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Territorial Army

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what help is given to Territorial Army soldiers who have lost their job owing to service with the military in the last five years; and how many TA personnel have been affected. [161869]

Mr. Caplin: The Ministry of Defence provides detailed advice to reservists on their legal right to reclaim their civilian employment in the UK and how to seek reinstatement, in line with the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985. Each reservist receives a copy of JSP 532 "Guidance for reservists returning to civilian employment following a period of mobilised service". The Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers (SaBRE) campaign team provides a help line and a website which gives additional information and advice. Also, each Reserve Forces and Cadet Association (RFCA) has an Employer Support Executive who is able to offer advice and assistance to reservists who are experiencing problems returning to their civilian employment. We are also introducing Unit Employer Support Officers to boost further our capability in this area.

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In addition, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced on 11 December 2003 in the Defence White Paper, we will be examining the effectiveness of the 1985 Act and the other measures that go with it.

There is no requirement for reservists to provide the information requested to the Department. There is, therefore, no comprehensive record of the numbers of reservists who may have lost their civilian jobs. However, indications are that civilian employers have been very supportive of reservists and, of over 9,200 reservists called-out to support Operation TELIC, we are aware of only 15 individuals who have brought, or are seeking to bring, cases to Reinstatement Committees under the 1985 Act (as at 17 March 2004). In addition, two applications were made resulting from the mobilisation of reservists for operations in the Balkans.

There is one small TA unit based in Germany, where the 1985 Act does not apply. Special arrangements have therefore been put in place to offer Full Time Reserve Service appointments to 11 reservists called up for Operation TELIC, who have not been able to return to their original employment. This is intended to provide continuity of employment until they are able to start new jobs. We are very concerned to learn that these members of the TA lost their civilian jobs, and plan to raise this matter with the relevant German authorities.


Small Businesses

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes have been made since 1997 to the tax system to promote enterprise and growth in small businesses; and what assessment he has made of their effectiveness. [163324]

Dawn Primarolo: Changes to taxation since 1997 are set out in the relevant Financial Statement and Budget Reports, which are available in the Library of the House. They include a range of measures to promote investment and productivity, including cuts in corporation tax and income tax rates for the self-employed, improvements to capital allowances for small enterprises, the simplification of the VAT regime, introduction and expansion of the R and D tax credits and support for venture capital.


Richard Ottaway: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to complete his consultation on biofuels; whom he plans to consult; and how the consultation will be conducted. [163043]

John Healey: The Department for Transport will shortly consult on the Government's draft biofuels directive implementation strategy. This will include options on complementary regulatory measures, including the option of a biofuels obligation for the transport sector.

Furthermore, the Chancellor announced in this year's Budget that the Government will be discussing with stakeholders two separate issues concerning biofuels:

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(a) The implications of input-based taxation on biofuels, and (b) the application of enhanced capital allowances to support investment into the most environmentally beneficial biofuels processing plants.

Direct Payment

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer from the Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions of 27 February 2004, Official Report, column 584W, how many (a) Post Office card accounts and (b) bank or building society accounts have (i) been requested for and (ii) are receiving payments of child benefit, broken down by region. [162736]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 22 March 2004]: Key figures on the progress of conversion of child benefit customers to direct payment are available in the House of Commons Library, updated every four weeks. They include details of requests for the Post Office card account. With regard to actual payments, as at 16 March 2004 a total of 5,750,105 child benefit customers were being paid into a bank or building society and 233,220 into a Post Office card account. There are a further 127,453 customers who have provided bank or building society details and 91,647 who have provided Post Office account details and they will be paid into their accounts when their current order book expires.

It is not possible to break down the numbers by region.

Community Benefit Society Asset Locks

Mr. Todd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will publish a consultation paper on the introduction of the community benefit society asset locks described in the Co-operatives and Community Benefit Societies Act 2003; and if he will make a statement. [163340]

Ruth Kelly: The Government intends to publish a consultation document on the introduction of the community benefit society asset lock later this year.


Rob Marris: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many complaints there were to (a) the Inland Revenue, (b) HM Customs and Excise and (c) district valuers' offices in each of the last three years. [156868]

Dawn Primarolo: The information requested is published in HM Customs and Excise's and the Inland Revenue's Annual Reports, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.

E-business Strategy

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to produce the e-business strategy for (a) HM Customs and Excise and (b) the Public Record Office. [162811]

John Healey: HM Customs and Excise has had an e-Business Strategy for several years. It has been updated periodically to reflect changes in thinking and the impacts of external initiatives. A summary of current

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plans will be published later in the year. Part (b) of the question is the responsibility of the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

Energy Saving Allowance

Mrs. May: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what standards for loft and cavity wall insulation will apply for qualification under the Landlord's Energy Saving Allowance. [162956]

John Healey: The standards for loft insulation will be set out in regulations made under powers to be set out in Finance Bill 2004.

Inland Revenue

Keith Vaz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will announce the name of the next Chairman of the Inland Revenue. [162709]

Dawn Primarolo: Following Sir Nicholas Monatgu's retirement on 19 March 2004, Miss Ann Chant has assumed the role of Acting Chairman of the Inland Revenue.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced in his Budget speech that the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise will be integrated to create a new Department. The advertisement for the post of Chairman of the new Department was posted on the Treasury website on 18 March 2004. An announcement of the successful candidate will be made in due course.

Personal Tax Allowances

Mr. Byers: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost to the Exchequer would be of allowing a married person to transfer their personal tax allowance to their earning spouse if they have (a) a child aged between six months and one year and (b) a child aged between one year and two years. [162428]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 23 March 2004]: The cost to the Exchequer through lower income tax of allowing married persons with children to transfer their full personal allowance to their spouse if he or she has a higher gross income for the two options are listed below.

Cost in 2004–05 per annum
£ million

a) married and with at least one child aged between 6 months and one year160
b) married and with at least one child aged between one year and two years340

Note:Figures rounded to the nearest £10 million. They exclude any estimate of behavioural response to the tax change.

The change in revenue for other taxes can only be provided at a disproportionate cost.

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