Mr. Newton: Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimate, the cash limit for class XIX, vote 3 will be increased from £2,377,000 to £2,767,000. There is no change to the running cost limit. This change reflects the cost of the central drugs co-ordination unit for the current financial year and results from the correction of a fault in the vote structure. There is therefore no addition to the planned limit on public expenditure.
Mr. Paice: The Employment Department commissions a range of evaluation projects on aspects of the delivery of training by training and enterprise councils. The work is commissioned on a continuing basis and the written reports are received at various times throughout the year. Details of completed work appear in the Department's annual report on research. The Department does not receive written evaluation reports on the financial performance of TECs.
Mr. Nelson: The Government have now completed the second and final stage of their review of the Building Societies Act 1986. A consultation document was issued last autumn, seeking views, in particular, on societies' accountability and powers. The Government are grateful to those organisations and individuals--some 72 in all--who responded. Their comments have helped to shape the outcome of the review. The Government have also taken careful note of the report on the building society sector,
Column 340published by the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee on 19 December. The outcome of the review is broadly in line with many of the Committee's conclusions.
The Government place great importance on the role of building societies as a safe haven for people's savings and the major source of housing finance in the United Kingdom. At the forefront of our minds has been the objective of creating more competition and accountability in the provision of retail financial services. In drawing conclusions from the review, we have sought to:
enable societies to expand the range of services they offer, while retaining their primary focus as providers of housing finance; improve societies' accountability to their members; and maintain a sound prudential framework.
On accountability, the Government consider that, although societies' present constitutional arrangements are, by and large `satisfactory' more should be done to improve the information given to members and to bring greater transparency and fairness to the process of electing directors, so they will be bringing forward a 15-point package of measures, the most important of which will: improve the information given to members about their rights as shareholders on first joining a society; the state of their society, in the summary financial statements they receive each year; the duties of directors; and the nomination and election procedures, should they wish to stand for the board;
remove the distinction between shareholders and retail depositors;
give borrowing members wider voting rights;
require elections to be held, even when the number of candidates equals the number of vacancies on the board, and the election results to be posted in all branches;
require societies to seek the approval of their members before entering into a new area of business by making significant use of an existing power. The Government will, however, be giving further consideration to the possibility of permitting societies to adopt powers by board resolution once this new requirement takes effect. The Government have decided not to proceed with a proposal put forward by the financial services deregulation task force as a candidate for enactment under the general power in the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994. The proposal would have removed the requirement for societies to send notices of meetings and summary financial statements to all members. Although it would have brought cost savings, it was widely criticised in the consultation process, as being inconsistent with the objective of increasing societies' accountability to their members, so we have decided to drop the measure.
However, the Government have accepted another task force proposal: to increase, from 1 to 5 per cent. of the total assets of a building society, the maximum bonus which can be paid to its members in the event of a merger with a larger society, without having to have a vote by the members of the latter. This change will be implemented through secondary legislation made by the Building Societies Commission.
We will now begin discussions with the building society sector on how the main parts of the accountability package can best be implemented. In the first instance, the Government favour a voluntary code or charter, which could be introduced quickly and amended in the light of experience. When a legislative opportunity arises, the more important provisions can be put on a statutory basis.
Column 341In order to allow building societies to develop and play their full part in the competitive provision of financial services, the Government believe that the current prescriptive legislative framework governing their powers should be replaced by a more permissive regime. The new approach would give societies the freedom--within their principal purpose--to pursue any activities set out in their memorandum, subject only to overall limits on assets and liabilities, and the prudential control of the Building Societies Commission. To retain their distinctive character as mutual housing finance institutions, the Government consider that societies should raise no more than 50 per cent. of their funds from the wholesale market, and that they should have at least 75 per cent. of their lending secured on residential property-- mortgage loans to individuals, housing associations and private landlords. Further flexibility would be built into the new legislation to allow the 75 per cent. limit to be reviewed in future, if circumstances warranted it, but societies' housing-related business should continue to account for a clear majority of their assets. The additional statutory restrictions placed on the activities of small societies under the 1986 Act will be removed.
The Government will introduce legislation to amend the Building Societies Act when a suitable opportunity arises. In the meantime, we will continue to implement, by secondary legislation, the changes announced last July. These will: allow societies to lend to incorporated businesses; raise the wholesale funding limit to 50 per cent. and permit societies to own general insurance companies writing buildings and contents policies and mortgage protection plans. These measures, inter alia, will facilitate the provision of funding for small and medium-sized businesses and encourage the growth of private mortgage payments protection insurance--both key objectives of Government policy.
Finally, we have decided to bring the limits on dealings between societies and their directors into line with those applying under section 338 of the Companies Act 1985, as amended by section 138 of the Companies Act 1989; and to increase the limit above which certain shares and deposits must count as wholesale funding. These changes will also be implemented through secondary legislation.
I have issued a press statement today, giving full details of the review. I have also responded to the Select Committee report of 19 December. Copies of the press notice and the response have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the latest estimated level of uncollected (a) corporation tax, (b) schedule D tax and (c) capital gains tax for each year since 1979 in 1994 prices; and what these amounts represent as a percentage of total tax payable in each category.
Sir George Young: The board of the Inland Revenue allows individual remissions of tax as an aspect of their responsibilities for the "care and management" of the direct taxes under section 1(1) of the Taxes Management Act 1970.
Sound management requires that tax which is not collected and which cannot practicably be collected--for example, because the taxpayer is insolvent or his whereabouts are unknown--should be written off.
Column 342Similarly, it is on occasions necessary to remit tax which it would be unconscionable to collect--for example, because the payment would cause gross hardship to the taxpayer.
The level of remissions fell for account 93 and is expected to fall again in 1994.
(a) The amounts of corporation tax uncollected and consequently remitted or written off as irrecoverable since 1979 are as follows:
|As a percentage |Amount |Amount in |of total corporation|expressed in Year |thousands |tax collected |1993 prices ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1979 |15,182 |0.50 |47,079 1980 |16,214 |0.49 |44,116 1981 |20,688 |0.70 |51,295 1982 |34,396 |0.89 |77,888 1983 |40,912 |0.11 |85,409 1984 |58,051 |1.23 |113,034 1985 |75,342 |1.27 |133,725 1986 |91,365 |1.11 |150,489 1987 |92,830 |0.93 |137,960 1988 |225,597 |1.92 |301,357 1989 |151,368 |1.05 |186,209 1990 |184,725 |1.17 |210,984 1991 |320,929 |2.09 |351,891 1992 |542,233 |4.64 |571,717 1993 |417,814 |4.21 |417,814 1994 |n/a |n/a |n/a Note: The figures for 1994 are not sufficiently complete to allow the necessary comparison to be made and, consequently, the information is not available in the form requested. Therefore, the figures are expressed in accordance with 1994 prices.
(b) The amounts of schedule D tax uncollected and consequently remitted or written off as irrecoverable since 1979 are as follows:
|As a percentage |Amount |Amount in |of total Schedule D|expressed in Year |thousands |collected |1993 prices ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1979 |n/a |n/a |n/a 1980 |33,081 |0.79 |90,010 1981 |41,552 |0.75 |103,028 1982 |52,763 |0.84 |119,479 1983 |68,536 |1.04 |143,078 1984 |91,229 |1.32 |177,636 1985 |90,196 |1.18 |160,090 1986 |124,297 |1.29 |204,732 1987 |133,878 |1.88 |198,964 1988 |252,424 |3.06 |337,193 1989 |242,024 |2.53 |297,731 1990 |254,989 |2.35 |291,237 1991 |383,566 |3.17 |420,571 1992 |703,422 |5.16 |741,670 1993 |701,787 |5.58 |701,787 1994 |n/a |n/a |n/a Notes: 1 The figures for 1994 are not sufficiently complete to allow the necessary comparison to be made and consequently the information is not available in the form requested. Therefore, the figures are expressed in accordance with 1993 prices. 2 Separate figures for schedule D are not available for 1979.
(c) The amounts of capital gains tax uncollected and consequently remitted or written off as irrecoverable since 1979 are as follows:
|As a percentage|Amount |Amount in |of total CGT |expressed in Year |thousands |collected |1993 prices --------------------------------------------------------------------------------1979 |3,048 |0.73 |9,452 1980 |3,591 |0.71 |9,771 1981 |2,734 |9.61 |6,779 1982 |4,868 |0.78 |11,023 1983 |6,496 |1.01 |13,561 1984 |5,998 |0.84 |11,679 1985 |7,562 |0.93 |13,422 1986 |10,064 |0.99 |16,576 1987 |8,822 |0.79 |13,111 1988 |12,680 |0.80 |16,938 1989 |10.864 |0.47 |13,365 1990 |12,002 |0.64 |13,708 1991 |29,721 |1.58 |32,588 1992 |57,836 |4.69 |60,981 1993 |50,397 |4.56 |50,397 1994 |n/a |n/a |n/a Note: The figures for 1994 are not sufficiently complete to allow the necessary comparison to be made and, consequently, the information is not available in the form requested. Therefore, the figures are expressed in accordance with 1993 prices. Insolvencies, where the Inland Revenue has very little control over the amount recoverable, account for the vast majority of remissions of tax.
Year |Number ---------------------1978 |29,086 1995 |92,464
Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total installed base of video, pinball and amusements with prizes machines; and what are the numbers of those machines which will be liable to duty if the play price duty exemption is fixed at (a) 20p, (b) 30p, (c) 40p and (d) 50p.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory [holding answer 20 February 1995]: The total numbers of installed machines are as follows: 75,000 video, 30,000 pinball and 20,000 skill with prizes machines. There are about 205, 000 amusement with prizes machines. It is not possible to predict the numbers of machines which would be liable to duty at the stated play prices. It would be a matter for individual operators to take advantage of any exemption in the light of the licence cost measured against the income from the machine.
|Liberal/ |Independent/ |Conservative|Labour |Democrat |not known ------------------------------------------------------------------------------Barnsley |46 |53 |16 |3 Doncaster |97 |57 |25 |11 Rotherham |44 |53 |8 |39 Sheffield |103 |114 |59 |86
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the purpose of levying a fee on new vehicle registrations which are not notified to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency under the automated first registration scheme; what agency or Government Department will be the recipient of the fee; and what the fee will be.
Mr. Norris: The automated first registration and licensing system is designed to enable motor dealers to register and license new vehicles without leaving their premises, saving costs and improving service to customers.
The purpose of the fee would be to charge for first registrations where the automated first registration system was available to manufacturers and importers but they chose not to adopt it. The provision has not yet been activated and no fee level has been set. If it is introduced, the fee would be set at a level to offset the additional cost of any manual system which had to be provided.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures he intends to introduce to ensure that vendors of vehicles, with particular reference to secondhand vehicles, are given correct and full details of the buyer's name and address in connection with the proposed move to joint notification.
Mr. Norris: A consultation paper on the proposed new vehicle registration system will be issued shortly. It will specifically invite views on how best to ensure the accuracy of the information provided by buyers and sellers of vehicles. Decisions will be taken in the light of the comments received.
Mr. Allen: To ask the Chairman of the Information Committee (1) when he expects the parliamentary data and video network to be available to all hon. Members; and how much this would cost; (2) what are the annual running costs for the parliamentary data and video network.
Mr. Waller: By the end of the 1995 summer recess, it is expected that some 550 hon. Members, including all hon. Members with offices in the outbuildings will have access to the video service, which includes the clean feed of proceedings of the House. Because the installation of cabling and trunking on the parliamentary estate is a complex exercise which can only be undertaken during summer recesses, full cabling of all Members' offices is not expected to be completed until the end of 1997. Hon. Members who wish to have access to the network and who have offices in areas of the parliamentary estate which have not yet been cabled may do so by means of a modem. On the matter of costs, I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the first report from the Information Committee in Session 1993 94 on "The Provision of a Parliamentary Data and Video Network"--House of Commons Paper No. HC237--which was approved by the House on 30 June 1994.
Mr. Waller: Members may use the office costs allowance to fund their individual use of computer technology. On 30 June 1994 the House approved a report from the Committee--first report "The Provision of Members' Information Technology Equipment, Software and Services", Session 1992 93, HC737--which proposed a modest range of supporting IT services to be available to Members from the next general election, the costs of which will be paid for by Members from their office costs allowance. Special provision can be made for computer equipment for Members with disabilities.
Column 346(2) what estimate has been made of the expenditure required to make the Internet available to users of the parliamentary data and video network;
(3) if hon. Members who access the Internet via the parliamentary data video network will be charged for the time for which they are on-line.
Mr. Waller: Subject to endorsement by the Finance and Services Committee, it is hoped that hon. Members connected to the parliamentary data and video network and who request it, will be able to access the Internet on an experimental basis from May. A fixed charge line connection to the Internet is planned and access via this link would not be charged to individual Members. The expenditure issue is not yet fully resolved and I shall write to the hon. Member.
Mr. Baldry: The purpose of the British aid programme is to help people in countries poorer than our own to improve their lives. To that end, we have established seven priority objectives, one of which is to promote human development. We do not favour setting spending targets for individual objectives for this can reduce the quality of activities undertaken and because the objectives are mutually supporting.
A substantial proportion of our bilateral aid is devoted to basic needs such as education, health care, clean water and safe sanitation. In 1993 94, 15 per cent.--£147 million--of the bilateral aid programme, excluding emergency relief, was spent in these areas. If emergency relief, most of which was used to meet basic needs in crisis situations, is included, the figure rises to 28 per cent.--£321 million. These figures are conservative since they omit expenditure in support of volunteers and that under the pound for pound scheme for non-governmental organisations--other than block grants--which is not categorised by objective in ODA statistics.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will support proposals at the world summit on social development that seek immediate implementation of the Trinidad terms proposal to reduce by two thirds the eligible debt stock of severely indebted low-income countries as a first step towards a comprehensive write -off of between 80 per cent. and 100 per cent. of the debt stock of those countries.
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 23 February 1995]: Implementation of Trinidad terms was agreed by the Paris Club in principle in December 1994. We pressed for an increase from 50 per cent. up to 80 per cent. debt reduction, but there was no consensus among other creditors to go beyond 67 per cent.
Column 347We welcome agreement by the Paris Club on 20 February to extend these terms to Uganda. I am delighted that that Commonwealth country is the first to benefit from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's initiative.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will support proposals at the world summit on social development that require structural adjustment programmes to have social development goals.
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 23 February 1995]: We will continue to stress the need for economic reform programmes to take full account of the social dimensions of development in their design and implementation.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will be supporting objectives at the world summit for social development that would require international financial institutions to promote macro-economic policies that put the alleviation of poverty as a central objective.
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 23 February 1995]: The primary objective of the World bank and other multilateral development banks is to assist borrowing member countries in their efforts to alleviate poverty and to promote sustainable economic development.
Mr. Devlin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many former local authority tenants have purchased their homes under the right-to-buy legislation in the northern region of England and in each local authority in the northern region.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Between October 1980 and September 1994 an estimated 116,000 local authority tenants purchased their homes in the north statistical region under the right-to-buy legislation. A table showing information on total right-to-buy sales for each local authority in England from 1980 to March 1994 is available in the Library.
Mr. Devlin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many new homes were built in the northern region of England by (a) private sector, (b) housing associations and (c) local authorities, by individual local authority (i) since 1979 and (ii) between 1974 and 1978.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Tables have been deposited in the Library showing cumulative totals of house building completions, by sector, for each local authority in the north standard statistical region. The first table shows activity for the period 1974 to 1978, the second shows activity between 1979 and 1994.
Mr. Atkins: During the last two years, a number of representations have been received both from those who oppose and those who support the use of cemfuel. In addition, Members of Parliament have asked questions in the House, in particular the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans).
In February 1995, Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution started a public consultation exercise to precede any decision whether to allow continued burning of this fuel at Clitheroe. This consultation period will last until 29 March.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what contact his Department has had with the European Commission over the grant of planning permission for a chicken farm at Throckmorton in Worcestershire.
85/337/EEC--"the EIA directive"--to this proposal on 19 February 1992 and again on 12 July 1993. On both occasions, the Government replied to the letters. No further communication has been received.
Mr. Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made in calculating the standard spending assessment of the extra costs placed upon local authorities by the implementation of the habitual residence test; and how much he estimates local authorities will save in housing benefit and council tax benefits as a result of the test.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: The local government finance settlement takes account of all new burdens on local authorities, together with other service pressures and the potential for increased efficiency and other savings as well as, more broadly, what the country can afford.
Column 349Housing benefit and council tax benefit savings resulting from the implementation of the habitual residence test are estimated to be about £4 million in a full year. These benefit savings accrue mainly to the Department of Social Security; there will be a small reduction in that part of the cost of benefit which falls on local authorities and this was taken into account in the settlement for 1994 95.
Mr. Booth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has regarding grants to homeless voluntary organisations under section 73 of the Housing Act 1975; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: My Department has completed its review of the section 73 grant programme. This incorporated the findings of research by York university, which was commissioned to assess the programme's effectiveness and consider its possible future direction. York found that the programme has been successful in providing assistance to a large number of single people. This confirms my own conclusions that the programme represents good value for money. I am pleased to announce that I have decided that the grant programme should continue.
The Government are to make £6.9 million available in 1995 96. In addition to the applications for funding we have received from existing projects, we anticipate bids to start new schemes in 1995 96. These grants will assist voluntary organisations around the country to meet the running costs of schemes which provide practical help for single people in need of accommodation. They will also enable Shelter, SHAC--the London housing aid centre--and the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux to maintain and develop the national homelessness advice service.
Mr. Bell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many changes there have been to benefit law since 1988 which relate to the qualification for benefit, age of qualification, disqualification rules and other changes related to periods of entitlement.
Column 350to payment of incapacity benefit; from what date he will be entitled to an old age pension; to what benefit he will be entitled in the intervening period; and if he will make a statement on the consideration underlying the interval in payment of contributory benefits.
Mr. Hague: Entitlement to incapacity benefit will cease on 1 June 1995, the day before Mr. Fair's 65th birthday. Retirement pension will be payable from the first pension payday, on 5 June 1995. Additionally, he is entitled to disability living allowance which remains unchanged. Retirement pension is paid weekly, on Mondays, and is not paid for odd days. However, because it is paid in advance and incapacity benefit is paid in arrears, the first pension payment will be received within one week of the final payment of incapacity benefit.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he next intends to meet with representatives of the House Builders Federation to discuss his proposed changes to the arrangements for income support for mortgage interest payments.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 10 February, Official Report , columns 433 35 , if he will publish the calculations of his Department on the number of claimants who lost (a) unemployment benefit, (b) sickness benefit or (c) retirement pension as a result of the changes in the contributory conditions since 1975.
Mr. Arbuthnot [holding answer to February 1995: The change in the unemployment and sickness benefit contribution conditions in 1975 were the result of the restructuring of the national insurance scheme so that wholly earnings-related contributions were collected along with income tax under the pay-as-you-earn procedures. It is unlikely that anyone lost benefit as a consequence.
As a result of the abolition of reduced rates of unemployment benefit in October 1986 it was calculated that about 28,000 unemployed people would lose benefit in a full year. Some 10,000 sickness benefit claimants were affected, although a large proportion of these received supplementary benefit. Existing benefit recipients were transitionally protected.
At the time of the changes to the contribution conditions in 1988, it was estimated that 350,000 people would no longer qualify for unemployment benefit in a full year. Of those, about 300,000 would qualify for income support or for increased income support. It was estimated that about 8,000 people would not qualify for sickness benefit in a full year, and of those about 90 per cent. would qualify for income support. Those in receipt of benefit at the point of change received transitional protection.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Prime Minister if Lord Justice Scott's inquiry has now finished taking new evidence or information; if interview sessions have now ceased; and on what date the last interview was held.