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9 Dec 2003 : Column 393W—continued

London Infrastructure

Linda Perham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will take steps to increase investment in London's infrastucture in response to projected population increases; [143029]

Ruth Kelly: Spending plans were set out in the 2002 Spending Review for 2003–06, which included significant resources for infrastructural investment in all areas of the UK, including in London. The allocation of these resources takes in to account a number of factors, some of which relate to population. The Spending Review 2004 will also take into account these factors.

Public Sector Efficiency Review

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out the terms of reference of the Gershon public sector efficiency review; and whether that review is able to consider the value for money of different (a) project management methods and (b) financing mechanisms. [142227]

Mr. Boateng: The Government have asked Peter Gershon to undertake an independent review of efficiency across public services. He has identified six areas of activity to focus on, and these are the areas that he believes will have the greatest impact on efficiency. They are procurement, back office functions, transactional services, productive time, policy, finance and regulation of the public sector and policy, finance and regulation of the private sector. Further details are set out in the consultation paper which was issued on 20 October, and which was made available to the House on that day.

Regional Emphasis Documents

Linda Perham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish the Regional Emphasis Documents to be submitted to his Department by 31 December. [143028]

Mr. Boateng: The Treasury does not intend to publish the Regional Emphasis Documents, which are an input to Spending Review 2004. The documents are being produced jointly in each English region outside London by the Government Office, Regional Development Agency and regional chamber. In London, the Government Office, London Development Agency and Greater London Authority are producing the

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document. It is for the institutions in each region to decide whether to make the documents publicly available.


Matthew Green: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what meetings have taken place between his Department and representatives of (a) Tesco, (b) Sainsbury's and (c) Asda, including Asda's parent company Wal-Mart in the last 12 months; and what the (i) date and (ii) subject of each meeting was. [143022]

John Healey: Treasury officials and Ministers frequently meet with representatives of all kinds of businesses at many kinds of events. The Department has had a number of meetings with these supermarkets to discuss a variety of subjects in the last year.

Tax Avoidance

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information his Department has supplied to the US authorities to help them with their investigations into tax avoidance schemes designed by accountancy firms. [142718]

Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue cannot comment on particular cases. However, the Government regard exchange of information as essential in combating tax evasion and avoidance. The Inland Revenue regularly provides appropriate information under the provisions of agreements that provide for exchange of information.

Tax Credits

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the time scale is for the repayment of tax credit overpayments; [142252]

Dawn Primarolo: Overpayments of tax credits are identified when circumstances and income for the tax year are known and the award is finalised. Therefore no figures for the number of families with overpayment are yet available. During the year, awards of tax credit may be adjusted when changes of circumstances are reported or to prevent an overpayment arising at the end of the year.

The Inland Revenue's Code of Practice 26 explains how overpayments identified at the end of the year are recovered, and over what period.

Tax Penalties

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the yield in each year since 1997 was of (a) tax penalties and (b) interest on overdue tax accruing to (i) the Inland Revenue and (ii) Customs and Excise; and what percentage of total tax revenue this represented. [142249]

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Dawn Primarolo: The information is as follows:

Inland Revenue

Details of the yield, to include additional tax, interest and penalties resulting from the Inland Revenue's work tackling non-compliance are set out in the Inland Revenue Annual Reports, copies of which are in the House of Commons Library. While separate details of late filing penalties are shown, details of the full amount of other penalties included in yield figures shown are not available and could be ascertained only at disproportionate cost.

Receipts from interest on overdue tax in the accounting years from 1997 are shown in the following table. Figures for 2002 will not be available until the Board publishes its annual report shortly.

Total receipts (£ million)Interest receipts (£ million)Percentage

Customs and Excise

The table contains information published in the Customs and Excise Annual Report. The report for 2002–03 is yet to be finalised for publication.

All taxes and duties (£ million)(8)Fines and penalties (£ million)Interest (£ million)(9)Penalties and interest as percentage total yield

(8) Does not include penalty or interest receipts.

(9) Interest is charged only on incorrect tax declarations where it represents commercial restitution.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the current interest rates (a) charged on overdue tax and (b) paid on money owed to taxpayers are; and how these figures have changed since the latest rise in base rates by the Bank of England. [142250]

Dawn Primarolo: The information is to be found on the Inland Revenue's website at http://newinternet.

VAT (Children's Clothes)

Tim Loughton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to revise the criteria for the size of children's clothes subject to VAT. [142181]

John Healey: Following a review which the Government undertook with the industry and others, the scope of the zero rate was simplified and modernised in Budget 2001 to reflect more accurately the size of the average 13-year-old child. There are no plans to revise the criteria further.

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Alcohol Bans

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness in tackling antisocial behaviour by the designation by local community safety partnerships of alcohol-free zones in public places; [142406]

Ms Blears: Section 12–16 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (CJPA) came into force on 1 September 2001. The provisions in the Act allow local authorities to designate areas to restrict public drinking where there is evidence that nuisance is alcohol related. In such designated areas the police may use their discretionary powers to confiscate all alcohol where they reasonably believe that continued drinking in that place will lead to further disorder or nuisance. An assessment has not been undertaken on the effectiveness of designation orders.

Under the CJPA a place is not a designated public place or a part of such a place if it is a licensed premises or a registered club. As of June 2003, over 70 local authorities had notified the Home Office that they have made designation orders under Section 13 of the CJPA to restrict antisocial public drinking in areas that have experienced alcohol-related disorder or nuisance. The local authorities were listed in the response given to my hon. Friend the Member for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg) on 18 June 2003, Official Report, column 257W.

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