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Tax Simplification Report

Mr. Tim Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to publish and lay before Parliament the Inland Revenue's report on tax simplification. [5951]

Mr. Jack: The Inland Revenue report, entitled "The Path to Tax Simplification", has today been laid before Parliament in accordance with section 160 of the Finance Act 1995.

I warmly welcome this report. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said in his Budget statement that tax law has become too long and complicated and that he proposed that the Revenue tax code be rewritten in plain language.

This report suggests a practical way forward to deal with this issue. Its central proposal is a major project to rewrite tax law in clearer and simpler language. This would reduce the compliance costs which the tax system imposes, in one way or another, on every taxpayer in the country. It would also support the Government's deregulation initiative, the system of self-assessment we are introducing, and the Revenue's continuing efforts to improve customer service, quality and cost-efficiency in all its work.

A number of practical issues need further consideration including the parliamentary implications for dealing with the rewritten tax legislation. Meanwhile, the Chancellor has asked the Inland Revenue to proceed with preparatory work.

In addition to the report, the Inland Revenue has today issued "The Path to Tax Simplification--a background paper", which contains further material on tax simplification. This document has been placed in the Libraries of the House. Both documents will be on sale to the public from today.

12 Dec 1995 : Column: 566

PRIME MINISTER

Campbell Soups

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Prime Minister if he will visit the Campbell Soups Homepride plant in Mary port. [3603]

The Prime Minister: I have at present no plans to do so.

Engagements

Sir Peter Tapsell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 12 December. [3940]

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 12 December 1995. [3942]

The Prime Minister: This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be having further meetings later today.

Crown Jewels

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what public records exist covering the purchase and early history of (a) the imperial state crown of George I, (b) the coronation crown of George IV and (c) the crown of Queen Adelaide; [5282]

The Prime Minister: So far as I am aware, I have received no representations about the ownership and future of these crown frames. I understand that the crown frames have been acquired by Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei and that the prince has most generously decided to present them to the nation. The applications for licences to export the frames have accordingly been withdrawn. A public record concerning the crown frames is in the annual report of the reviewing committee on the export of works of art, 1994-95, which was placed in the Library of the House on 24 October 1995.

Security Services Act

Mr. Robert Hughes: To ask the Prime Minister what arrangements have been made to appoint a commissioner under the Security Services Act 1989 when Lord Justice

12 Dec 1995 : Column: 567

Stuart-Smith's appointment expires on 17 December 1995. [5844]

The Prime Minister: Lord Justice Stuart-Smith has accepted re-appointment for a further two years until 14 December 1997.

Ministerial Offices

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Prime Minister how much has been spent on furnishing and decorating ministerial offices in his Department in each of the last three years. [5558]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given today by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service.

NATIONAL HERITAGE

Digital Terrestrial Television

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will impose a universal service obligation on broadcasters on the introduction of digital terrestrial television. [5240]

Mr. Sproat: The term "universal service obligation" is used in telecommunications to mean a requirement on a provider to enable consumers, regardless of where they live, to be connected to networks at an affordable price. There is no exact parallel with digital terrestrial television, where constraints on frequency availability mean that it will not be possible in the short-term for all new services to be made available to all consumers in the United Kingdom.

The Government's policy document, "Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting", Cm 2946, published on 10 August, made clear that two of the key criteria on which applications from prospective multiplex providers would be judged would be their proposals to maximise the number of viewers who can be reached by digital terrestrial television, and their proposals to promote the take-up of digital receiving equipment, including through ensuring that it is made available at an affordable price. Analogue television transmissions will be maintained until a broadly similar proportion of the population as is now able to receive them can receive digital broadcast. No one will lose services that they are currently able to receive.

National Lottery

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how much has been spent to date on the national lottery in each region of England and in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. [4540]

Mr. Sproat: This is an operational matter for Camelot Group plc. The director general of the national lottery, Peter Davies has licensed Camelot to run the national lottery and he regulates its operations. I have therefore asked the director general to write to the hon. Member, placing copies of his response in the Libraries of the House.

12 Dec 1995 : Column: 568

Cable Licences

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how many cable licences have not been acted upon and have lapsed. [4947]

Mr. Sproat: Eight licences have been revoked because of the failure of the licensee to implement his proposals. In six of these cases, the area has been readvertised and new licences awarded in respect of five; an application for the sixth is currently under consideration by the Independent Television Commission. The remaining two licences have not yet been readvertised.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Visits to Brussels

Mr. Allen: To ask the Lord President of the Council how many hon. Members have used the facility for visiting Brussels in each year since its inception.

Mr. Newton: The facility for hon. Members to visit institutions of the European Community in Brussels, Luxembourg, and Strasbourg was introduced on 1 January 1992. For the purposes of the Resolution, the year begins on 1 April.

The number of visits by hon. Members to Brussels, for each year since the inception of the facility, is as follows:


WALES

NHS Trusts

Sir Wyn Roberts: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will publish information on the management costs of NHS trusts in Wales; and if he will make a statement. [6023]

Mr. Richards: NHS trusts are now required to publish their management costs in their audited annual accounts. The accounts most recently published are for the financial year 1994-95. The following table shows the management costs of NHS trusts in Wales for that year, as audited and reported in their accounts, in cash terms and as a percentage of each trust's income.

The definition of management used is the M1 figure devised by the Audit Commission. It includes the salaries of all managers--except those who are primarily clinicians--who earn more than £20,000 per year, and of managers in a few other specified posts regardless of salary, and the costs of management consultancy.

Hospitals and other services which are not part of a trust or did not become trusts until April 1995 are not included in the table.

Alongside ever-improving health, service and choice, first-class stewardship of resources is a key task for the health service. That is why, in "Caring for the Future", we set the target of transferring £12.5 million per year from

12 Dec 1995 : Column: 569

management to patient care in the period from 1994-95 to 1996-97. Trusts in Wales are playing an essential part in this, and with the publication of trust management costs this year we can see the first fruits of that policy.

The figures are lower than they would otherwise be because of the transfers that have already been made. I expect next year's figures to be lower still, as they will reflect some of the transfers being made in the present

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financial year. Beyond that, we are about to set targets for transfers in 1996-97, so the cost figures to be published in two years' time should be lower again.

There are several reasons why trusts can have different management costs, so comparison should be approached carefully, but I hope that trusts themselves will find the figures useful in their efforts to contain and reduce costs further.

Management costs of NHS trusts in Wales, 1994-95

Income Management costs (M1)
Name of trust Type of trust £000s £000s Percentage of income
Glan Clwyd NHS TrustAcute57,9241,7022.94
Wrexham Maelor NHS TrustAcute53,1031,8813.54
Clwydian Community NHS TrustCommunity/Mental Health64,1642,3853.72
North Wales Ambulance NHS TrustAmbulance12,2255164.22
Carmarthen and District NHS TrustAcute/Community38,4161,2073.14
Llanelli Dinefwr NHS TrustAcute/Community31,0378122.62
Ceredigion NHS TrustAcute/Community23,1168313.59
Derwen NHS TrustMental Health/Illness22,4439544.25
Glan Hafren NHS TrustAcute93,2222,6332.82
Neville Hall NHS TrustAcute40,7071,4633.59
Gwent Community NHS TrustCommunity/Mental Health57,3402,6994.71
Gwynedd Hospitals NHS TrustAcute60,4761,9823.28
Gwynedd Community NHS TrustCommunity/Mental Health47,8191,6363.42
Bridgend and District NHS TrustAcute/Mental Health64,0021,5582.43
Rhondda NHS TrustAcute/Community29,1909933.40
East Glamorgan NHS TrustAcute/Community47,4451,6783.54
Mid Glamorgan Ambulance NHS TrustAmbulance7,7931,00212.86
Pembrokeshire NHS TrustAcute/Community41,9861,8734.46
Powys Healthcare NHS TrustAcute/Community41,8871,8824.49
Llandough NHS TrustAcute/Community50,4002,2684.50
Velindre NHS TrustAcute10,5796195.85
South and East Wales Ambulance TrustAmbulance17,5711,1196.37
Swansea NHS TrustAcute54,2641,2332.27
Morriston NHS TrustAcute62,1461,6092.59
Median3.57
Mean3.55


12 Dec 1995 : Column: 569

12 Dec 1995 : Column: 569


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