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Prisons: Training

Mr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what discussions his Department has had with private sector organisations on expanding provision of meaningful work and training in prisons; [42829]

(2) whether his Department has plans to extend initiatives such as that conducted by the Timpson Academy with offenders in HM Prisons Liverpool and Wandsworth. [42833]

Mr Blunt: The development of prisoners’ employment skills helps them to become productive members of society and improves their chances of gaining employment on release, which we know is a major contributor to turning them away from crime.

We set out our intention to make prisons places of work and industry in the Green Paper “Breaking the cycle: Effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders” published on 7 December 2010. As part of the consultation, we have been discussing with the private sector ways in which we can increase further their participation in providing work and training in prisons.

There are already examples, like the Timpson Academies, of successful partnerships between prisons and private sector organisations; whether employers are recruiting offenders directly from prison, running a prison workshop, training prisoners for specific jobs, providing the chance of employment on release or helping shape policy and practice.

We will continue to consult with the private sector on its role in contributing to the rehabilitation of offenders through skills development and employment in both prisons and the community.

Sentencing

Mr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will provide guidance to the judiciary and magistracy to seek to ensure that court sentence ranges do not vary by region. [41572]

Mr Blunt: The independent Sentencing Council for England and Wales issues sentencing guidelines to judges and magistrates. The Council was set up under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 to promote greater transparency and consistency in sentencing across England and Wales.

Social Impact Bonds

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 10 February 2011, Official Report, column 404W, on social impact bonds, what the evaluation criteria will be for assessing whether the programme has delivered sufficient reductions in reconviction events to warrant payment; who will be responsible for carrying out such an evaluation; and if he will make a statement. [42910]

Mr Blunt: Following a competitive tender process, the Ministry of Justice has appointed QinetiQ and the university of Leicester to assess whether the first social impact bond cohort delivers a sufficient reduction in reconvictions to trigger a payment to investors.

QinetiQ and the university of Leicester will calculate the total frequency of reconviction events for the offenders in the first social impact bond cohort, during the 12 months following their release from prison. To determine whether a payment should be made, this reconviction rate will be compared with the frequency of conviction events over the same time period for a comparison group. The comparison group

1 Mar 2011 : Column 417W

will consist of 10,000 offenders released from other prisons, identified by QinetiQ and the university of Leicester as having similar characteristics to the social impact bond offenders.

Together with the Big Lottery Fund, the Government will pay for results if reconvictions fall by 10% across the cohort. If this threshold is not achieved, no payment will be made. The appointment of an independent assessor for the second and third cohorts will follow a full competitive tender process.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 10 February 2011, Official Report, column 404W, on social impact bonds, what the commissioning process entailed; what selection criteria were used; which other companies or charities submitted proposals to be considered as potential partners for the pilot project at HM Prison Peterborough; and if he will make a statement. [42911]

Mr Blunt: The social impact bond at Peterborough prison was commissioned on 18 March 2010. This followed a period of commercial negotiations between Social Finance and the Ministry of Justice which began in June 2009.

The innovative social impact bond is the first social investment scheme commissioned by the Government, and as such, the approach has not been piloted elsewhere in the public sector. The unique nature of the Social Finance proposal, and the provision of £5 million innovation funding support by the Big Lottery Fund, meant that a formal competitive process was not appropriate. Throughout negotiations with Social Finance, the Ministry of Justice took appropriate action to secure value for money. The Ministry of Justice obtained clearance for the pilot from the Domestic Affairs (Public Engagement and the Delivery of Services) Committee, and support from HM Treasury.

Future payment by results contracts, including those supported by social models of investment, will be subject to a competitive process.

Supreme Court: Flags

Ms Gisela Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice who granted authority for the Supreme Court to fly its own flag as well as the Union flag from its building; and if he will make a statement. [42049]

Mr Djanogly: The chief executive, on behalf of the President, Deputy President and Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom sought advice about flag flying from the Flag Institute. The institute’s guidance is set out in its joint publication with the Flags and Heraldry Committee (an All Party Parliamentary Group) titled “Flying flags in the United Kingdom—A guide to Britain’s flag protocol”. The guide permits double flagging on one flagpole provided that the senior flag is flown at the top of the pole.

Authority for the flying of the Supreme Court flag beneath the Union flag on days when the court is sitting or handing down judgments was granted by the President, Deputy President and Justices of the Supreme Court. No other authority was required.

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Theft: Re-offenders

Rehman Chishti: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will assess the merits of ensuring that second and third cases brought against an individual for offences relating to theft of goods valued below £5,000 are kept at a magistrates court for summary determination. [41958]

Mr Blunt: We are considering various ways of keeping out of the Crown court cases that do not need to be tried there. To provide that some offences that are triable either way could in certain circumstances be treated as summary only would be one possibility. Any change to the status quo would take into account the Government’s commitment (as stated in the coalition agreement) to protect historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.

Third Sector

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what account he has taken of the Compact between the Government and Civil Society in policy development. [42599]

Mr Kenneth Clarke: The Ministry of Justice is involving diverse civil society organisations when developing its policies and in delivering services across the Department's business.

We are committed to further opening up our services to independent providers and we are working with civil society organisations to identify and remove barriers to their engagement. We are helped in this by the refreshed Compact and wider Government reforms.

The Ministry's Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group (RRTSAG) is an important forum for providing advice to my colleagues and officials on policy and strengthening the sector's role in reducing reoffending.

We have worked closely with the RRTSAG and other civil society partners to develop the Green Paper ‘Breaking the Cycle: effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders’, and we are consulting widely as well as through targeted approaches—for example we are co-ordinating a cross-sector symposium on payment by results which I will attend.

In developing proposals for how victims' services should be commissioned we are working closely with voluntary sector providers to develop a transparent and sustainable funding model using the Compact as a basis. We are also engaging with victims' charities and service providers on the development of a range of policies on victims and witnesses.

There are a number of areas in the legal aid review which we are considering closely with not-for-profit advice providers and we have sought their views during the consultation process. The Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr Djanogly) has recently met with representatives of advice providers to discuss the potential impact of the proposed reforms.

We have involved the Family Mediation Council (comprises both civil society and private sector organisations) in developing family mediation policy. We have engaged FMC representatives within the MoJ Project Board and we are actively involving the mediation community in setting the future direction of policy.

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The Ministry and its agencies are funding voluntary sector umbrella bodies such as Clinks, Action for Prisoners' Families, and the Advice Services Alliance to give a voice to and grow the contribution of diverse civil society organisations and their users.

We are promoting the refreshed Compact throughout the Department and its agencies. We welcome plans to strengthen accountability arrangements.

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what steps his Department has taken to support the Big Society initiative; [42639]

(2) whether (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department are participating in volunteering activities as part of his Department's involvement in the Big Society initiative. [42659]

Mr Kenneth Clarke: I and my ministerial team support and encourage volunteering in many ways, in our ministerial roles and as constituency Members. We actively support initiatives by participating in visits, attending community events and raising awareness of volunteering through media activity.

The Ministry's reform programme and business plan are underpinned by the Big Society principles. This includes increased competition of our services; moving to payment by outcomes commissioning; publishing data so that the public can hold us to account; lifting the burden of bureaucracy by reviewing top down performance arrangements; and increasing community access to and involvement in local criminal justice.

We have already made some commitments and we are exploring and consulting on a range of relevant approaches, including through our Green Paper ‘Breaking the Cycle: effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders’. These include:

Testing out local Neighbourhood Justice Panels to give communities greater responsibility for tackling some low-level crime and antisocial behaviour.

Giving communities a choice in the work undertaken by offenders through Community Payback.

Exploring restorative justice approaches that empower communities in seeking reparation for crimes.

Improving the links between courts and communities by further developing local multi-agency problem solving models.

Promoting and reducing barriers to volunteering and broader participation in the Justice System over time. The Green Paper commits us to building on the extensive volunteering already taking place and bringing forward further plans on community involvement.

We will no longer provide rehabilitation services directly without testing where the private and voluntary sectors can deliver more efficiently and effectively. We will publish a strategy for competing offender services by June 2011.

We launched the Social Impact Bond pilot in Peterborough Prison last year—social investors are paying up front for intensive services and mentoring delivered by the voluntary sector. We will pay solely on the results they deliver.

We will run at least six new payment by results projects, which will be open to a diverse range of providers of rehabilitation services. Two of these will test a local financial incentives model in Manchester and selected London boroughs. We will share savings with the local area if they are successful in reducing demand and reoffending, which can then be reinvested in further crime prevention activity.

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Through the Family Justice System review we are exploring the potential for family mediation to be delivered by local independent mediation services.

We are investing nearly £30 million over the next three years through the voluntary sector to support victims of crime.

We are consulting on introducing a single reducing reoffending measure.

We are proposing reducing the central burden on local youth offending teams through lighter touch performance management and more risk based inspection. We have already removed the ring fence from the YOT grant to allow more flexibility in how they use their funding.

We have published sentencing data since October 2010 and we are consulting on proposals to further increase the accessibility and transparency of justice data and outcomes including by area.

Tribunals Service

Mr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what discussions his Department has had with the Department for Work and Pensions on the effects of proposed reforms to disability living allowance on the work of the Tribunals Service. [42828]

Mr Djanogly: The Tribunals Service and Department for Work and Pensions have been working closely together to manage demands on tribunals and the capacity of tribunals to deal with increased work loads. Regular discussions will continue in planning for the implementation of reforms to disability living allowance.

Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the Copyright Tribunal and the Competition Appeal Tribunal are to operate under shared administration within the Tribunals Service. [42985]

Mr Djanogly: Both the Copyright Tribunal and the Competition Appeal Tribunal are currently being considered for future transfer to HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). This is still at a very early stage and no final decisions have been taken whether either or both tribunals should transfer. HMCTS provides administrative support to a number of different tribunal jurisdictions and should it be decided and agreed that either or both the Copyright Tribunal and Competition Appeal Tribunal should transfer then the arrangements made will take account of their specialist needs.

HMP Woodhill: Education

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice for how many hours a week on average prisoners in HM Prison Woodhill had access to education in the latest period for which figures are available. [42099]

Mr Blunt: During 2008-09 prisoners at HMP Woodhill spent on average 4.5 hours per prisoner per week in education.

The figure has been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Figures for 2009-10 will be available in March.

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Attorney-General

Domestic Violence

1. Mr Tom Harris: To ask the Attorney-General what recent assessment has been made of the role of specialist domestic violence services in improving prosecution rates in cases involving allegations of domestic violence. [42451]

The Solicitor-General: Evaluations of Specialist Domestic Violence Courts (SDVCs) in 2005 and in 2008 clearly demonstrated that SDVCs, involving specialist domestic violence support services, have contributed to improving prosecution rates as well as safety for domestic violence victims.

Bribery Act 2010

4. Chris Williamson: To ask the Attorney-General what recent assessment he has made of the role of the Serious Fraud Office in implementation of the provisions of the Bribery Act 2010. [42454]

The Attorney-General: The Serious Fraud Office has been contributing to the development of the Ministry of Justice’s guidance for commercial organisations about adequate procedures to prevent bribery. The director of the Serious Fraud Office and the Director of Public Prosecutions will also be publishing joint prosecution guidance for prosecutors in due course.

Energy and Climate Change

Biofuels: Teesside

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent representations he has reviewed on the biorefinery at Seal Sands on Teeside proposed by INEOS Bio; and if he will take steps to enable the project to go ahead. [42544]

Gregory Barker: The Government are supporting development of this important demonstration project through grant funding. The scoping part of the project was successfully completed in 2010. DECC, together with One North East and technical experts at the NNFCC have been advising INEOS Bio as they work on issues concerning the construction stage of the project.

Carbon Trust

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the effects on achievement of carbon reduction targets of reductions in the budgets of the (a) Carbon Trust and (b) Energy Savings Trust. [42039]

Gregory Barker: No assessment has been made as both the Carbon Trust and Energy Saving Trust continue to develop their business plans for 2011-12 and in doing so are seeking to drive efficiencies, while maintaining existing levels of service and outcomes where possible. From October 2012, we expect an even greater level of emissions reductions to be achieved with the implementation of the Green Deal, a new scheme to drive energy efficiency in buildings.

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Climate Change

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the effect on the independence of the Committee on Climate Change of its inclusion in the bodies listed in schedule 7 to the Public Bodies Bill. [43360]

Gregory Barker: The Government have laid an amendment to the Public Bodies Bill that, if agreed, would remove clause 11 and schedule 7 from the Bill. However even were that not the case, the inclusion of the Committee on Climate Change in schedule 7 to the Public Bodies Bill—along with all other statutory public bodies that would require such a legislative framework if needing reform—would not have changed its independent nature or the important role that it plays.

Departmental Location

Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will bring forward proposals to relocate (a) staff and (b) offices of his Department to Brighton; and if he will make a statement. [43475]

Gregory Barker: The Department currently has no such plans.


Energy: Business

Nia Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) whether he has made an assessment of the combined effects on energy intensive industries of forecast increases in global energy costs and the implementation of proposed domestic energy legislation, including the carbon price support; [41777]

(2) whether he has made an assessment of the effects of his proposals for electricity market reform and a carbon price support on (a) energy intensive industries, (b) the steel industry, (c) the ceramic industry, (d) the glass industry, (e) the paper and pulp industry and (f) the cement industry; [41778]

(3) what plans he has to assist manufacturers of energy intensive products to compete internationally after the implementation of proposals for electricity market reform and a carbon price support; [41779]

(4) what work will be undertaken by the joint project between his Department and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to consider the cumulative effects of energy and climate change policies on energy-intensive industries in the UK; and when he expects the results of this work to be published. [41780]

Charles Hendry: The Government are committed to tackling the challenges of energy security, and affordability of energy prices, for energy intensive users.

The Government published their initial assessment of the impacts of the carbon price support policy in the impact assessment which accompanied the consultation document published at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/consult_carbon_price_support_condoc.pdf

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The Government are currently undertaking a review of the impact of climate change and energy policies on energy intensive users and I aim to publish findings of the review in the spring.

I will consider policy options once this ongoing research and analysis has been completed.

Energy: Cost-effectiveness

Julian Sturdy: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his policy is on the cost-effectiveness of energy savings and efficiencies as a means of meeting the Government’s energy policy objectives. [42683]

Gregory Barker: Cost effectiveness is one of a number of important criteria Government must take into account when considering policy options—both in the short term and long term.

An economic appraisal of the costs and benefits is a mandatory part of assessing the impacts of all policies, and allows consideration of the relative merits of different policy options. This must be carried out in line with HM Treasury’s Green Book and, where policies have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions, with the supplementary guidance on the valuation of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions published by DECC.

Considerations of the long-term pathway to the UK’s target to reduce emissions by at least 80% on 1990 levels by 2050 is also part of the evidence base to inform decision making.

Across the package of policies and measures put in place to deliver the savings required to meet the UK’s Carbon Budgets there is a wide range of cost-effectiveness. Conservation and energy efficiency measures typically represent more cost-effective options in the near term, while decarbonising the power generation sector is key to place the UK on track with its long-term target—and to do so at least-cost, avoiding locking in to costlier alternatives.

Fuel Oil: Totnes

Dr Wollaston: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the number of properties in (a) Totnes constituency, (b) the South West and (c) England which do not have mains gas access and which use domestic heating oil. [43448]

Charles Hendry: In 2008, the latest year for which this information is available, there were around 773,000 households in England which had no access to mains gas and that used heating oil as their main heating fuel. Of these households, around 191,000 were located in the South West Government Office Region.

Equivalent figures for the Totnes constituency are not available.

Fuel Oil: Prices

Dr Wollaston: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will commission an inquiry into the reason for recent trends in the price of domestic heating oil. [43447]

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Charles Hendry: I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement I gave on 21 January concerning the off-grid energy market. I am keen that the reasons for the high price of domestic heating oil and supply issues this winter are thoroughly investigated by an independent authority. The Office of Fair Trading market study will provide an independent assessment of the off-grid market and establish what further action may be necessary to ensure it works properly. I look forward to seeing its conclusions in advance of next winter so the lessons from this winter can be learned and any necessary changes made.

Power Stations: Fossil Fuels

Nicola Blackwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how much of the UK’s energy he estimates will be supplied by power stations operating on fossil fuels by (a) 2020 and (b) 2030. [42846]

Charles Hendry: DECC does not produce a projection of the electricity mix between now and 2030. The generation mix to 2020 and 2030 will be driven by commercial decisions taken within the policy framework for the electricity market. However in the course of analysis undertaken for various policies we run scenarios that result in different generation mixes depending on the assumptions used.

For example, the analytical work for the Electricity Market Reform consultation document, published on the 16 December 2010, included modelling by Redpoint Energy of the electricity system out to 2030. The modelling work used an indicative carbon emissions target for the electricity system of 100gCO2/kWh by 2030, which was consistent with advice from the Committee on Climate Change at the time. This modelling showed that unabated power stations operating on fossil fuels would provide approximately 54% of electricity supplied in 2020 and approximately 24% of electricity supplied in 2030.

Following this analysis, in December 2010, the Committee on Climate Change suggested that a carbon emissions intensity of 50gCO2/kWh by 2030 would be required to meet longer term carbon goals. This scenario would result in less electricity being supplied from fossil fuel generation in 2030 than under the 100gCO2/kWh scenario.

Smart Electricity Grid

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment his Department has made of the relative merits of (a) wireless mesh, (b) power line carrier, (c) GPRS, (d) 3G cellular and (e) fixed consumer broadband as potential communications platforms for the development of a smart electricity grid. [41744]

Charles Hendry: Each of these technologies could have significant potential in the development of a smart grid.

We have not made an assessment of the potential benefits of various options for communications platforms for smart grid, as we believe the market will establish the communications system that will best serve the needs of the electricity system.

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Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment his Department has made of the potential benefits of wireless mesh technology as a platform for smart electricity grid development. [41765]

Charles Hendry: Wireless mess technology is one of a number of telecommunications systems that could be used to support smart grids.

We have not made an assessment of the potential benefits of wireless mesh technology as a platform for smart electricity grid development, as we believe the market will establish what communications system will best serve the needs of the networks to meet their future challenges

Water Power: Finance

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what funding mechanisms he plans to put in place to encourage investment in the marine renewable sector following the phasing out of the Marine Renewables Deployment Fund in March 2011. [42728]

Gregory Barker: The Department is currently developing its detailed plans for the allocation of the £200 million, to support the development of low carbon technologies, announced in the spending review—the needs of wave and tidal energy technologies are being considered as part of that process.

A scheduled banding review of renewables obligation support for all technologies, including marine technologies, began last October. The review will consider whether any changes are needed to the current bands. We intend to consult on any changes to the bands this summer and to confirm the revised bands in the autumn, one year earlier than previously announced.

Any changes in support levels will come into effect on the 1 of April 2013, (2014 for offshore wind) subject to sate aids and parliamentary approval.

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he is taking to encourage (a) wave and tidal technology developers and (b) marine energy device manufacturers to locate themselves in the UK. [42729]

Gregory Barker: We have moved to establish a new UK Marine Energy programme, that will address the barriers affecting the UK marine energy sector's ability to develop and deploy wave and tidal energy devices at a commercial scale.

Through the programme we will put in place a coherent programme of policies across Government, led by DECC, to enable the UK marine energy sector to move from prototype testing to commercial deployment.

With the right framework of policies in place we can both develop our indigenous UK marine energy industry and attract investment and manufacturing into the UK.

Defence

Armed Forces: Social Security Benefits

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of personnel in each of the three services who are in receipt of (a) working families tax credit, (b) income support and (c) other benefits. [40142]

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Mr Gauke: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested is not available.

Working tax credit and child tax credits replaced working families’ tax credit in April 2003.

Departmental Manpower

Mr Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many (a) actual and (b) full-time equivalent staff have left his Department's employment since May 2010; [42305]

(2) how many (a) actual and (b) full-time equivalent staff his Department employed on the latest date for which figures are available; [42386]

(3) how many (a) actual and (b) full-time equivalent staff were employed by his Department in May 2010. [42402]

Mr Robathan: The information requested is shown in the following tables:

Ministry of Defence strength by headcount and full-time equivalent at 1 May 2010 and 1 January 2011

May January Change in Strength

Headcount

89,770

88,040

-1,740

Equivalent

85,640

84,180

-1,470

Source: DASA (Quad Service)
Ministry of Defence headcount and full-time equivalent exits between 1 May 2010 and 1 January 2011

Headcount Full-time equivalent

Outflow

3,440

3,250

Notes: 1. All totals have been individually rounded to the nearest 10 and totals and sub totals may not match precisely. 2. Totals for strengths include Locally Engaged Civilians and Royal Fleet Auxiliary personnel. 3. Outflow data exclude Locally Engaged Civilians and Royal Fleet Auxiliary personnel for whom entrance and exit data are not available and can be tracked only by net changes within strength totals. Source: DASA (Quad Service)

Departmental Security

Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what expenditure his Department has incurred on contracts with the private sector to provide security at his Department's establishments (a) in the UK and (b) overseas in each of the last five years. [41774]

Mr Robathan [holding answer 28 February 2011]: The value of the contracts that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) had in place with the private sector to provide security guarding at MOD establishments in each of the last five Financial Years (FY) in the United Kingdom and overseas is represented in the following table:

Private security costs for MOD establishments
£ million
FY UK Overseas Total

2006-07

7.6

0.5

8.1

2007-08

12.4

0.6

13.0

2008-09

13.3

0.6

13.9

2009-10

18.6

0.7

19.3

2010-11(1)

13.4

0.9

14.3

Total

65.3

3.3

68.6

(1) 2010-11 figures up until 31 December 2010.

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Estonia and Latvia: Military Alliances

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the UK’s bi-lateral military relationship with (a) Estonia and (b) Latvia. [41817]

Dr Fox [holding answer 28 February 2011]: The bi-lateral military relationships with Estonia and Latvia are continuously assessed by the Ministry of Defence, and captured in briefing and policy documents as required by Ministers and senior officials. Estonia and Latvia are participants in the Northern Group initiative: as such, relations with both countries receive particularly frequent scrutiny. Moreover, the UK/Estonia relationship is strengthened by activities in Afghanistan where Estonian and UK forces serve alongside each other.

Northern Europe: Military Alliances

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to assign assets to the Nordic Baltic Alliance. [41783]

Dr Fox: The United Kingdom has no established relations with any entity known as the ‘Nordic Baltic Alliance’. It is assumed that the hon. Member refers to the Northern Group, a collaborative grouping of willing sovereign nations in Northern Europe that currently enjoys the participation of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden. The Northern Group does not require its participants to assign assets to it nor has any participating nation announced plans to do so. United Kingdom Ministry of Defence officials are engaged with their counterparts across the Group to identify opportunities for collaboration which offer clear mutual benefits.

Sweden and Norway: Military Alliances

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the UK’s bi-lateral military relationship with (a) Sweden and (b) Norway. [41818]

Dr Fox [holding answer 28 February 2011]: The bi-lateral military relationships with both Sweden and Norway are continuously assessed by the Ministry of Defence, and captured in briefing and policy documents as required by Ministers and senior officials. Norway and Sweden are participants in the Northern Group initiative: as such, relations with both countries receive particularly frequent scrutiny.

Deputy Prime Minister

Electoral Register

8. Mr Spencer: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent assessment he has made of the accuracy of the electoral register. [42569]

Mr Harper: The Government have not made such an assessment. However, the Electoral Commission in its March 2010 report “The completeness and accuracy of electoral registers in Great Britain” found:

“...it is likely that the accuracy of the registers remains broadly similar to past decades”

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and that

“...the major source of inaccuracy remains electors moving home and not informing the relevant Electoral Registration Officer (ERO).”

It is clear that more can be done to support accuracy. To this end, the Government have announced the implementation of individual electoral registration from 2014, which will ensure that only those entitled to vote will get on the register, so bringing greater protection against electoral fraud.

Prisoner Voting

Mr Marsden: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will publish the legal advice he has received on compliance with rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on prisoner voting. [42564]

Mr Harper: The Government do not disclose their legal advice. Disclosure of legal advice could prejudice the Government’s ability to defend their legal interests.

The Government have requested that the court’s judgment in the “Greens and MT” case be referred to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)—the highest tier of the ECtHR. If the Grand Chamber agrees to the referral, they will look again at the judgment and issue their opinion.

The basis of the Government’s referral request is that we believe that the court should look again at the principles in “Hirst” which outlaws a blanket ban on prisoners voting, particularly given the recent debate in the House of Commons. The referral request also points out the need for clarity in the ECtHR’s case law in this area.

Gavin Williamson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has for prisoners with no fixed abode under his proposals to extend the franchise to certain prisoners. [41896]

Mr Harper: The Government are considering the next steps in relation to the European Court of Human Rights’ judgments against the UK, and will reflect carefully on the points made in the House of Commons backbench debate on 10 February 2011 in deciding how to respond.

Cabinet Office

Government: Accountability

Tony Lloyd: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps he plans to take to increase levels of transparency in Government decision-making in order to improve accountability to the public. [42563]

Mr Maude: Over the last 10 months, the Government have opened up a wealth of data for public scrutiny for the first time. These include: all central Government spending over £25,000 online on a monthly basis, providing details of over £80 billion of Government spending; organograms for all central Government Departments, with salary details for the most senior civil servants; and all new contract opportunities.

The data.gov.uk website provides links to released data which are in an open reusable form, and their regular updates.

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These data allow the public to see how much has been spent with which suppliers and on what products, thereby providing an opportunity for challenge and questions.

As part of building the right to data, we are amending the Freedom of Information Act to ensure that public authorities publish datasets for reuse and do so in a reuseable format whether in response to requests, or through their publication schemes. We are also bringing forward plans for a new public data corporation. The corporation will, for the first time, bring together Government bodies and data into one organisation and provide an unprecedented level of easily accessible public information and drive further efficiency in the delivery of public services.

This will help to deliver better value for money in public spending and bring significant social and economic benefits by enabling businesses, non-profit organisations and others to exploit Government datasets for social and commercial purposes.

Gross Value Added: Glasgow

Mr Davidson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what estimate the Office for National Statistics has made of the gross value added of the City of Glasgow economy in the last 10 years. [41473]

Mr Hurd: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated March 2011:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning estimates of the gross valued added of the City of Glasgow economy in the last 10 years (41473).

Regional Gross Value Added (GVA) is available at several geographic levels. City of Glasgow is classified under the NUTS3 (Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics) geography. The most recent estimates available for the NUTS3 classification are for 2008. Data for the years 1999 - 2008, presented in £ million at current basic prices, are included in the table below.


Total GVA Glasgow City ( £ million)

1999

10,381

2000

10,749

2001

11,342

2002

11,995

2003

12,805

2004

13,415

2005

14,062

2006

14,993

2007

16,105

2008

16,888

Source: Table 3.1, Regional GVA, ONS, available on the National Statistics website at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_economy/GVA_NUTS3.xls

Job Creation

Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer of 16 February 2011, Official Report, column 829W, on job creation, in which sectors (a) full-time and (b) part-time jobs were created in 2010. [42688]

Mr Hurd: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

1 Mar 2011 : Column 430W

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated February 2011:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question, pursuant to the Answer of 16 February 2011, Official Report, column 829W, on job creation, in which sectors (a) full-time and (b) part-time jobs were created in 2010. 42688

Estimates of job creation are not available.

Jobseeker’s Allowance: Oxfordshire

Nicola Blackwood: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many people in Oxford West and Abingdon constituency have received jobseeker’s allowance consecutively for (a) three months, (b) six months, (c) nine months, (d) more than one year and (e) more than two years. [42976]

Mr Hurd: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated February 2011:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many people in Oxford West and Abingdon constituency have received jobseeker’s allowance consecutively for (a) three months, (b) six months, (c) nine months, (d) more than one year and (e) more than two years. (042976)

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) compiles the number of claimants of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) from the Jobcentre Plus administrative system.

Table 1 shows the number of persons resident in Oxford West and Abingdon constituency claiming JSA by duration of claims. Data has been provided for January 2011 which is the latest period available.

National and local area estimates for many labour market statistics, including employment, unemployment and claimant count are available on the NOMIS website at:

http://www.nomisweb.co.uk

Table 1: Number of persons claiming jobseeker’s allowance by duration of claim residing in Oxford West and Abingdon constituency—January 2011

Number

Claiming for over :

 

3 months(1)

530

6 months

290

9 months

210

12 months

140

24 months

30

(1) Those claiming more than three months include all those claiming for over six months, nine months, 12 month and 24 months (and similarly for other rows). Note: Data rounded to nearest 5. Source: Jobcentre Plus administrative system

Personal Income: Surveys

Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office when he expects to conduct the next living costs and food survey. [42555]

Mr Hurd: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated February 2011:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking when the next Living Costs and Food Survey is expected to be conducted (42555).

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The Living Costs and Food survey is conducted continuously. Interviews are spread evenly over the year to ensure that seasonal effects are covered. Results from the 2009 survey were reported on 30 November 2010, in the publication Family Spending. The 2010 survey report is expected to be published in November 2011.

Social Conditions

Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office whether his Department has made an assessment of the effects of income inequality on levels of (a) well-being and (b) happiness. [41286]

Mr Maude: The Cabinet Office has no active research on the effects of income inequality on levels of (subjective) well-being or happiness. Under the previous Administration, the Cabinet Office did publish a discussion paper on Life Satisfaction: the state of knowledge and implications for government (2002) which contained a cursory discussion of this issue. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has been commissioned to develop robust independent measures of subjective well-being and is carrying out a national debate to obtain the views of the public on the dimensions of well-being, which will inform the measures.

Unemployment

Tim Farron: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what his most recent estimate is of the proportion of people who are unemployed in (a) England, (b) the North West, (c) Cumbria and (d) Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency. [42033]

Mr Hurd: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated February 2011:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question on the percentage of people who are unemployed in (a) England, (b) the North West, (c) Cumbria and (d) Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency. (42033)

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) compiles unemployment statistics for local areas from the Annual Population Survey (APS), following International Labour Organisation (ILO) definitions. Unfortunately the sample size does not support analyses of unemployment for all of the geographical areas requested.

As an alternative, in Table 1, we have provided the number and proportions of persons aged 16-64 resident in the above geographical areas claiming Jobseeker's Allowance for January 2011.

National and local area estimates for many labour market statistics, including employment, unemployment and claimant count are available on the NOMIS website at:

http://www.nomisweb.co.uk

Table 1: Number and proportion of people aged 16-64 claiming jobseeker's allowance resident in England, the North West, Cumbria and Westmorland and Lonsdale parliamentary constituency, January 2011

Number Proportion

England

1,224,055

3.6

North West

183,557

4.1

Cumbria

8,367

2.7

Westmorland and Lonsdale

1,317

2.6

Source: Jobcentre Plus Administrative System

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Unemployment: Coventry

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what estimate he has made of the number of people who are economically inactive in Coventry; and if he will make a statement. [43575]

Mr Hurd: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated March 2011:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what estimate has been made of the number of people who are economically inactive in Coventry. (43575)

The Office for National Statistics compiles estimates of inactivity for local areas from the Annual Population Survey (APS) following International Labour Organisation definitions.

The number of people aged 16-64 who were economically inactive and resident in Coventry was 57,000, based on the APS for the 12 months ending in June 2010, which is the latest period for which estimates are available.

As this estimate is for a subset of the population in a small geographical area, it is based on a very small sample size, and is therefore subject to a large margin of uncertainty.

Treasury

Banks: Loans

Mr Umunna: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) with reference to paragraph 1.6 of his Department's paper on Project Merlin-Banks' Statement on lending, how much weight will be given on the performance metrics of chief executives for each bank; [42279]


(2) what the process was for the selection of PricewaterhouseCoopers as the accountancy firm to work with the Bank of England on monitoring the lending targets set out in the Project Merlin agreement; [42280]


(3) what steps he is taking to increase lending to businesses from banking and financial services groups that are operating in the UK but which are not subject to the Project Merlin agreement; [42362]


(4) what estimate his Department has made of the level of net lending to businesses by (a) Barclays, (b) HSBC, (c) Lloyds Banking Group, (d) RBS and (e) Santander in each year since 2007; and what estimate he has made of the likely level of such lending by each bank in each year to 2014; [42360]


(5) which companies are defined as small and medium-sized businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises or SMEs for the purposes of determining performance against the lending targets outlined in the Project Merlin agreement; [42359]


(6) how performance against the commitments he has received from banks on their customer service to small businesses as part of the Project Merlin agreement will be (a) monitored and (b) evaluated in respect of provision of (i) a free mentoring service, (ii) published lending principles, (iii) transparent appeals and (iv) improved access to finance; and whether he plans to publish such information. [42363]

Mr Hoban: As announced on 9 February 2011, Official Report, columns 310-13, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the UK's five major banks have stated a

1 Mar 2011 : Column 433W

capacity and willingness to lend £190 billion of new credit to business in 2011. This includes £76 billion of new lending to SMEs, which is a 15% increase on the amount lent in 2010. If demand exceeds this, the banks will lend more. For the purposes of the lending targets in Project Merlin, SMEs are broadly defined as businesses up to £25 million turnover.

The Bank of England will report, on a quarterly basis, the banks' total new lending to all businesses (and within that, to SMEs) under the definitions used for Project Merlin. The Bank of England will not be working with PricewaterhouseCoopers to monitor lending targets.

For the first time chief executive remuneration will reflect lending. The calibration of performance metrics of chief executive remuneration is a matter for each individual bank.

The Bank of England, in their January 2011 “Trends in Lending” report, estimated the average monthly aggregate levels of net lending to UK businesses by UK financial institutions to be: £7.9 billion in 2007, £3.9 billion in 2008, minus £3.9 billion in 2009, minus £3.2 billion in Q1 of 2010, minus £2.1 billion in Q2 of 2010 and minus £2.2 billion in Q3 of 2010. The Treasury does not make estimates of the levels of lending to UK businesses by individual institutions.

In addition to this commitment to increase lending to businesses, the Government continue to support SMEs seeking finance in a number of ways.

The Government have agreed with the British Bankers' Association that the Business Growth Fund will be increased by £1 billion to a total of £2.5 billion.

The Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme will be extended until 2014-15, providing up to £600 million of additional lending to around 6,000 SMEs next year alone.

The Government are continuing the programme of Enterprise Capital Funds. We have increased our commitment by £200 million over the next four years.

The Regional Growth Fund will provide £1.4 billion of investment over three years to help those areas and communities that are currently dependent on the public sector make the transition to sustainable private-sector led growth.

Finally, the Business Finance Taskforce, led by the British Bankers' Association, have agreed to 17 new commitments in order to improve the banks' relationship with their business customers and they will be evaluating the effectiveness of these measures.


Banks: Pay

Mr Umunna: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to increase transparency in the remuneration practices of banking and financial services groups that are operating in the UK but which are not covered by the Project Merlin agreement. [42361]

Mr Hoban: The Government have taken robust action to deliver increased transparency over remuneration. The new Financial Services Authority (FSA) disclosure regime came into force on 1 January 2011, covering large banks with operations in the UK. Banks will disclose details of the remuneration awarded to significant

1 Mar 2011 : Column 434W

risk takers, showing the total amounts paid broken down into components including cash, shares, deferred and upfront elements. Disclosures will be made at least annually, starting in 2011 and covering the 2010 financial year.

Banks: Regulation

Alun Cairns: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures he plans to take to ensure a competitive, sustainable banking sector. [42247]

Mr Hoban [holding answer 28 February 2011]: The Government are committed to a stable, predictable and competitive environment for financial services and one favourable to business more generally. The UK bank levy, a permanent tax that came into effect from the beginning of this year, has been introduced as a complement to wider regulatory reforms. The levy ensures that banks make a fair contribution reflecting the risks they pose to the financial system and wider economy and is intended to encourage banks to have less risky funding profiles.

The June Budget took immediate action to restore tax competitiveness with a phased reduction in the main rate of corporation tax from 28% to 24% over the next four years.

At the same time, the UK is leading the argument in the EU and internationally for robust, internationally consistent regulatory standards that will benefit the economy in the long run. On 17 February, the Government published a further consultation “A new approach to financial regulation: building a stronger system” which expands on the proposals set out last summer to establish a new system of specialised and focused financial services regulators. It marks a key step in delivering the coalition Government’s commitment to reform financial regulation by providing the Bank of England with control of macro-prudential regulation and oversight of micro-prudential regulation. These reforms will promote greater financial stability.

Mr Umunna: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to paragraph 3.6 of the Project Merlin-Banks' statement, on disclosure of the remuneration details of Executive Directors, what definition his Department uses for executive; and how many employees at each of the banks that are subject to the Project Merlin agreement he estimates earn more than the five highest paid executives who are not on the board at each such bank. [42275]

Mr Hoban: As part of Project Merlin, the banks have committed to disclosing details of the remuneration awarded to all Executive Directors on a named basis, and also details of the remuneration awarded to the five highest paid senior executive officers, on an unnamed basis. Executive Directors serve on the board of the company while senior executive officers are employees with significant managerial responsibility but who do not serve on the board of the company. The Government welcome and supports these commitments.

The Government have not made any estimates of the number of employees at a given company who earn more than the five highest paid Executive Directors.

1 Mar 2011 : Column 435W

Mr Umunna: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he expects the total amount paid in fixed based salaries to employees at RBS and Lloyds Banking Group to increase or decrease as a proportion of total remuneration in the financial year 2010-11. [42276]

Mr Hoban: The Government's shareholdings in banks are managed on a commercial and arm's length basis by UK Financial Investments Ltd (UKFI). UKFI is required to do this in a way that is consistent with the Treasury's aim not to be a permanent investor in UK financial institutions—the Government are clear that British banks are best owned and managed commercially. UKFI engages with the banks to ensure remuneration policies at Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) reward long-term sustainable performance and do not incentivise short-term excessive risk taking.

RBS and Lloyds will disclose information on their remuneration arrangements in their annual report and accounts, including a Directors' Remuneration Report.


EU Economic Policy

Mr Cash: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) to which process the statement by the heads of state or government of the euro area and the EU institutions annexed to the conclusions of the European Council of 4 February 2011 refers; [41621]

(2) with reference to the statement by the heads of state or government of the euro area and the EU institutions annexed to the conclusions of the European Council of 4 February 2011, in respect of what Treaty will the President of the European Council undertake consultations to identify concrete ways forward; [41622]

(3) with reference to the statement by the heads of state or government of the euro area and the EU institutions annexed to the conclusions of the European Council of 4 February 2011, (a) by whom, (b) by which procedure and (c) under which legal base of which Treaty heads of state or government of the interested non-euro area member states will be involved in the process referred to. [41623]

Mr Hoban: A statement by the Heads of State or Government of the Euro area and the EU institutions annexed to the conclusions of the February European Council announced that further steps would be taken to achieve a new quality of economic policy co-ordination. This process will be taken forward through intergovernmental co-operation, which will be facilitated by the President of the European Council.

As the statement makes clear, the President of the European Council will consult member states and identify concrete ways forward that are in line with the treaties.

Financial Services: Education

Mr Bain: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans his Department has to provide support for education on financial services in schools, colleges and universities in each of the next four financial years. [35970]

Mr Gibb: I have been asked to reply.

1 Mar 2011 : Column 436W

The Government recognise the importance of young people developing the capability they need to make informed decisions about their personal finances. The current economic well-being and financial capability strand of Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE), at key stages 3 and 4, provides a framework for students to learn about financial decision-making and how to use a range of financial tools and services. We announced, in the recently published Schools White Paper, ‘The Importance of Teaching’, our intention to conduct an internal review of PSHE education. We want to determine how we can support schools to improve the quality of PSHE teaching, including giving teachers the flexibility to use their judgment about how best to deliver PSHE.

There is no compulsory curriculum in further education colleges. It is for individual colleges to determine how they respond to local community needs. It is for the sector to determine its improvement needs and ensure that the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) supports them in meeting these needs.

The LSIS sees financial capability, numeracy and maths as key priorities for the sector. We are currently discussing with LSIS its 2011-12 programme.

Universities provide advice for students on managing personal finances as part of their support services. There is no specific allocation for this from the Department and it is funded through the block grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the tuition fees paid on behalf of the student.

More widely, we are assisting people to take charge of their finances at all life stages, through the establishment of the Consumer Financial Education Body (CFEB) which works with young people as well as adults.

Financial Services: Regulation

Mr Umunna: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he has taken at (a) EU and (b) G20 level to implement the recommendations of Sir David Walker's report on the governance of banks and other financial institutions since November 2009; and if he will make a statement. [42274]

Mr Hoban: The Government are committed to improving transparency of the remuneration practices in the financial services sector and continue to drive the initiative in the international arena. The Chancellor has written to counterparts in the European Union calling for urgent consideration of Sir David Walker's recommendations.

Public Sector: Pensions

Ms Angela Eagle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what savings he requires as a result of the employee contribution increases announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review from each of the Principal Civil Service pension schemes; [42262]

(2) what savings he requires as a result of the employee contribution increases announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review from each of the local government pension schemes in Scotland; [42263]

1 Mar 2011 : Column 437W

(3) what savings he requires as a result of the employee contribution increases announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review from each of the local government pension schemes in England and Wales; [42264]

(4) what savings are required in respect of the Department for International Development's Overseas Superannuation Scheme as a result of the employee contribution increases announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review; [42755]

(5) what savings are required in respect of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority Pension Schemes as a result of the employee contribution increases announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review; [42756]

(6) what savings are required in respect of the Judicial Pensions Scheme as a result of the employee contribution increases announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review; [42757]

(7) what savings are required from each of the Research Councils' pension schemes as a result of the employee contribution increases announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review; [42758]

(8) what savings are required in respect of the Firefighters' Pension Scheme as a result of the employee contribution increases announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review; [42759]

(9) what savings are required from the NHS Pension Scheme as a result of the employee contribution increases announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review; [42760]

(10) what savings are required from the Teachers' Pension Scheme in England and Wales as a result of the employee contribution increases announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review; [42761]

(11) what total savings he expects to make in 2014-15 from increasing employee contributions (a) in each (i) funded and (ii) unfunded public sector scheme, excluding the armed forces scheme, and (b) in total; [42762]

(12) how the total required saving from employee contribution increases announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review is to be apportioned between each public sector pension scheme; [42945]

(13) what savings are required from each of the police pension schemes as a result of the employee contribution increases announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review; [42953]

Danny Alexander: The interim report of the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission, chaired by Lord Hutton, former Work and Pensions Secretary, sets out that there is a clear rationale for increasing employee contributions to public service pensions. The report found that the value of public service pensions has been increasing following a 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.

Members of all of the public service pension schemes have benefited from the increase in the value of their pension and most of these extra costs have fallen to employers and taxpayers. Increases in employee

1 Mar 2011 : Column 438W

contributions will rebalance contributions, and ensure a fairer distribution of costs between members and other taxpayers.

The share of the total savings to annually managed expenditure of £2.8 billion expected from each scheme has been distributed proportionately to the size of each scheme's paybill. The range of savings reflects the opportunity to agree some central parameters for the increase, for example protection of low earners, through a process of engagement with trade unions.

Breakdown of savings by pension scheme

Savings range (£ million)

NHS Pension Scheme

1,262-1,312

Teachers' Pension Scheme (England and Wales)

768-852

Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme

441-491

Police Pension Scheme

155-175

NHS Superannuation Scheme (Scotland)

137-143

Firefighters' Pension Scheme

33-37

Scottish Teachers' Superannuation Scheme

85-94

Judicial Pension Scheme

13-32

The Local Government Pension Scheme (England and Wales) savings envelope is £900 million as agreed at the spending review; this is based on 3.2% of the pensionable paybill within the scheme in 2014-15.

Other schemes without a specific cash savings envelope include those that operate on a by-analogy basis and some other schemes. These scheme envelopes have been set based on the average increase in other public service schemes (3.2%):

Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (Northern Ireland)

Health and Personal Social Services Northern Ireland Superannuation Scheme

Northern Ireland Teachers' Superannuation Scheme

Northern Ireland Local Government Pension Scheme

Police Pension Scheme (Northern Ireland)

Police Pension Scheme (Scotland)

Firefighters' Pension Scheme (Scotland)

Local Government Pension Scheme (Scotland)

Research Councils' Pension Schemes

UK Atomic Energy Authority Pension Schemes.

The Department for International Development Overseas Superannuation Scheme is a closed scheme with no contributing members.

Taxation

Mr Hanson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment his Department has made of the (a) number and (b) potential liability for tax of companies and organisations that will be unable to file their company tax return online from 1 April 2011 for reasons relating to the unavailability of relevant software. [42692]

Mr Gauke: All companies should be able to file their company tax return online from 1 April.

Over 30 commercial suppliers whose filing software has been successfully tested with HMRC are listed on HMRC's website. One supplier has announced that its fully upgraded software will not be available for 1 April, but has said that it will provide a choice of interim solutions for its customers by 1 April.

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In addition, HMRC offers free online filing software suitable for smaller companies and organisations with less complex financial affairs.

Where a company has a reasonable excuse for missing its filing deadline it will not be penalised.

The change to online filing of company tax returns does not alter the way corporation tax is calculated or when it is paid.

Mr Hanson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received since 31 December 2010 requesting that the 1 April 2011 deadline for companies and organisations to file their company tax returns online be postponed. [42693]

Mr Gauke: No representations have been received for a delay to the requirement to file company tax returns online from 1 April. There have been a variety of representations both for and against deferring, from 1 April, the requirement to send accounts that are part of that company tax return as an iXBRL file.

Taxation: Business

Mr Binley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to reduce cash flow drag for small and medium-sized businesses. [42357]

Mr Gauke: The Government are committed to helping small and medium-sized businesses manage their cash flow and to transforming the culture of late payment.

Firstly, we think that it is important that the public sector sets a strong example here; this is why through the prompt payment initiative, central Government Departments are required to aim to pay 80% of undisputed invoices within five days. To ensure the benefits of prompt payment are felt through the supply chain and benefit smaller businesses, all Departments have also included a clause in their contracts that requires main contractors to pay their suppliers within 30 days.

To encourage the private sector to come on board, we have also developed a prompt payment code with the Institute of Credit Management (ICM). Voluntary private sector take-up of this code has been strong, with Experian calculating that code signatories now represent over 60% of the total UK supply chain value.

To educate businesses on cash flow management, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has also produced with the ICM a series of 10 checklists on all aspects of cash flow management, which have been endorsed by all the leading representative organisations and which have had nearly 200,000 downloads. The guides can be found at:

http://www.creditmanagement.org.uk/bisguides.htm

1 Mar 2011 : Column 440W

The Government also recognise that invoice financing, including supply chain finance, can allow greater flexibility in payment terms and can constitute an important source of working capital for businesses. This is why in the “Financing Business Growth” Green Paper, published in October 2010, the Government committed to support and raise awareness of supply chain finance through bringing together potential private sector providers of supply chain finance and encouraging its use by local government.

The tax system already has inbuilt cash flow advantages for business because of the way payment dates are set out in legislation. In addition, HM Revenue and Customs are also able to provide temporary assistance, through time to pay (TTP) agreements, to viable businesses which are experiencing genuine difficulties in paying their debts.

Taxation: Solar Power

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what revenue accrues to the Exchequer from (a) taxation upon and (b) national insurance contributions paid by those in the photovoltaics sector in 2010-11. [42320]

Mr Gauke: The information requested is not available.

Welfare Tax Credits: Married People

Jeremy Lefroy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he plans to take to reduce the couple penalty in the tax credit system. [36782]

Mr Gauke: The Government are committed to reforming the welfare system and ensuring policies are delivered in a fair way. The Government will introduce the universal credit over the next two Parliaments to replace the current system of means-tested working-age benefits, including tax credits, with a simple streamlined payment.

Communities and Local Government

Housing Benefit

Kate Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment has been made of the likely effect on household rental arrears and repossessions of the Government's proposal to cut housing benefit by 10% for those in receipt of jobseeker's allowance for over 12 months. [41995]

Steve Webb: I have been asked to reply.

We have decided not to pursue this measure.