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28 Oct 2002 : Column 601W—continued

Hawk Jets

Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with his Indian counterpart in respect of the sale of Hawk jets to India. [77223]

The Prime Minister: I last met the Indian Prime Minister on 12 October 2002. We discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest. These covered a number of defence and security matters, including defence export opportunities. The Government continue to support the proposals that BAE Systems has made for the supply of Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft to India.

28 Oct 2002 : Column 602W

Iraq

Andrew George: To ask the Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with President Bush about the desirability of obtaining explicit UN approval for military action against Iraq. [76932]

The Prime Minister: I regularly discuss all aspects of Iraq policy with President Bush. My position on the UN is as I set out in the answer I gave the hon. Member for St. Ives in the House on 23 October 2002.

Men's Issues

Mr. Amess: To ask the Prime Minister if he will establish the post of a Minister for men's issues. [76308]

The Prime Minister: I have no plans to do so.

Official Histories

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Prime Minister how many Government sponsored official histories are in preparation; when each was commissioned; who the authors are; what the estimated dates of completion are; and what the estimated cost in each case is. [74921]

The Prime Minister: The original programme of official histories commissioned by the War Cabinet, and covering military and civil histories of the second world war, was extended in 1966 by the then Prime Minister to include selected periods or episodes of peacetime history. The following are currently in preparation:

TitleAuthorDate commissionedEstimated publication date
Falklands CampaignProfessor Lawrence Freedman19972003
The Official Biography of Desmond MortonMrs Gill Bennett20022004
The Development of North Sea Oil and GasProfessor Alexander Kemp19992005
Channel TunnelDr. Terence Gourvish20012005
UK Accession to the EEC vol 2Professor Alan Milward19972006
The Civil Service since FultonProfessor Rodney Lowe20022008
SOE in France (revised edition)Professor M R D Foot20002003
Secret Flotillas (revised edition)Sir Brooks Richards20002003
From Defence by Committee to Defence by MinistryProfessor Donald Cameron Watt19742004
External Economic Policy since the War vol 2Professor Leslie Pressnell19742004
SOE in ItalyChristopher Woods19892004
SOE in GreeceProfessor Richard Clogg19842004

In the financial year 2000–01 the cost of running the official history programme was #147,000. This includes fees and expenses of historians and research assistants, costs associated with publication and staff costs of Cabinet Office administrative support. However, it excludes accommodation related overheads. In the case of the SOE histories, no fee is paid for the authors' work. Instead they seek recompense through royalties from their publishers.

SCOTLAND

Departmental Job Vacancies

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many job vacancies there were at (a) administrative assistant or equivalent, (b) administrative officer or equivalent, (c) administrative executive officer, (d) higher executive officer, (e) senior executive officer, (f) grade 7 principal and (g) all positions above grade 7 level in her Department for jobs located in (i) London and (ii) the South East between 1 April 2001 and 31March; and what is the total employment for each civil service grade. [76554]

Mrs. Liddell: My Department has a number of staff located in London. The following table provides a breakdown of staff numbers and vacancies between 1 April 2001 and 31 March 2002.

London region

Responsibility levelVacanciesTotal staff
G6 and above5
G73
SEO
HEO3
EO9
AO512
AA4
Other00
Total536

28 Oct 2002 : Column 603W

TREASURY

UK Property Prices

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the effect of recent changes in UK property prices on his fiscal policy. [77018]

Ruth Kelly: Consistent with the Code for Fiscal Stability, an interim update of the public finance projections will be published in the forthcoming pre-Budget report.

Biofuels

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the value of biofuels for road transport in contributing to achieving his environmental and rural development goals; [75025]

John Healey [holding answers 21 October 2002]: Ministers and officials have had a number of discussions with the European Commission and other member states about road fuel duties.

The former Department for Environment, Transport and Local Government published an environmental appraisal of the green fuels originally submitted in response to the Chancellor's Green Fuel Challenge in March 2001. This set out the Government's views on different alternative fuels. In addition, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has commissioned an assessment from Sheffield Hallam University on biodiesel. This is an independent evaluation of comparative energy, environmental and social costs and benefits of biodiesel. The results of this study are expected to be published later this year.

We have received a number of representations about fuel duty rates. Decisions on duty rates are taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at Budget time.

Child Tax Credit

Vera Baird: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the number of (a) families with children and (b) lone parents who will have relevant incomes as defined under section 7 of the Tax Credits Act 2002 of less than #13,230 a year for the purpose of calculating entitlement to child tax credit. [77267]

28 Oct 2002 : Column 604W

Dawn Primarolo: The number of families with children expected to benefit from the child tax credit with relevant incomes as defined under section 7 of the Tax Credits Act 2002 of less than #13,230 a year is estimated as 2.4 million.

Vera Baird: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) families with children and (b) one-parent families will be eligible for the maximum rate of child tax credit. [77269]

Dawn Primarolo: The number of families with children expected to benefit from the maximum rate of child tax credit is estimated as 2.55 million.

Confederacion Espanola de Caja Ahorros

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many complaints the Financial Services Authority and the Bank of England have received about the Confederacion Española de Caja Ahorros in each of the last 10 years. [77227]

Ruth Kelly: Complaints resolution between financial firms and their customers is not a function carried out by the Financial Services Authority. In any case, disclosure of the information sought is prevented by section 348 of the Financial Services and Markets Act (2000).

Customs and Excise

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place a progress report on the Customs and Excise electronic self-service facilities for current internal based administrative processes in the Library; and if he will make a statement. [74781]

John Healey: As part of their e-Business programme to modernise the way the Department delivers its business, Customs are in the process of procuring a commercial off-the-shelf HR package to deliver electronic self-service facilities for their current HR administrative processes.

The Proof of Concept (PoC) phase of the procurement exercise started on 2 September 2002 and will last for three months. This will ensure that the proposed system will meet their HR requirements.

If the outcome is successful, Customs expect to award contracts in early 2003 when an Office of Government Commerce Gateway Review to confirm the investment decision is also planned. Subject to this, the first phase of development can then commence. Implementation is likely to take a minimum of two years.

Departmental Job Vacancies

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many job vacancies there were at (a) administrative assistant or equivalent, (b) administrative officer or equivalent, (c) administrative executive officer, (d) higher executive officer, (e) senior executive officer, (f) grade 7 principal and (g) all positions above grade 7 level in his Department for jobs located in (i) London and (ii) the South east between 1 April 2001 and 31 March; and what is the total employment for each civil service grade. [76557]

28 Oct 2002 : Column 605W

Ruth Kelly: The information on the number of vacancies as at 1 April 2001 is unavailable. The information on total employment as at 1 April 2001 in HM Treasury is shown in the table:

Position as at 1 April 2001 in HM Treasury(London region

Total
Non-industrial staff at grade 6 and above67.7
Range E (equivalent to grade 7)230.7
Range D (equivalent to HEO/SEO level)277.1
Range C (equivalent to EO level)111.0
Range B (equivalent to AO level)150.6
Range A (equivalent to AA level)37.9
Total staff as at 1 April 2001875.0


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