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Petrol Duty

Mr. Richards: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer at what point in the supply process the tax point arises for duty levied on petrol refined in the United Kingdom, in the case of supply to (a) independent retailers and (b) supermarket petrol outlets; if he will make a statement on the reasons for any difference of treatment in the two cases; and what plans he has to review policy in this matter. [8519]

Mr. Oppenheim: The duty point at which the duty charge arises in respect of UK-refined petrol is the same regardless of whether it is supplied to independent retailers or supermarket forecourts. In both cases, the duty is charged at the time the product is supplied from the refinery for delivery to the UK domestic market.


Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consultations he undertook with the housebuilding industry prior to the publication of the booklet "Are Your Workers Employed or Self-employed?"; what representations he has received from housebuilders since the publication; and if he will make a statement. [8320]

Mr. Jack [holding answer 12 December 1996]: A wide range of bodies representing the construction industry, including housebuilders, were involved in consultations on employment status with officials from the Inland Revenue and the Department of Social Security. Since the publication of leaflet IR 148/CA69, "Are Your Workers Employed or Self-employed?" in October 1995 a number of representations have been received from the construction industry. Industry representatives have asked for more information about when contractors should complete their reviews of the employment status of their workers and make necessary changes. They have requested more time to implement those changes and help in explaining to their workers what a change in employment status means. The industry also sought an assurance that, by a given date, all construction firms must have made any necessary changes in the employment status of their workers and the deducting pay-as-you-earn and national insurance contributions so that there is a level playing field when firms compete for contracts. A new leaflet and a poster to help construction workers will be available in the new year. Details of the help provided for the industry on employment status are set out in a joint Inland Revenue and Contributions Agency press release issued on 19 November 1996, copies of which are available in the Library.

Mr. Winterton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy to treat construction operatives in the housebuilding sector as self-employed for taxation purposes until such time as he has consulted (a) the Housebuilders Federation, (b) the Manufacturing and Construction Industries Alliance and (c) other bodies representing the interests of housebuilders and their workers. [8323]

Mr. Jack [holding answer 12 December 1996]: No. The law on employment status applies in the housebuilding sector in the same way as it does in any other industries. A wide range of representative bodies

18 Dec 1996 : Column: 640

from the construction industry, including groups representing the housebuilding sector, have already been consulted on these issues. We shall continue to work closely with these representatives.

Gold Reserves

Mr. Butcher: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 4 November, Official Report, column 544, what proportion of British gold reserves are held outside the United Kingdom; and what proportion of the externally located gold reserves are held in western Europe. [3830]

Mrs. Angela Knight: I refer my hon. Friend to my answer of 6 November, Official Report, column 544. Because the number of appropriate locations is limited, for security reasons we do not disclose the amounts held at different sites. However, less than half the UK's gold reserves are physically located outside the United Kingdom. Of this, less than 1 per cent. of the total is located in western Europe.

Economic and Monetary Union

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if Her Majesty's Government will assess the advantages of the redistribution of funds to the worst affected regions and countries along the lines proposed by the McDougal report to offset the effects of monetary union. [4753]

Mr. Oppenheim: The Government do not accept the case for any increase in fiscal transfers as a result of economic and monetary union. There are no implications for the EC budget, except that the euro will replace the ecu as the unit of account.

Incontinence Products

Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what plans he has to make adjustments to the NHS budget to compensate for extra expenses incurred as a result of the recent change in the regulations governing VAT on incontinence products; [9160]

Mr. Oppenheim [holding answer 16 December 1996]: There have been no changes to the regulations governing VAT on incontinence products. VAT has always been chargeable on incontinence products supplied to the NHS. The policy was confirmed in October 1995 following evidence of contrived tax avoidance schemes; but customs set guidelines to enable recovery of tax in cases where NHS trusts truly acted as agents for suppliers or patients. It later became clear that these arrangements did not reflect the normal position in the NHS, and they were withdrawn in August 1996. Few NHS trusts are thought to have used the guidelines, but details are not held centrally and so no reliable revenue estimates can be made. However, the NHS is in any case funded on the basis that its purchases of incontinence products are taxable.

Incontinence products supplied directly to disabled people are zero-rated.

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Earned Income

Mr. Timms: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish the average earned income in the most recent year for which figures are available for (a) the fifth percentile and (b) the 95th percentile of taxpayers. [9570]

Mr. Jack: Based on the estimation of earned income for taxpayers in 1997-98, the fifth percentile is about £4,200 and the 95th percentile is about £36,000.

Tobacco Smuggling

Mr. Byers: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to take further action against those involved in the illegal importation of cigarettes and tobacco; and if he will make a statement. [9655]

Mr. Oppenheim [holding answer 17 December 1996]: As my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced as part of his Budget package, Customs and Excise is to deploy 70 additional front-line staff to combat single market smuggling of alcohol and tobacco. There will be increases in intelligence and investigation staff to deal with excise fraud and evasion.

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Diesel Duty

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the levels of duty and VAT on diesel in (a) the United Kingdom, (b) France, (c) Germany and (d) Belgium. [9130]

Mr. Oppenheim: The information is shown in the following table:

CountryExcise duty on diesel Pence per litreDuty plus VAT(16) Pence per litreVAT rate on diesel Per cent.
United Kingdom36.8643.3117.5

(16) Because the amount of VAT depends on the retail price, the figure shown here is duty plus consequential VAT on the duty element of the price.

Value Added Tax

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many VAT (i) registrations and (ii) deregistrations there have been in each Customs and Excise area in each year since 1990-91. [9741]

Mr. Oppenheim: Customs holds registration and deregistration information by local office and groups these offices to form collections. The information, by collection, is in the schedule.

However, changes in collection boundaries over the years make year-on-year comparisons between them inappropriate in some cases.

18 Dec 1996 : Column: 641

Registrations and deregistrations by calendar year

Northern Ireland4,2263,6073,6744,0343,6523,735
Central England22,25718,23918,98317,73516,16116,216
South-east England16,12213,56212,40312,68911,5227,019
South England18,81315,54413,93414,29513,05613,348
Thames Valley25,52421,72320,47820,95619,99919,362
London Central15,84013,90714,19413,70512,46815,529
London South and Thames9,3038,0187,51911,17610,17112,307
East England22,92319,59917,55918,28016,66516,380
North-west England20,57418,64517,32616,41215,17415,174
North England19,18016,36215,37415,33114,08113,522
Wales West and Borders25,38121,57820,06620,03018,62115,931
Northern Ireland3,1133,7833,5953,1763,4953,099
Central England16,79922,54022,08220,82217,97917,506
South-east England11,64819,65018,34215,90614,3177,885
South England14,78221,82820,81319,45716,42214,810
Thames Valley17,94324,92525,50923,51821,16219,048
London Central12,66615,77917,10914,81811,90512,991
London South and Thames7,5319,2478,98910,5469,60412,187
East England18,48324,21222,42421,14518,72917,727
North-west England16,01521,4862142020,75218,60017,065
North England16,15420,64918,90417,42716,95517,261
Wales West and Borders20,77327,79725,69125,23623,34617,616

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Registrations and deregistrations by financial year

Northern Ireland4,1953,6003,7594,0003,6663,744
Central England20,63917,96817,59316,68516,46916,362
South-east England14,06710,68212,43912,40511,3396,946
South England17,62114,95613,85313,98412,97913,485
Thames Valley24,02821,20120,10820,89920,32519,476
London Central15,19712,56413,94613,47212,45615,930
London South and Thames8,3498,0438,32810,8579,58812,118
East England21,49218,67717,91917,40217,02816,165
North-west England20,75218,09117,00315,87615,06414,611
North England18,35015,77715,38214,81713,79513,604
Wales West and Borders23,60523,53119,99319,62117,77116,010
Northern Ireland3,1283,9343,3033,4173,2803,160
Central England17,00723,88721,69820,60717,59316,622
South-east England11,54417,11517,60016,12113,1937,705
South England15,18522,85220,67518,06516,68715,149
Thames Valley18,64126,61224,82223,51420,13018,630
London Central12,84815,90516,19714,22211,55812,767
London South and Thames7,6809,6106,99911,1518,69611,701
East England18,83925,01021,82221,19718,85117,651
North-west England15,97123,01720,86821,10417,30416,750
North England16,47021,28918,70817,03016,66516,759
Wales West and Borders21,51629,35725,97125,39621,99617,163

18 Dec 1996 : Column: 643

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