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3 Jun 2003 : Column 196W—continued

National Insurance

Mr. Howard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 16 May 2003, Official Report, columns 26–28WS, on National Insurance Contributions Deficiency Notices, how many National Insurance payers are affected; who is heading the inquiry; what remit has been given to the inquiry; and how the inquiry report will be presented to Parliament. [115429]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the right hon. and learned Gentleman to my written statement of 16 May 2003, Official Report, columns 26–28WS.

Overseas Territories

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the constitutional convention that governs the relationship between the UK and its Overseas Territories on matters relating to finance policy. [115319]

Dawn Primarolo: The Overseas Territories pass their own legislation on a wide range of areas. However, the United Kingdom retains the power to legislate for the Overseas Territories.


Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate he has made of the number of businesses that have ceased the resale of paraffin and paraffin products since 6 April; [115823]

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John Healey: Businesses approved as Registered Dealers in Controlled Oil are entitled to deal in both rebated gas oil (red diesel) and rebated kerosene/paraffin. No distinction has been made between those businesses dealing solely in paraffin and those dealing in rebated gas oil. Data concerning those businesses that deal solely in paraffin cannot be obtained except at disproportionate cost.

The number of businesses that applied for approval as Registered Dealers in Controlled Oil (a) before 14 February was 957, (b) between 14 February and 5 April was 2,330, and (c) after 5 April (and up to 21 May) was 771.

As at 21 May 2003 Customs and Excise had approved 3,421 businesses as Registered Dealers in Controlled Oil, and refused 12 applications. Beyond that, no estimate has been made of the number of businesses that may have voluntarily ceased reselling controlled oils since 6 April.

Public Employees

Mr. Steen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people and what percentage of the total work

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force in the UK were employed in the public sector in each of the last five years, broken down by (a) central Government, (b) local government, (c) non-executive agencies and (d) the NHS. [114857]

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

Letter from John Pullinger to Mr. Anthony Steen dated 3 June 2003:

Workforce Jobs by Sector
Thousands, headcount, mid year

Total workforce jobs28,13528,49828,89029,21829,424
of which
Central government870868869860874
percentage of total3.
Local government2,5932,5792,6412,6822,732
Percentage of total9.
National Health Service1,1991,2001,2071,2241,269
Percentage of total4.
Other public non-financial corporations370374377385363
Percentage of total1.
Public sector4,9544,9445,0185,0725,163
Percentage of total77.677.317.417.477.5

Source:Economic Trends, June 2002 issue, ONS

Public Sector Workers

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the change in the number of public sector workers in each year from 2003–04 to 2005–06, broken down by (a) Department and (b) region. [115933]

Mr. Boateng: The total number of public sector workers in 2001 was 5.259 million. Departments have estimated that public sector employment will increase by over 200,000 between 2003 and 2006 as a result of 2002 Spending Review commitments. This implies an average increase of approximately 70,000 per year. It is for Departments to provide individual workforce projections by region, because they are responsible for their own work force planning.

Rural Proofing

Mr. Gray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met the Chairman of the Countryside Agency to discuss rural proofing. [115583]

John Healey: As with previous Administrations, and in line with exemption 7 of the "Code of Practice on Access to Government Information", it is not this Government's normal practice to release details of specific meetings or their content, as some of these discussions may have taken place on a confidential basis. All such contacts are conducted in accordance with the rules set out in the "Ministerial Code", the "Civil Service Code", and "Guidance for Civil Servants: Contacts with Lobbyists". Copies of these documents are available in the Libraries of the House

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Sickness Absence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff in the Department have been on long-term sick leave in each of the last two years. [115853]

John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary gave to him on 30 April 2003, Official Report, column 376W.

Small Businesses

Caroline Flint: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures were put in place to prepare small and medium sized businesses for increases in national insurance contributions. [116574]

Dawn Primarolo: The increase in National Insurance Contributions was announced in Budget 2002, a year before it came into force. An Employer's Bulletin was issued to all employers in May 2002 which explained the changes to both employer's and employee's contributions. Detailed guidance was also issued to payroll software developers to enable amendments to payroll software to be made in advance of the changes.

Spirits Taxation

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will issue a re-assessment of price-elasticity in the market for Scotch whisky, following introduction of the new Treasury model for spirits taxation. [115824]

John Healey: A Government Economic Service Working Paper "Econometric Models of Alcohol Demand in the United Kingdom" was published 23 May and is available in the Library of the House.

It is accessible from the Customs and Excise website at The paper contains updated estimates of the price elasticities of demand for beer, wine and spirits. The relevant trade bodies have been sent copies and given an opportunity to discuss the paper with Customs and Excise.

Stamp Duty

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much additional duty he estimates will be raised from the proposal to change stamp duty on leases in each of the next five years; how many additional property transactions he estimates will come within the provision in each of the next five years; and what estimate he has made of (a) the compliance cost and (b) the number of additional staff required to implement the measures in each of the next five years. [115847]

John Healey: The estimated additional duty from the proposed reform of lease duty was published in table A2.1 of the Budget report.

Under the proposals, the revised charge on leases will value the rent payable over the term of the lease at its net present value (NPV) and there will be a single rate of 1 per cent. of the NPV of rental payments, where the NPV exceeds the zero rate band threshold of £60,000 (for residential property) or £150,000 (for non-residential property).

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As a result of the introduction of zero rate thresholds it is expected that, in fact, fewer transactions will be within the scope of the charge once stamp duty land tax is introduced than are currently within the scope of charge. It is estimated that over 90 per cent. of residential leases and around 60 per cent. of commercial leases will be exempt from lease duty.

Estimates of compliance costs, and other implementation costs, will be included in a full Regulatory Impact Assessment which will be published when stamp duty land tax is implemented.

It is not anticipated that the number of staff in the Stamp Office will increase as a result of the proposed reform of lease duty.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how the amount of stamp duty will be calculated in the sale of long leasehold residential property. [R] [115913]

John Healey: Where a person who owns a residential property on a long lease sells that property, stamp duty is due on the amount paid for the assignment of the lease at the following rates:

Amount paidRate (percentage)
Not exceeding £60,0000
More than £60,000 but not exceeding £250,0001
More than £250,000 but not exceeding £500,0003
More than £500,0004

This is subject to the availability of reliefs (such as that for purchases in disadvantaged areas).

Where a new long lease is granted on a residential property rather than the existing lease being assigned, a premium is normally paid. This will be charged at the above rates except where rent of more than £600 is also payable, in which case any premium not exceeding £250,000 is charged at 1 per cent.

Duty on rents payable under new leases is currently charged at between 1 per cent. and 24 per cent. of annual rent, depending on the length of the lease.

A different lease duty structure is proposed in the current Finance Bill for the rental element of leases under stamp duty land tax. This will not affect the charge on new lease premiums or on the assignment of existing leases.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make regulations under clause 50 of the Finance Bill to ensure that enhanced stamp duty is not paid on account of VAT increasing the consideration amount.[R] [115920]

John Healey: Paragraph 2 of schedule 4 of the Finance Bill sets out the Government's position on whether VAT should be included as consideration for the purposes of stamp duty land tax.

Where VAT is actually paid then it should be treated as consideration. Broadly, where VAT is not charged at the time the transaction takes place, but there is a possibility that it might be charged at a later stage, then VAT will not count as consideration.

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This is particularly relevant for the grant of new leases. Where an election to charge VAT has been made before the effective date for the lease, lease duty will be charged on the VAT element of the lease rent. But where such an election has not been made, no such charge will apply even if an election is made later. This is a relaxation of the position under the current stamp duty regime where consideration is treated as including VAT unless the lease specifically prohibits it being charged, regardless of whether an election has in fact been made. The Government do not intend to make regulations to alter the position described above.

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