Thameslink Railway Signals
Nadine Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations her Department has received on signal failures on the Thameslink line north of London on 7, 11 and 23 November 2011. 
Transport: North-east England
Helen Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans she has for future investment in transport infrastructure in the north-east including on the (a) A1, (b) A66, (c) A19 and (d) Tyne tunnel. 
Norman Baker: The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for Tatton (Mr Osborne), announced in his autumn statement on 29 November 2011, Official Report, columns 799-810, a number of transport infrastructure investments which will benefit the north-east, including the electrification of the northern Transpennine rail route which will improve journey times and the reliability of services between Liverpool and Newcastle. In addition, the Chancellor announced the bringing forward of some of the £350 million funding allocated for the Tyne and Wear Metro Improvement Programme to 2011-12, reflecting the good progress which Nexus is making in its renewal programme.
On local transport, investment will continue to be made through integrated transport block which, for local authorities in the north-east, totals £129 million for the period 2011-12 to 2012-13—£87 million for highways maintenance and £42 million for small transport improvement schemes. This will be enhanced by the £50 million additional funding for all councils which
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was announced in the autumn statement, recognising the vital role that transport plays in local economies. We have also recently given local authorities the opportunity to bid for a number of newly announced funds, including the third round of the green bus fund and the new better bus areas fund, which together amount to an additional £70 million worth of funding.
Local authorities in the north-east have also been successful in securing awards from the first round of the £560 million local sustainable transport fund. Redcar and Cleveland, Durham and Darlington councils and the Tyne and Wear ITA have secured investment totalling £12.5 million for sustainable transport schemes which will help support growth and cut carbon. The ITA and other local authorities in Tyne and Wear and Tees Valley are at an advanced stage of developing bids for investment from the second round of the fund, which the Department will consider in the new year.
Transport schemes in the north-east have also been successful in attracting support from the regional growth fund. Subject to due diligence, RGF awards will support a number of transport-related port developments as well as a scheme to significantly improve access to Newcastle station.
The £260 million new Tyne tunnel opened in February this year after 28 months of construction. The old tunnel has been refurbished so that by the end of 2011, both tunnels will be open carrying two lanes of traffic in each direction, providing faster journey times at this key regional crossing. The £6 million refurbishment of the pedestrian tunnel is ongoing, enabling improved transport options for pedestrians and cyclists.
The 2010 comprehensive spending review detailed the Government’s investment decisions for major road projects on the strategic road network, which included the A1 Leeming to Barton. An additional 18 schemes, including the A19 Testos and the A19/A1058 Coast
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road junction, were identified for delivery in future spending review periods, subject to statutory processes, value for money and affordability. There are no current plans for major investment on the A66.
Energy and Climate Change
Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what information he has on the level of radioactivity of fly ash residue consequent upon burning wood in biomass power plants; what assessment he has made of the (a) locations and (b) mechanisms of its subsequent safe disposal; and if he will make a statement. 
The Environment Agency advises that levels of radioactivity in fly ash from the burning of uncontaminated wood are low; therefore no radiological assessments are necessary to ensure its safe disposal. Sites for the treatment and disposal of fly ash residue require a permit from the Environment Agency to ensure protection of the environment and human health.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many staff in his Department are seconded from (a) private sector energy companies and (b) non-governmental organisations, charities and other voluntary organisations dealing with climate change and the environment. 
Gregory Barker: There are currently 32 people who are seconded to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The details of the organisations that they are seconded from and the business area that they are currently working in is shown as follows.
|Organisation seconded from||DECC group||DECC directorate||Number of people|
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Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what secondments there have been to his Department from (a) industry and (b) the third sector since May 2010; what the (i) purpose and (ii) duration is of each secondment; and whether each secondment was to a policy development role. 
|Organisation seconded f rom||Directorate||Group||Duration (years)|
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Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether he has made an assessment of the effect on the cost of gas and electricity for each income decile of applying the Energy Company Obligation levy to energy bills on a sliding scale based on the amount of energy consumed rather than as a flat rate. 
The assumption underlying the distributional analysis of the impact on energy bills presented in the Draft Impact Assessment is that the Energy Company Obligation levy is recouped by energy suppliers on a per household basis. However, Annex H of the Impact Assessment includes a qualitative assessment of the possible impacts of different approaches to the allocation of ECO targets. The assessment is available here:
Fuel Poverty: Birmingham
The warm home discount scheme will provide over 600,000 of the poorest pensioners with a Core Group discount of £120 off their electricity bills this winter. Other low income vulnerable households may also be assisted through the scheme. Overall we expect 2 million low income vulnerable households a year to be assisted through the warm home discount scheme.
We continue to fund the Warm Front scheme, providing low income vulnerable households, living in energy inefficient properties, with energy efficient heating and insulation measures. Since 2005 Warm Front has assisted 42,719 households in Birmingham.
In addition, the Department for Work and Pensions provide pensioner households with winter fuel payments to help with additional heating costs during the winter. Cold weather payments are also made to low income and vulnerable households where there is an average temperature of 0°C or below for seven consecutive days. These payments have been permanently increased to £25 per week and in winter 2010-11 over 17 million cold weather payments were paid in Great Britain these were worth an estimated £430 million.
Steve Brine: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many and what proportion of homes do not have access to the gas network in (a) Winchester constituency and (b) England. 
An estimate of the number of households off the gas grid at Government Office region and national level can be derived using data from the English Housing Survey (EHS), produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). In 2009, based on the EHS, there were around 452,000 households in the South East that did not have access to the gas network. This represents around 13% of all households in that region. In England, around 2.9 million households did not have access to the gas network, representing around 13% of all households in England.
Charles Hendry: We do not keep specific data on the number of letters and e-mails received on energy security matters. This means that the information requested cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.
Natural Gas: Exploration
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Charles Hendry: The Department's central register of correspondence does not list the specific addressee, but I can confirm that, during the last 12 months, DECC has responded to approximately 180 letters and e-mails relating to shale gas.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) what recent discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on shale gas and oil in Northern Ireland; 
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many (a) letters, (b) e-mails and (c) telephone calls his Department has received on shale oil and gas in the last 12 months. 
Charles Hendry: The Department's correspondence unit has responded to approximately 180 letters and e-mails relating to shale gas in the last 12 months. As far as the number of e-mails or letters received on shale oil and gas received by individuals, this information cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate cost. No record of the subject of incoming telephone calls is held within the Department.
Fuel Poverty: Older People
Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps his Department is taking to ensure elderly and vulnerable people do not suffer ill health or die as a result of severe weather in the winter of 2011-12. 
This year is the first year of the mandatory Warm Home Discount scheme, which will provide over 600,000 of the poorest pensioners with a Core Group discount of £120 off their electricity bills this winter. Other low income vulnerable households may also be assisted through the scheme. Overall we expect 2 million low income vulnerable households a year to be assisted through the Warm Home Discount scheme.
We continue to fund the Warm Front scheme, providing low income vulnerable households, living in energy inefficient properties, with energy efficient heating and insulation measures. We are also requiring suppliers to provide energy efficiency measures to low income vulnerable households through the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target, Super Priority Group.
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These payments have been permanently increased to £25 per week and in winter 2010-11 over 17 million cold weather payments were paid in Great Britain worth an estimated £430 million.
We are also working closely with the Department of Health on their cold weather plan, which aims to avoid the adverse health effects of winter by raising public awareness and triggering actions by those in contact with people most at risk. The plan sets out what needs to happen before and during periods of severe winter weather in England, and builds on established national and local campaigns for winter health with a more co-ordinated approach. The plan will work through a system of cold weather alerts, linked to the existing winter weather warning system developed by the Met Office, in operation from 1 November to 31 March.
Wind Power: Powys
Glyn Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what discussions his Department has had with (a) Powys county council and (b) the Welsh Assembly Government on planning applications for wind farms in Powys. 
Charles Hendry: The Department is currently dealing with six applications for consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 for wind farms in Powys (“the S36 applications”) where Powys county council (“Powys CC”) is the relevant planning authority for the purposes of that Act. Therefore the Department has regular communication with Powys CC to monitor the progress of the applications while it awaits Powys CC response to them. In particular, I have recently been in communication with Powys CC in connection with the deadline for their responses to the S36 applications.
The Welsh Government have been consulted on all of the S36 applications. Their representations in respect of the S36 applications will be taken into consideration when the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, my right hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Chris Huhne), makes his decision on them.
Air Passenger Duty
Mr Donohoe: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many of the 140 responders to the Government's consultation on the reform of air passenger duty who commented on the banding structure supported (a) the retention of a four-band structure, (b) a three-band structure and (c) a two band structure; 
(2) how many of the 70 responders to the Government's consultation on the reform of air passenger duty who commented on class of travel supported (a) premium economy passengers to be liable for reduced rate and (b) premium economy passengers to remain liable for standard rate; 
(3) how many of the 70 responders to the Government's consultation on the reform of air passenger duty who commented on class of travel supported seats with 40-inch seat pitch and less being liable for the reduced rate. 
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Henry Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many of the 140 responders to the Government's consultation on the reform of air passenger duty who commented on the banding structure supported (a) the retention of a four-band structure, (b) a three-band structure and (c) a two- band structure; 
(2) how many of the 70 responders to the Government's consultation on the reform of air passenger duty who commented on class of travel called for seats with 40 inch seat pitch and less to be liable for the reduced rate. 
Paul Maynard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many of the 140 responders to the Government's consultation on the reform of air passenger duty who commented on the banding structure called for (a) the retention of a four-band structure, (b) a three-band structure and (c) a two- band structure. 
Miss Chloe Smith: The Government decided not to change the air passenger duty (APD) bands as doing so would lead to an increase in APD for 91% of passengers. The APD consultation received 136 responses to the question on banding structure. Of this total, 77 supported a move to two distance bands, eight supported retaining the existing four-band structure and a further eight advocated moving to a three-band structure. A further 43 discussed the question and suggested other alternatives. Supporters of the two-band option argued that it would generate fewer anomalies and be simpler for passengers to understand and airlines to administer. Those in favour of the current four-bands or a system based on more distance bands argued that it would be fairer. However, there was no agreement on the composition of these bands.
The APD consultation received 70 responses to the question on class of travel. Of this total, 54 supported a reclassification of premium economy while 11 favoured retaining the existing rules. A further five respondents discussed the issue but offered no clear preference. Most of those who wanted premium economy to be taxed at the reduced rate advocated the use of a 40-inch seat pitch definition.
The Government considered this evidence carefully. A revenue neutral change to the current banding structure would have required those flying to band A and band B destinations (91% of passengers) to pay more. The Government therefore decided to retain the existing four APD distance bands.
It was clear from consultation responses on class of travel that premium economy products vary significantly between airlines. Any attempt to define premium economy for taxation purposes would increase the complexity of the tax, increasing the burdens for both industry and HMRC. A definition based on seat pitch would inevitably discriminate between similar products offered by different airlines.
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The Government have introduced a permanent bank levy to ensure that the banking sector makes a fair contribution to reflect the potential risk to the UK financial system and wider UK economy. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Mr Osborne), recently announced an increase in the levy rate from 1 January 2012, with resulting revenues for the life of this Parliament expected to exceed £10 billion. The levy is expected to raise more every year from the banking sector than the net revenue from the one-off bank payroll tax.
Building Societies Act 1986
Mr Hoban: The Treasury keeps building societies legislation under review. The Government are committed to assessing whether changes are required to update building societies legislation. Amendments to section 9B of the Building Societies Act are being made as part of the Financial Services Bill that is currently undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny in Parliament.
Business: Solar Power
Chi Onwurah: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what support the Government offer to banks holding loans by companies engaged in the solar panel business not to foreclose on these businesses. 
a commitment announced on 9 February 2011 from the UK's biggest high street banks to lend £190 billion of new credit to businesses in 2011, with £76 billion of this lending to SMEs; and
a package of credit-easing measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Mr Osborne), on 29 November, comprising a National Loan Guarantee Scheme of up to £20 billion of guarantees for bank funding to lower the cost of loans to smaller businesses; and a new Business Finance Partnership, initially of £1 billion, to deliver additional finance to mid-sized businesses through non-bank lending channels.
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Carbon Sequestration: Finance
Mr Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he had with (a) the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and (b) industry stakeholders on the reallocation of funding for carbon capture and storage. 
Miss Chloe Smith: Treasury Ministers meet with a wide range of other Ministers and organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the usual policymaking process. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings.
Miss Chloe Smith [holding answer 7 December 2011]: The Government have made clear that £1 billion remains available to support the commercialisation of carbon capture and storage (CCS). The final profile of spending on CCS will be determined when projects have come forward following the competition next year.
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether food and catering services in (a) his Department and (b) public bodies for which he is responsible plan to implement calorie labelling on menus and display boards. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps the food and catering services in (a) his Department and (b) public bodies for which he is responsible are taking to ensure the country of origin of foods are labelled on its menus and display boards. 
Miss Chloe Smith: HMT’s catering subcontractor does not currently show the country of origin of foods on their menus and display boards. However, the subcontractor is a member of the Red Tractor Scheme and all produce certified by the scheme is clearly labelled on display boards.
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David Morris: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what support he plans to give to families who will be ineligible to receive child benefit following the introduction of his planned changes. 
Miss Chloe Smith: Child benefit will be withdrawn from families including a higher rate taxpayer from January 2013. The policy will be administered through the tax system using existing systems and processes. Affected families are within the top 20% of the incomes of all families (including those without children). Currently the threshold for a higher rate taxpayer is around £42,500. At a time when many difficult decisions have to be taken, it is not fair that people on low incomes go on being taxed to pay for the child benefit of those earning much more.
Debit Cards and Credit Cards: Fees and Charges
John Thurso: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he plans to take following the Office of Fair Trading's recommendations on Which?'s super-complaint on retailers' surcharges for paying by credit or debit card; and if he will make a statement. 
Pete Wishart: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) press officers, (b) internal communications officers, (c) external communications officers, (d) communications strategy officers and (e) other positions with a communications remit were employed by (i) his Department, (ii) its agencies and (iii) each non-departmental public body sponsored by his Department on the most recent date for which figures are available. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 1 December 2011, Official Report, column 1022W, on food, when his Department's current catering contract comes up for renewal; and whether the new contract will state that the Government's buying standards for food and catering must be met. 
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Miss Chloe Smith: HM Treasury's catering services at 1 HGR are supplied by a sub-contractor to the PFI provider. The contract expires in July 2014. HMT will ensure that the new contract references the Government's buying standards for food and catering as far as possible within the new contract.
Mr Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any senior staff in (a) his Department and (b) its executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies are paid by means of payments to a limited company in lieu of a salary; and if he will publish his policy on such payments. 
Parliamentary Written Questions
Chris Ruane: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of questions for ordinary written answer received a substantive response within (a) 10, (b) 20, (c) 30 and (d) more than 30 sitting days in the 2010-12 session to date. 
Miss Chloe Smith: The full information requested is not available. In the current Session Treasury Ministers have responded substantively within 10 days to 3,484 of the 3,775 (92%) of ordinary written questions tabled to the Treasury.
The Government have committed to providing the Procedure Committee with information relating to written parliamentary question performance on a sessional basis and will provide this information to the Committee at the end of the Session. Statistics relating to Government Departments’ performance for the 2009-10 parliamentary Session were previously provided to the Committee and are available on the Parliament website.
Excise Duties: Gaming Machines
Miss Chloe Smith: The latest assessment of the impact of machine games duty on individuals and businesses, as well as on administrative burdens faced by gaming machine operators, is available in the Tax Information and Impacts Note published on 6 December together with draft legislation for machine games duty. This publication is available online at:
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Miss Chloe Smith: Treasury Ministers and officials meet with a wide range of organisations and individuals in the public and private sectors as part of the usual policy making process. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government’s practice to provide details of all such discussions.
Miss Chloe Smith: Budget 2011 announced a significant package of reforms to encourage charitable giving, including new measures on gift aid. These included raising the gift aid benefit limit from £500 to £2,500 and a gift aid small donations scheme, so that charities can claim a gift aid style payment when collecting small donations and where circumstances for collecting the necessary donor details are difficult. The Government are also committed to reducing the administrative burdens on charities through the introduction of an online filing system for making gift aid claims and supporting the charity sector in developing a gift aid database.
Miss Chloe Smith: The Government are taking action to mitigate the effect on families of the current rate of inflation. In particular, the personal allowance for under-65s will increase faster than inflation to £8,105 in 2012-13. Working-age benefits will be uprated in line with September’s CPI inflation rate of 5.2%, including the disability elements of tax credits and the child element of the child tax credit. The 3.02 pence per litre fuel duty increase that was due to take effect on 1 January 2012 will be deferred to 1 August 2012, and the inflation increase that was planned for 1 August 2012 will be cancelled. In addition, the Government have set aside an extra £675 million for local authorities in England who freeze or reduce their council tax in 2012-13.
Mr Gauke: The employers involved in the pilot are volunteers and have been chosen to be a representative group of organisations operating PAYE. They range in size and complexity from those with one employee to very large complex employers with many employees or pensioners. The group of pilot employers includes small employers.
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Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the effects of his changes to child and working tax credits, child benefit and access to child care on (a) farming and (b) rural households; 
Miss Chloe Smith: The budget deficit inherited from the previous Government has meant that some very difficult choices have had to be made. The Government have been clear that they see reducing this deficit as their most urgent task. The June Budget 2010, the spending review 2010 and the autumn statement 2011 have made changes to tax credits, child benefit and child care to tackle the deficit in a fair way and ensure that spending is targeted at those who need it most.
Looking at the cumulative impact on households of tax, tax credit and benefit reforms introduced at this autumn statement and previous fiscal events, the top income decile sees the largest reduction in income, both in cash terms and as a percentage of net income.
The Government have not assessed the impact of these changes on particular occupations or geographical areas. However, the Government are committed to ensuring that rural residents, communities and businesses benefit fully and fairly from all of their policies and programmes. Rural communities are benefitting from a wide range of Government initiatives, including:
the £530 million that they are injecting into rolling out superfast broadband across the country;
the new approach to housing outlined in the recent Housing Strategy; and
a number of fuel poverty and energy efficiency measures, including Warm Front, feed-in tariffs and the renewable heat premium payment.
The Government have also recognised the particular needs and interests of rural populations through the Open Public Services White Paper, which has explicitly challenged Departments to find ways of ensuring fair access to services to people who live in rural areas; and the recent Rural Economy Growth Review, which announced a range of measures designed to help and encourage rural businesses to grow, including:
new Rural Growth Networks;
a new £100 million funding package; and
initiatives to promote the rural tourism and agri-food sectors.
Public Sector Debt
Miss Chloe Smith: The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has published its forecast for public sector net debt in its November 2011 “Economic and Fiscal Outlook”, available on the OBR website.
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Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consideration he gave to the inclusion of a high-speed rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow airports in his National Infrastructure Plan. 
Danny Alexander: The National Infrastructure Plan 2011 sets out the Government plans to publish a consultation on their aviation strategy in March 2012. This will consider all the options for maintaining the UK's international aviation hub status, with the exception of a third runway at Heathrow.
announcing at Budget 2011 the introduction of a carbon price floor from 1 April 2013, targeting £30 a tonne of CO2 in 2020, to support investment in low-carbon electricity generation;
launching of the Renewable Heat Incentive on 28 November this year to provide support for renewable heat;
publishing a White Paper in July setting out significant reform of electricity markets to support more investment in low carbon generation and flexible capacity to ensure secure supplies and tackle climate change;
launching of a consultation in October on changes to the support bands under the renewables obligation to bring forward 70 to 75 TWh of renewable electricity in the UK; and
intending to make investments in green infrastructure projects through the £3 billion made available for the Green Investment Bank from April 2012 and over the spending review period.
Renewable Energy: Feed-In Tariffs
Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will have discussions with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on increasing the feed-in tariff rate for micro-combined heat and power to 15 pence per KWh. 
Miss Chloe Smith: The comprehensive review of the feed-in tariffs (FITs) scheme is considering all aspects of the scheme, including the level of support for each of the technologies supported. The first phase of the review, which was launched on 31 October, proposed changes to tariffs for solar photovoltaic installation.
The second phase of the review will consider the level of support for other FITs technologies, together with wider issues relating to the administration and implementation of the scheme. The Government are intending to publish a consultation on phase 2 of the review around the end of the year.
Tax Allowances: Individual Savings Accounts
Mr Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his most recent estimate is of the annual revenue cost of the tax reliefs available on individual savings accounts; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr Hoban: The latest published estimate of the annual revenue cost of tax reliefs available on individual savings accounts can be found on the HMRC National Statistics website in published Table 1.5 at the following link:
Taxation: Environment Protection
“the strong presumption will be that the cap will only be reviewed as part of a Spending Review. However, there may be exceptions to this, including if there are significant changes to the energy tax regime which have knock-on effects for DECC's policies which entail levy-funded spending.”
Taxation: Olympic Games 2012
Ms Abbott: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many types of tax exemption will be put in place for non-residents involved in the London 2012 Olympics; how many people will be afforded tax exemptions during the Games; what the thresholds are for the tax exemptions; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Gauke: The tax commitments required by the International Olympic Committee for non-residents involved in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games include exemptions for visiting athletes and certain persons temporarily entering the UK to carry out 'Olympic or Paralympic-related' business. Qualifying non-resident individuals will be exempt from any income tax arising from activities directly related to the London Games. Details of how the exemptions will work in practice can be found here:
Decisive action taken by the Government in the comprehensive spending review and June 2010 Budget, including the increase in VAT, put the public finances and Government spending on a sustainable footing. This has prevented the turmoil seen in other countries' sovereign debt markets spreading to the UK and undermining confidence and the recovery in the private sector.
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||Percentage of correct VAT returns repaid within target (10 days)||Average number of working days taken to repay from date return received|
Mr Gauke: No direct estimate has been made. However, if expenditure on domestic fuel was funded by less spending on goods and services that attract the 20% standard rate of VAT, HMRC would receive less VAT revenue, since domestic fuel and power is taxed at the reduced rate of 5%.
In its 2011 November Economic and Fiscal Outlook the OBR assumes that higher utility prices will result in a lower share of expenditure which is subject to VAT at the standard rate of 20% in future years.
Work and Pensions
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether food and catering services in (a) his Department and (b) public bodies for which he is responsible plan to implement calorie labelling on menus and display boards. 
Chris Grayling: (a) Since 1998 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) occupies the majority of its accommodation under a private finance Initiative (PFI) known as the Prime contract. Under the terms of this PFI the Department leases back fully serviced accommodation from its private sector partner Telereal Trillium. This covers a variety of facilities including, where appropriate, the provision of catering services which is delivered through Telereal Trillium's service partner Compass Group UK. Compass undertakes all catering related activity.
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met. This will feature in periodic updates on the DWP public website—the following link gives details:
This link advises on DWP's commitment and that we are working closely with Telereal Trillium/Compass to maximize compliance with this commitment. One of the best practice GBS criteria, which will feature in future updates on the public website, is around calorie labelling on menus. Compass has indicated that they have implemented full Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) labelling on menus, which includes calorific values, into the DWP HQ site at Caxton House, London and will be rolling out GDA labelling across all other DWP sites between January and July 2012.
(b) Non-departmental public bodies that share accommodation with the DWP on Prime contract sites are included in the response at (a) above. For those NDPBs not covered by the PRIME contract, none have responsibility for catering arrangements, e.g. the Pension Advisory Service and the Independent Living Fund (ILF) only occasionally buy food and snacks on an ad hoc basis in small quantities from local food retailers. Remploy no longer has a catering business. Their canteens are operated by local third party organisations. The Health and Safety Executive's HQ at Bootle has a similar PFI contract to DWP, covering accommodation and all services. HSE has no direct management responsibility for the caterers. However, menus here include a healthy (reduced calorie) option and a vegetarian option. All non-departmental public bodies are aware of the Government Buying Standards.
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps the food and catering services in (a) his Department and (b) public bodies for which he is responsible are taking to ensure the country of origin of foods are labelled on its menus and display boards. 
(a) Since 1998 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) occupies the majority of its accommodation under a private finance initiative (PFI) known as the Prime contract. Under the terms of this PFI the Department leases back fully serviced accommodation from its private sector partner Telereal Trillium. This covers a variety of facilities including, where appropriate, the provision of catering services which is delivered through Telereal Trillium's service partner Compass Group UK. Compass undertakes all catering related activity.
In line with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs guidance, DWP reports on how the Government Buying Standards (GBS) criteria are being met. This will feature in periodic updates on the DWP public website—the following link gives details:
This link advises on DWP's commitment and that we are working closely with Telereal Trillium/Compass to maximize compliance with this commitment. One of the GBS criteria, which will feature in future updates on the public website, is around indicating the country of origin of meat, meat products and dairy products. Country of origin information is currently published on menus in the Caxton House, London site and Compass aims to
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provide this information on menus in the remainder of DWP sites by June 2012. In the meantime this information is available on request.
(b) Non-departmental public bodies that share accommodation with the DWP on Prime contract sites are included in the response at (a) above. For those NDPBs not covered by the Prime contract, none have responsibility for catering arrangements, e.g. the Pension Advisory Service and the Independent Living Fund (ILF) only occasionally buy food and snacks on an ad hoc basis in small quantities from local food retailers. Remploy no longer has a catering business. Their canteens are operated by local third party organisations. The Health and Safety Executive's HQ at Bootle has a similar PFI contract to DWP, covering accommodation and all services. HSE has no direct management responsibility for the caterers. HSE's caterer sources ingredients from suppliers who are committed to using British food sources whenever possible. However, they do not consistently advise on food country of origin but signage does advise customers of British bacon, eggs and meat. All non-departmental public bodies are aware of the Government Buying Standards.
Mr Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what public information advertising campaigns his Department ran in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10 and (c) 2011-12 to date; and what the cost was of each such campaign. 
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|(1) 86% increase on 2008-09. (2) 93% decrease on 2009-10. (3) 81% decrease on 2010-11.|
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what secondments there have been to his Department from (a) industry and (b) the third sector since May 2010; what the (i) purpose and (ii) duration is of each secondment; and whether each secondment was to a policy development role. 
Chris Grayling: An inward secondment occurs when an individual is temporarily assigned from an outside organisation (not covered by the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme) into the Department. Secondees into our Department are not recorded on our personnel computer system and therefore details are not held centrally; as a consequence this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Parliamentary Written Questions
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of written questions for answer on a named day received a substantive answer within five working days in each of the last six months. 
Chris Grayling: In the six months to 30 November 2010, the Department answered 449 written questions for answer on a named day, of which 441 (98%) received a substantive answer within five working days. The monthly breakdown is in the following table:
|Month||Number of named day questions answered||Number of named day questions answered within 5 working days||Proportion of named day questions answered within 5 working days (percentage)|
The Government have committed to providing the Procedure Committee with information relating to written parliamentary question performance on a sessional basis and will provide full information to the Committee at the end of the session. Statistics relating to Government Department's performance for the 2009-10 parliamentary session were previously provided to the Committee and are available on the Parliament website.
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Employers' Liability: Personal Injury
The table reflects the volume of employment claims registered with the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) between the periods 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2011. The data are broken down by accident and disease claims and financial year.
Information from compensation claims registered by compensators with the CRU is provided on the DWP internet site accessible through Directgov Performance and Statistics—DWP. This information may be used by appropriate parties, including the insurance industry, to examine any trends for compensation claims that are made with insurance companies. Therefore, the CRU information on Directgov provides statistics to allow trends to be assessed by interested parties such as the insurance industry. The CRU itself does not undertake any specific trend analysis as the role of the unit is to register claims for compensation, ensure that double compensation does not occur and recover relevant monies from compensators.
Chris Grayling: With work experience, there are no direct costs to Government—places are provided by employers on a voluntary basis. However, organising and administering the placements does require resources, and Jobcentre Plus meets reasonable travel and child care costs while the participant is undertaking work experience.
In our autumn statement, we announced plans to introduce a new Youth Contract in 2012. A range of additional help for unemployed young people, worth nearly £1 billion will include provision for an extra 250,000 work experience or sector-based work academy places over the next three years. This will ensure that
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there is an offer of a work experience place for every 18 to 24-year-old who wants one, before they enter the Work programme.
Chris Grayling: Jobcentre Plus works with a wide range of organisations in Leicester City, and across the east midlands, to provide suitable work experience opportunities. A list of those organisations has been placed in the Library.
Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether it is the case that his Department confirms whether a Work programme participant is in work and that their prime provider is entitled to a job outcome payment; and if he will make a statement. 
DWP requires providers to confirm employment details when participants find work, including information about the employment and the employer contact details. This enables the Department to conduct an off-benefit check and verify any job outcomes claimed by the provider.
Employment Schemes: Young People
Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of young people participating in the work experience scheme moved from work experience placements into work in each month since January 2011. 
Chris Grayling: This information is currently unavailable. However, recent early analysis, based on a sample of 1,300 participants, indicates that less than half of participants are claiming working age benefits after 13 weeks of starting a work experience placement.
Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the off-flow rate has been of young people who (a) have and (b) have not undertaken work experience placements since January 2011 from benefits into work. 
Chris Grayling: The available statistics on work experience participants were published on 9 November 2011. These show that 51% of those who started on the programme in January to March 2011 were not in receipt of benefit 13 weeks later.
Independent Living Fund
Mr Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will carry out an impact assessment on the effect on (a) disabled people and their families and (b) local authorities of his decision to close the Independent Living Fund to new applicants. 
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Maria Miller: The Independent Living Fund is a discretionary trust and payments from the fund are discretionary awards, not statutory benefits. These payments do not take precedence over the responsibility of the local authority to make an assessment of a disabled person's needs. Local authorities retain primary responsibility for the care of disabled people and as part of this responsibility, they need to consider the requirements of people who may otherwise have received an additional package from the Independent Living Fund.
Maria Miller: As announced in the written ministerial statement of 5 December 2011, Official Report, column 8WS, the consultation on how best to support the needs of current users of the Independent Living Fund beyond the end of this parliament will be launched in spring 2012. We have committed to consulting with disabled people, the current users of the fund and their families, local authorities, the devolved Administrations and other interested parties, including any disability organisations who wish to participate. All views and suggestions received during the consultation period will be carefully considered.
Jobseeker's Allowance: Prisoners
Chris Grayling: People are not entitled to jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) when they are in prison. There are safeguards in place to prevent the continued payment of benefit for individuals who are sent to prison. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) general matching service (GMS) performs a data match of what is held on both prison and DWP systems for all newly convicted prisoners, and will identify those who are in receipt of a DWP benefit. This will generate a report prompting closure of the claim and final payment of any benefit due up to the point of them entering custody. DWP does not routinely collect information of JSA claims closed in these circumstances.
The GMS scan will compare basic information such as a person’s name and date of birth across prison and DWP systems. In a small minority of cases, where a prisoner has used an alias or where there are several prisoners with the same name, GMS might not identify their claim. Therefore, to mitigate this risk, Jobcentre Plus employment and benefit advisers (EBAs) who are based in prisons also receive a list of all those entering custody and are able to check both prison and DWP systems to ensure that any claims to benefit have been closed.
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Chris Grayling: DWP and HMRC are working closely to agree shared objectives for the pilot of PAYE real time information. DWP are represented on the HMRC real time PAYE information pilot steering group and will receive regular updates on progress.
Steve Webb: In 2010, 59% of full-time female employees in Great Britain were members of an occupational pension scheme. This compares with 54% of full-time male employees in Great Britain who were members of an occupational pension scheme.
Remploy: Mental Health
Kate Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what minimum standards his Department has specified in relation to qualifications and experience of frontline advisers in his Department's contract with Remploy for mental health support services for access to work customers; and if he will make a statement. 
Maria Miller: The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith), set and published the minimum standards required for the Mental Health Support Service Contract within the Invitation to Tender Documentation as:
Use an appropriately trained professional(s) with a minimum of 2 years relevant background and experience of working with people with mental health issues in a vocational setting. The contractors shall provide and fund continuing professional development at their own cost for their staff and it shall not interfere with or interrupt the contractor's obligations and delivery.
Chris Grayling: The Department carried out a representative survey of over 2,000 employers in 2010 on health and well-being at work. This looked at the causes of short-, medium- and long-term sickness absence from work. The findings can be found in the Department research report number 750.
The Department has also commissioned a number of research projects to evaluate the statement of fitness for work or fit notes. Two of these projects (an employee survey and a project involving the collection of fit note data) will examine causes of sickness absence from work where a fit note was issued.
The Department commissioned an independent review of sickness absence earlier in the year which reported in November. This examined the current system of sickness certification and its effectiveness. The reviewers, Dame Carol Black and David Frost, made a number of recommendations which the Government will consider in the response to the review next year.
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Social Security Benefits: Birmingham
Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what expenditure his Department has incurred on (a) benefits, by benefit and (b) administration costs in Birmingham, for the latest financial year for which figures are available. 
|Benefit expenditure for Birmingham, 2010-11|
|Note: Figures rounded to nearest 100,000. Source: DWP statistical and accounting data, and local authority subsidy returns.|
Social Security Benefits: Fraud
Brandon Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many successful prosecutions for benefit fraud have been made in Great Yarmouth constituency in each year since 2006; and what sum was involved in each such case. 
Social Security Benefits: Medical Examinations
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what research his Department has undertaken together with GPs to evaluate the effectiveness of fit notes; what the findings of such research were; and if he will make a statement. 
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a representative survey of 1,400 GPs;
in-depth qualitative interviews with 45 GPs from different locations and practice sizes, and with different personal characteristics; and
a study involving the collection of fit note data from a small number of GP practices for comparison with sick note data to examine effectiveness.
Social Security Benefits: Students
Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what benefits are available to students with a long-term illness or disability (a) in full-time, (b) in part-time education and (c) who have suspended their studies; 
Maria Miller: Students in full-time education are not normally eligible for social security benefits as they should be supported by the higher education system. The Government have no plans for allowing exceptions to these rules in respect of students.
When a student becomes too seriously ill to continue their course and, with the agreement of their university or college authority, suspends their studies, they may apply for employment and support allowance, subject to the qualifying conditions. If they have drawn down their loan it will be treated as income for the quarter it was meant to cover when assessing a claim to a means tested benefit. If the loan has not been drawn down it will not be treated as income in the benefit claim.
Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library a copy of each item of correspondence between his Department and the UK Statistics Authority between May 2010 and November 2011. 
Chris Grayling: Correspondence between the UK Statistics Authority and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith), is published on the authority's website and has been placed in the Library:
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Statutory Sick Pay
Chris Grayling: The Department has a programme of work to evaluate the statement of fitness for work or fit notes. Independent research carried out for the Department published earlier in the year found that 70% of GPs agreed that the fit note had helped their patients make a phased return to work.
A separate piece of research involving in-depth interviews with 45 GPs from different locations and practice sizes conducted for the Department found many GPs believe that patients with conditions that are compatible with phased returns can return to work sooner than they could have done under the previous certification system. Conditions that they found to be highly compatible with phased returns included myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME (often referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome), common mental health conditions and musculoskeletal problems. Phased return, for example two or three days a week, can be used to build patient confidence and eventually enable a full return leading to positive health outcomes for these patients through having the opportunity to work. Some GPs did note, however, that they perceived that smaller companies may be limited in the number of alternative roles that they can offer employees during the course of a phased return.
in-depth interviews with employers and employees (to be published early next year);
a representative survey of employees (to be published at the end of next year); and
a comparative study of fit and sick notes (to be published in 2013).
Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he plans to discuss with representatives of Bacs Payment Schemes Ltd mechanisms whereby rent payments in the universal credit could be paid immediately and automatically to housing associations as soon as credits are made into a claimant's account. 
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We are designing the detail of the Youth Contract measures, including how wage incentives payments will be made, in partnership with employers, providers and experts from the private, public and voluntary sectors to ensure that they are effective.
Welfare Reform Bill
Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to his contribution of 15 June 2011, Official Report, column 879, on the Welfare Reform Bill, if he will reject Professor Harrington's recommendation to end the exemption from the work capability assessment for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy in hospitals. 
The evidence provided clearly shows that there is no longer a basis for differentiating between most types of cancer treatment (such as oral or intravenous chemotherapy). But the evidence also shows that there is considerable individual variation in terms of the impact of treatment on each claimant and that work can be very important for some individuals with cancer.
As a result the Department has drawn up proposals, supported by Professor Harrington, to improve the assessment. These would increase the number of individuals receiving treatment for cancer being placed in the Support Group while also reducing the number of people who would have to go through a face-to-face assessment. At the same time, individuals who wanted to return to work would be supported to do so.
We are disappointed Macmillan have been unable to support these proposals developed based on the evidence they submitted. We had hoped to introduce them in April 2012, but we are now seeking a wider range of views from cancer specialists, cancer sufferers and employers through an informal consultation. Ministers will not reach a final decision until the outcome of the consultation is known.
Stephen Gilbert: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether it is his policy that following enactment of the Welfare Reform Bill, people over the age of 65 currently receiving disability living allowance (DLA) will not be reassessed for personal independence payment and will continue to receive DLA. 
Maria Miller: Personal independence payment will replace disability living allowance for working-age (16 to 64) adults from 2013. We want to build on the experience of developing an assessment and applying it to new and existing claimants of working age to inform our decisions about the arrangements for current disability living allowance recipients who are over the age of 65. Therefore we will not extend personal independence payment to people over the age of 65 already receiving DLA, until we have had an opportunity to consider the effectiveness of the new arrangements for working age people.
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Winter Fuel Payments
Steve Webb: Means-testing winter fuel payments would significantly increase administrative costs, but it is likely that these would be more than offset by decreased benefit expenditure. For example, if the payments were to be made only to those in receipt of pension credit the benefit expenditure would be £600 million in 2012-13. With current entitlement conditions benefit expenditure on winter fuel payments is forecast to be £2,100 million in 2012-13.
All figures rounded to the nearest £100 million.
Serious Fraud Office
Emily Thornberry: To ask the Attorney-General how many cases were investigated by the Serious Fraud Office in 2010-11; how many resulted in charges being brought; and how many cases in which charges were brought (a) were settled and (b) resulted in a successful prosecution. 
The Solicitor-General: The Serious Fraud Office investigates and prosecutes the most serious and complex economic crime. At any given time in 2010-11 the SFO was investigating around 100 cases including those at the earliest stages of investigation (to see if they were appropriate for the SFO to take on), and cases that had been to trial but where proceeds of crime issues were being pursued.
Because of their complexity, it can take a number of years to investigate cases, get them through the court system and bring them to conclusion. Outcomes from the work and effort put into cases are sometimes not seen until many months later. Cases investigated in 2010-11 therefore may not have been charged or have gone to trial within the same period.
The 17 cases prosecuted in 2010-11 involved 31 defendants. Of these, 26 defendants were convicted and five defendants were acquitted, giving a trial conviction rate of 84%. In every case that went to trial at least one defendant was convicted.
|(1) The figure relates the number of cases that at the end of the financial year were either awaiting trial, where the trial was part heard, or where the trial had concluded. In all these cases charges will have been brought against the defendants but not necessarily during 2010-11.|