Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for his policy towards South Africa of the report on the rights of detainees and other matters, by the Black Sash women's rights group of South Africa ; and if he will make arrangements for a copy of the report to be procured for his departmental library.
Mrs. Chalker : We regularly receive information on human rights issued by Black Sash. The March issue of the Black Sash magazine is devoted to an overview of the current state of human rights in South Africa. We condemn all abuses of basic human rights wherever they occur.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries at present do not have a United Kingdom embassy ; what is the reason for the absence ; and what steps are being taken to establish an embassy in each case.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has made any representations to the Indian Government over the implications for stability in the sub-continent of the planned programme of flight testing the Agni intermediate range ballistic missile in Orissa state.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what detailed information was received from the Soviet Government, at what time, and through which channels, to assure Her Majesty's Government that the sinking of the Mike class Soviet nuclear submarine provided no radiological hazard to the North sea and Arctic ocean.
Mrs. Chalker : A message from Mr. Gorbachev to the Prime Minister informing her of the accident was passed on in the early hours of 8 April. In it he assured her that there was no leak of radioactivity and that none was expected. Detailed information to the same effect was passed by the Soviet permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna to that
Column 594body at about 0545 BST on 8 April. This information was relayed to London through the British permanent representative's office at 0645 BST.
Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Minister for the Arts what consideration he has given to the findings of the report published by the National Campaign for the Arts "The Northern Region : Making Ends Meet ;" and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Luce [holding answer 25 April 1989] : The funding of regional arts associations is a matter for the Arts Council. I understand that the chairman of the Arts Council has already written to the National Campaign for the Arts about the report.
Mr. Wakeham : In accordance with section 5 of the Parliamentary and Other Pensions Act 1972, the Government Actuary's valuation report on the parliamentary contributory pension fund is being laid before the House today. The House will have an opportunity to debate the report and the Government will not take any decision on its recommendations until after that debate. The report includes a recommendation that the standard contribution for Members should be about 20 per cent. of salary, of which the Exchequer should contribute 11 per cent., while the Member's contribution should remain at 9 per cent. This compares with the position previously when the Exchequer contribution was set at 13 per cent. with a 5 per cent. supplement, during which time a substantial surplus has built up in the fund. This surplus would by convention normally be used to reduce the employers' contribution. The Actuary therefore recommended that the Exchequer contribution from April 1989 should fall to 4.4 per cent., returning to 11 per cent. from April 1997.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he intends to initiate legislation, or consolidate legislation, as a consequence of the Board of Inland Revenue's consultative document entitled, "The Inland Revenue and The Taxpayer" published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office on behalf of the Board of Inland Revenue in December 1986.
Mr. Norman Lamont : Legislation was included in the Finance (No. 2) Act 1987 and the Finance Act 1988. Further clauses are contained in this year's Finance Bill which will substantially complete the legislation arising out of the proposals in the Inland Revenue's consultative document.
Column 595Consolidation of statute law is the responsibility of the Law Commission. A Bill consolidating the laws relating to capital allowances will be ready for introduction in the 1989- 90 Session of Parliament. Work on further consolidations of tax law will then be put in hand.
Mr. Norman Lamont : In line with the Government's policy of encouraging enterprise, tax changes intended to benefit small businesses have been introduced in each Budget since 1979. Details are as follows :
Small companies' profit limits raised to £60,000 and £100,000. 1980 Budget
Venture capital scheme introduced ;
costs of raising business loan finance allowed as tax deduction against trading income ;
small companies' profit limits raised to £70,000 and £130,000 ; small companies' corporation tax (CT) rate reduced to 40 per cent. ;
capital gains tax (CGT) exemption limit increased to £3,000 ; removal of double charge to CGT and capital transfer tax (CTT) on gifts ;
CTT threshold doubled to £50,000 ;
introduction of small workshops scheme ;
relaxation of conditions for tax relief for interest paid on money borrowed for investment in, or lending to, a close company ; close company apportionment rules abolished in respect of trading income ;
VAT registration threshold raised broadly in line with inflation ; percentage limit on retirement annuity relief increased and abolition of ceiling on premiums qualifying for relief ;
measures to encourage employee share ownership ;
easing of administrative burden on sub-contractors tax deduction scheme ;
pre-trading revenue expenditure allowed as deduction against trading income.
Venture capital scheme extended ;
Business Start Up Scheme introduced ;
small companies' profit limits raised to £80,000 and £200,000 ; extension and relaxation of interest relief on money borrowed for investment in a partnership co-operative ;
VAT registration threshold raised broadly in line with inflation ; threshold for tax relief on redundancy payments increased to £25, 000 ;
introduction of pilot loan guarantee scheme.
Expansion of business start up scheme ;
no advance corporation tax (ACT) or income tax charge on certain purchases of own shares by unquoted trading companies ;
small companies' profit limits raised to £90,000 and £225,000 ; CGT exemption limit increased to £5,000 and indexed for future years ;
CGT indexation of gains introduced ;
CTT threshold increased to £55,000 and indexed for future years, rate bands extended ;
beneficial changes to interest relief rules for investments in close companies made by working managers ;
Column 596VAT registration threshold raised broadly in line with inflation ; deduction for VAT paid on supplies of services to VAT registered traders before registration ;
limits of retirement annuity relief for older contributors increased ;
qualifying period for tax relief for pre-trading expenditure increased to three years ;
business contributions to local enterprise agencies to be tax deductible ;
extension of small workshop scheme for very small workshops ; extension of pilot loan guarantee scheme.
Introduction of business expansion scheme (BES) ;
small companies' CT rate reduced to 38 per cent. ;
small companies' profit limits raised to £100,000 and £500,000 ; CGT exemption limit raised in line with inflation ;
CTT : threshold increased by more than inflation, longer period for paying tax on business assets without incurring interest charge ; further measures to encourage employee share ownership ; de minimis limit for assessment of investment income apportioned to members of a close company increased to £1,000 ;
interest relief extended to employee buy-outs ;
VAT registration threshold raised broadly in line with inflation ; extension of loan guarantee scheme.
small companies' CT rate reduced to 30 per cent. ;
further measures to encourage employee share ownership ; CGT exemption limit raised in line with inflation ;
CGT rollover and retirement reliefs extended to furnished holiday lettings- -enables landlords of such properties to claim same deductions as traders ;
highest rate of CTT cut to 60 per cent., rates for lifetime transfers reduced to half those on death ;
VAT registration threshold raised broadly in line with inflation ; self- employed required to live in job-related accommodation given mortgage interest relief for purchase of own home elsewhere ; National insurance surcharge abolished ;
relaxation of conditions for interest relief applied to employee buy outs ;
Investment income surcharge abolished ;
retirement relief doubled to £100,000.
Tax relief on half class 4 NIC ;
extension of BES ;
reform of capital gains retirement relief, reducing qualifying age and introducing ill-health relief ; extension of indexation to give full relief for assets held since 1982 ;
VAT registration threshold raised broadly in line with inflation, extension of bad debt relief.
small companies' CT rate reduced to 29 per cent. ;
BES extended and targeting improved ;
Inheritance tax (IHT) replaced CTT, thereby abolishing tax charge on most lifetime gifts ;
Increase in CGT small part-disposals relief unit ;
VAT registration and deregistration thresholds raised broadly in line with inflation ;
Enterprise allowance scheme expanded ;
Employee share schemes : improved access for unquoted family companies, employee controlled companies, worker co-operatives ; Loan Guarantee Scheme extended an premium halved.
Small companies' CT rate reduced to 27 per cent. ;
package of measures to lighten VAT burden on small businesses including : cash accounting and annual accounting for businesses with turnover of up to £250,000, period in
Column 597which businesses obliged to register extended to 30 days, simpler schemes to be more widely available for small and medium sized retailers ;
VAT registration threshold raised broadly in line with inflation ; standstill in fuel duties and most vehicle excise duty rates ; BES changes to reduce effect of investment bunching in last quarter of tax year ;
small companies' rate of CGT reduced to 27 per cent. with ACT offset against liability on gains ;
ceiling for capital gains retirement relief increased to £125,000 ;
IHT business relief increased from 30 per cent. to 50 per cent. for minority holdings over 25 per cent. in unquoted companies ; IHT threshold increased by more than inflation ;
introduction of tax relief for profit related pay (PRP) ; new simplified occupational pension schemes will help small employers set up own schemes ;
personal pensions introduced with improved, age related contribution limits.
small companies' CT rate reduced to 25 per cent. ;
small compamies' CGT charges reduced to 25 per cent. ;
BES targeting improved to help smaller and newer businesses ; CGT retirement relief considerably extended, 50 per cent. relief introduced for gains between £125,000 and £500,000 ;
CGT rollover relief extended to milk and potato quotas ; VAT registration threshold raised broadly in line with inflation ; abolition of capital duty ;
major changes to rules applying to unapproved employee share schemes ;
simplification of IHT : flat rate of 40 per cent., threshold increased by more than inflation ;
exemption for capital gains accruing before April 1982.
In addition, the following proposals are contained in this year's Finance Bill :
small companies' profit limits raised to £150,000 and £750,000 ; simplification of pensions rules and substantial increases in personal pension contribution limits ;
improved tax reliefs designed to encourage employee participation in PRP and employee share schemes (including ESOPS) ;
abolition of close company apportionment rules ;
extended relief for pre-trading expenditure ;
VAT registration threshold raised broadly in line with inflation ; CGT gifts relief retained for business assets.
And, of course, small businesses will also have benefited from the major reductions in the rates of income tax since 1979.