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16 Dec 2003 : Column 811W—continued

Tax Compliance

Mr. Gray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Inland Revenue and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise inform other Government Departments when a potential supplier has poor compliance in tax affairs. [143885]

Dawn Primarolo: HM Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue only inform other Government Departments when a potential supplier has poor compliance in tax affairs in very exceptional circumstances. Such disclosures will only be made where statute permits, or otherwise, is justifiable on public interest grounds and will be confined to a general description of the potential supplier's compliance status and will not contain any detail.

Tax Rates

David Winnick: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps have been taken to ensure that high income earners pay the 40 per cent. income tax rate and not the standard one on the basis that a company is being run by them; and if he will make a statement. [144649]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer my hon. Friend to the statement made in this House on 10 December 2003 by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to paragraph 5.91 of the Pre-Budget Report published the same day.

David Winnick: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many individuals in the last three tax years were informed by the Inland Revenue that, though claiming to be eligible to pay the standard income tax rate because of running a company, the amount they would have to pay was 40 per cent.; and if he will make a statement. [144651]

Dawn Primarolo: None. There is no direct correlation between the amount of income tax an individual would pay on profits if self employed and the amount of income tax payable on salary and dividends received from a limited company.

Unemployment (London)

Simon Hughes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the rate of (a) unemployment, (b) long-term unemployment and (c) youth unemployment in each borough of London was in each of the last six years; and how many individuals this represented in each case. [143995]

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Ruth Kelly [holding answer 15 December 2003]: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Simon Hughes, dated 16 December 2003:

People resident in Greater London who were made redundant in the three months prior to their LFS interview and who were in employment again at the time of interview, by age

September to AugustTotal16–3435 or over

— Sample size too small for reliable estimate


These LFS estimates have not been interim-adjusted to reflect the 2001 Census results


ONS Labour Force Survey


Departmental Staff

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many days were lost to illness by employees in her Department in each of the last five years; [143880]

Ms Hewitt: The following table sets out the number of days lost due to sick absence in DTI HQ and the Small Business Service between 1 April 1998 and 31 March 2003.

Population:Sick absenceStaff-in-postAverage sick absenceStaff-in-postAverage sick absence(7)
DTI HQ including SBS
Year ending March 200337,1075,4126.95,254.547.1
Year ending March 200235,8705,2636.85,122.707.0
Year ending March 200132,9204,9986.64,867.036.8
Year ending 31 March 200032,7174,9346.64,820.636.8
Year ending 31 March 199934,7154,8927.14,788.227.3

(7) Full time equivalent

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Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will reply to the letter of 15 October from the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan regarding his constituent, Mr. A. Downie of Whitehills. [141743]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The delay in replying to the letter has been caused by the need for several Government departments and agencies to be consulted on preparing a response. I hope to be able to reply shortly.

Electricity Supplies

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans are in place to ensure that electricity supplies to homes and industry are maintained in the event of severe winter weather. [141854]

Mr. Timms: The market has responded to concerns about a possible shortfall by returning plant to service so that margins are at a similar level to the mid 1990s. However no system can be guaranteed and in the event of a possible power shortage there are a number of steps that NGT could take in order to maintain supplies and avoid rota cuts.

The Government has robust, and well rehearsed plans, for dealing with extreme circumstances that cannot be dealt with by NGT's normal operating arrangements.

Employment Regulations

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assessment she has made of the impact that the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 will have on businesses, with particular reference to the costs they will incur; and if she will make a statement; [143832]

Mr. Sutcliffe: We have set out the impact on business of the Employment Equality (sexual orientation or religion or belief regulations) regulations 2003 as part of the last consultation on our proposals in the document "Equality and Diversity: the way ahead". In the case of sexual orientation, quantifiable benefits outweigh the costs significantly throughout the period analysed. For religion or belief, the initial costs are outweighed by the future benefits. Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Libraries of the House and are also available online at

Equal Treatment at Work Directive

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) which religions are to be protected under the Equal Treatment at Work Directive; [142842]

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Jacqui Smith: This aspect of the Employment Directive is implemented by the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. The regulations define "religion or belief" as "any religion, religious belief, or similar philosophical belief". It will be for the courts and tribunals to determine, in accordance with the Directive's requirements, whether a religion or belief falls within this definition. However, guidance to help employers put the new legislation into effect is available from Acas, and on the website In addition the Acas national helpline (08457 47 47 47) is able to offer advice on employment related issues.

The reference to "religion" includes religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Rastafarianism, Baha'is, Zoroastrians and Jains. Branches or sects within a religion can be considered as a religion or religious belief, such as Catholics or Protestants within the Christian church.

The reference to "similar philosophical belief" includes philosophical belief which is similar to a religious belief in that it is a profound belief affecting a person's way of life, or perception of the world. The belief should occupy a place in the person's life parallel to that filled by the God or Gods of those holding a particular religious belief.

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