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Employers' National Insurance Contributions

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the proposed reduction in the employers' national insurance contribution rate financed by the climate change levy. [121211]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 8 May 2000]: Pages 140 and 141 of the March 2000 Financial Statement and Budget Report give the details of national insurance contributions rates. A copy is in the Library of the House.

Tax Data

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the reduction in tax paid per year in cash terms, and as a percentage of total gross annual income, for each income decile group, resulting from increasing the 10p tax band on earnings by £100; and if he will make a statement. [120800]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 9 May 2000]: For taxpayers in 2000-01, the estimates for an increase in the starting rate limit are given in the table.

Income tax effect of extending the starting rate limit to £1,620 in 2000-01 (7)(8)

Decile (8)Total reduction in income tax (£ million)Reduction in tax as a percentage of total gross annual income
Lowest50.04
2nd270.13
3rd320.12
4th330.10
5th330.09
6th330.07
7th330.06
8th330.05
9th330.04
Highest330.02

(7) Based on the survey of personal incomes and consistent with the March 2000 Budget.

(8) The estimates exclude an offsetting effect from the Working Families Tax Credit because this is allowed at family level and not at individual level.


Tax Returns (Internet)

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from users of Apple Macintosh PCs in respect of internet filing of tax returns. [121333]

10 May 2000 : Column: 427W

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 9 May 2000]: The Inland Revenue has received 17 representations from people with Apple Macintosh PCs in respect of internet filing of tax returns.

Motor Insurance Premiums

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of trends in motor insurance premiums since 1996; and if he will make a statement. [121300]

Miss Melanie Johnson: None.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Climate Change Levy

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what compliance costs in relation to the climate change levy face each sector of the agricultural industry; and what assistance is being offered to each sector. [120244]

Ms Quin: Any compliance costs associated with the administration of the climate change levy will fall mainly on the energy suppliers who will have to amend their billing systems in order to accommodate the levy. More information is contained in the Regulatory Impact Assessment of the climate change levy prepared by Customs and Excise and it will be updated as appropriate to reflect any significant changes.

To ensure that the levy will be revenue neutral for the private sector as a whole, revenue collected by the levy will be recycled in full to all sectors of the UK economy through a 0.3 percentage point reduction in employers' NICs and through the provision of an additional £150 million to support energy efficiency measures, including the introduction of 100 per cent. first year capital allowances for energy saving instruments. In addition electricity generated from 'new' forms of renewable energy and in 'good quality' combined heat and power plants will be exempt from the levy. This will be of help to agricultural users of energy produced from these sources.

To assist energy intensive sectors defined as being those sites and installations covered by the EU Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control directive (IPPC), an 80 per cent. discount of the levy rates is being offered to those sectors that can come forward with proposals to make energy savings meeting the Government's criteria. In agriculture these sectors include pigs, poultry and sows.

In addition the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in Budget 2000 that the Government intend to introduce a package of measures to help improve energy efficiency in the horticultural sector while protecting its competitiveness. Subject to State Aids clearance from the European Commission, this will include:


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Forestry Commission Pension Scheme

Mr. Temple-Morris: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how the Forestry Commission Employees Pension Fund is funded; and how much public money was made available to it in each of the last three years for which figures are available. [120485]

Mr. Morley: The Forestry Commission Pension Scheme operates in the same way as the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme. Prior to devolution, benefits were paid from the net grant in aid for forestry voted by Parliament. Net payments in each of the last three years, after allowing for receipts from employee contributions and transfers to and from other schemes were:

£ million
1996-9728.9
1997-9826.5
1998-9926.8

Once the devolution settlement is fully in place, the employers contributions which until now have been assessed only for internal Forestry Commission accounting purposes, will be paid from money provided by Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. In 1998-99 this amounted to £6.4 million. The balance will continue to be paid from money provided by Parliament.

Strychnine Hydrochloride

Mr. Woolas: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to speed up the issuing of licences for the prescription of strychnine hydrochloride for mole eradication. [120654]

Ms Quin: Strychnine hydrochloride is a dangerous substance and strict controls are in place to regulate its circulation and use. Applications for permits to use it to kill moles are considered by MAFF's Regional Service Centres (RSCs), which issue the permit or refuse the application within 15 working days of receipt of the completed application. The established standard is quoted in the public statement of RSC customer service standards--"Commitment to Service".

During the 1999-2000 financial year, 98 per cent. of permits were issued within 15 working days despite an increase in applications of 14 per cent. from the previous year. We will continue to work and achieve the same standard in all cases.

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CABINET OFFICE

Government (Public IT Access)

8. Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps she is taking to ensure that the modernising of Government programmes pays particular attention to the accessibility of Government Departments to the public using information technology. [120442]

Mr. Ian McCartney: Part of our e-government strategy is to increase the citizens choice of access to public services. The services that can be accessed are as follows:


We have set a target that 100 per. cent. of dealings will be capable electronically by 2005.

Anti-drugs Strategy (Lancashire)

9. Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what progress has been made in the promotion of a holistic anti-drug abuse strategy in Lancashire. [120443]

Marjorie Mowlam: The Lancashire Drug Action Team is contributing to the Government's anti-drugs strategy by implementing a wide range of measures to address problems of drug misuse at local level. These include:



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