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8 Jan 2004 : Column 426W—continued

Shared Appreciation Mortgages

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from householders who hold shared appreciation mortgages; and what plans he has to assist them. [145408]

Ruth Kelly: I have received a number of representations. I cannot intervene in individual cases nor can I direct firms to take action. But if individuals believe they have been mis-sold a product, they may have recourse to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Stakeholder Pensions

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will break down the figures for the take-up of stakeholder pensions released by the Inland Revenue by (a) earnings, (b) age and (c) gender. [146085]

Ruth Kelly: Estimates of the number of individuals contributing to Stakeholder Pensions in 2001–02, broken down by earnings, age and gender are contained in tables T7.10 and T7.11 of Inland Revenue Statistics. The latest versions of these are on the Inland Revenue website: http://www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/stats/pensions/03IR710.pdf http://www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/stats/pensions/03IR711.pdf

Tax Credits

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in receipt of one or more tax credits (a) are paying and (b) are not paying income tax. [146741]

Dawn Primarolo: The final annual tax credit awards of families, and estimates of their 2003–04 income tax liabilities, will not be available until their awards are finalised on the basis of their actual incomes for 2003–04.

Tax Evasion

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures have been put in place

8 Jan 2004 : Column 427W

to reduce tax evasion since 1997; and what estimates have been made of additional sums collected as a result. [146328]

Dawn Primarolo: Activities designed to counter tax evasion are a normal and continuing part of the Inland Revenue's business. Important measures introduced since 1997 include the implementation of the—'Grabiner' recommendations; Proceeds of Crime Act; Savings Directive; Money Laundering provisions and Production Powers for use in criminal cases. Additionally, specifically funded compliance and enforcement packages have been put in place to tackle fraud and protect the Exchequer from non-payment of tax and other duties. In the 2003 Budget the Chancellor announced additional funding of £66 million over three years for such a package.

Typically, new measures to counter tax evasion are designed to work within the wider compliance regime and in concert with other measures. Consequently, often no meaningful estimates can be made of additional sums collected as a result of particular measures in isolation. Figures of total estimated additional liability flowing from the Inland Revenue's work tackling non-compliance are shown each year in their Annual Reports, copies of which are available in the House of Commons Library.

UK-Produced Wine

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the UK levies applicable to UK-produced wine. [146472]

John Healey: UK excise duties applicable to wine are the same irrespective of the country in which the wine is produced. These are applied in bands according to the alcoholic strength of the product as shown in the following tables.

Most wine is produced in the 5.5 per cent. to 15 per cent. band.

Rate per hectolitre (£)
Wine and made-wine
Exceeding 1.2 per cent.—not exceeding 4 per cent. abv.48.91
Exceeding 4 per cent.—not exceeding 5.5 per cent. abv.67.25
Exceeding 5.5 per cent.—not exceeding 15 per cent. abv.158.69
Exceeding 15 per cent.—not exceeding 22 per cent. abv.211.58
Sparkling wine and made-wine
Exceeding 5.5 per cent.—less than 8.5 per cent. abv.166.70
8.5 per cent. and above—not exceeding 15 per cent. abv.220.54

Rate per litre of pure alcohol (£)
Wine and made-wine
Exceeding 22 per cent. abv.19.56

The final sale price of wine in the UK also includes VAT at the standard rate of 17.5 per cent.

Work/Benefits

Harry Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he has taken to ensure that people in work will be better off than if on benefits; what timetable he

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has set for increasing the number of people who are better off in work than if on benefits; and if he will make a statement. [146364]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government have improved gains to work by reducing the starting and basic rates of Income Tax, and reforming National Insurance Contributions. Recent increases in the National Minimum Wage, which was introduced in April 1999, have also significantly boosted the earnings of low paid workers.

Tax credits increase the gains to work for working families on low and moderate incomes. The new tax credits improve gains to work for part-time second earners and have extended financial support to many more working families on low and moderate incomes.

The Government's continuing commitment to making work pay is demonstrated by recent measures in the 2003 Budget and pre-Budget report.

TRANSPORT

Approved Driving Instructors

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many responses there were to the Driving Standards Agency's Consultation on Approved Driving Instructors qualifications; and what proportion of the responses came from (a) qualified driving instructors and (b) organisations representing them. [146454]

Mr. Jamieson: The Driving Standards Agency issued nearly 3,000 copies of its consultation paper in April 2003. The Agency received 82 responses including from national and local representative bodies for car driving instructors, organisations providing motorcycle training, representative bodies for the road freight and passenger transport industries, the police and those responsible for the administration of justice, road safety bodies, and individual instructors. Of the 82 responses, nine (11 per cent.) were from individual driving instructors and 11 (13 per cent.) from their representative bodies.

Bridge Strengthening Programme

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the new bridge management system will be operative; and what his latest estimate is of the cost of completing the bridge strengthening programme. [145543]

Mr. Jamieson: The information is as follows:

Bridge Management System

For motorways and trunk roads, the Highways Agency's Structures Management Information System (SMIS) first became operational in December 2000 and was networked to the Highways Agency's Consultant Agents' offices in May 2001.

For local roads, the Department for Transport has recently let a contract on behalf of the UK Bridges Board that will produce new advice for local authorities on the management of their bridge stock.

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Bridge Strengthening Programme

The cost of the bridge strengthening programme for the motorways and trunk roads in England to meet the EU requirements to carry safely 38 and 40 tonne vehicles from January 1999 was £636 Million.

The cost of outstanding strengthening and major maintenance for local authority bridges in England was estimated in 2000 to be £750 million. This estimate is currently being revised.

British Airspace

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) which airlines were banned from using British airspace between January 2000 and December 2003; between which dates in each case; and for what reasons; [146490]

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Mr. McNulty: The UK has one of the most rigorous safety regimes in the world and plays a leading role in seeking to raise international safety standards.

Any airline from outside the EU or EEA which wishes to pick up or put down passengers or cargo in the UK requires a permit from the Secretary of State. It is a condition of the permit that the airline should be operated in accordance with international safety standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. If we have evidence that international standards are not being met a permit may be refused or revoked. Permits may also be refused for other reasons, such as non payment of fines for offences under immigration legislation.

Since 1 January 2000 a number of airlines have had applications for permits turned down, or would have had an application turned down if one had been received, because of failure to meet ICAO standards or other concerns. These are listed in the table as follows.

AirlineDates of permit restrictionReason for restriction
Aircraft operated by airlines from Equatorial GuineaOn-goingInadequate safety regulation.
Aircraft operated by airlines from GambiaOn-goingInadequate safety regulation.
Aircraft operated by airlines from LiberiaOn-goingInadequate safety regulation.
Aircraft operated by airlines from TajikistanOn-goingInadequate safety regulation.
Star Air Ltd. (Sierra Leone)From October 2003Adverse ramp inspection findings and concerns about inadequate safety regulation
RAF-AVIA (Latvia)28 March to 26 July 2003The airline was using a leased Ukraine registered aircraft but the lease agreement did not properly deal with the issue of operational control or regulatory oversight.
Enimex (Estonia)25 February to 30 April 2003The Estonian authorities had identified serious deficiencies with certain aspects of the airline operation but had permitted the airline to continue operating under a temporary Air Operator Certificate (AOC) while those deficiencies were addressed. Permits were refused until the full AOC was restored
Air Bosna (Bosnia)April 2003The Bosnian authorities had only issued a temporary AOC as the airline had an number of issues to rectify. Permits were refused until a full AOC was issued.
Inter Trans Air (Bulgaria)August 2000Adverse ramp inspection finding on an Antonov 12. Permits refused until corrective action taken.
Air Memphis (Egypt)April 1999 to May 2002Adverse ramp inspection findings. There was no response from the Egyptian authorities to the finding, and no further permit applications, until May 2002.
Cameroon AirlinesFrom January 2001Non payment of Carriers Liability Act fines for transporting inadequately documented passengers.
Albanian AirlinesFrom January 2001Concerns over security and immigration controls at Tirana.
Central Air Express (Democratic Republic of the Congo)From February 2003Inadequate safety regulation.
Air Universal (Sierra Leone)From September 2003Adverse ramp inspection findings and lack of response from Sierra Leone authorities.
Kyrgyzstan AirlinesSummer 2003Non payment of Carriers Liability Act fines for transporting inadequately documented passengers.

In addition, we require permit applicants, where appropriate, to confirm that aircraft 2003 are equipped with certain equipment such as ground proximity warning systems and the airborne collision avoidance systems. Permit applications have been turned down in the absence of such confirmation.

All applications for a permit are considerd on their merits. The fact that an airline is not listed in the table does not mean that it would necessarily qualify for a permit.


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