Previous Section Index Home Page


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Torbay of 13 November 2001 regarding Mr. Fraser of Paignton and his confiscated vehicle. [25951]

Mr. Boateng: I have done so.

Customs and Excise

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the current strength is of the import/ export teams in HM Customs and Excise. [26427]

Mr. Boateng: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 26 October 2001, Official Report, column 444W.


Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the cross-cutting review of children at risk will be considering the resource requirements of the fostering service. [24564]

Jacqui Smith: I have been asked to reply.

The children at risk cross-cutting review is focused on ways of improving and co-ordinating a range of services to provide early intervention for those children at risk of social exclusion. It is also looking at ways of providing help and support to those children at key transition points which may trigger problems.

The review is not looking specifically at the fostering service nor the associated funding issues. The Department is responsible for looking at the resource requirements of the fostering service, as part of the current spending review round.

Pay and Pensions Equalisation

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress is being made by the review into the

14 Jan 2002 : Column 84W

equalisation of pay and pensions across Government Departments; and when a national agreement will be agreed. [26791]

Mr. Leslie: I have been asked to reply.

Responsibility for pay and grading outside the senior civil service is delegated to Departments and agencies. There are no plans to return to a centralised system, which would be incompatible with our policy of giving greater freedom and autonomy to front line managers in order to encourage innovation and improve delivery.

The Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme is the occupational pension scheme for civil servants and applies across all Departments.

Roques Report

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) when he expects to have completed drafting consolidated Customs and Excise legislation; [26514]

Mr. Boateng: Customs introduced the Excise Duty Points (Duty Suspended Movement of Excise Goods) Regulations 2001 last September. These were supported by Mr. Roques in his recent report and strengthen the system for holding and moving excise goods without payment of duty. Further new regulations will be laid shortly.

Work will begin in 2002–03 on looking at the scope for consolidating related excise legislation. The size of the task has yet to be gauged.

Climate Change Levy

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much and over what period of time he expects carbon emissions to be reduced as a consequence of the climate change levy. [26510]

Mr. Boateng: The climate change levy package is forecast to deliver reductions in CO 2 emissions of 5 million tonnes of carbon a year by 2010.

Insurance Payouts

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will investigate the role of insurance companies in delays in payouts to victims when there is a clear allocation of responsibility to guilty parties. [27019]

Ruth Kelly: The financial ombudsman scheme and the courts provide means of redress for policyholders if they believe there are unjustifiable delays.

Working Families Tax Credit

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact of the working families tax credit on second and third jobs. [27012]

Dawn Primarolo: The impact of working families tax credit on the labour market will be assessed in due course as part of the evaluation programme.

14 Jan 2002 : Column 85W


Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the timetable is for the proposed review of annuities. [26790]

Ruth Kelly: The Government's policy on annuities and proposals for reform will be set out in a consultation document which will be published shortly. We will consider the consultation responses carefully before deciding how to proceed.


Exchange Rate Policy

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the work of the Forward Strategy Unit on exchange rate policy and the overproduction of sterling. [25972]

The Prime Minister: No such work is being undertaken.

Government Units

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will (a) list the (i) senior staff and (ii) other ministerial personnel, (b) describe the role and (c) publish the e-mail address and the mission statement of (1) the Forward Strategy Unit, (2) the Performance and Innovation Unit, (3) the Social Exclusion Unit, (4) the Delivery Unit and (5) the Domestic Policy Directorate; and how often and on what basis each reports to him. [25975]

The Prime Minister: The purpose of all the units is to help achieve our commitment to the modernisation and reform in public services and report to me regularly.

The Forward Strategy Unit reports directly to me and is headed by Geoff Mulgan. The unit's role is to provide internal long-term strategic analysis and policy thinking for me and other Cabinet Ministers. The FSU's e-mail address is: [email protected]

The Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) reports to me through Sir Richard Wilson and is headed by Geoff Mulgan. Its role is to provide me and Government Departments with a capacity to analyse major cross- cutting policy issues and design strategic solutions. The PIU's mission statement is:

The Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) reports to me through the Deputy Prime Minister and is headed by Moira Wallace. The Social Exclusion Unit's remit is to help improve Government action to reduce social exclusion by producing "joined up solutions to joined up problems". It works mainly on specific projects, chosen following consultation with other Ministers and suggestions from interested groups. In addition to its project-based work, the unit is involved in other cross-governmental policy relating to social exclusion. The SEU can be contacted through their website:

14 Jan 2002 : Column 86W

The Delivery Unit (DU) reports to me under the day to day supervision of the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Lord Macdonald, and is headed by Michael Barber. The unit is working closely with the Treasury and other Departments to ensure that the Government achieve their delivery priorities during this Parliament across the key areas of public service: health, education, crime, asylum and transport.

My Principal Private Secretary, Jeremy Heywood leads the Policy Directorate within No. 10 covering domestic policy.

Forward Strategy Unit

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will publish the conclusions drawn by Lord Birt on the NHS and on transport; [25976]

The Prime Minister: It is not our policy to publish Forward Strategy Unit reports which will provide me and other Cabinet Ministers with long-term internal strategic analysis and policy thinking. Internal policy advice to Ministers remains confidential.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the dates of foreign visits he has made since 11 September; which countries he visited; whom he met; what was discussed; what the size of his entourage was; which Foreign Office Ministers accompanied him; and what the total cost of the visit was in each case. [26757]

The Prime Minister: Since 11 September, I have made the following overseas visits and met the following leaders:

14 Jan 2002 : Column 87W

A range of issues were discussed during these visits, including the international coalition against terrorism, the middle east peace process, EU affairs, bilateral relations and regional issues.

The Foreign Secretary attended the European Council meetings on 21 September and 13–15 December. The Minister for Europe also attended the European Council meeting in December.

A detailed list of Cabinet Ministers' visits overseas and information on expenditure by all Ministers on travel overseas for the period 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002 will be published as soon as possible after the end of the current financial year.

Ms Walley: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the results of his visit to Pakistan in relation to Kashmir. [26935]

The Prime Minister: I discussed Kashmir with President Musharraf during my visit to Pakistan on 7 January, along with other bilateral and regional issues. I made clear our view that the issue of Kashmir can only be resolved through bilateral dialogue between Pakistan and India.

Next Section Index Home Page