions, including a set of price assumptions for spot wholesale natural gas prices.

The document "Communication of DECC Fossil Fuel Price Assumptions" sets out the current set of assumptions and can be found on DECC's website here:

DECC intends to review and publish a new set of assumptions in the near future.

Nuclear Power

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change for what reasons the information contained in his Department's Press Notice: 2011/007 of 24 January 2011 on liabilities for nuclear operators was not first released to Parliament through a written ministerial statement. [37439]


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Charles Hendry: Not all consultations are announced through a written ministerial statement. However, I did inform the chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee and copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Nuclear Power Stations: Construction

Dan Byles: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what account he took of proposals for the construction of new build nuclear power plants in other countries in each of the next 20 years in developing his proposals for nuclear plant construction. [37634]

Charles Hendry: It is for energy companies rather than Government to develop proposals for nuclear plant construction in the UK. Government's role is to remove any unnecessary barriers to investment in new nuclear.

Although increasing demand for nuclear power plants could present challenges it is the project developers who are best placed to manage the supply chain and ensure that the necessary skills are available. I meet regularly with energy companies and they have not expressed any concern that proposals for new nuclear plant overseas will affect their plans for new nuclear in the UK.

Dan Byles: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what account he has taken in his proposals for new nuclear construction of international capacity in respect of (a) expertise in, (b) work force skills for and (c) available investment financing for the construction of new build nuclear power plants. [37635]

Charles Hendry: It is for energy companies rather than Government to develop proposals for nuclear plant construction in the UK. To date, three consortium have announced plans to build up to 16GW of new nuclear capacity in the UK by 2025. All three consortium consist of companies which either already operate a nuclear power station somewhere in the world or operate an electricity generating station subject to appropriate health and safety and environmental regulation.

Government's role is to remove any unnecessary barriers to investment in new nuclear, in particular, delivering on the facilitative actions set out in the 2008 Nuclear White Paper. The Government are also working to provide the long-term certainty needed for clean energy projects, including nuclear, by reforming the electricity market and setting a floor for the carbon price.

In addition the Sector Skills Council (Cogent) together with the National Skills Academy for Nuclear are playing a leading role working with employers and the Government to ensure that the appropriate skills base is and will be in place to meet the requirements of the nuclear sector.

Although increasing demand for nuclear power plants globally could present challenges it is the project developers who are best placed to make decisions on the investment climate and the supply chain and skills capacity that exists. My officials and I meet regularly with potential nuclear developers to discuss these issues.

Radioactive Waste: Waste Management

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will place on his Department's website a copy of the Nuclear
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Decommissioning Authority's parametric cost model used by his Department in its public consultation on an updated waste transfer pricing methodology for the disposal of higher activity waste from new nuclear power stations. [37492]

Charles Hendry: The NDA has developed its parametric cost model to generate updated estimates of the costs of geological disposal. It allows the key parameters that impact on the construction and operating costs of a geological disposal facility in the UK to be varied.

The way in which the parametric cost model is proposed to be used in the waste transfer pricing methodology is set out in the consultation published on 7 December 2010. More information on the model, and the data that have been derived from it for the purposes of the worked examples in the consultation, was set out in Annex A of the 'Consultation on a Methodology to Determine a Fixed Unit Price for Waste Disposal and Updated Cost Estimates for Nuclear Decommissioning, Waste Management and Waste Disposal', published in March 2010 and available on the Department's website at:

The parametric cost model is a detailed model that has been designed as an internal tool to NDA and it is not suitable for publication.

Renewable Energy: Subsidies

Mr Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what plans he has for future levels of subsidies for renewable energy. [36927]

Charles Hendry: The Government are committed to supporting an expansion in renewable energy deployment through cost-effective incentive mechanisms to help achieve delivery of the UK's renewable energy targets.

The renewables obligation (RO) is the Government's main financial incentive for renewable electricity. We commenced a scheduled review of the support bands in the RO in October 2010. This will determine the levels of support for large-scale electricity generation from 2013-17. In line with my announcement of 8 December 2010, we are accelerating the banding review so that generators and investors have certainty on support levels by autumn 2011, a year earlier than planned. We confirmed in the spending review that the level of support provided by the feed-in tariffs (FITs) will be reviewed with a view to reducing the scheme's projected costs in 2014-15 by at least £40 million (in nominal prices). Changes would be implemented at the first comprehensive review of FITs, which is expected to take effect from April 2012 unless higher than expected deployment triggers an early review. We expect to be in a position to announce the details of the renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme, including RHI tariffs and technologies supported, shortly and to open the scheme for business in 2011.

On 16 December, DECC launched a consultation on electricity market reform (EMR). One of the key aims of the reform is to develop and deliver a new market framework that will enable the cost-effective delivery of secure supplies of low carbon energy into the future. The EMR is intended to provide further certainty, and reduce risk, to investors and generators over revenue, and deliver better value for money for consumers.


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Treasury

Banks: Regulation

Paul Uppal: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is considering to address short-termism in the banking sector. [34780]

Mr Hoban: The Government are taking steps to reform the financial sector and address short-termism in a number of areas. First robust capital and liquidity standards, a binding constraint on leverage, as agreed internationally at the November G20 in Seoul, will fundamentally improve the resilience of banks, place banks on a more sustainable footing and focus less on short-term gains.

The Government are also establishing a Financial Policy Committee (FPC) in the Bank of England to undertake macro-prudential regulation, and a new Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) to carry out micro-prudential regulation. These more specialised and focused regulatory authorities will help to tackle excessive lending and short-termism. In addition from 1 January 2011 the Government have introduced a bank levy that is likely to raise £2.5 billion. The levy is intended to encourage banks to move to less risky and longer-term funding profiles.

Finally the Government have also taken significant steps to improve corporate governance arrangements and strengthen the link between remuneration and performance. These measures improve the quality of internal oversight and strengthen the alignment of remuneration with risk taking, as well as improving transparency and facilitating better shareholder oversight, all of which will reduce the potential for short-termism.

The FSA have revised their Remuneration Code and new rules came into force on 1 January 2011 that ensure bonuses are deferred over a number of years and are linked to the performance of the employee and their firm. In addition, significant portions of any bonus will be paid in shares or other securities. In addition, on 25 October 2010 the Government issued a paper calling for evidence on governance and short-termism. The paper considered whether there are failures in corporate governance and the markets. The aim was to investigate issues including; the problems of short-termism, investor engagement, directors' remuneration and the economic case for takeovers. The consultation period ended 14 January 2011.

Child Trust Fund

Mr Hanson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many child trust fund accounts were opened in the period from 1 April 2010 to 4 January 2011. [36775]

Mr Gauke: 624,000 child trust fund accounts were opened between 15 March 2010 and 15 December 2010. Figures are not available for the precise period requested by the hon. Member.

Departmental Libraries

Mr Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) certified and (b) chartered librarians his Department has employed in each year since 2000. [37656]


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Justine Greening: No central records are held relating to this and information could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

Economic and Monetary Union

Mr Cash: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what occasions between 7 and 11 May 2010 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer had discussions with (a) the right hon. Member for Tatton and (b) the right hon. Member for Twickenham; what was discussed; for what reasons the then Chancellor of the Exchequer initiated discussions with the right hon. Member for Twickenham; and if he will make a statement on the matter before the meeting of the European Committee at which the Financial Stabilisation Mechanism will be considered. [37125]

Mr Hoban [holding answer 31 January 2011]: All contact between the Treasury and the opposition parties followed the agreed Cabinet Office guidelines for the 2010 general election.

Financial Inclusion Fund

Ian Austin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what representations he has received from the Citizens Advice Bureau on the ending of the Financial Inclusion Fund; and if he will make a statement; [36840]

(2) what discussions he has had with (a) the Citizens Advice Bureau, (b) the Insolvency Helpline and (c) other organisations on the ending of the Financial Inclusion Fund. [37223]

Mr Hoban: Treasury Ministers and officials have contact 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 such contacts.

Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he plans to establish a successor scheme to the Financial Inclusion Fund from 31 March 2011; and if he will make a statement. [37777]

Mr Hoban: The Financial Inclusion Fund has always been due to close in March 2011. The Government have not yet taken a decision on the future of the projects currently funded from the Financial Inclusion Fund.

The Government remain committed to helping poorer households to access appropriate financial services, to improve their financial resilience and to avoid falling into unsustainable levels of debt.

Inheritance Tax

Nicola Blackwood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate his Department has made of the cost to the Exchequer of giving brothers and sisters who share the same property the same rights of exemption from inheritance tax as those provided to married couples. [37314]

Mr Gauke: Inheritance tax is not usually paid on transfers between spouses and civil partners. The cost of extending this to siblings who share the same property
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was estimated to be £1 million in 2008-09 based on the numbers of estates where siblings were living together at that time, but this does not include any behavioural effects such as siblings who might decide to share a property if there was an inheritance tax relief which could significantly increase the cost.

Married couples and registered civil partners also receive a transferable nil rate band that increases the available threshold on the death of the second partner. An estimate of the cost of extending this to siblings is not available.

Pregnant Women: Grants

Mr Hanson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many health in pregnancy grants were issued in the period from 1 April 2010 to 3 January 2011. [36774]

Mr Gauke: The exact information requested is unavailable. However, it is estimated that there are around 750,000 qualifying pregnancies for the health in pregnancy grant each year, based on National Statistics projections of births.

Public Expenditure

Simon Kirby: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress his Department is making in implementing the spending reductions set out in the comprehensive spending review; and if he will make a statement. [36911]

Danny Alexander: The Government are fully committed to delivering the spending plans set out in the 2010 spending review and Departments are working with their delivery bodies to implement the savings necessary to live within their budget settlements.

Public Sector: Pensions

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the effects on gender equality of his proposals for reform of public sector pensions. [36323]

Danny Alexander [holding answer 27 January 2011]: The Government launched the Independent Public Service Pension Commission chaired by Lord Hutton last June to conduct a fundamental structural review of public service pension provision which will report to the Chancellor of the Exchequer before Budget.

Ahead of the spending review Lord Hutton produced an interim report which found that the value of public service pensions had been increasing following dramatic increase in life expectancy at retirement. Current pensioners are expected to spend over 40% of their adult lives in retirement, compared to 30% for pensioners in the 1950s. Most of these extra costs have fallen to employers and taxpayers.

At the spending review, based on the clear rationale set out in Lord Hutton's interim report, the Government announced that they would implement progressive changes to the level of employee contributions to public service pensions that lead to an additional saving of £1.8 billion a year from 2014-15, to be phased in from 2012-13. This is equivalent to three percentage point increase on average.
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In taking this decision, the Government considered a range of factors including the impact on gender equality.

In addition, the Government announced their intention to launch consultations on the discount rate used to set contributions in unfunded public service pension schemes and the Fair Deal policy. Any assessment of the impact on gender equality will be undertaken in due course should there be any proposals to change policy.

Students: Loans

Dr Pugh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Office for Budget Responsibility will take into account liabilities under the student loan scheme in its assessment of Government debt. [27296]

Justine Greening: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), and I have asked the OBR to reply.

Letter from Robert Chote, dated 25 January 2011:

Taxation: Holiday Accommodation

Harriett Baldwin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will instruct HM Revenue and Customs to disregard the period for severe winter weather over Christmas 2010 and new year 2010-11 in calculating the amount of time properties have been let when determining whether a property qualifies as a holiday cottage. [36800]

Mr Gauke: A property must be let for at least 70 days in the tax year to come within the furnished holiday letting rules for 2010-11. There are no plans to relax this requirement on account of the weather over Christmas 2010 and new year 2010-11.

The Government have proposed an increase in the required let period to 105 days in the tax year from April 2012. However, the Government have also proposed that a business that fails to satisfy the condition in one or two years would be able to elect to continue to qualify for treatment as furnished holiday lettings provided it satisfies the other requirements to do so.

VAT

Graeme Morrice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will review his policy on the recovery of value added tax by charitable providers of social care and NHS services. [37616]

Mr Gauke: Charities can, and do, recover VAT subject to the normal VAT rules. They also benefit from a number of VAT zero rates and exemptions, in addition to many other tax reliefs.

The Government continue to look at ways of ensuring that VAT does not act as a barrier to the reform of public services where such options are open to us and
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affordable within agreed funding arrangements. For example, we are continuing to work closely with charities and other sectors to explore options for implementing the EU VAT exemption for cost sharing, and the recent announcement of a new VAT refund scheme for academy schools demonstrates the Government's willingness to create a level playing field for VAT where this can be done in a fair, targeted and affordable way.

However, a general VAT recovery scheme for all charities would not be affordable or well-targeted; nor would it be fair to reimburse those charities which are in competition with other service providers.

VAT: Public Houses

Gemma Doyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on community pubs of the rise in the basic rate of value added tax. [36834]

Mr Gauke: No specific assessment has been made of the economic impact of the VAT rate increase on community pubs. The impact assessment published with the Budget in June 2010 provides information on the compliance costs to business overall of the VAT rate increase, but not at sector level.

VAT: Tax Rates and Bands

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effects of the increase in the rate of value added tax on the construction industry in the North East. [37438]

Mr Gauke: No specific assessment has been made of the economic impact of the VAT rate increase on the construction industry in the North East. The impact assessment published with the Budget in June 2010 provides information on the compliance costs to businesses generally of the VAT rate increase.

Working Tax Credit

Stephen Timms: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number of recipients of working tax credits who have household savings above £16,000. [36829]

Mr Gauke: No estimate has been made of the household savings of working tax credit recipients.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many recipients of working tax credits he expects to be affected by the £16,000 savings limit on universal credit; and if he will estimate the average annual sum such recipients will not receive as a consequence of the limit. [36830]

Chris Grayling: I have been asked to reply.

The Government have committed to providing protection to ensure that households in receipt of the predecessor benefits will not experience a reduction in their income as a result of the introduction of universal credit.


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Cabinet Office

Big Society Bank

Mr Offord: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what recent progress his Department has made on establishing the big society bank. [36643]

Mr Hurd: The Government have been making good progress with setting up the big society bank and are still on course to have some functions in place by April, then building towards a fully operational bank. It will be ready to make initial investments by early summer, which is when we expect the first dormant accounts money to become available.

Charities: Fraud

Mr Offord: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office whether fraudulent charity collections will form a part of his review of the Charities Act 2006. [37033]

Mr Hurd: I can assure my hon. Friend that the review of charity legislation later this year will include looking at the way charity collections are regulated with a view to making it easier for charities while protecting public confidence and deterring fraudulent collections and nuisance.

Citizenship: Young People

Michael Dugher: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many places he expects to be available on the National Citizenship Pilot schemes for young people aged 16 years in Barnsley East constituency in 2011. [36099]

Mr Hurd: While it is not possible to state precisely the number of National Citizen Service scheme places available to young people in the Barnsley East constituency, I am pleased to confirm that the Football League Trust working with Barnsley Football Club will be providing 100 NCS places across Barnsley in summer 2011.

Departmental Public Appointments

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) what public appointments he has made since his appointment; and to what payments each person so appointed is entitled; [35411]

(2) how many (a) women and (b) men have been appointed to public duties by his Department since May 2010. [35461]

Mr Maude: Since May 2010, there have been no public appointments made to Cabinet Office non-departmental public bodies.

However, information on key public appointments made is published in individual press releases. These should include information on remuneration.

In addition, information on the gender of those serving on the boards of public bodies is published annually. Information for the 2010-11 period will be published in due course.


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Departmental Regulation

Gordon Banks: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what regulations his Department has removed since 6 May 2010. [37402]

Mr Maude: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr Redwood) on 22 November 2010, Official Report, column 140W. The position in the Cabinet Office has not changed since then.

Government Departments: ICT

Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how much Government Departments budgeted for expenditure on IT in 2010-11; and what changes to forecast expenditure there have been as a result of his policy on IT procurement since May 2010. [35513]

Mr Maude: We do not collect total spend on IT.

However, we expect substantial savings to arise from IT procurement policies introduced by this Government, including the Moratorium on new spend which commenced in May 2010. Department accounts, published at the year end will provide a fuller indication of the impact of these policies on department expenditure. But as an early indication of the size of savings accruing from the ICT Project Review process, Departments reported the curtailment of 229 projects to gross, compound value of £1 billion.

Government Departments: Procurement

Jon Trickett: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what single tender contracts the Government has awarded in the last 12 months. [36959]

Mr Maude: This information is not held centrally and cannot be obtained without disproportionate cost.

Public sector contracts should normally be awarded following a fair and open competition in accordance with EU procurement directives. These directives do contain a number of derogations from the advertising requirements, including such circumstances as where there is only one provider able to supply the goods or services, the purchase of goods on commodity markets, extreme urgency, and a few circumstances where it has become necessary to procure additional services or goods from the same provider. Any use of those derogations has to be justified by the authority and applied strictly, with only exceptional departures from the normal advertising requirements.

In line with the Government's transparency commitments, all central Government Departments are now required to publish new contracts over £10,000, and associated tender documents, on 'Contracts Finder':

Iraq Committee of Inquiry

Mr Llwyd: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) how many candidates were considered for appointment to the secretariat of the Chilcott Inquiry; [36113]

(2) how many candidates were considered for the post of Secretary to the Chilcott Inquiry on the war with Iraq. [36116]


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Mr Maude: The Cabinet Secretary decided to nominate the Secretary to the Iraq Inquiry and agreed the appointment with the Chairman of the Inquiry. The Secretary will normally recruit the supporting team in consultation with the Chair of the Inquiry. This is a matter for the independent Inquiry.

Both the Cabinet Secretary and the Chairman of the Inquiry agreed that the Secretary to the Inquiry should be a senior individual in the civil service ideally with relevant background and experience in foreign and defence policy issues. The Cabinet Secretary decided to nominate the Secretary to the Iraq Inquiry and agreed the appointment with the Chairman of the Inquiry. No other individuals were nominated.

Mr Llwyd: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) whether the Chilcott Inquiry on the war with Iraq has requested permission to publish any document relating to policy of (a) the Department of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, (b) the Ministry of Defence and (c) the Defence and Overseas Secretariat in the Cabinet Office which bears the name of the Secretary to the Inquiry and was prepared during her tenure as deputy head of the Defence and Overseas Secretariat; [36114]

(2) whether the Cabinet Office has received any requests from the Chilcott Inquiry to publish documentation relating to policy on Iraq in the (a) Foreign and Defence Secretariat and (b) Defence and Overseas Secretariat of the Cabinet Office during the period from November 2004 to July 2009. [36115]

Mr Maude: The protocol between the Iraq Inquiry and HMG regarding documents and other written and electronic information sets out the arrangements under which the Inquiry may request that the Government declassify documents for the Inquiry's public use and the grounds on which such requests may be refused.

Documents that the Government have declassified are available on the Inquiry's website. The majority of the Inquiry's declassification requests has been met. Where no agreement is reached about a form in which the information can be published, it would remain open to the Inquiry to refer, in its report, to the fact that material it would have wished to publish has been withheld from publication.

Pupils: Discipline

Mr Llwyd: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will place in the Library a copy of his Department's Managed Moves Policy document. [36112]

Mr Maude: The Cabinet Office managed move policy has been placed in the House of Common's Library.

Regulation

Mel Stride: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps he is taking to reduce levels of (a) regulation and (b) administrative requirements; and what assessment he has made of progress against his Department's objectives in this respect. [36257]


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Mr Maude: The Government are committed to reduce the levels of regulation. There have been several recent government-wide initiatives to reduce regulation, including the one-in one-out system introduced in September 2010 which requires policy makers to address and minimise the net cost to business and civil society. The Government also intend to publish a forward statement of regulation, providing an overview of the Government's regulatory plans up until June 2011.

Voluntary work is hampered by a thicket of bureaucracy that uses up time and money and causes frustration that can discourage volunteering. The Government are determined to cut this bureaucracy, which is why we have set up a Civil Society Red Tape Taskforce chaired by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts. The taskforce is addressing the question "what can we do to cut red tape for small organisations?" The taskforce is looking at a range of issues that we know cause difficulties for charities including funding, licensing, employment law, and insurance and will report in the spring.


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The Behavioural Insights Team in the Cabinet Office works with Departments to help develop policies that encourage positive behaviours, using insights from behavioural economics and behavioural science that do not require regulation or legislation.

Written Questions: Government Responses

Jon Trickett: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office when he plans to answer question 36145, on a Civil Service register of interests, tabled on 20 January 2011 for named day answer on 25 January 2011. [37186]

Mr Maude: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 26 January 2011, Official Report, columns 313-14W.


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