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28 Nov 2002 : Column 461Wcontinued
Dawn Primarolo: The new tax credits claim form has been developed in consultation with a wide range of organisations and has been through extensive usability testing. The Inland Revenue continue to consult widely on a range of tax credits issues, including information materials.
Dawn Primarolo: Tax credits form part of the tax system and appeals will therefore be heard in the same way as tax appeals. However, tax credit claimants form a new client group for the tax appeals system. Consequently, appeals by claimants will continue to be heard by the Appeals Service for a transitional period, while the necessary changes are made to allow them to be dealt with effectively under the tax appeals system.
Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many seizures were made of (a) species and (b) other material listed under the CITES regime the last year for which figures are available; how many prosecutions were pursued; and what the outcomes were of those prosecutions. 
John Healey [holding answer 20 November 2002]: In the year 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002 Customs made 337 seizures of imports or exports subject to EU legislation on endangered species. The goods seized were:
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Sue Doughty: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what arrangements are in place to ensure that cars seized by Customs and Excise have documentation to enable the return of such cars to their owners. 
John Healey: Vehicles used to smuggle goods into the UK or used to transport such goods within the UK are liable to seizure. In certain circumstances Customs will offer to restore the vehicle for a fee. Normally such a restoration offer is made on-the-spot immediately after seizure and vehicle registration documents are not transferred. Vehicles seized that have been used in large scale or repeated smuggling attempts are not normally offered for restoration. Customs always seek to notify the owner of a seized vehicle of that seizure where they are not present at the time of seizure.
John Healey: Customs have had the powers to seize means of transport used in smuggling attempts since the 19th century. Customs do not hold central records on the amount of compensation paid to owners of cars seized by Customs when the decision has been overturned on appeal.
John Healey: Customs' policy is not to dispose of seized vehicles until any appeal against seizure to a magistrates court has been heard. The time limits for such an appeal are specified in law. Once the time period for such an appeal has elapsed or the magistrates have rejected the appeal, it is Customs' policy to dispose of the vehicle as efficiently as possible.
An appeal to a tribunal may be made when Customs decide not to offer restoration. There is no time limit for restoration requests to be made and tribunals often take place many months or even years after the seizure. In the past two financial years,75 per cent. of vehicle seizures have not been appealed. Where a request has been made for restoration of the vehicle, Customs' decision has been upheld in 97 per cent. of the cases. Customs do not hold central records of the number of seized cars that were disposed of before an appeal to a tribunal.
Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the level of funding of the hold in trust policy for those countries yet to secure debt relief due to civil wars. 
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Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) building societies, (b) banks and (c) other banking institutions offer mortgages without checking independently the salary of applicants for mortgages; and if he will make a statement. 
Ruth Kelly: Information concerning lending decisions by mortgage lenders is not available to the Government, as these are purely commercial decisions. However, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) will be regulating mortgage business with effect from October 2004. As part of this process, the FSA has been consulting on rules in respect of responsible lending. In future, lenders will need to be able to show that account is taken of the consumer's ability to pay before entering into a mortgage contract.
Mr. Caton: To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether he estimates that the UK will achieve the UN target for overseas development assistance as a proportion of national income by 2015; 
John Healey: The Government remains fully committed to reaching the UN 0.7 per cent. ODA7GNI target. In the 2002 Spending Review the Government set out its spending plans for the next three years up to 200506 and has made substantial increases to the aid budget. The UK's level of overseas development assistance will reach 0.33 per cent. of GNI by 200304 and 0.40 per cent. by 200506, up from 0.26 per cent. in 1997. This will place us well above the current G7 country average of 0.19 per cent. and the current OECD average of 0.22 per cent.
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Any timetable beyond 200506 for reaching the UN target would properly be a matter for future parliaments. For this reason we believe that it is important to look at what has actually been achieved and what is firmly budgeted forrather than any aspirational timetableas the critical test of our commitment.
Phil Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the percentage of pensioners in the Kettering constituency who will benefit from the pension credit to be introduced in October 2003. 
Maria Eagle: As part of the benefit changes which are providing some £500 million over three years in extra help for carers, the upper age limit on claims for Invalid Care Allowance was abolished on 28 October 2002. This change means that new carers aged 65 and over can now claim the benefit. The overlapping benefit rules mean that only those with no, or with a low rate of State Pension, are likely to receive the benefit. However, carers with underlying entitlement to Invalid Care Allowance can gain access to the carer premium in income-related benefits such as the Minimum Income Guarantee, resulting in a significantly higher award of benefit. Invalid Care Allowance is to be renamed XCarer's Allowance" in April 2003.
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