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Private Medicine (VAT)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much VAT was raised at current prices from expenditure on private medical insurance and private medical care in the last financial year. [7793]

Mr. Boateng: No VAT was raised from expenditure on these services in the last financial year. Expenditure on private medical insurance and private medical care is exempt from VAT.

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Urban Regeneration Companies

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if it is his policy to ensure that urban regeneration companies benefit from (a) corporation tax credits and (b) other reductions in tax liabilities. [6443]

Mr. Boateng: The Government announced in Budget 2001 that they would consider the scope for providing a corporation tax relief for company donations to urban regeneration companies and similar bodies across the UK. This work is on-going.

When making any decision relating to taxation policy, the Chancellor considers all relevant economic, social and environmental factors.

Air Passenger Duty

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what his latest estimate is of the yield from air passenger duty for 2001–02; and if he will make a statement; [7674]

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Mr. Boateng: The latest published forecast of the yield from air passenger duty in 2001–02 is set out in the Financial Statement and Budget Report published on 7 March 2001. A routine forecast will be published in this autumn's pre-Budget Report.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to reduce air passenger duty. [7779]

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to make changes to air passenger duty; and if he will make a statement. [7669]

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to suspend air passenger duty. [7463]

Mr. Boateng: The Chancellor reviews all taxes in the context of his pre-Budget and Budget Statements.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received since 11 September from the aviation industry about air passenger duty. [7658]

Mr. Boateng: We have received a number of such representations.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of air passenger duty came from (a) commercial passengers and (b) non-commercial passengers in the last financial year. [7777]

Mr. Boateng: Air passenger duty returns do not show whether duty revenues have accrued from commercial or non-commercial passengers. It is therefore not possible to provide the requested breakdown of revenues.

Lear's Macaws

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the Customs and Excise investigation into the three Lear's Macaws seized in November 1998, indicating what steps are being taken to return them to Brazil for captive breeding and release of progeny to the wild. [7962]

Mr. Boateng: The Lear's Macaws were seized together with a number of other birds in May 1998. Following an investigation, Henry Sissen was convicted in April 2000 on four counts relating to the illegal importation of the Macaws and other birds, and sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment. He appealed against conviction and sentence, the conviction was upheld but the sentence was reduced to 18 months. In September this year a Confiscation Order was made reflecting Mr. Sissen's benefit from criminal activity in the sum of £150,000.

Mr. Sissen has since appealed against seizure. Customs cannot make a decision on the future of the birds until these proceedings are completed.

Counter-terrorism (Customs and Excise)

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will make a statement on the contribution of Customs and Excise to the Government's counter-terrorism policy; [7657]

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Mr. Boateng: HM Customs and Excise plays a full and appropriate role in the Government's overall response to the threat from terrorism and associated criminality.

Vehicle Tax Discs

Tim Loughton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on extending the age exemption for tax discs applicable for cars over 25 years old to those aged 30 years old and over. [7609]

Mr. Boateng: The Chancellor makes decisions relating to taxation policy in the context of his Budget judgment.

Advance Corporation Tax Credits

Mr. Syms: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effects of the abolition of advance corporation tax credits on dividend income for (a) pension funds and (b) the amount that employees need to save to ensure a comfortable retirement. [3579]

Ruth Kelly: The abolition of payable tax credits on dividends was part of a package of reforms that included cuts in corporation tax rates and the abolition of advance corporation tax. These changes were designed to improve the climate for long-term investment in the UK. In the long run, this should benefit all investors—including pension funds and those saving for retirement.

Enhanced Capital Allowances Scheme

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received about the available funding for the Enhanced Capital Allowances Scheme. [7663]

Dawn Primarolo: The scheme for enhanced capital allowances for energy-saving investments is a tax relief for businesses that invest in designated energy-saving technologies. It is not a scheme that relies on a fund that is ring-fenced. The scheme enables businesses to write off immediately the whole of their qualifying spending against their taxable profits and thereby receive the benefit of a useful cash-flow boost.

Correspondence

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was, for each year since 1995, (1) the average response time for providing a substantive answer to (a) hon. Members' correspondence, (b) correspondence from members of the public and (c) written parliamentary questions in the (i) Commons and (ii) Lords; [7025]

Mr. Boateng: Treasury Ministers attach great importance to the efficient, effective and expeditious handling of correspondence and parliamentary questions.

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Information relating to the volumes of correspondence received across Whitehall is published by the Cabinet Office. The figures for 2000 were given on 6 April 2001, Official Report, columns 324–28W, and on 19 July 2001, Official Report, columns 454–56W.

The number of written questions answered by Treasury Ministers in each House since 1995–96 is given in the table.

House of CommonsHouse of Lords
1995–961,851N/A
1996–9765729
1997–984,554282
1998–992,097156
1999–20002,857274
2000–011,297107

The information sought by the hon. Member concerning average and other response times for parliamentary questions is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Financial Services and Markets Act (Regulated Activities Order)

Barbara Follett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what method he will use to update the Financial Services and Markets Act (Regulated Activities Order) 2001 to ensure that changes are made in such a way as to be easily comprehensible to the regulated community. [8120]

Ruth Kelly: The Government gave a commitment in the House of Commons during the passage of FSMA that there would at any time be a single RAO. This commitment could be interpreted as meaning that we should remake the RAO each time we needed to change it.

The normal practice when amending a statutory instrument is to make textual amendments only to the particular provisions affected, unless the changes are so substantial or widespread as to justify revoking the original instrument and re-making it (with amendments) in its entirety. Re-making the entire RAO every time we need to amend it (however minor the changes) would differ from that usual practice. From time to time we will need to adjust the RAO, for example to reflect developments in the market, or changes to European legislation. If we remade the entire RAO each time, this would impact on the numerous other Statutory Instruments, together with rules made by the Financial Services Authority, which refer to the RAO, and would be likely to necessitate consequential changes to these. The overall effect might be to make the body of law of which the RAO is a part less rather than more clear to the regulated community.

Another disadvantage of re-making the entire order is that it would be difficult for readers to tell readily what had changed. Each time the order was remade the general reader would have to buy the complete new version.

Having consulted the industry and received its general support, we intend following standard practice and amending the RAO rather than completely re-making it,

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for changes to the RAO that do not involve a wholesale revision of the order. This will reduce the number of consequential amendments to other legislation (including FSA rules) as compared to remaking the entire order. To aid users of the order further we will provide an "unofficial" consolidated version on the HMT website, which will give the up-to-date version of the complete order as amended, at any given time. We will consider re-making the RAO only in the event of a wholesale revision of the order, and in such circumstances we would then take the opportunity to consolidate earlier orders amending the RAO.


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