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Mortgages and Endowment Policies

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what powers are available to the Financial Services Authority to regulate, and take sanctions against, market abuses of the sale of financial products which seek to offer protection against shortfalls in endowment policies designed to pay off mortgages. [130821]

Mr. Timms: The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and other legislation provide the relevant regulators with an effective statutory framework with which to tackle market abuse of all kinds. It is illegal to conduct unauthorised insurance business.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what approaches (a) he and (b) the Financial Services Authority have made to individual firms requesting the numbers of 25 year endowment contracts (A) with-profits and (B) unit linked purchased (i) one year ago, (ii) five years ago, (iii) 10 years ago, (iv) 15 years ago and (v) 20 years ago which are still in force today; and if he will publish the data received. [130635]

Miss Melanie Johnson: On behalf of the Financial Services Authority, the Personal Investment Authority (PIA) collects and publishes information on the persistency of endowment contracts, but only for periods of up to four years after policies begin. The latest figures were published in October 1999 in the PIA's "Fifth Survey Of The Persistency Of Life And Pensions Policies", a copy of which has been placed in the House of Commons Library.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he proposes to bring forward amendments to the law to protect house purchasers from the mis-selling of mortgages. [130650]

Mr. Timms: The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 provides a statutory framework for the regulation of mortgages.

The House will be asked to approve a Regulated Activities Order in the next few months. This will include further details of how mortgages will be regulated.

On the timing of mortgage regulation, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage (Barbara Follett) on 27 January 2000, Official Report, columns 263-64W.

Motor Service Garages

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many motor service garages which subcontract their MOT business to an approved test centre have been investigated by HM Customs and Excise for under- declaration of Value Added Tax since November 1996; how many have been found to have under-declared their Value Added Tax liability; and if he will make a statement. [130718]

Dawn Primarolo: Visit information about motor service garages that subcontract their MOT business is not held centrally by Customs and Excise. But visits are made to check businesses' Value Added Tax declarations on the basis of Customs' overall assessment of revenue risk. This takes account of local information including knowledge about under-declarations found on visits to other businesses. In the years 1998-99 and 1999-2000 the

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number of visits made by Customs to motor service garages to check their Value Added Tax declarations was 2,249 and 1,987 and the number found to have under-declared their Value Added Tax liability was 1,347 and 1,227 respectively.

Working Families Tax Credit

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the costs to business of the implementation of the Working Families Tax Credit. [129339]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the regulatory impact assessment which was published and placed in the House Library in December 1999.

Mr. Ian Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes have taken place in (a) staff and (b) premises since the introduction of Family Tax Credit; and what further changes are planned. [130005]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 10 July 2000]: Around 3,500 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff transferred from the Benefits Agency to the Inland Revenue in October 1999 to form the Tax Credit Office (TCO). Staffing levels have not changed significantly since that time, and there are still currently around 3,500 FTE staff in the TCO. The TCO still occupies the same premises as it did in October 1999. There are no plans within the TCO to change either staffing levels or accommodation, although both are kept under review.

Mr. Ian Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the operational effectiveness of the introduction of Family Tax Credit. [130003]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 10 July 2000]: The Tax Credit Office (TCO) was set up in October 1999. For the period between October 1999 and 31 March 2000, most of the TCO's inherited targets have either been met or exceeded. A full analysis of performance against targets will be contained in the Inland Revenue Plan 2000-01 which is to be published shortly.

Mr. Ian Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average time is from receipt of application to receipt of tax credit for Family Tax Credit; and what is the current number of cases being processed. [130006]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 10 July 2000]: We do not record the average time between receipt of Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) applications by the Tax Credit Office (TCO) and receipt of tax credit payments by applicants. However, the TCO aims to settle 90 per cent. of all WFTC applications within 30 working days of receipt. The actual percentage of applications settled within 30 days since the beginning of this financial year and the end of June 2000 is 97.6 per cent. The number of applications being processed as at 30 June 2000 was 61,000.

Withholding Tax

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the Austrian Government's blocking of the withholding tax proposal, with particular reference to the use of the national veto. [129921]

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Dawn Primarolo: All 15 member states have agreed to accept exchange of information, and not a withholding tax, as the way forward for the EU to tackle the problem of cross-border tax evasion.

VAT (Continence Pads)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 18 May 2000, Official Report, column 268W, on VAT, by what mechanism incontinent people apply for zero-rated continence pads. [130754]

Dawn Primarolo: The mechanism for claiming VAT relief on supplies of continence pads works on the basis of self assessment. Individuals living in their own homes and suffering from incontinence declare to suppliers that they are chronically sick or disabled and are therefore entitled to purchase zero-rated continence pads.

Departmental Initiatives

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if she will list each departmental initiative since May 1997 requiring bids for funding together with the total resources available, the number of successful bids and the proportion this represents of total bids received; and what data he collects on the average expenditure of organisations bidding for funding through each initiative. [131088]

Mr. Andrew Smith: New spending plans for the years 2001-02 and 2003-04 are being considered in the current Spending Review. The outcome of the review will be announced on 18 July.

Pensioner Savings

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many pensioners benefited from the changes to income tax on savings announced in the Budget. [130959]

Dawn Primarolo: Six out of 10 pensioners do not have any income tax to pay. Many of the remaining pensioners with savings could benefit from the measures announced in the Budget.

Married Person's Allowance

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many men born between 6 April 1935 and 5 April 1936 are affected by the withdrawal of the married person's allowance in (a) the UK, (b) Wales and (c) Ceredigion. [127871]

Dawn Primarolo: Six out of 10 pensioners do not have any income tax to pay. People become entitled to the age-related personal allowance at the age of 65. This is worth up to £1,405 over and above the basic allowance.

In his 1999 Budget, the Chancellor increased the age-related personal allowance by more than inflation, and someone aged 65 to 74 can have an income of £111 a week in 2000-01 before paying tax.

Mr. Todd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the additional tax collected in 2000-01 as a result of the abolition of the married couples allowance. [130769]

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Dawn Primarolo: An estimate was provided in appendix A2.1 of the March 2000 Financial Statement and Budget Report. A copy is held in the Library of the House.

Imports (Israel)

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 20 March 2000, Official Report, column 449W, if the European Commission has asked the UK, through HM Customs and Excise, to begin a posteriori verification measures under the Origin Rules Protocol in respect of imports from Israel. [130181]

Dawn Primarolo: Yes.

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 20 March 2000, Official Report, column 450W, following the Israeli Government's admission concerning the definition of territoriality it uses in issuing certificates of origin, if the European Commission will require security bonds or deposits on new importations of products labelled, "Made in Israel", similar to those previously shown to have been produced in settlements on the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights. [130183]

Dawn Primarolo: No such decision has yet been taken.

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in cases prior to October 1999, where HM Customs and Excise initiated a posteriori verification procedures with Israel's customs concerning importations under preferences of products that Customs and Excise had reason to suspect may have been wholly produced or substantially processed in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, what answers HM Customs and Excise received from Israeli customs concerning the originating status of the products concerned. [130185]

Dawn Primarolo: No such verifications were initiated.

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 20 March 2000, Official Report, column 449W, if HM Customs and Excise have begun to apply, or will apply, a posteriori verification measures under the Origin Rules Protocol to (a) all Israeli products and (b) new imports of products labelled, "Made in Israel", similar to those previously shown to have been produced in settlements on the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights. [130182]

Dawn Primarolo: HM Customs and Excise have begun a posteriori verifications based on information supplied to it by the European Commission. No decision on additional verification measures beyond this has yet been taken.

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 20 March 2000, Official Report, column 449W, when the European Commission completed its assessment of the evidence provided by HM Customs and Excise relating to Israeli violations of the EC-Israel Trade Agreement. [130180]

Dawn Primarolo: At the beginning of April 2000, the European Commission instructed member states to commence verification inquiries with Israel as set out in Article 32 of Protocol 4 to the EC-Israel Trade Agreement.

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Dr. Starkey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if there have been instances where imports to Britain, accompanied by Israeli certificates of origin, have been prevented by HM Customs and Excise from benefiting from preferential treatment because the labelling, the locales named in the origin certificates, or other information indicated that the goods in question were wholly produced or substantially processed in the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza or Golan Heights. [130184]

Dawn Primarolo: There have been no such instances.


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