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Mr. Boateng: Since May 1997, there have been no substantive changes to the scope of VAT, in terms of the range of goods and services which are liable to the tax. This Government have however reduced the rate of VAT on certain items, such as domestic fuel and power. Details of such changes, and of any marginal adjustments made, for example, to the scope of certain reliefs, are identified in the relevant Budget documentation.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the rate of VAT would be if the yield were maintained but all goods and services currently exempt or zero rated were classified as being standard rated. 
Mr. Boateng: Since sufficiently robust estimates are not available of the effect of applying VAT to exempt goods and services, it is not possible to calculate the VAT rate that would apply were they, and zero-rated items, taxed (and the overall yield maintained).
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff were employed by (a) the Inland Revenue and (b) Customs and Excise at (i) 1 May 1997, (ii) 31 December 1997, (iii) 31 December 1998, (iv) 31 December 1999, (v) 31 December 2000 and (vi) at the most recent date. 
|Number of staff||Full-time equivalent|
|31 May 1997||(8)24,461||(8)23,634|
|1 January 1998||24,559||23,690|
|1 January 1999||23,940||23,086|
|1 January 2000||23,422||22,577|
|1 January 2001||23,254||22,436|
|1 January 2002||23,100||22,320|
|Permanent and FTA|
|Full-time||Part-time||Number of staff||FTE|
|1 May 1997||43,905||9,097||53,002||49,727|
|1 January 1998||43,382||9,144||52,526||49,234|
|1 January 1999||43,336||9,489||52,825||49,409|
|1 January 2000||53,598||12,584||66,182||61,778|
|1 January 2001||53,941||13,367||67,308||62,763|
|1 January 2002||54,279||14,495||68,774||63,991|
|Valuation Office Agency|
|1 May 1997||3,983||480||4,463||4,290|
|1 January 1998||3,842||483||4,325||4,151|
|1 January 1999||3,608||471||4,079||3,909|
|1 January 2000||3,630||484||4,114||3,945|
|1 January 2001||3,512||520||4,032||3,855|
|1 January 2002||3,411||542||3,953||3,774|
||Total Inland Revenue and Valuation Office Agency
||1 May 1997||47,888||9,577||57,465||54,017
||1 January 1998||47,224||9,627||56,851||53,385
||1 January 1999||46,944||9,960||56,904||53,318
||1 January 2000||57,228||13,068||70,296||65,723
||1 January 2001||57,453||13,887||71,340||66,618
||1 January 2002||57,690||15,037||72,727||67,765
4 Feb 2002 : Column 692W
Staffing figures as at 1 April and 1 October each year are provided to the Cabinet Office by both Departments and are published as part of the Civil Service manpower figures. In addition, each Department publishes an annual report (year end 31 March) that contains details of staffing figures.
Mr. Andrew Smith: There have been two major changes in accounting practice since 1997 that have impacted on the accounting for taxes and public spending, one in respect of national accounts and one in respect of accounting by Government Departments.
In 1998, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) converted UK national accounts to the European System of Accounts 1995 (ESA95). This changed the accounting for some components of taxes and public spending. The ESA95 treatment was described in "National Accounts Concepts Sources and Methods" (ONS, 1998, ISBN 0116210621), chapters 5 and 21. The impact of the changes on the main public finance aggregates was quantified in the 1998 pre-Budget report (Cm 4076), paragraphs B26 to B36.
The Government introduced resource accounting and budgeting (RAB) for Government Departments with effect from 200102. This applies generally accepted accounting practices to the accounts and budgets of Government Departments, and replaced the previous system, which just recorded cash flows. The impact of the introduction of RAB on departmental expenditure limits was set out in Spending Review 2000 (Cm 4807), Table A7.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact on the economy of a fall in the value of sterling relative to (a) the US dollar, (b) the euro and (c) the yen by 10 per cent. compared with its rate at 1 January. 
4 Feb 2002 : Column 693W
Mr. Boateng: Personal care services provided by private businesses are VAT exempt when performed or directly supervised by qualified nurses to meet the medical needs of the client. VAT is chargeable on all other care provided commercially in the home.
When the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry lays before Parliament revised regulations governing the conduct of the private recruitment industry, Customs and Excise will introduce a VAT concession for the wages element of commercially provided home care.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is Government policy to seek to achieve greater convergence between EU countries on those goods which may be purchased outside the EU and imported duty-free into each country. 
Mr. Boateng: In general, the same rates of customs duty apply throughout the EU. Where optional reliefs from these duties are available, it is for individual member states to decide whether to introduce them.
Mr. Andrew Smith: The Scottish Executive are responsible for determining their policies in devolved areas of responsibility. The Scottish Executive announced arrangements for housing stock transfer on 18 September 2001, including arrangements for handling debt agreed with the Treasury and similar to those in England.
David Hamilton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much money was borrowed (a) in 2001, (b) 10 (c) 20 and (d) 30 years ago on (i) credit cards, (ii) bank loans and (iii) mortgages in Scotland. 
(8) Loans for house purchase only
(9) Scotland only
(10) Building society lending only
(11) Lending by all mortgage lenders
Council of Mortgage Lenders/DTLR Survey of Mortgage Lenders, CML/DoE 5 per cent. Sample Survey of Building Society Mortgage Completions
Borrowing on credit cards and through bank loans in Scotland is not currently identifiable from existing data sets. However, the Committee of Scottish Clearing Banks is currently looking at collecting statistics in these areas in the future.
4 Feb 2002 : Column 694W
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the nature of the preliminary technical work being undertaken on the five economic tests and how many officials are involved in it. 
Ruth Kelly: The Treasury published a note in November 2001, "Preliminary and Technical Work to Prepare for the Assessment of the Five Tests for UK Membership of the Single currency", which addressed the issues of content and timing of the preliminary and technical work to prepare for the assessment of the five economic tests for UK membership of the single currency. A copy can be found in the Library of the House. Regarding the second part of the question, I refer the hon. Member to my answer on 25 October 2001, Official Report, column 373W.
Ruth Kelly: Details of the information provided to UK businesses and expenditure on business euro preparations were set out in the Treasury's fifth report on euro preparations, published on 4 November, copies of which were deposited in the Library of the House.
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