Draft Tax Credits Up-rating Order 2001

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The Chairman: Order. Please refrain from widening the debate to general taxation. Please refer to the Tax Credits Up-rating Order 2001.

Mr. Clappison: I stand corrected again. I was tempted to point out that the order and the way in which it operates are all of a piece with the way in which the Government operate: meddling and muddling.

Dawn Primarolo: I assure the hon. Gentleman that he absolutely will not be entitled to working families tax credit, unless his income drops dramatically. He is probably disappointed by that. He is arguing both ends and contradicting himself. I am not sure whether he wants the figures so that he can inform his constituents how much they would lose if his party were unfortunately the winners in the next election and working families tax credit was abolished.

I am sorely tempted, Mr. O'Brien, but I will not try your patience by answering questions that have no bearing on the order. I will deal, however, with the hon. Gentleman's question about whether Inland Revenue's systems are sufficiently robust to ensure that fraud in working families tax credit is at a minimum. Members of the Committee will know that some people are so determined that they find their way through the system and gain entitlement. That is the case generally with the tax system when people claim relief to which they are not entitled or try to offset against tax costs to which they would otherwise not be entitled. It happens.

I am happy to give the hon. Gentleman the specific assurance that he seeks about Inland Revenue systems: the risk of fraud is at an absolute minimum. The hon. Gentleman would surely not want me to waste Inland Revenue resources by going through every single claim in order to identify those that were not granted because the applications were not in order. I doubt whether he would wish to waste civil servants' time in that way. I repeat, however, that, because it is a serious point, I would be pleased to write to the hon. Gentleman and to circulate my reply to other members of the Committee who would then know what procedures were in place and the current circumstances vis-a-vis the Inland Revenue and allegations of fraud.

Mr. Clappison: I simply want to know how many cases have been stopped because fraud has been detected—a simple answer to a simple question. How many prosecutions have taken place? Surely Inland Revenue has information about that. I am tempted to table a written parliamentary question, but I am still waiting for an answer to questions I tabled on 7 February relating to national insurance contributions.

Will the Minister confirm in her reply that a lone parent with three children, eligible for child care costs of £200 a week and with gross annual earnings of £34,000 would continue to receive working families tax credit up to £45,500? I will gladly pass on the details, supplied by the House of Commons Library, to the Minister. It is important to put on the record whether she is prepared to confirm that those figures are correct. I simply want straightforward answers to my questions.

The Chairman: I am sure that the Minister has noted the hon. Gentleman's points.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the draft Tax Credits Up-rating Order 2001.

        Committee rose at twenty-eight minutes past Eleven o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
O'Brien, Mr. Bill (Chairman)
Allen, Mr.
Borrow, Mr.
Brinton, Mrs.
Chapman, Sir Sydney
Clappison, Mr.
Hendrick, Mr.
Iddon, Dr.
Laxton, Mr.
Luff, Mr.
Pond, Mr.
Primarolo, Dawn
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Webb, Mr.

The following also attended, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(2):

Miller, Mr. Andrew (Ellesmere Port and Neston)

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Prepared 20 March 2001