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Mr. Ruane: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Vale of Clwyd constituency, the effects on the Vale of Clwyd of his Department's policies and actions since May 1997. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: The Vale of Clwyd, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, is benefiting from the long-term action we have taken to build economic stability and secure high and stable levels of growth and employment. Since the general election, claimant unemployment in the constituency has fallen by 504, or 26 per cent., youth unemployment is down by 79 per cent., and long-term unemployment has fallen by 57 per cent.
Macro-economic stability is being complemented at the micro-economic level by the Government's policies to ease the transition from welfare into work and to make work pay. To the end of December 2000, the New Deal for 18 to 24-year-olds had helped 809 young people in the Vale of Clwyd constituency gain valuable skills and experience--393 (49 per cent.) of whom had moved into employment. The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC), introduced in October 1999, is helping to make work pay for low and middle income families. In August 2000, 2,000 families in the constituency were benefiting from WFTC.
The Government are also committed to developing policies which enable all pensioners to share in the country's rising prosperity. As a result of the recent pre-Budget report, all pensioners, including 15,800 in the Vale of Clwyd, will receive an above-inflation increase in the basic state pension from April 2001. Single pensioners will receive an extra £5 a week, and couples will receive an extra £8 a week. All pensioners aged 75 or over have also been entitled to a free TV licence since November 2000--including around 10,000 in the Vale of Clwyd.
Miss Melanie Johnson: Our package of corporation tax reforms included measures to boost corporate investment by removing tax distortions. The withdrawal of payable tax credits on dividends was just one part of these measures. Pension funds will share in the long-term
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benefits from these changes to corporation tax. The overall effects of these changes on future pensions will vary depending upon many factors, such as: the type of scheme paying the pension; the take-up of private pensions; the level of future pension contributions; and the investment policy adopted by pensions fund managers.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer at what point after 1990 the trend towards lower inflation and lower interest rates was reflected in advice to the insurance industry on the likely implications for guaranteed annuity rate liabilities. 
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 15 February 2001]: The latest professional guidance on guaranteed annuity rate liabilities was issued by the Government Actuary's Department in January 1999 and December 1999.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what steps his Department took, between 1990 and the transfer of the insurance regulatory function to the Financial Services Authority to (a) investigate and monitor the reserves kept by insurance companies to satisfy their commitments under their guaranteed annuity rate policies, (b) monitor the extent of potential liabilities of insurance companies under guaranteed annuity rate policies and (c) ensure that insurance companies had (i) provided for and (ii) fully disclosed their potential liabilities under their guaranteed annuity rate policies within their annual report and accounts; 
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 15 February 2001]: The Insurance Companies Act 1982 sets out the requirements on insurance companies to maintain an adequate margin of solvency. The regulator monitors companies on an on-going basis to ensure that regulatory requirements are met.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes were made between 1990 and the transfer of the insurance regulatory function to the Financial Services Authority to the information requests required of insurance companies in respect of potential liabilities; and at whose behest such changes were made. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: The information that insurance companies must provide to the regulator is set out in the Insurance Companies Act 1982 and in consequent regulations. The regulator monitors companies on an on-going basis to ensure that regulatory requirements are met.
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Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the home packs to be provided by sellers, as proposed in the Homes Bill, will be subject to VAT; and if this will be extended to new-built homes, otherwise exempt from VAT. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 26 February 2001]: The Homes Bill will allow the seller of a property (or his agent) to charge potential buyers for a copy of the seller's pack, but only for reasonable costs such as photocopying and postage. This will also apply to the sale of new homes. The majority of homes are marketed by estate agents. Where the seller or agent is registered for VAT and makes a charge for the seller's pack, the charge will be subject to VAT.
Mr. Michael Jabez Foster: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated repayment of tax to charities as a result of the Gift Aid changes implemented in April 2000; and what is the total tax repayable resulting from the Gift Aid scheme to date. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: Repayments to charities of basic rate income tax on donations made under the Gift Aid scheme up to the end of 1999-2000 are available in table 10.3 of Inland Revenue Statistics 2000, a copy of which is in the Library.
Repayments from April 2000 are not comparable with those in earlier years as companies are no longer required to deduct basic rate income tax from their Gift Aid donations. Since company donations are now made gross these no longer have associated tax repayments.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many retired people in receipt of the state retirement pension pay income tax at (a) the standard rate and (b) the higher rate; and if he will make a statement. 
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Report, column 104W, on working families tax credit, what assessment he has made of the findings of the NACB report, "Work in Progress". 
Dawn Primarolo: The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) is a success in making work pay for families on low to middle incomes and tackling child poverty. Over 1.1 million families are receiving it--300,000 more than claimed the predecessor benefit, Family Credit. The WFTC is boosting incomes, paying on average an extra £76.86 a week to families looking after 2.2 million children.
Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the (a) average change in absolute net income and (b) the percentage of net income per recipient household of working families tax credit if it were tapered away from the higher rate tax payers on a comparable basis with children's tax credit. 
Dawn Primarolo: Such a tapering away would not be possible because, in general, the information needed to establish whether any person in the applicant's family is a higher rate taxpayer for the relevant year cannot be known at the application date.
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