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24 Mar 2009 : Column 332W—continued

Young People: Remand in Custody

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many juveniles were detained overnight in police cells in the last year for which figures are available. [264098]

Mr. Hanson: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave him on 23 February 2009, Official Report, column 361W.

Energy and Climate Change

Lighting: Health Hazards

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether he has received reports on potential (a) health and (b) other hazards caused by environmentally-friendly light bulbs. [265442]

Dawn Primarolo: I have been asked to reply.

Some support groups for people with certain light sensitive skin, autoimmune and neurological conditions have raised concerns that some low energy light bulbs, particularly compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), could aggravate light sensitivity symptoms.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) advises the Department on scientific matters concerning optical radiation including low energy light bulbs. The HPA tested a sample of CFL light bulbs and found that some emitted ultraviolet radiation which could, under certain conditions, expose people above international guidelines. As a result of its findings the HPA issued precautionary advice on 9 October 2008 to the general public concerning the use of open CFLs in close-working situations. The HPA’s advice can be found at:

The HPA’s research was considered alongside other available evidence to inform a report by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR). SCENIHR’s Opinion on light sensitivity can be found at:

Nowadays CFLs each contain up to around four milligrams of mercury. The HPA advise that the mercury cannot escape from an intact lamp and, even if the lamp should be broken, the very small amount of mercury contained in a single, modern CFL is most unlikely to cause any harm. The HPA’s advice on disposal of CFLs can be found at:

The Department is continuing to work with patient groups, clinicians and the lighting industry to keep the health issues under review.

Tree Felling: Indonesia and Brazil

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent steps he has taken to assist the government of (a) Indonesia and (b) Brazil to reduce levels of deforestation in those countries. [260027]

Joan Ruddock: We are working closely with Indonesia and Brazil to include forestry in a future climate change agreement and were pleased with their association with the Poznan Forestry Statement that pledged early action on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation. More specifically:

(a) A new Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Indonesia in late 2008 for co-operation on Climate Change and the Environment, renewing earlier commitments to work together to address deforestation. The first Working Group meeting is expected to take place in London in early summer. The UK has long supported action to improve forest governance through the work of the Department for International Development's Multi-stakeholder Forestry Programme and work to address demand side measures. The UK is working within the EU to negotiate an Indonesia-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Partnership Agreement.

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The UK is also providing expertise to help the Government of Indonesia prepare for the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December. The support includes the appointment of a specialist assigned to the British embassy to assist with climate change work, including Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).

(b) Co-operation with Brazil on forestry issues takes place through the Working Group on Climate Change and the High Level Dialogue on Sustainable Development through which we are supporting a number of projects. The next Working Group meetings are expected to take place in Brazil in mid-March 2009.

Of particular note is scientific co-operation on the development of joint UK-Brazil satellite monitoring, beginning with the announcement of the Amazonia-I satellite and camera to be launched in 2011. DEFRA has funded a workshop in Brazil for UK and Brazilian satellite monitoring experts to further develop this co-operation. DEFRA is also supporting the development of state level plans to combat deforestation in the Amazon, working closely with the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment.

Last year Brazil also launched a new fund aimed at supporting sustainable development of the forest called the Amazon Fund. The Department for International Development is providing support to the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) on the management of this fund.

Warm Front Scheme

Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change which external consultant he has appointed to review his Department's management of its contract with Eaga for the provision of the Warm Front scheme. [257603]

Joan Ruddock: The Department has appointed Procuritas to carry out this work with eaga plc.

Warm Front Scheme: Complaints

Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps his Department takes to monitor complaints about the operation of the Warm Front scheme. [255944]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Eaga, which manages the scheme on DECC’s behalf, records and classifies all complaints received about Warm Front.

DECC independently monitors complaints made directly to the Department, and also uses the independent quality assessor: White Young Green, to perform regular surveys of customer experiences.

The National Audit Office recently reported that complaints to the scheme have remained relatively static with 0.5 per cent. of cases upheld or five in every 1,000, while the overall customer satisfaction rate was quoted at 86 per cent. with 6 per cent. of customers dissatisfied.

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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the banking industry on the time taken for clearance of cheques; and if he will make a statement. [265745]

Ian Pearson: The Payment Systems Task Force, chaired by the Office of Fair Trading, was established in 2004 to resolve competition, efficiency and incentive issues in UK payment systems. It comprised banking industry, retail, consumer and Government representatives.

On 14 November 2006 the task force announced significant changes to speed up the slowest clearers of cheques in the UK. From November 2007, customers have been guaranteed that after paying a cheque into a bank or building society they will be able to start earning interest no later than two working days; to be able to withdraw against the cheque no later than four working days after it is deposited into a current account or six if deposited into a savings account.

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he plans to review the provisions of the Bills of Exchange Act 1882 and the Cheques Acts of 1957 and 1992 in respect of the use of cheques as a method of payment. [265824]

Ian Pearson: With respect to the use of cheques as a method of payment, the Government have no current plans to review the above-mentioned Acts.

Departmental Foreign Workers

David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) EU foreign nationals and (b) non-EU foreign nationals are employed by his Department. [256198]

Angela Eagle: The Treasury currently employs 29 EU foreign nationals and 14 non-EU foreign nationals. All HMT appointments are carried out in line with our selection processes and procedures and taking into account current employment legislation.

EU Grants and Loans

Andrew George: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to ensure that (a) European Regional Development Fund and (b) other European grant aid programmes are used to greatest effect in (i) the UK and (ii) the region of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. [265381]

Angela Eagle: Maximising the use of European Structural Funds is a matter for the managing authorities responsible for each programme. For the UK, the managing authorities for European Regional Development Funds and European Social Funds are Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions respectively in England, and the devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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European Investment Bank

Gregory Barker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which body is responsible for supervising and directing the activities of the European Investment Bank; what the financial obligations are of the participant nations; and whether the necessary financial contributions have been made by each participant nation. [265221]

Ian Pearson: The bank’s main independent decision-making bodies are the Board of Governors (usually the Finance Ministers of the member states) and the Board of Directors (28 members representing each member state and the European Commission). The EIB is internally governed by the Management Committee (the President of the EIB and eight Vice Presidents) and the Audit Committee (three members and three observers appointed by the Board of Governors).

Further information on the EIB’s finances and the capital contributions of member states can be found at:

Expert Liaison Group

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of each meeting of the Expert Liaison Group. [264639]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 19 March 2009 ]: The Expert Liaison Group (ELG) is a consultative group that was set up by the Economic Secretary on 9 October 2008 to work with the Government to help prepare secondary legislation for the special resolution regime (SRR) and keep SRR powers and regulations under review, as practices in the financial markets develop over time.

I committed in the House of Parliament on 18 November that the Government will ask the Banking Liaison Panel whether a summary of their minutes will be made available. Following this, at the meeting of 15 December the Expert Liaison Group agreed to summaries of their meetings being available. On this basis a formal summary of the meetings of the ELG that took place on 15 December and 23 January will be published on HM Treasury’s website.

The Banking Liaison Panel (BLP) is the statutory replacement for the ELG and following its first meeting, the Government will make a statement on how it will communicate the work of the BLP. In addition the Government have already committed to publishing a response to the consultation replies to HM Treasury’s consultation document on safeguards for partial transfers published on 6 November 2008.

Fossil Fuels: Government Assistance

Gregory Barker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what fiscal incentives are available for fossil fuel production and investment. [265223]

Angela Eagle: The North sea fiscal regime, which acts to ensure a fair return for the UK taxpayer by imposing a higher tax rate on the profits derived from oil and gas production, also contains a number of incentives for investment in the oil and gas sector. Certain types of fossil fuel investment expenditure are also eligible for mineral extraction allowances.

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Land: Prices

Grant Shapps: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate the Valuation Office Agency made of the average value of a hectare of land in each of the last 20 quarters. [265087]

Mr. Timms: During the last five years the VOA has published twice yearly the VOA Property Market Report. The report gives opinions of value each year, as at 1 January and 1 July, for agricultural land, and for land for development for residential and industrial use.

The reports for this period are available to view on the VOA website at:

Members: Correspondence

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to reply to the letter of 28 January 2009 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, with regard to Ms Agnes Kaddedu-Gedeun. [266366]

Ian Pearson: A reply has been sent to the right hon. Member.

National Insurance Contributions

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the amount of additional revenue that would have been raised from (a) employees and (b) employers by abolishing the upper limit on the income assessed for national insurance contributions in 2008-09. [259376]

Mr. Timms: The yield from removing the upper earnings limit for employees Class 1 National Insurance contributions would be around £11 billion for 2009-10. This estimate also includes the yield from the consequent increase in the upper profit limit for Class 4 contributions paid by the self employed. There is no upper limit for employer contributions.

This figure excludes any estimate of behavioural effects which could be significant given the scale of the change. The estimate is consistent with pre-Budget report 2008 assumptions and assumes that the NHS allocation contribution rates are unchanged.

Pensions: Misrepresentation

Mark Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his Department has made an estimate of the number of people who have been mis-sold endowment policies but have not pursued the matter within the time limit; and if he will make a statement. [264923]

Ian Pearson: The Financial Ombudsman Service is responsible for assessing consumer complaints against financial services firms and awarding redress where appropriate. It is not possible to make an accurate assessment of the overall extent of mis-selling without considering the specific circumstances of individual cases.

24 Mar 2009 : Column 337W

Public Opinion

Mike Penning: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what expenditure (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies have incurred in each year since 1997 on (i) opinion polling, (ii) focus groups and (iii) other forms of market research; what surveys were commissioned; and what the purpose of each was. [261354]

Angela Eagle: For information on independent reviews commissioned by the Treasury, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 22 July 2008, Official Report, column 1392W, to the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban). The Debt Management Office has no record of having undertaken any market research. The Office of Government Commerce does not hold a central record of market research and the information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Revenue and Customs: Chorley

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff worked at HM Revenue and Customs office in Chorley in each of the last five years. [264075]

Mr. Timms: The headcount number of staff in post in the HM Revenue and Customs office at Chorley over the last five years, with the full-time equivalent (FTE) figure, was:

Headcount Full- time equivalent

1 April 2005



1 April 2006



1 April 2007



1 April 2008



1 March 2009



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