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14 Nov 2001 : Column: 769W
Dawn Primarolo: It is too early to say. The 10p rate was introduced from the 200001 tax year, and small companies do not have to pay their corporation tax until nine months after the end of their accounting periods. But we estimate that about 150,000 corporation tax payers will be at 10 per cent. (with a further 150,000 paying at an average rate between 10 per cent. and 20 per cent.).
Dawn Primarolo: The Government keep the whole tax system under review, acting where possible to change tax rules to minimise burdens on business, while still meeting the Government's objectives for a fair and efficient tax system. The administration of corporation tax is one of a number of areas covered by current or recent reviews.
Dawn Primarolo: The Government's policy is to regulate only when necessary, ensuring that regulations are fair and effective, so that they protect the vulnerable but do not stifle competitiveness or productivity.
The Prime Minister has asked all Whitehall Departments to identify by the end of this year areas of legislation that are ripe for reform under this and other procedures. A Government-wide action plan will then be published containing firm commitments to specific reforms and initiatives which will aid both business and the public sector.
The Chancellor's Departments (along with Department's across Government) continue to explore ways of reducing regulatory burdens. There are no plans to introduce targets for reducing the number of regulations issued.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the level of higher rate taxation as a factor in attracting senior management to the UK (a) public and (b) private sectors. 
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from interest groups representing the elderly regarding (a) the marginal tax rate in the pension credit and (b) the pension credit savings limit. 
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions regarding pre-Budget representations received from interest groups representing the elderly concerning the pension credit. 
Ruth Kelly: Annual estimates of the yield from the abolition of tax relief on premiums for private medical insurance for the over-60s were given in the July 1997 Financial Statement and Budget Report (FSBR). No further estimates have been made.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much money was raised in the last financial year from penalties imposed on firms where employees have cashed in employee share ownership schemes too early. 
Ruth Kelly: No penalties are imposed on firms, but employees may be liable to tax and national insurance contributions on shares granted under the share incentive plan if they withdraw from the plan early. Returns have only just been received from companies reflecting their first year's operation of the plan, so it is too early to estimate the amounts which may be involved.
Ruth Kelly: The Economic and Finance Council of Ministers discussed the risk capital action plan, of which the proposed Prospectus Directive is a part, on 6 November. The United Kingdom argued that substantial
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work on the directive is required to deliver the risk capital action plan's objectives to increase the availability of risk capital in the EU.
Mr. Love: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action is being taken to bring the Hawala exchange system within the scope of his new arrangements to combat the funding of international terrorism; and if he will make a statement. 
Ruth Kelly: On Monday 12 November, regulations came into force to give Customs new powers to enter and inspect money service businesses, including Hawala, Hundi and other alternative remittance agents, to ensure that they are compliant with the 1993 Money Laundering Regulations. Where they find a breach of these regulations, Customs will be able to prosecute.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of how employee share ownership can be encouraged in sectors of the economy with relatively high employee turnover. 
Ruth Kelly: The share incentive plan and enterprise management incentives introduced in Finance Act 2000 were developed on the basis of extensive consultation. This ensured the design of both was flexible to enable companies in all sectors, including those with relatively high employee turnover, to adapt the schemes to suit their particular needs. For the share incentive plan companies can set a qualifying period of service for employees to benefit from the plan. They can also include forfeiture and pre-emption conditions if they wish.
Ruth Kelly: The share incentive plan was introduced to encourage greater share ownership among employees. Employees must retain their shares in the plan for five years to earn full exemption from tax and national insurance contributions. We have received one representation to reduce this period from five to three years. This would work against the aim of encouraging employees to retain shares in the company they work for over the long term, and it would be costly in terms of tax forgone.
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Ruth Kelly: The Economic and Finance Council of Ministers discussed the proposed directive on the activities of institutions for occupational retirement provision on 6 May, Official Report, 10 May 2001, column 284W. Ministers agreed that further work was required. Ecofin on 16 October noted a Presidency report on progress on the draft directive, Official Report, 24 October 2001, column 260W.
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