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15 July 2011 : Column WA219

15 July 2011 : Column WA219

Written Answers

Friday 15 July 2011

Benefits: Tax Credit Helpline


Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The table below details the volume of calls handled by the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) tax credits helpline in each month since March 2010. HMRC cannot, however, disaggregate the cost of administering and staffing the tax credits helpline from the total administration costs or the staffing costs of running its contact centre operations.

Tax credits
MonthCalls handled (in millions)

Apr 10


May 10


Jun 10


Jul 10


Aug 10


Sep 10


Oct 10


Nov 10


Dec 10


Jan 11


Feb 11


Mar 11


Apr 11


May 11


Broadcasting: Advertising


Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Rawlings: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has received 577 representations since 1 January 2011. The Communications Act 2003 provides for Ofcom to have general responsibility for the regulation of the content of broadcasting services,

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including all programmes and advertisements. Under contracting-out arrangements, Ofcom has transferred day-to-day responsibility for broadcast advertising regulation to the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice and the Advertising Standards Authority. It is for those bodies to consider the appropriateness of advertising.

Broadcasting: Digital Switchover


Asked by Lord Kilclooney

Baroness Rawlings: Digital television switchover in Northern Ireland remains on schedule for 2012. Digital UK will announce the dates approximately 12 months in advance.

European External Action Service


Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The European External Action Service (EEAS) does not publish regular updates on the total number of staff it employs. However, the EEAS budget for 2011, agreed last year, requested funding for 3,720 staff slots. This included 1,643 policy and operational officers plus a further 2,077 additional staff including seconded national experts, contract agents, local agents and agency staff. The EEAS has its headquarters in Brussels. According to the EEAS, there are 125 delegations and eight multilateral representations around the world. Further details of delegations can be found on the EEAS website:

Government Departments: Websites


Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The costs of HM Treasury's online operations are published as part of the Central Office of Information's

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Reporting on progress reports on Government on the internet. The costs of the interactive A brief history of HM Treasury, developed as part of HM Treasury's digital strategy to deliver more accessible and engaging information to citizens and stakeholders, are included in the 2009-10 report.

Government: Art Collection


Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Baroness Rawlings: I am arranging for details of the Government Art Collection's allocation of pieces to government departments since May 2010 to be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses. The total cost for delivering and installing all the Minister's works is estimated at £22,246.

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Telephone Calls: Prices


Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Rawlings: No individual or body in Government monitors the pricing of telephone use. Ofcom, the independent national regulator, has duties to monitor and report on communications markets, including telecommunications. It publishes a number of such reports annually that can be found via its website. These include reporting on prices, consumer satisfaction, choice and value in those markets.

In addition, Ofcom has powers under the significant market power framework to impose charges following a finding of market dominance. Over the past few years, it has deregulated virtually all retail markets and hence focuses on the regulation of wholesale services. With the implementation of the new EU framework, Ofcom now also has powers to impose maximum charges on specific telephone number ranges for the purposes of consumer protection, as well as having Competition Act powers to deal with abuse of dominance issues.

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