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Customs and Excise

Mr. Levitt: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if Customs and Excise make random checks on private passengers in order to detect the illegal import of meat and meat products; [46779]

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Mr. Boateng: Import controls to detect illegal import of meat and meat products are the responsibility of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and local or port health officers. HM Customs and Excise does not therefore specifically target its checks against the risk of illegal import and meat products and does not use dogs to detect such illegal imports.

Customs does however support the controls to prevent illegal import of meat and meat products by:

Customs only seize illegal meat and meat products detected in passengers' baggage or found in the post or where the meat is controlled under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Any other detections are detained and referred to the appropriate enforcement authority to take action. Meat and meat products seized by Customs are disposed of through arrangements made by the local or port health authority.

Central records identifying Customs' seizures of meat and meat products are only available from the year 2000. Details for calendar years 2000 and 2001 are:

Heritage Assets

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if the heritage assets of the (a) Office for National Statistics and (b) Royal Mint to which values cannot be described are outside the remit of resource accounting and budgeting; [48741]

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Mr. Andrew Smith: All assets held by Departments must be accounted for in accordance with resource accounting policies, as set out in the Resource Accounting Manual.

The Manual—which is drawn up following advice from the independent Financial Reporting Advisory Board—recognises that certain assets are held primarily for their cultural and heritage significance. The Manual specifies that in certain circumstances, Departments need not capitalise or value such assets.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans his Department has to sell heritage assets that are outside the remit of resource accounting and budgeting. [48730]

Mr. Andrew Smith: None of HM Treasury's antiques are classified as 'heritage assets'.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the lots of silver that HM Treasury withdrew from auction on 29 October 2001 are part of the 250 items listed as antique assets on page 613 of the National Asset Register. [48731]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Yes.

Tax and Excise Duty

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was (a) the cost of collection, (b) the revenue realised and (c) the cost as a proportion of the revenue of each (i) tax and (ii) excise duty in the last year for which information is available. [51934]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Inland Revenue's annual report for the year ending 31 March 2001 was laid in Parliament in December 2001 as Command paper 5304 and includes on page 35 a detailed analysis of the cost of collection by tax head. HM Customs and Excise have recently produced an analysis of their costs of collecting taxes and duties in 2000–01, as shown in the table.

Tax/dutyTotal net current cost (£ million)Revenue collected (£ million)Cost as percentage of revenue collected
Insurance premium tax2.01,7070.12
Excise duties53.438,4440.14
Air passenger duty0.89490.08
Landfill tax1.84620.38
Customs duties110.32,0995.26

Core Debt

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer at what intervals the figures for core debt will be published. [52377]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Estimates for core debt will be updated in future Budget and pre-Budget report forecasts as set out in Box 2.4, page 35 of the 2002 Economic and Fiscal Strategy Report.

Community Investment Tax Credit

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the community investment tax credit will be implemented; and how it will work. [52370]

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Mr. Boateng: Legislation for the Community Investment Tax Credit is being brought forward in the Finance Bill. The scheme will come into force as soon as possible after state aids approval is obtained.

The scheme will offer tax relief to individual and corporate investors who make qualifying investments, through intermediaries, in enterprises in disadvantaged communities. The intermediaries must be accredited as Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) under the rules of the scheme. CDFIs provide capital and technical assistance to businesses and social enterprises in disadvantaged communities that find it difficult to access mainstream commercial finance. Qualifying investments are debt or equity investments made for a minimum period of five years.

The amount of the tax relief is 5 per cent. of the amount invested for the tax year (or accounting period for a corporate investor) in which an investment which qualifies for the scheme is made, and for each of the following four years or periods, making a total of 25 per cent. of the amount of the investment in all. The tax relief is set against the investor's income tax or corporation tax liability as appropriate. So for example, an individual investing £10,000 in an accredited CDFI for at least five years could obtain a reduction in their income tax liability of £500 for the tax year in which the investment was made and for each of the four following years, making a total tax reduction of £2,500 over five years.


Mr. Stevenson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason motor accident repair shops wholly owned by insurance companies are exempt from charging VAT on the labour element of the service. [52242]

Mr. Boateng: Such motor repair shops are not exempted from VAT. However, it is a fundamental principle of VAT that the use by a business of its own staff is outside the scope of VAT.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much money was raised in (a) 2000–01 and (b) 2001–02 by automatic fines imposed by Customs and Excise on firms responsible for late payment. [52373]

Mr. Boateng: The VAT default surcharge system is the only fully automated system within Customs and Excise for applying fines for late payments. During 2000–01, penalties totalling £87 million were paid by businesses who were late paying tax declared on VAT returns. The total for 2001–02 is £75 million (subject to year end accounting adjustments).

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many businesses he expects to benefit from the removal for companies with a turnover of under £100,000 of the requirement that a business has to be VAT-registered for 12 months before using the annual accounting scheme. [52375]

Mr. Boateng: As a result of the measures announced in the Budget, approximately 140,000 traders in 2002–03 will have the opportunity to use the annual accounting scheme earlier than would have otherwise been the case.

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Mr. Oaten: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will allow sixth form colleges the same VAT exemptions as secondary schools which have sixth forms. [52345]

Mr. Boateng: VAT is not charged on education taught in sixth form colleges or in sixth forms within secondary schools. The funding of sixth form colleges takes into account the VAT they pay on their purchases.

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