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17 Dec 2002 : Column 730W—continued

TREASURY

Customs and Excise (Agency Agreements)

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a list of the agency agreements in place between HM Customs and private companies. [83450]

John Healey: HM Customs and Excise hold and maintain a list of agency agreements with Intellectual Property Right holders to fulfil their obligations under EC Regulation 3295/94 as amended by EC Regulation 241/1999.

The disclosure of this information would prejudice the enforcement operations of HM Customs and Excise in tackling groups and organisations committed to

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counterfeit, pirating or patent infringing activities. Exemptions 4 and 7 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information apply.

Annuities

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to change his policy on annuities; and what plans he has to give people buying annuities more (a) choice and (b) flexibility. [86943]

Ruth Kelly: As promised in the pre-Budget report, the Inland Revenue consultation document on simplification of the taxation of pensions published today, alongside the pensions Green Paper, contains proposals to expand choice and flexibility in the annuities market.

Congestion Charging

Mr. Chope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 26 November, reference 81821, what information he estimates is necessary in order to make an estimate of the cost. [84489]

John Healey [holding answer 2 December 2002]: To estimate the cost of tax relief information would be needed about the amount of the user charges incurred for each year which qualified for tax relief and about the tax position of those claiming relief.

Inflation Target

Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he intends to review the Monetary Policy Committee's inflation target. [86674]

Mr. Boateng : Under the Bank of England Act 1998, the Treasury is required to specify the inflation target each year. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer last reviewed the remit for the Monetary Policy Committee at the time of the Budget in April.

Inland Revenue (Large Business Office)

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much of the revenue collected by the Large Business Office in each of the last five fiscal years was (a) tax, (b) interest and (c) penalties; and if he will make a statement. [87210]

Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue does not keep a separate record of the total revenue attributable to taxpayers whose affairs are handled by the Large Business Office.

National Insurance Records

Mr. Webb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 27 November, Official Report, column 315W, on CR74, why (a) 3.5 million national insurance records were no longer needed, and (b) 1.3 million records required further checking; and how long the 3.5 million national insurance records that were no longer needed were in circulation after the date on which they should have been withdrawn. [86706]

Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue keeps more than one record for a customer when the circumstances warrant it, but processes are in place to check and keep records updated as part of normal customer service.

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National insurance records were not affected by CR74. The exercise simply brought together the information on separate tax records relating to individual taxpayers and created a single tax record for them. As a result, a total of 3.5 million records were no longer needed. 1.3 million records require further checking to confirm that the correct National Insurance Number is being used. It is not possible, except at disproportionate cost, to find out how long records existed before being brought together as part of CR74.

Savings Directive

Mr. Brady: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 12 December 2002 (Ref. 87201), if he will give the reasons why Bermuda was not included in the list of dependent or associated territories agreed at the Feira European Council for the purposes of the Savings Directive. [87853]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Gentleman to my reply to the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) on 12 December 2002, Official Report, column 475W).

Spending Review

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list for his Department (a) those Comprehensive Spending Review 1998 targets that were outstanding at the time of the statement on the Comprehensive Spending Review 2002, (b) progress on such targets since then and (c) the expected date when targets not yet achieved will be met. [87703]

Mr. Boateng: The Department publishes progress against all its outstanding PSA targets in its departmental report (Cm 5425 June 2002) and autumn performance report (Cm 5665 Dec 2002) published after the announcement of the Spending Review.

Tax Credits (Leigh)

Andy Burnham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people will be eligible to claim (a) child tax credit and (b) working tax credit in the Leigh constituency; and what he estimates the total annual financial budget will be to Leigh of each of these measures. [87243]

Dawn Primarolo: Nine out of 10 families with children will be eligible for the child tax credit, to be introduced in April 2003.

Estimates of the number of families with children expected to benefit from (a) the child tax credit and (b) working tax credit by Government Office Region are shown in the table below.

Thousands

Government Office RegionNumber of families expected to benefit from the child tax creditNumber of families expected to benefit from the working tax credit
North East29070
North West and Merseyside750210
Yorkshire and the Humber540150
East Midlands38090
West Midlands500130
Eastern46090
London700130
South East670140
South West470130
Wales32080
Scotland43090
Northern Ireland22050
Total5,7501,350

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Thalidomide

Ross Cranston: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many beneficiaries of the Thalidomide Trust live in (a) West Midlands and (b) the Dudley MBC. [87375]

Dawn Primarolo: The information requested is not available.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Animal Rights Activists

Mr. Tom Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what steps the Government have taken to protect medical research companies against the actions of animal rights activists. [87984]

Ms Hewitt: The Government are determined that animal rights extremists will not prevent companies carrying out legitimate business in the UK and that these companies will be protected from intimidation and harassment. In recognition of the exceptional circumstances Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc have found themselves in, the DTI has previously agreed to provide banking facilities for Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc. The DTI is now extending its support to facilitate the provision of insurance services to Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc on a worldwide basis. Both these actions have been taken to secure Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc from the harm caused by the criminal intimidation and assault being directed at its employees, including their families and friends, and also those of its suppliers, customers and other companies. Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc is a world-leading provider in the highly regulated area of essential research, development and toxicological testing services for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemical industries. Any commercial damage to these industries or their supporting services, like Huntingdon Life Sciences, would have a very serious impact on UK scientific and medical research. The DTI is not using commercial insurance companies or brokers at this time and is providing insurance through its own resources.

Combined Heat and Power

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact of the New Electricity Trading Arrangements on the CHP sector. [86198]

Mr. Wilson: The most recent data on CHP output can be found in the DTI and National Statistics Publication, the X2002 Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics".

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This states that 'good quality' CHP electricity output in 2001 had declined by 17 per cent. on the level recorded in 2000 and that the annual growth rate of installed capacity slowed to about 0.8 per cent.

May I also refer my hon. Friend to the Government's response of 4 April 2002 to the consultation on NETA and smaller generators and to Ofgem's review of the first year of NETA, where the impact of NETA on CHP is discussed in the chapter concerning smaller generators.

I am also concerned about the impact on manufacturing investments to the energy sector. The forthcoming Energy White Paper will give the opportunity to discuss these issues in more depth.


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