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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 8 January 2004

TREASURY

Illegal Meat Imports

Laura Moffatt: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made in intercepting illegally imported meats in the luggage of travellers entering the UK. [146373]

John Healey: Customs took over enforcement responsibility for imported products of animal origin (POAO), including meat, on 11 April 2003 and have made good progress in fulfilling their obligations under the Government's Action Plan 2003–04 On Illegal Imports Of Meat, Other Animal Products, Plants, And Plant Products.

A letter to stakeholders, prepared by Defra in conjunction with Customs, sets out progress against all aspects of the action Plan. It can be found on the Defra website at: www.defra.qov.uk/animalh/illeqali

I have placed a copy in the Library of the House.

Information for preceding years was submitted by Defra in its "Annual Review of Controls on Imports of Animal Products: April 2002—March 2003", a copy of which is also available in the Library of the House.

Industrial and Provident Societies

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what timetable the Treasury has set for reviewing the audit requirements for industrial and provident societies once the Department of Trade and Industry has completed its review of company law. [145525]

Mr. Love: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what proposals he has to amend industrial and provident society legislation to make it consistent with existing company law; and if he will make a statement; [145372]

Ruth Kelly: The Government are keen to see, where appropriate, a level playing field between industrial and provident societies and companies. We are currently examining our options for taking forward this agenda. However, in order to provide for a strategic, consistent and up-to-date approach between companies and societies, the Government believe that the general modernisation of industrial and provident society legislation in this area should be considered in the light of the DTI's planned major reform of company law,

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announced in the "Modernising Company Law" White Paper published in July 2002. The timetable for reviewing the audit requirements will be determined by the timetable for the review of company law.

Leeds, North-West

Mr. Best: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number of families in the Leeds, North-West constituency who will benefit from the child trust fund. [146205]

Ruth Kelly: All eligible children born since 1 September 2002 in families awarded child benefit will receive a child trust fund (CTF). Based on take-up of child benefit, it is estimated that virtually all children born will receive a CTF. Projected birth figures by Parliamentary constituency are not available, although figures for actual births and numbers receiving child benefit by parliamentary constituency are available in the House of Commons Library.

The CTF is intended to encourage parents and children to develop the savings habit. It will ensure that every child, whatever their family background, will have access at the age of 18 when they begin their adult life, to a stock of assets which they can invest in their future.

It will also help children and their parents to understand the benefits of saving and investment and how to engage with financial institutions.

Leyton Sixth Form College

Harry Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is his policy that the additional sum for research and development announced in his pre-Budget report will be filtered down to local colleges which have good science study courses; whether he expects Leyton Sixth Form College to gain from the additional funds; and if he will make a statement. [146358]

John Healey: The additional spending on research and development announced in the pre-Budget report 2003 arose from improvements to the R&D tax credits schemes for both small and large companies.

The improvements included a new draft definition of R&D and an extension of qualifying costs. These changes will give companies greater clarity and certainty, as well as broadening the scope of expenses on which the credit can be claimed.

The pre-Budget report also set out the main findings of the Lambert Review into the links between universities and businesses in the UK and the significant benefits to be gained from greater collaboration. Key recommendations included a new funding stream for business-relevant research and the encouragement of new forms of networks between business people and academics. The Government will make a full response to the recommendations by summer 2004.

Mutual and Co-operative Businesses

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to change the tax regime for mutual and co-operative businesses. [146497]

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Dawn Primarolo: The Government keep all taxes under review and any changes are announced as part of the normal Budget process.

Offshore Tax Havens

Harry Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of tax revenue lost to the UK Exchequer in each of the last five years due to tax policies of the administrations of (a) the Channel Islands, (b) the Isle of Man, (c) the Cayman Islands, (d) Bermuda and (e) other Caribbean islands for which the UK Government has a responsibility; and if he will make a statement. [146360]

Dawn Primarolo: There is no reliable measure of total tax revenue lost to the UK Exchequer as a result of the tax policies of the administrations of the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. However, in order to minimise tax lost, or at risk, the UK is committed to encouraging the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories to match international standards on exchange of information for tax purposes and on fair tax competition and welcomes progress that has been made so far.

The Government also remain determined to take necessary steps domestically to protect tax revenues and have, for example, introduced legislation to counter various offshore avoidance schemes, and are funding additional activity by the Inland Revenue aimed at tackling the exploitation of offshore trusts.

Pre-Budget Report Summary Leaflet

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many postal addresses in the UK have been sent (a) a copy and (b) multiple copies of the Pre-Budget Report Summary Leaflet, The Strength to Take the Long-Term Decisions: Seizing the Opportunities of the Global Recovery, of December; and what the total cost of postage was to his Department. [145443]

Ruth Kelly [holding answer 5 January 2003]: Individual copies of the 2003 Pre-Budget Report leaflet were distributed to around 4,000 addresses. Multiple copies were distributed to around 30,000 addresses. The costs of postage are included in the costs of distribution which I gave in an answer to the hon. Gentleman's Question 145445.

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total cost was of (a) printing and (b) distributing the Pre-Budget Report Summary Leaflet, The Strength to Take the Long-Term Decisions; Seizing the Opportunities of the Global Recovery. [145445]

Ruth Kelly [holding answer 5 January 2004]: The total printing cost for the 2003 Pre-Budget Report leaflets was around £75,000 and the distribution cost was approximately £110,000.

All costs have been met from within the Treasury's Departmental Expenditure Limits.

Red Diesel

Mr. Mike Hancock: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many prosecutions there have been in each of the last five years for which there are records for

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(a) the production and (b) the use of red diesel on which duty has not been paid; what the amounts of duty involved were; and what penalties were imposed on those convicted. [145484]

John Healey: HM Customs and Excise's prosecution figures for Hydrocarbon Oil fraud over the past three years, including the number of convictions and the average sentence, are set out in their Annual Report (HC 52) published in December 2003. This also contains figures for the total value of fraud detected and identified.

In respect of prosecution figures for earlier years, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer the then Financial Secretary gave to the hon. Member for Glasgow Pollok (Mr. Davidson) on 30 January 2001, Official Report, column 142W. Prosecution figures cannot be broken down between those for the production of illicit fuel and those for its use, nor between those for frauds using different types of fuels.


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