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Income Tax (Personal Allowances)

Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on personal allowances; and if he will make a statement. [101792]

Dawn Primarolo: Every individual has their own income tax personal allowance. In his pre-Budget report on 9 November this year, the Chancellor announced that the personal allowance for people aged under 65 would be increased to £4,385 in 2000-01, in line with indexation. The alignment of the income tax personal allowance and the starting point for employers' NICs means that the level of both now needs to be announced in the Autumn. The Government keep all income tax allowances under review, and any other changes will be announced in the Budget in the usual way.

Working Families Tax Credit

28. Mr. Miller: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in the north-west have used the working families tax credit response line to establish that they are eligible for the working families tax credit. [101793]

Dawn Primarolo: The response line for the Working Families Tax Credit and Disabled Person's Tax Credit had handled 780,000 inquiries nationally up to 30 November. A breakdown by Government Office Region is not readily available. A breakdown by TV region is given in the table.

Television regionNumber of inquiries
Not known111,000

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Mr. Rammell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number of people in Harlow who will be eligible for the working families tax credit. [101787]

Dawn Primarolo: Based on known Family Credit figures for Harlow, and expected eligibility nationally for Working Families Tax Credit, the estimated numbers of families which may be eligible for Working Families Tax Credit on this basis in Harlow is 1,900.


29. Mr. Fallon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list (a) the number of new regulations on business made by his Department since May 1997 and (b) the number repealed. [101794]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government always take account of the impact of regulation on business. Our policies are helping to ensure sustainable economic growth which benefits all members of society.

Currency Speculation

31. Mr. Barnes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received recently concerning the taxation of international currency speculation; and if he will make a statement. [101796]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Since the beginning of the year, the Treasury has received 19 letters and 603 postcards from members of the public and 42 letters from hon. Members about the proposal to introduce a tax on currency speculation.

The Government believe the idea of a tax on currency speculation is, in principle, interesting, but has a number of practical drawbacks. It would be almost impossible to achieve global coverage, and there would be huge scope for avoidance.

Professional Football Clubs (Taxation)

32. Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce a tax redistribution arrangement based on turnover for professional football clubs. [101797]

Dawn Primarolo: The football authorities, which are independent of Government, are best placed to make decisions on the development of football, including the distribution of income within the game. The tax system is not an appropriate mechanism for redistributing funds between football clubs.

Energy-saving Materials (VAT)

33. Dr. Iddon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress he has made with his discussions with the EU on lowering VAT on all energy-saving materials. [101798]

Dawn Primarolo: I wrote to the Commission in September 1998 to suggest changes to current Community law to allow a reduced rate to apply to a wider range of energy saving materials, particularly those purchased for DIY use.

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The Commission replied at the beginning of December last year, saying that there is currently no provision which would allow for this reduced rate. They raised the possibility of future Commission proposals relating to Annexe H of the EC Sixth Directive, which allows for reduced rates, and maintain that these proposals would provide the right context in which to tackle the energy saving materials question. We believe that the Commission may put forward these proposals next year and, when they arrive, we will consider again the case for a reduced rate for energy saving materials.

Anti-drugs Strategy

35. Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures he has taken to assist the implementation of the Government's anti-drugs misuse strategy. [101800]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Comprehensive Spending Review backed the Strategy set out in "Tackling Drugs to Build a Better Britain" with £217 million of new money over the three years 1999-2000 to 2001-02. This includes funding for the Drug Treatment and Testing Orders, which, subject to successful evaluation, will roll out nationally from next year. In addition, my predecessor agreed a framework for the new Confiscated Assets Fund, which will ensure that the assets seized from drugs barons are deployed effectively in support of the Strategy.

Further, HM Customs and Excise, who are accountable to the Chancellor, play a key operational role in delivery against the Strategy's objective of reducing the availability of drugs in the UK.

EU Tax Competition

37. Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the damage to the British economy of unfair tax competition within the European Union. [101802]

Dawn Primarolo: Unfair tax competition in the form of harmful and discriminatory tax practices can distort competition and artificially attract investment and jobs away from member states, such as the UK, which have more neutral tax systems. Unfair tax practices of others prevent British business from operating on a more level playing field.

Monetary Policy Framework

38. Mr. Borrow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact of the new monetary policy framework he introduced in May 1997. [101803]

Mr. Andrew Smith: As set out in the Pre-Budget Report, and in a Treasury paper, "The New Monetary Policy Framework", the Government believe that the new monetary policy framework has had several beneficial effects on the UK economy. Since its introduction, inflation has been low, stable and close to target, with survey and financial market data suggesting that price stability is expected to be maintained. This has

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contributed to overall economic stability, steady growth, and rising employment.

Business Rates

Mr. Chope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 2 December 1999, Official Report, column 289W, on business rates, what his estimate is of the total amount to be collected in rates in England in (a) 1999-2000 and (b) 2000-01; and what multiplier for inflation he used to calculate the real-terms difference between the two figures. [102813]

Ms Beverley Hughes: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and the Regions to my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Marsden) on 9 December 1999, Official Report, columns 604-06W.

The calculation of the national rate multiplier (or poundage) is set out in the Local Government Finance Act 1988, which specifies the retail prices index for the preceding September. The multiplier for 2000-01 allows for 1.1 per cent. inflation, based on September 1999 RPI.

Departmental Research Contracts

Dr. Harris: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many research contracts have been let by his Department since May 1997; what is the value of each contract; and in each case whether the contract included (a) a departmental veto over publication of the research results, (b) departmental control over the date of publication of the research results and (c) a requirement that the final research results incorporate departmental amendments. [100152]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 6 December 1999]: The information requested would be available only at a disproportionate cost.

Child Poverty

Mr. Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which of the indicators listed in Opportunity for All are being used for judging the achievement of the Government's aim to (a) halve child poverty within 10 years and (b) eliminate child poverty within 20 years. [102997]

Miss Melanie Johnson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for Northavon (Mr. Webb) on 19 October 1999, Official Report, column 486W.

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