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EU Budget Lines

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Government received itemised expenditure of EU Budget Line B3-301, Information Outlets, for the latest year; what is his policy on the optional targeting of such funds; and if he will identify how much funding went to each recipient, naming the recipients, with particular reference to expenditure in the UK. [138166]

Miss Melanie Johnson: It is within the remit of the Commission to decide the criteria for the targeting of such funds.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the European Communities budget lines which the Government are seeking to delete. [138082]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Government look for good value for money on all budget lines, and seek to ensure that any spending is within the financial perspective agreed at Berlin in March 1999.

Special Compliance Office

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to increase the (a) number and (b) proportion of Inland Revenue personnel working in the Special Compliance Office. [138322]

Dawn Primarolo: Over the next two years, more than £2.5 million will be added to the budget of Special Compliance Office.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the last tax year for which data are available, what was the (a) annual budget of the Inland Revenue Special Compliance Office, and (b) estimated additional tax revenue which its activities generated. [138321]

Dawn Primarolo: For the year to 31 March 2000, the total budget of Special Compliance Office was £24.3 million. The office brought into charge additional tax, interest and penalties of £371 million during the year. It also concluded criminal proceedings against 40 defendants in respect of revenue-related offences.

VAT (Places of Worship)

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to Cm 4917, if he will define places of worship in respect of consideration for a reduction in VAT. [138197]

16 Nov 2000 : Column: 759W

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 13 November 2000]: Places of worship are listed religious buildings such as cathedrals, churches, chapels, meeting-houses, synagogues, mosques and temples.

Mr. Cash: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the plans announced in his pre-Budget Statement to reduce VAT on church repairs in the context of EU rules governing VAT. [138738]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government are attracted to the idea of offering a reduced rate for the repair of listed buildings which are used as places of worship, such as churches, chapels, synagogues, meeting-houses, temples and mosques. As a first step I have written to the European Commission on 8 November to ask for consideration of early legislative proposals to add repairs, maintenance and improvements to listed places of worship to the list of permissible reduced rates.

Urban Regeneration

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many of the proposals for regeneration in his pre-Budget Report will fulfil the recommendations contained in the Rogers report: "Towards an Urban Renaissance". [138246]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 13 November 2000]: The pre-Budget Report 2000 announced that the following package of measures to promote urban regeneration would be introduced in Budget 2001:


(i) complete exemption from stamp duty for all property transactions in Britain's most disadvantaged communities;
(ii) accelerated payable tax credit for cleaning up contaminated land;
(iii) immediate tax relief to property owners for the costs of converting redundant space over shops and other commercial premises into flats for letting;
(iv) a reduced rate of VAT for the cost of converting residential properties into a different number of dwellings;
(v) an adjustment to the zero rate of VAT to provide relief for the sale of renovated houses that have been empty for 10 years or more.

Of these proposed measures, the first three respond to specific recommendations made in the Urban Task Force report "Towards an Urban Renaissance", chaired by Lord Rogers. The remaining two move some way towards Lord Rogers's recommendations for changes to VAT. In addition, the Government announced that it would continue to monitor the urban regeneration companies, and consider how a tax relief may help, responding to a further recommendation made in the report.

Contaminated Land (Tax Relief)

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what tax relief he will provide to property investors for the clean up of contaminated land. [138233]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 13 November 2000]: The scheme announced in the PBR will give accelerated tax relief for the cost of cleaning up contaminated land. Final details will be included in my right hon. Friend's Budget.

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Residential Conversions

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer who will be eligible for tax relief for creating flats over shops; and if there will be an upper limit to such relief in respect of the (a) property and (b) property owners. [138235]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 13 November 2000]: Under the proposals announced by the Chancellor in the pre-Budget Report, 100 per cent. capital allowances for the costs of converting vacant and under-used space over shops would be available to property owners who create flats for letting. The scheme will include checks to ensure this enhanced relief does not subsidise high-value properties that require no encouragement. It is not proposed to limit the total relief available to a property owner.

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated number of flats over shops which will be created by his proposal for capital allowances. [138234]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 13 November 2000]: The proposed scheme for 100 per cent. capital allowances for flats over shops is expected to support the conversion of over 1,000 flats each year over the next five years.

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what advice he has received from the European Commission on his plans to (a) reduce VAT rates on residential conversions and (b) remove VAT on developers renovating and selling houses which have been empty for 10 years or more. [138222]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 13 November 2000]: Item 9 of Annexe H to the VAT Sixth Directive allows a reduced rate for alteration and conversion work to houses which is done to further a social policy. The removal of VAT from the sale of renovated houses that have been empty for 10 years is a minor adjustment and updating of the existing zero rate. There is therefore no need to seek the Commission's advice on VAT law.

Volunteers

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will mark next year's International Year of Volunteers by spending a day working as a volunteer. [137423]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 13 November 2000]: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by the Secretary of State for the Home Department on 13 November 2000, Official Report, column 531W.

All Treasury staff are allowed one day's extra leave to undertake voluntary work in a private capacity.

Tax Returns (Internet)

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 31 October 2000, Official Report, column 412W, on tax returns, if he will make a statement on the pilot of internet VAT returns. [137850]

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Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 13 November 2000]: A limited live pilot of internet VAT returns started on 1 March 2000. A number of businesses were invited to participate after registering their interest in the internet VAT return at the early stages of development.

Initial feedback from businesses in the live pilot has been favourable. Customs are continuing to develop the system with a view to making it more widely available during 2001.

Corporation Tax

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to Cm 4917, on what basis he expects October corporation tax receipts to be a guide to corporation tax receipts for the October to March period in fiscal year 2000-01. [138460]

Dawn Primarolo: Large companies are now required to pay their corporation tax in quarterly instalments with, during the four year transition period, a subsequent balancing payment. October's receipts of tax were mainly:




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