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Cigarette Consumption

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what proportion of family expenditure in each income decile of households is represented by cigarette consumption; [99908]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Director of the Office for National Statistics. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Tim Holt to Mr. David Willetts, dated 30 November 1999:



    The Family Expenditure Survey shows the proportion of family expenditure in each income decile in 1998-99 as follows:

Gross income decile groupPercentage of total expenditure on cigarettes
Lowest ten per cent.3
Second decile group3
Third decile group3
Fourth decile group2
Fifth decile group2
Sixth decile group2
Seventh decile group2
Eighth decile group1
Ninth decile group1
Highest ten per cent.1

Source:

Family Expenditure Survey 1998-99



30 Nov 1999 : Column: 172W

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the effect on the post-tax distribution of income, by decile, of the increases in tobacco duty in the budgets of 1997, 1998 and 1999 combined. [99909]

Dawn Primarolo: Information on tobacco expenditure by income decile is available in table 1.3 of the Office for National Statistics annual publication "Family Spending".

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list (a) capital spending under the PFI in each year since 1997 and (b) planned spending for the next three years, for each Department; and if he will estimate the impact on revenue to the Government of these PFI projects for each of the next three years for each Government Department. [100848]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Treasury is currently updating the information sought as part of its normal bi-yearly reporting of information on PFI contracts. I expect this information to be published in the first half of December.

Office for National Statistics

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he intends to publish the new framework document for the Office for National Statistics. [100731]

Miss Melanie Johnson: As stated in the recent White Paper, "Building Trust in Statistics" (Cm 4412), the Government intend to publish a Framework for National Statistics as soon as possible.

House Prices

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what policy options are available to him to dampen house price increases. [100575]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The abolition of MIRAS from next April, higher rates of stamp duty for properties over £250,000, and the Government's new macro-economic framework will contribute to stability in the housing market.

Working Families Tax Credit

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) inquiries have been received by the Working Families Tax Credit Inquiry Line and (b) successful claims for working families tax credit have been made by residents of Pendle. [100626]

Dawn Primarolo: The response line for the Working Families Tax Credit and the Disabled Persons Tax Credit had handled 762,000 inquiries up to the 24 November. Reliable estimates for the numbers in receipt of the Working Families Tax Credit in Pendle are not yet available.

30 Nov 1999 : Column: 173W

Mr. Webb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the number of recipients of the working families tax credit who are benefiting from the child care tax credit. [100670]

Dawn Primarolo: It is estimated that 224,000 claims for Working Families Tax Credit were granted during October. Of these, it is provisionally estimated that about 26,000 are in receipt of the child care tax credit.

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many families in (a) Shrewsbury and Atcham and (b) Shropshire will benefit from the working families tax credit; by how much; and if he will make a statement. [100590]

Dawn Primarolo: Reliable estimates for the numbers in receipt of the Working Families Tax Credit in Shrewsbury and Atcham and in Shropshire county are not yet available. It is estimated that in 2000-01 for the UK as a whole, the first full year of the Working Families Tax Credit, about 1.4 million families will enjoy the more generous help provided by the new scheme. Families in receipt of the credit will receive on average £24 a week more than they would on Family Credit.

Bio-diesel

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to give tax incentives to those producing bio-diesel from (a) rape seed oil and (b) recycled waste edible oils; and if he will make a statement. [100243]

Mr. Timms: There are no such plans. At this time, particularly with the success of the introduction of ultra low sulphur diesel to the UK market, the case for a tax incentive for bio-diesel remains uncertain.

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to reduce duty on bio-diesel produced through the recycling of waste edible oils to the same level as on other environmentally-friendly fuels; and if he will make a statement. [100242]

Mr. Timms: There are no such plans. There is little information available to support the case for a duty reduction to the same level as road fuel gas, the only other fuel that has a duty rate less than that on ultra low sulphur diesel.

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what plans he has to encourage production of bio-diesel; and if he will make a statement; [100244]

Mr. Timms: There are no plans to change the current duty arrangements for bio-diesel. The environmental benefits of cleaner diesel fuel are well understood and the UK has taken a lead internationally by encouraging the production of ultra low sulphur diesel. It is not clear that encouraging the production of bio-diesel would add measurably to the benefits already enjoyed.

Third World Debt

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to forgive the export credit guarantee debt of the world's poorest countries. [100053]

30 Nov 1999 : Column: 174W

Miss Melanie Johnson: The terms of the deal agreed at the G7 Summit in Cologne and subsequently ratified by the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings provides for the forgiveness of 90 per cent. or more of the commercial debts of 41 of the world's poorest countries. Since the Annual Meetings, the Government have said that they are prepared, on a case-by-case basis, where necessary, to go beyond 90 per cent., possibly up to 100 per cent. debt forgiveness where debt relief will finance poverty reduction.

IR35

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish the responses to the Inland Revenue's consultation upon IR35, listing those (a) for and (b) against the proposals. [100141]

Dawn Primarolo: Many of those who have commented on our proposals have acknowledged that there is a real problem with avoidance of tax and National Insurance Contributions using personal service companies, and that the Government is right to tackle it.

We did not issue a formal consultation document, and those who sent in responses would not have expected their views to be published, so we do not intend to do so. However, some of the representative bodies who did take part in consultation have published their own responses, for example, on the internet.

Tax Avoidance

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish the Government's strategy in respect of tax avoidance. [100140]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government's strategy for tackling tax avoidance is to target legislation at a range of avoidance schemes whose exploitation is reducing tax revenues. Each of the last three Finance Acts has contained important measures to close loopholes and reduce the opportunity for tax avoidance. Further legislation will be introduced in next year's Finance Bill to counter avoidance based on capital gains tax gifts relief. The Government are committed to creating a fairer tax system. Artificial and contrived tax avoidance schemes undermine fairness, at the expense of those who do not indulge in them.


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