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Nuclear Industry

Ms Drown: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for (a) fiscal measures and (b) other charges on the nuclear industry to take account of risks of nuclear accidents that are not met by the industry's own insurance. [27552]

Mr. Boateng: None. The third-party liability of nuclear installations is governed by international agreement. This is set at £140 million. In the UK, we require installations to purchase insurance for third-party cover for each incident up to this limit. The Department for Trade and Industry is currently negotiating with international partners to triple this limit. The nuclear industry will need to pay for additional commercial cover up to this limit; but we have no plans for fiscal or other charges.

Overseas Development

Jim Dobbin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the timetable for the achievement of the UN target for overseas development assistance and on steps taken to encourage other nations to increase aid budgets. [27569]

Mr. Boateng: The Government remain fully committed to the UN 0.7 per cent. ODA/GNP target. We have set out our plans for the next three years to 2003–04 and as these show, development assistance as a proportion of GNP will rise to 0.33 per cent. in 2003–04, up from 0.26 per cent. in 1997. In his speech in New York, the Chancellor emphasised his commitment to ensuring further substantial increases in development assistance. In his speech in New York in November, he called on all rich nations to commit further substantial increases to development assistance.

Pre-Budget Report

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will extend table 4.3 on the pre-Budget report by showing comparable figures for marginal deduction rates of (a) 50 per cent. or more and (b) 40 per cent. or more. [19649]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 30 November 2001]: Before Budget 1998, an estimated 760,000 households faced marginal deduction rates (MDRs) of 50 per cent. or more, while 800,000 faced MDRs of 40 per cent. or more. After Budget 2001, an estimated 1.1 million households faced MDRs of 50 per cent. or more while 1.12 million faced MDRs of 40 per cent. or more. These figures, which cover the number of households in receipt of either income related benefits or WFTC where at least one person works 16 hours or more, include the effects of income tax and national insurance contributions, and the withdrawal of housing benefit and council tax benefit. The effect of tax and benefit changes introduced since Budget 1998, including the working families tax credit (WFTC), has reduced the number of

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households facing MDRs in excess of 70 per cent. by around half a million. As the WFTC is more generous than the family credit that it replaced, more families benefit from it, hence the larger numbers of households now facing MDRs at 40 and 50 per cent.

Tax Credits Fraud

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many penalties have been imposed on claimants for (a) working families tax credit and (b) disabled persons tax credit in each year since the credits commenced; how many of these penalties were imposed as a result of fraud; and what the total value of the penalties was. [25027]

Dawn Primarolo: The tables show the number of penalties imposed on applicants for working families tax credit and disabled person's tax credit (WFTC and DPTC) for the periods in question. Since WFTC and DPTC were introduced in October 1999 up to 31 December 2001, 645 penalties have been imposed against WFTC and DPTC applicants. The total value of these penalties is £596,863.13.

Number of penalties
1 October 1999–30 September 2000106
1 October 2000–30 September 2001401
1 October 2001–31 December 2001128
1 October 1999–30 September 20001
1 October 2000–30 September 20018
1 October 2001–31 December 20011

Footballers' Testimonials

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will treat the proceeds from footballers' testimonials as taxable income. [29257]

Dawn Primarolo: The proceeds from footballers' testimonial events may already be chargeable to tax under present law. However, whether they are or not depends on the circumstances of each particular case.


John Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action he is taking to reduce poverty in inner city areas. [29278]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government are committed to tackling poverty and ensuring a just society with opportunity for all.

As a result of personal tax and benefit measures this Government have introduced since 1997, there are now 1.2 million fewer children in poverty than there otherwise would have been, while the poorest third of all pensioners will receive an extra £2.5 billion this year.

The working families tax credit and disabled person's tax credit, along with the first ever national minimum wage, are helping to make work pay, while prudent management of the economy is helping to achieve high levels of employment.

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To increase investment in deprived areas, an exemption from stamp duty for all property transfers up to £150,000 became available in the UK's most deprived areas from 30 November 2001.

To further stimulate business investment in England, the Government have committed £20 million in match funding to a £40 million Community Development Venture Fund. This fund will provide finance for firms operating in disadvantaged areas and the Government hope to see it up and running by the end of this financial year.

The National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal meanwhile, sets out how the Government will go about narrowing the gap between the most deprived areas and the rest. Key to the strategy is harnessing the mainstream resources of Government Departments, but a £900 million Neighbourhood Renewal Fund is also in place to kick start the renewal process in the 88 most deprived local authority areas.

The National Strategy and Neighbourhood Renewal Fund are specific to England.

Self-Assessment (Tax)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many fines were levied for the late return of self-assessment tax forms from people resident in the Buckingham constituency in the last 12 months; and how much was raised. [30065]

Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue does not hold local figures of this nature.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people (a) in total and (b) living in the Buckingham constituency were fined for late filing of self-assessment forms in each year since 1997; and how much revenue was raised in each year. [30062]

Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue does not hold local figures of this nature. I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answers I gave him on 15 January 2002, Official Report, columns 226–27W, for the national figures requested.

Aggregates Tax

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to exempt small rural quarries from the proposed aggregates tax. [28717]

Mr. Boateng: The Government have no such plans.

Small Businesses (Insurance)

Chris Grayling: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make an assessment of changes to the cost and availability of insurance for small businesses since 11 September; and if he will make a statement. [27549]

Ruth Kelly: Insurance companies themselves remain responsible for determining the terms, conditions, and price of their products. Costs and availability change constantly in response to market conditions.

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I am not aware of any greater changes since 11 September, except in the case of insurance against terrorism risk. Nor am I aware of any special impact on small businesses.

Working Families Tax Credit

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the reply of 19 December 2001, Official Report, columns 323–34W, how many of the working families tax credit applications investigated by the Inland Revenue involved co-operation between the Inland Revenue and (a) the investigative organisations of the Benefits Agency, (b) the National Intelligence Unit and (c) local authorities; and what proceedings are in place for facilitating such co-operation. [26473]

Dawn Primarolo: Exact figures are not available in the format requested. However, the nature of such investigations often means that information is shared and passed on between the Inland Revenue, other Government Departments and local authorities, as allowed by statutory regulations.

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