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Mr. Page: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment is taking place to evaluate the effect of the climate change levy; and if he will place the relevant documentation in the Library. 
Mr. Boateng: The climate change levy is designed to promote greater energy efficiency. Part of the levy revenue is being recycled to provide enhanced advice on energy efficiency to business and to provide support for energy efficiency investments. As the levy package has only been operational since April 2001, it is too early for an assessment to be made of its impact.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what advice has been tendered by his Department to British contributors (a) already resident abroad and (b) about to take up residence abroad as to the continuing payment of Class 3 contributions in order to qualify for retirement pension. 
Ruth Kelly: Customers should contact Inland Revenue National Insurance Contributions Office International Services on their helpline (telephone number 0191 225 4811) or visit the Inland Revenue website for information. Leaflet NI 38 "Social Security Abroad" sets out the conditions for the payment of voluntary contributions and includes an application form, CF83. There are separate information leaflets covering the EU Social Security Regulations and separate leaflets (one for each country) covering those countries with which the UK have entered into a bilateral social security agreement. International Services can give advice on the appropriate leaflet depending on the country.
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Mr. Swayne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received about giving brewers producing up to 200,000 hl a reduction in their standard duty rate in respect of progressive beer duty. 
Mr. Boateng: Treasury Ministers and Customs and Excise have received numerous representations from the brewing industry, trade bodies and members of the public in relation to the introduction of progressive beer duty.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what considerations will inform his decision regarding volume criteria when introducing a system of progressive beer duty; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Boateng: The Government have announced that they are minded to introduce a reduced rate of duty on the beer produced by small breweries. The Chancellor will take into consideration a wide range of factors when making a decision, including representations from the industry. A decision will be announced in Budget 2002.
Brian Cotter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what HM Customs and Excise procedure is with regard to the policy of seizing private vehicles at UK ports for offences relating to the smuggling of tobacco and alcohol; and what the levels are of fees that must be paid. 
Mr. Boateng: When vehicles are detected being used for smuggling tobacco and alcohol, they are currently seized and are not usually restored. Where vehicles are restored, it is for a sum equal to the revenue the smuggler has attempted to evade.
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 25 February 2002, (ref 37050), how many seminars were conducted; what the title and date of each seminar was and which firms sponsored each one; and if he will make a statement. 
Ruth Kelly: Three seminars were held following publication of the guidance "Selling Government Services into Wider Markets". The titles, dates and companies which were involved in the organisation of each event are given in the table.
|Selling Services into Wider Markets||26 October 1998||Ernst and Young|
|Joint Ventures Workshop||20 November 1998||PricewaterhouseCoopers|
|Creating Knowledge: Creating Wealth||14 April 1999||Arthur Andersen|
Brian Cotter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the Government have formally responded to the formal request for information received from the European Commission relating to excise duties on tobacco and alcohol; and if he will place a copy of this response in the Library. 
5 Mar 2002 : Column 201W
Due to the confidentiality of the response it is not possible to place a copy of the Government response in the Library. Documents relating to infraction proceedings, of which the letter of formal notice is the first stage, remain confidential unless and until the proceedings reach the European Court of Justice. This is covered by the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (Part II, Section 1 (c)) which exempts from disclosure
Mr. Andrew Smith: No central records are kept of conscience money payments to Government Departments. Since 1979 the annual amounts received by the Treasury itself have never exceeded £3,000, and the largest single payment has been £2,500 (in 1979).
Mr. Andrew Smith [holding answer 28 February 2002]: Details of comparability factors were published for the first time by the Treasury in the first Statement of Funding Policy in March 1999. This was updated in July 2000 reflecting the 2000 spending review. Information on the changing composition of the blocks since 1978 was published in the report of the Treasury Committee on the Barnett formula published in December 1997.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish comparability percentages used when deciding the net change to all three devolved Administrations for (a) each Government Department and (b) each of the last spending reviews. 
Mr. Andrew Smith: The departmental comparability factors for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland used in the 2000 spending review were published in the Statement of Funding Policy in July 2000, and in the March 1999 Statement of Funding Policy for the 1998 spending review.
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Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many members of his staff in each of the past two years have been granted a day's paid leave to work as a volunteer; and if he will make a statement. 
Ruth Kelly: Central records are not kept in the form requested. The Treasury allows staff to take up to 10 days paid special leave in any 12 month period, for public service such as membership of a committee of a local education or health authority or service as a school governor. In addition all staff are allowed one day's special (i.e. extra) leave to undertake voluntary work in a private capacity. Special leave may also be granted in other circumstances.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff in his Department, agencies and non-departmental public bodies receive paid leave to undertake union duties; how many days they are allocated; and what has been the cost to public funds in each of the last four years. 
Mr. Bradshaw: All FCO staff are entitled to paid leave to undertake union duties. About 50 members of staff are members of union or branch committees. Information on the number of days taken is not held centrally and could be supplied only at disproportionate cost. In the British Council the total cost for union activities is approximately £23,000 per year in each of the last four years.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) explanation he has requested and (b) assessment he has made of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh being held in custody for a week by Pakistan Security Services (ISI) before the civilian authorities were notified of his arrest; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The British High Commission in Islamabad and the Deputy High Commission in Karachi asked for information on the detention of Mr. Sheikh on 13 February, but did not specifically ask about the delay in notifying the civil authorities. We are investigating the case further. If Mr. Sheikh is a dual UK/Pakistani national, Pakistani authorities are not obliged to give us consular access or information.
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