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10 Feb 2003 : Column 609W—continued

Listing Rules

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions officials from his Department have had with representatives of (a) the business community and (b) the Financial Services Authority concerning reforms of listing rules. [96190]

Ruth Kelly: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is responsible for setting the listing rules (under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000). The FSA are

currently conducting a review of the listings rules and consulting widely with the business community. Officials from the Treasury regularly talk to the FSA and business about issues relating to the Rules, including in the context of the review.

Moray Floods (Tax Deferral)

Angus Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce tax deferral for businesses in Moray affected by flooding; and if he will make a statement. [95272]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 3 February 2003]: Tax deferral measures were introduced in 2001 specifically to help viable businesses and individuals adversely affected by the foot and mouth disease outbreak.

There are no plans to introduce similar or specific measures for businesses in Moray that have been affected by flooding. However, the Revenue will provide help and support to viable businesses affected by flooding within the limits of its discretion.

National Insurance

Adam Price: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what spending plans he has for the £18 billion from the surpluses of the National Insurance Fund. [96272]

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Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) on 7 March 2002, Official Report, column 468W.

National Insurance/Income Tax

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to align further the income tax and national insurance systems; and if he will make a statement. [95726]

Dawn Primarolo: There are no plans for the structural alignment of Tax and National Insurance. The Revenue, however, continues to work with employer representatives and others to look for opportunities to align the tax and National Insurance rules at a practical level while having regard to the need to protect the individuals' benefit entitlement.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to equalise the upper earnings limit of national insurance contributions with the higher rate threshold of income tax; and if he will make a statement. [95727]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government has no such plans.

Non-compliance Investigations

Mr. Laws : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many non-compliance investigations have been carried out by the large business division of the Inland Revenue in each year since 1990–91; what the average amount of extra tax secured for such non-compliance operations was in each year; and if he will make a statement. [95828]

Dawn Primarolo: The available information about the Inland Revenue's work tackling non-compliance is set out each year in the Inland Revenue Annual Report, copies of which are available in the House of Commons Library.

Official Meetings

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what meetings officials from his Department have had with representatives of the business and financial sectors over the last two months; and if he will make a statement on concerns raised at these meetings regarding the level of the FTSE 100 share index. [96835]

Ruth Kelly: Officials regularly meet representatives from business and the financial sector and discuss a range of issues.

Pensions Tax Relief

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much tax relief on pensions was claimed successfully in the last year for which figures are available, broken down by (a) gender and (b) ten-year age bands. [96598]

Ruth Kelly: Available estimates of the cost of tax relief on private pension contributions are contained in table T7.9 of Inland Revenue Statistics. The latest

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version is on the Inland Revenue website; t09 l.htm It is not possible to break these estimates down by either gender or age.

Post-60 Employment

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what incentives he is putting in place to encourage employers to take on employees of 60 years and older; and if he will make a statement. [94251]

Dawn Primarolo: Since 1997, this Government have consistently shown their commitment to employment opportunities for all regardless of age.

We are vigorously promoting the benefits of recruiting, training and retaining older workers as part of our Age Positive campaign. We have already spoken to employers, employer organisations, employees and voluntary sector organisations about ways in which the message can be spread further. The Age Positive campaign is going from strength to strength, working to challenge ageist employment practices between now and the implementation of age legislation in 2006. The newest feature of the campaign is the Age Positive website ( It features guidance and good practice case studies for employers including our recent publication "Good Practice in the Recruitment and Retention of Older Workers".

For small and medium sized employers, we have developed a model programme on the business benefits of age diversity and recruitment of the over 50s. To date workshops have been delivered across England and they will be extended to Scotland and Wales from the spring.

'Simplicity security and choice: Working and saving for retirement', published in December 2002, sets out a number of measures that will make the retention of older workers easier. These include encouraging companies to adopt a more flexible approach to retirement, and changes to Inland Revenue rules that will make it possible for older workers to continue to work for the sponsoring employer while drawing their occupational pension.

The Government have also taken steps to improve the financial returns for older people returning to work.

The new Working Tax Credit, which will be introduced in April, includes a return to work element for people aged 50 or over. This is paid for one year following the return to work if a qualifying benefit had been claimed for six months or more. A single person working 16 hours per week will be eligible for Working Tax Credit worth up to £49 per week in their first year following a return to work. Someone over 50 returning to work of 30 hours a week would be eligible for Working Tax Credit of up to £59 per week.

Public Service Pension Schemes

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the reply to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) on 23 January 2003, Official Report, column 431W, on public service pension schemes, whether statutory change is required

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to implement proposals for raising the pension age in public service schemes; and whether such a proposal has been put to staff representatives. [95682]

Mr. Boateng : The Government envisage that the higher normal pension age might be introduced in most public service schemes as part of a package of pension changes. These proposals would be subject to consultation with staff representatives and employers. Most of the main public service schemes' rules are set out in Statutory Instruments and there would be consultation with staff representatives before Instruments were laid before Parliament.

Small Business Investment

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the level of investment by small businesses with fewer than 50 employees was in each quarter of each year since 1997. [94850]

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

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Mark Prisk, dated 10 February 2003:

Level of net capital expenditure (excluding VAT)
for businesses with less than 50 employees. Current prices.

Year£ million


The ABI covers all businesses, excluding agriculture, hunting and forestry; fishing; mining and quarrying; electricity, gas and water; financial intermediation; public administration and defence; and parts of education and health of the Standard Industrial Classification Revised 1992 (SIC(92)

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