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Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the total annual value of London weightings and London living allowances for his Department; and if he will make a statement. 
Ruth Kelly: As at 31 August 2001, the total value of London weightings and London allowance being paid to HM Treasury staff was £134,796 per annum.
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on levels of R and D tax credits in Objective 1 areas; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: Research and development tax credits for companies which qualify as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were introduced from April 2000. In Budget 2001 we announced a consultation on similar tax credits for larger companies. The consultation has now closed and we are analysing the responses.
Regional tax measures present particular problems through the distortions they can introduce into the tax system and the difficulties of developing workable, yet straightforward provisions.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to (a) extend the research and development tax credit programme and (b) remove employers' national insurance contributions on stock options. 
Dawn Primarolo: Research and development tax credits for companies which qualify as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were introduced from April 2000. In Budget 2001 we announced consultation on similar tax credits for larger companies. The consultation has now closed and we are analysing the responses.
We have no plans to remove employers' national insurance contributions from employee share options. The application of national insurance contributions to the exercise of share options is part of the Government's general policy of aligning income tax and national insurance. However, in response to concerns from business about the uncertainty of their national insurance liability, we introduced an easement in July 2000. This allows companies to pass their liability on share options to their employees with their agreement. So far 900 companies have taken advantage of this measure.
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Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward proposals to set up a regulator for the money transmission system. 
Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government published in August 2001 a response to consultation on its proposals of December 2000 to give the Office of Fair Trading new powers to promote competition in payment systems (these two documents have been deposited in the House of Commons Library and can be found electronically at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/pub/html/reg/pay.html and http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/press/2001/p95 01.html respectively). The Government intend to legislate as soon as parliamentary time permits.
Mr. Allen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what feasibility study he has undertaken of making the euro legal tender in the UK in tandem with the pound sterling. 
Ruth Kelly: None. The Government's policy on membership of the single currency remains as set out by the Chancellor in October 1997, and restated by the Prime Minister to the House of Commons in February 1999. The determining factor underpinning any Government
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decision to join the single currency is the national economic interest, and whether the economic case is clear and unambiguous.
Mr. Allen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes to the definition of PSBR have taken place since May 1997. 
Mr. Andrew Smith: In July 1998 the PSBR was renamed the public sector net cash requirement. In September 1998 the definition was modified to conform with the new European System of Accounts (ESA95). Details of the changes were given in Chapter 5 of "Monthly Statistics on Public Sector Finances: a methodological guide" (no. 12 in Government Statistical Service Methodology Series). Further information on the Government's use of fiscal aggregates in setting fiscal policy can be found in Section 4 of "Analysing UK Fiscal Policy" (HM Treasury, November 1999).
Mr. Brady: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the compulsory retirement ages which apply to employees of his Department and of executive agencies and other public sector bodies for which it is responsible, broken down by grade or job title. 
Ruth Kelly: Information on the normal retirement ages for the Chancellor's departments and executive agencies is as follows:
|Department/agency||Compulsory retirement age||Comments|
|HM Treasury||60 for all staff|
|Debt Management Office (HMT agency)||60 for all staff|
|Office of Government Commerce||60 for new starters joining OGC post 1 April 2001||Some staff have reserved rights to be retained up to age 65 and there are short-service concessions for some staff who have less than 20 years' service|
|HM Customs and Excise||60 for all staff||Discretion in some cases for retention of those with shortage skills beyond age 60, subject to meeting health and efficiency requirements|
|Inland Revenue||60 for all staff||Discretion in some cases for retention beyond age 60, subject to meeting health and efficiency requirements, plus a short-service concession for those with less than 25 years pensionable service|
|Government Actuary's Department||60 for all staff|
|Office for National Statistics||60 for all staff||Some staff have reserved rights to retire between the ages of 60 and 64 and field force interviewers employed on a fee-paid basis, have a compulsory retirement age of 65|
Mr. Colman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects the introduction of an integrated tax and benefits system for the United Kingdom. 
Dawn Primarolo: The Government are committed to further integration of the tax and benefit system to help achieve the following aims: tackling poverty; promoting incentives to work and save; maximising take up; targeting support on those who need it most; and improving customer service and increasing efficiency.
During the last Parliament, a number of reforms were put in place, including the introduction of the Working Families Tax Credit, the Children's Tax Credit and the Minimum Income Guarantee for pensioners. In the next stage of reform, the Government intend to introduce a new system of payable tax credits from 2003 which will help to support families, make work pay and tackle child poverty. In addition, the Pension Credit, which will be introduced from 2003, will help reward saving, support pensioners on low to modest incomes and tackle pensioner poverty.
Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how projections for future growth of the UK economy have been revised as a result of the foot and mouth disease. 
Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government will publish updated forecasts for the UK economy in the autumn pre-Budget report.
Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) companies and (b) non- incorporated businesses have applied to defer payments
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of (i) corporation and personal tax and (ii) value added tax as a result of foot and mouth disease; and how many were in (A) the UK and (B) Scotland. 
Dawn Primarolo: As at 7 October, 5,901 businesses had applied to defer payments of company tax, 3,080 businesses had applied to defer value added tax and 9,760 individuals had applied to defer self-assessed tax.
Out of a total of 18,741 businesses, 15,688 of these were in England with the remaining 3,053 in Scotland.
Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to ensure a reduction in the number of errors made by the Inland Revenue when amending self-assessment tax returns. 
Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue has a quality monitoring system under which it carries out an annual review of the processing work, which includes amendments to self-assessment tax returns. Action is taken to determine the cause of errors and to identify corrective measures.
In addition, since March 2000, the Revenue has operated a programme of quality assurance and quality control for the processing of tax returns and other key operating processes. This is part of a national quality programme for quality improvement.
Staff involved in SA processing work are subject to individual checks of work done to determine the cause of any errors and to ensure prompt remedial action is taken.
The results of the quality monitoring exercise for 19992000 returns showed a significant improvement on the results for the previous year. A further improvement is being sought for 200001 returns.
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