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7 Nov 2002 : Column 792Wcontinued
Mr Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 24 October 2002, Official Report, column 429W, on small firms, what assessment he has made of the impact of the research and development tax credit for small firms. 
Dawn Primarolo: Both the research and development (R&D) tax credit for small or medium companies (SMEs) and the new R&D tax credit for large companies, introduced this year, are measures for the long term. At present we only have figures for the first year of the SME credit. However, in that first year, the response from small companies was good and all the signs are that interest is growing.
Mr Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what advice he took from health experts before deciding to change the personal allowance for tobacco imports. 
John Healey: Within the European Union there are no personal allowances for tobacco imports. Since the creation of the Single Market in 1993 travellers have been able to bring back as much EU duty paid tobacco and alcohol as they wish as long as it is for their own use. The recent changes to indicative levels simply act as a guide to assist shoppers and make it easier for Customs officers to distinguish between the honest shopper and the illegal smuggler.
The new package of measures against tobacco smuggling, which I announced on 29 October, is designed to continue the successful crackdown on the illicit supply of cigarettes. It is this illegal supply of cheap, unregulated cigarettes which presents the principal threat to keeping the effective price of smoking high in support of the Government's health objectives.
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For details of these measures I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire on 29 October, Official Report, column 686w.
Mr Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much rent was paid by (a) Inland Revenue and (b) Customs for their offices in the last nine months of 2001; to which companies; and if he will give the equivalent information for (i) the first six months of 2002 and (ii) a forecast of the total for the next 10 years. 
Dawn Primarolo: The majority of the Departments' accommodation is now occupied as serviced accommodation under a number of PFI/PPP contracts. Under some of these contracts the Departments pay a unitary charge in return for serviced accommodation which includes the accommodation, related facilities management and maintenance. The unitary charge does not include any separately identifiable amount in respect of rent. The main such contract is the STEPS contract with Mapeley.
The Departments have paid the following unitary charges to Mapeley Steps Contractor Ltd:
|Inland Revenue||HM Customs & Excise|
|Last 9 months of 2001||First 6 months of 2002||Last 9 months of 2001||First 6 months of 2002|
|Payment (plus VAT)||#99,375,490||#67,512,708||#35,541,277||#24,000,123|
It has not proved possible to obtain corresponding information for the other PFI/PPP contracts in the time available. I will write to the HM with this information and put a copy of my letter in the House Library.
In addition both Departments occupy certain property outside the PFI/PPP contracts where rent is payable to a number of landlords. For example the Customs & Excise posts at ports and airports. The information on the rent payable on these properties could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Tyler: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether Inland Revenue regulations, as they relate to annuities, preclude an annuitant to transfer from one provider to another; and what plans he has to change the regulations. 
Ruth Kelly: The tax rules do not prohibit the transfer of liability to pay an annuity to a different provider so long as the terms of the annuity are not altered. It is a matter of contract between the parties whether this can occur at the request of the annuitant.
As indicated in the reply given on 18 July 2002 to the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Liddell-Granger), Official Report, column 467W, the Government plans to bring forward powers to make it possible to offer people buying annuities more choice and flexibility. Any
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reforms to annuities will need to dovetail with simplification and other reforms being considered in the pensions Green Paper this autumn.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what public consultations have been commenced by his Department in each month since 20 July; and what the (a) start date, (b) closing date and (c) website address of each were. 
John Healey: A full list of recent public consultations including start date, closing date and a link to the relevant document can be found by following the consultations link on the Treasury web site at: www.hm-treasury.gov.uk.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list Government statements and publications that demonstrate how adoption by the United Kingdom of the euro would alter its power to manage the economy. 
Ruth Kelly: The Government have said that they will complete an assessment of the five economic tests within two years of the start of this Parliament. The assessment will be comprehensive and rigorous. Once the assessment is complete, it will be published and will be subject to intensive public scrutiny and debate.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make a statement on his plans to implement Commission Recommendation 2002/590/EC on Statutory Auditors' Independence. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: I have been asked to reply
Recommendation 2002/590/EC was adopted by the European Commission on 16 May 2002.
The UK requirements on the independence of statutory company auditors and in the Companies Act 1989 to supervise statutory company auditors and in auditing standards set by the Auditing Practices Board. These bodies are preparing the changes needed to ensure that their requirements are in line with the Recommendation. No changes are needed to auditing standards to bring our requirements into line with the Recommendation.
The Recommendation also suggests the disclosure of fees paid by major companies to their auditors in respect of audit services and non-audit services, broken down into major categories. The UK already requires large companies to disclose in their accounts the fees paid to their auditors in respect of audit and non-audit services. We will consult on changes to the existing regulations to require a breakdown of the non-audit services provided by the auditors.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) parliamentary questions and (b) letters to him from honourable Members in this session remain unanswered, broken down by those which are (i) one
7 Nov 2002 : Column 795W
month old, (ii) two months old, (iii) three months old, (iv) four months old and (v) over six months old. 
John Healey: One Parliamentary question for answer in July, which was transferred to the Treasury in September, has not been answered.
The information relating to letters from Members to Treasury Ministers is as follows:
|(i) one month||54|
|(ii) two months||37|
|(ii) three months||19|
|(iv) four months||7|
|(v) over six months||0|
The Cabinet Office publishes a report ot Parliament annually setting out the volume of Members' correspondence received by departments. The report for 2001 was published on 24 May 2002 Official Report, column 674W. Reports for earlier years are available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations his Department received prior to the announcement of the revenue increase for the British Museum. 
Mr. Boateng: I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received regarding the impact of Treasury policy on the performance of (a) the FTSE 100 and (b) the all share index with particular reference to international competitiveness. 
Ruth Kelly: The Chancellor of the Exchequer and other Treasury Ministers receive numerous representations concerning the impact of Treasury policy on FTSE 100 companies, the all share index and the competitiveness of UK industry and the City of London. These are taken into consideration in the development of Government policy in these important areas.
7 Nov 2002 : Column 796W
Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the discount rate of 6 per cent. For HMG PFI projects was calculated. 
Mr. Boateng: I have been asked to reply. I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what funding has been authorised in each financial year since May 1997 for raising capital via the Private Finance Initiative, broken down by Department; and what limits on sums authorised were imposed under European Community law, identifying the relevant EU instruction in each case. 
Chris Grayling: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what rate of interest the Government pay in the PFI schemes. 
Mr. Boateng: I will write to the hon. Members and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.
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