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Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effects on small businesses of the change in the level of empty property rate since its introduction on 1 April 2008. 
This was targeted at helping small businesses who own lower value properties manage short-term pressures due to difficult property market conditions. It is estimated more than 70 per cent. of empty properties will pay no business rates in 2009-10.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date the Valuation Office Agency was instructed to value port businesses for rating purposes; when the valuation process began; which ports businesses have been valued so far; and which remain to be valued. 
Angela Eagle: It is the responsibility of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to ensure all businesses have the correct rateable value. The VOA was not specifically instructed to value port businesses, but is obliged to carry out ratings in respect of this responsibility.
A review of the rating of businesses within the ports was started in May 2006, once points of legal principle which arose during an earlier review of the port of Southampton had been clarified. Reviews of all 55 ports have now been completed. The rating list has been updated in 50 of these cases. In the remaining five reviews, the Valuation Office has contacted the ratepayers notifying them of their intentions and inviting them to discuss the proposals in advance of the rating list being amended.
Humber sea terminal
Manchester ship canal
Port of London
Southampton container terminal
Tilbury Container Services
Milford Dock Company
Milford Haven Port Authority
Ian Pearson: The shares of Northern Rock were transferred to the Government when it was taken into public ownership. An independent valuer has been appointed to assess any compensation that may be payable to those affected by the transfer of Northern Rock to the Treasury on 22 February 2008.
Justine Greening: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1907W, on Office of Government Commerce: Zanzibar, which of the organisations that signed memorandums of understanding to implement the Zanzibar eProcurement Service have since implemented it. 
Angela Eagle: The Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Communities and Local Government signed the memorandum of understanding and have since implemented the Zanzibar eProcurement Service
Justine Greening: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the Answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1907W, on Office of Government Commerce: Zanzibar, what assessment his Department has made of the potential annual savings achievable from the implementation of the Zanzibar eProcurement Service by each of the organisations that signed memorandums of understanding. 
Justine Greening: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, columns 1907-8W, on the Office of Government Commerce: Zanzibar, what assessment his Department has made of the annual cost to OGC Buying Solutions of (a) running the Zanzibar User Group and (b) the eCommerce team's work in support of the Zanzibar Service. 
Justine Greening: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department has paid to ProcServe for services relating to the Zanzibar eProcurement Service in each of the last four years. 
(2) what the tax status of the Duchy of Cornwall is, with particular reference to (a) commercial benefit derived from the marketing of Duchy of Cornwall produce, (b) the use of the Prince of Waless feathers device on such produce and (c) the involvement of Choughs Nominees Ltd. 
The tax arrangements for the Duchy of Cornwall are set out in the Memorandum of Understanding on Royal Taxation, attached to the Report of the Royal Trustees published on 11 February 1993 (HC464), a copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to table B4 of the Pre-Budget Report, on the fiscal balances compared with Budget 2008, what the figures for the cyclically-adapted (a) surplus on current budget and (b) net borrowing are as a percentage of projected gross domestic product for each year. 
Yvette Cooper: Projections for both the cyclically-adjusted surplus on current budget and public sector net borrowing (PSNB) as a percentage of GDP can be found in Table B3and Table B4 of the 2008 pre-Budget report (p190 and p192).
Mr. Timms: Consultation on all its proposals with staff, unions, and key external stakeholders was an integral part of HM Revenue and Customs' regional review programme. This drew on the resources not only of the dedicated Workforce Change team but of a number of teams across the Department, and it is not possible to separate out the costs of consultation.
Stewart Hosie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of his Department's liability for redundancy payments consequent upon the planned closures of HM Revenue and Customs offices, broken down by location of office. 
Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies as far as is reasonably practical. It has set up regional Implementation Teams to take forward the decisions on HMRC's future office structure. Each of these will be responsible for implementing the planned office changes within its area, engaging with staff to help find individual solutions that achieve the best corporate result. At this stage it is not possible to state either what the overall costs of redundancy might be, or in which locations redundancies might arise.
Stewart Hosie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer where HM Revenue and Customs offices identified for vacation following the announcement of the rationalisation programme, which are (a) owned or (b) leased by HM Revenue and Customs are leased; what estimate his Department has made of the costs of relinquishing those leases; and what estimate it has made of the cost of vacating these offices. 
Mr. Timms: The vast majority of HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) offices were included in its Strategic Transfer of the Estate to the Private Sector (STEPS), a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract with its estate partner, Mapeley in 2001. HMRC occupies these properties under the terms of the STEPS contract rather than by the terms of a traditional lease.
Most of the offices identified for vacation under HMRC's Change Programme are held by HMRC under the STEPS contract or are offices that HMRC occupies by way of a non-lease, inter-departmental arrangement with other Government departments.
Oakglade House, Ashton Under Lyne
Portcullis House, Southend. Floors 11-14
Spitfire House, Edinburgh
Liberator House, Prestwick
Tremains House, Bridgend
Hockney House, Shipley
Tyr Myrddin, Carmarthen
Stewart Hosie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many representations he received on the proposed closure of HM Revenue and Customs offices in Scotland; and, where such representations related to specific offices, which those offices are. 
Mr. Timms: Treasury Ministers and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) received a large number of representations about the proposed closure of HMRC offices in Scotland. Some were made before any specific proposals for the future of these offices had been put forward, but the majority were received during and after the consultation exercises on specific proposals with staff, unions, MPs with a constituency interest and relevant local authorities.
Information about representations from external stakeholders about office closures in Scotland can be found in the impact assessments for specific buildings to be vacated. These are published on the HMRC website at
HMRC's records of staff responses to consultation exercises show that 474 staff responses, representing the views of 1,833 staff, were received during the consultation exercises on offices in Scotland. Some responses were general and some related to offices which HMRC will be retaining, but the majority included comments relating to specific office closure proposals.
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