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Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many changes there have been in the scope of VAT since May 1997. [32929]

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. [32863]

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).

Customs/Inland Revenue

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. [32930]

Mr. Boateng: The numbers of staff in each Department at the appropriate dates were as follows:

HM Customs and Excise

Number of staffFull-time equivalent
31 May 1997(8)24,461(8)23,634
1 January 199824,55923,690
1 January 199923,94023,086
1 January 200023,42222,577
1 January 200123,25422,436
1 January 200223,10022,320

Permanent and FTA
Full-timePart-timeNumber of staffFTE
Inland Revenue
1 May 199743,9059,09753,00249,727
1 January 199843,3829,14452,52649,234
1 January 199943,3369,48952,82549,409
1 January 200053,59812,58466,18261,778
1 January 200153,94113,36767,30862,763
1 January 200254,27914,49568,77463,991
Valuation Office Agency
1 May 19973,9834804,4634,290
1 January 19983,8424834,3254,151
1 January 19993,6084714,0793,909
1 January 20003,6304844,1143,945
1 January 20013,5125204,0323,855
1 January 20023,4115423,9533,774
Total Inland Revenue and Valuation Office Agency
1 May 199747,8889,57757,46554,017
1 January 199847,2249,62756,85153,385
1 January 199946,9449,96056,90453,318
1 January 200057,22813,06870,29665,723
1 January 200157,45313,88771,34066,618
1 January 200257,69015,03772,72767,765

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. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes he has made in accounting for (a) taxes and (b) spending since May 1997; and what the impact of these changes has been. [32951]

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 0–11–621062–1), 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 2001–02. 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.

Exchange Rates

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. [32865]

Ruth Kelly: The effects of exchange rate changes depend on the drivers of the changes, and are difficult to isolate with any confidence.

Personal Care (VAT)

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether VAT is payable on the wages element of home care provided by private sector organisations; and if he will make a statement. [32700]

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.

Duty-free Imports

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. [32701]

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.

Capital Housing Debt

Mr. Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he intends to remove capital housing debt from local authorities in Scotland. [32089]

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.

Credit Statistics (Scotland)

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. [32484]

Ruth Kelly: The information is as follows:

£ billion

Mortgage lending(10),(11)

(8) Loans for house purchase only

(9) Scotland only

(10) Building society lending only

(11) Lending by all mortgage lenders

(12) Estimate


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. Wray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much the Government have spent in making preparations for entry to the European single currency. [32527]

Ruth Kelly: Government spending on preparations for possible entry to the single currency is set out in the Fifth Report on Euro Preparations, published in November 2001.

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. [32084]

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.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures have been introduced to assist businesses that want to trade in euros; and how much they have cost. [32528]

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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