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Government doesn't know how much National Insurance it takes from UK subjects

David Willetts MP Here are some interesting answers from the latest edition of Hansard.

Shadow Innovation, Universities and Skills Secretary David Willetts asked a question that couldn't be answered:

"Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many EU citizens working in the UK paid sufficient national insurance contributions to earn a potential entitlement to the state pension in each year since 1997. [265049]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information requested is not available as National Insurance contributions paid by migrants are not reported separately."

National Insurance is effectively income tax - especially as we have no guarantee that we will see the benefit of our contributions when we retire. It is staggering that the Government doesn't know how much it takes from British subjects specifically.

Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers wanted to know about air quality legislation:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has requested a derogation from EU air quality legislation in relation to limits on the levels of pollution from (a) nitrogen dioxide, (b) ozone and (c) other nitrogen oxides. [266513]

Huw Irranca-Davies: I have been asked to reply.

Air quality limit values are now met across 99 per cent. of the UK, delivering significant health benefits to the population. The remaining areas of non-compliance are extremely small.

Council Directive 2008/50/EC on Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air for Europe provides for member states to submit plans to the European Commission to postpone the compliance deadline for meeting the limit value for nitrogen dioxide from 2010 to 2015. The UK Government expect to submit such a plan to the Commission in 2010 following consultation later this year.

No derogation exists for ozone or other oxides of nitrogen."

Devizes MP and former Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram asked about elections in Afghanistan:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects elections to take place in Afghanistan; and what steps the Government are taking to facilitate such elections. [260001]

Bill Rammell: The Afghan Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), established under Afghanistan's 2004 Constitution, is responsible for administering Afghanistan's elections. The IEC has announced that presidential and provincial council elections be held on 20 August 2009. Parliamentary and district council elections are due in 2010.

We are actively working in support of the Afghans, UN and the International Security Assistance Force to help ensure successful Afghan elections which are critical to Afghanistan's future. We have so far committed £16.6 million to supporting the elections. This funding is paid to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) run enhancing legal and electoral capacity for tomorrow (ELECT) project, which provides technical and capacity-building assistance in support of Afghanistan's electoral cycle.

More details on the ELECT project are available online at:

In Afghanistan, we are in regular dialogue with the UNDP, the IEC and other international donors on preparations for the elections. On the ground in Helmand, British military and civilians are working closely with the IEC and Afghan national security forces to support preparations. Afghan-led security has ensured that voter registration was conducted across Afghanistan without major incidents."

Iain Duncan Smith wanted to know about a forgotten part of the world:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the political situation in Madagascar. [264790]

Gillian Merron: Our high commission in Port Louis which covers Madagascar, has provided frequent political reporting since the current crisis in Madagascar intensified at the end of January 2009. Our officers in Port Louis have visited Antananarivo during this period, to gather information from officials, diplomatic representatives, international organisations such as the EU, US, and UN, business contacts and the non-governmental organisations community in Madagascar and capitals. Staff in our British interest section and honorary consulates in Antananarivo and Tamatave also provide regular updates. We remain very concerned by the situation in Madagascar and urge all sides to seek a resolution which ensures a return to the constitutional and democratic process."

Shadow Home Affairs Minister Andrew Rosindell's question served as a reminder that the UK remains committed to reducing nuclear weapons:

"Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the Statement during the Prime Minister’s address to the US Congress that the UK would work with the United States of America to reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons, what steps the Government is taking to achieve that objective. [267081]

Bill Rammell: We regularly discuss with US officials the implementation of all aspects of the Non-Proliferation Treaty including Article 6 disarmament obligations. We are working with the US, and other P5 partners on the agenda for the UK hosted P5 Conference on the Verification of Disarmament to be held in September 2009. We welcomed the recent announcement by the US to conclude a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which is due to expire in December 2009."

Torridge & West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox spoke up for people as they plan their funerals:

"Mr. Cox: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward measures to ensure that elderly people paying towards a funeral plan can be issued with a paid-up policy rather than continue to pay premiums in excess of the sum assured. [267740]

Ian Pearson: The regulation of whole of life insurance policies sold to help meet funeral expenses is a matter for the FSA. Insurance policies are based on the principle of sharing risk between policyholders, and the terms of these policies must be explained to the consumer. If a consumer does not feel these terms were explained and they are unsatisfied with the response to their complaints to their provider, they can ask the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to consider their case."

Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve shed some light on the cost of Government advertising:

"Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much was spent on the recruitment exercise for a Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses. [268075]

Mr. Straw: The total cost of the recruitment campaign in 2006 for the role of Victims' Commissioner was £96,625."

MP for The Wrekin Mark Pricthard raised the controversial issue of the MMR jab:

"Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make an assessment of the merits of making provision for parents to have a choice over the means of vaccination of their children against measles, mumps and rubella under the NHS. [263220]

Dawn Primarolo: The United Kingdom has no policy of compulsory medication. The schedule for the UK routine childhood immunisation programme recommends two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Consent for MMR vaccination of young children is given by a person with parental responsibility. Parents have the choice to refuse the vaccinations offered by the national health service.

MMR vaccine is the safest way to protect children against measles, mumps and rubella. The Department encourages parents to exercise their responsibility to participate in important public health programmes such as MMR vaccination.

The Department does not recommend single measles, mumps or rubella vaccines. The use of single vaccines leaves children at risk of catching measles, mumps or rubella in the time periods between doses of the vaccines, and a full course requires six injections rather than the two required for MMR vaccine. The single measles, mumps and rubella vaccines currently available privately in the UK are not licensed for use in the UK."

Tom Greeves


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