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New Enterprise Support Initiative Helpline

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the level of usage of the New Enterprise Support initiative helpline. [38513]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 28 February 2002]: The NESI helpline opened for business in April 1999 and is on target to receive half a million calls from employers and prospective employers this year.

Debt (Customs and Excise)

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the outstanding debt to HM Customs and Excise at (a) 31 March 2000, (b) 31 March 2001 and (c) the most recent date for which information is available was in respect of (i) assessments being challenged by business, (ii) fraud-related debts where recovery action has been suspended and (iii) debt placed under civil recovery action through the courts; [38601]

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Mr. Boateng [holding answer 4 March 2002]: Relevant statistical information concerning debt owed by HM Customs and Excise is published on a routine basis in their Departmental Annual Report.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many parliamentary questions tabled to his Department since July 2001 have yet to receive substantive replies. [40012]

Mr. Boateng: 3,162 of the 3,291 written questions tabled to the Treasury in the present parliamentary session have already been answered substantively. The dates by which answers are due have not yet been reached in the case of 68 of the remaining 129 questions.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of (a) ordinary written questions and (b) named day questions have been answered by his Department (i) within a week of tabling and (ii) on the named day since June 2001. [40014]

Mr. Boateng: 1,714 of the 2,236 ordinary written questions (76.7 per cent.) tabled in the present parliamentary session were answered within a week, and 780 of the 1,055 named day questions (73.9 per cent.) were answered on the nominated day.

Brownfield Sites

Ms Shipley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what fiscal incentives he provides to encourage the development of brownfield sites. [40421]

Mr. Boateng: Budget 2001 introduced a 150 per cent. accelerated tax credit for the costs of cleaning up contaminated land. It allows companies to claim an enhanced tax deduction for the costs that they incur in cleaning up contaminated sites acquired as part of their trade or schedule A business, and applies to expenditure on or after 11 May 2001.

Construction Industry

Ms Shipley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what taxation and regulatory measures he has applied to the construction industry to encourage environmentally friendly building practices. [40420]

Mr. Boateng: The Government have introduced a number of taxation measures which are intended to have positive environmental impacts, including encouraging environmentally-friendly building practices. These include the following.

The aggregates levy will encourage a shift in demand away from virgin aggregate towards recycled construction and demolition waste, and will promote greater resource efficiency in the construction industry. The aggregates levy-funded sustainability fund in England will include projects to promote more sustainable construction and demolition practices.

Increases in the landfill tax encourage the recycling of construction and demolition wastes, and create incentives to minimise waste.

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The 150 per cent. accelerated tax credit for cleaning up contaminated land encourages urban regeneration and reduces pressure on greenfield sites.

The reduced rate of VAT on the installation of energy saving materials supports the introduction of energy efficiency measures in the domestic sector, particularly through Government-funded programmes such as the home energy efficiency scheme.

Regulations on the construction industry are a matter for other Government Departments.

Regulatory Impact Unit

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many members her Department employs in its regulatory impact unit; and if she will make a statement. [38265]

Dawn Primarolo: The Treasury, Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise each have separate departmental regulatory impact units in which two, five and three people respectively co-ordinate work on regulatory impact.

The staff in each unit works closely with the officials responsible for developing policies within their department and the regulatory impact within the Cabinet Office. They focus on those regulations which impact on business, charities, and the voluntary sector.

Export Licences

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the expected time limit is on decisions for export licence applications. [40256]

Nigel Griffiths: I have been asked to reply.

The Export Control Organisation (ECO) sets out the Government's commitment to exporters in a Service and Performance Code (available on its website Where, as in almost all cases, it is necessary for a Standard Individual Export Licence (SIEL) application to be circulated to other Government Departments the aim is to provide a response to 70 per cent. of cases within 20 working days, except in special circumstances. Details of performance in processing SIEL applications against the target are published in the Government's annual reports on strategic export controls, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

While there is no time limit placed on decisions for export licences, the Government are committed to processing all export licence applications as quickly as possible, consistent with our determination to manage the transfer of all goods and technology controlled for strategic reasons in a responsible manner.

Financial Questionnaire

Mr. Flook: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the criteria used to determine which companies are required to answer the Annual Business Inquiry-Part II for 2001 Financial Questionnaire from the Office for National Statistics; for what reasons this is compulsory; what the timescale is in which companies are required to answer; what proportion have responded to previous

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annual inquiries since 1997; how long it will take to process the information for this inquiry; and for what purposes the information will be used. [39959]

Ruth Kelly: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from John Pullinger to Mr. Adrian Flook, dated 6 March 2002:

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