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Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many officials working in ministerial private offices in the Department have worked more than a 48 hour week at any time in the last 12 months for which figures are available; how many of those had signed a waiver under working time regulations; and what percentage these figures represented of the total in each case. 
The working time regulations provide workers with the protection of a limit of an average of 48 hours a week working time. This is not an absolute cap of 48 hours in any one week. This average is normally calculated over a 17 week reference period, although this can be longer in certain situations (26 weeks) and can be extended by agreement (up to 52 weeks). Workers may choose to work more than 48 hours per week over this reference period by signing an opt-out agreement, but employers cannot force a worker to sign an op-out, and workers cannot be subjected to detriment for refusing to sign an opt-out.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many requests for guidance on the Income and Corporation Tax Act 1988 section 577A, concerning tax deductibility on bribes and special commissions, have been received by (a) the Inland Revenue and (b) the Inland Revenue's Head Office since April 2004. 
Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue does not keep central records of requests for general or specific guidance on section 577A of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988. However the Head Office team most likely to receive requests for guidance have since April 2004 received some dozen requests from Inland Revenue officers and others.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many reports of (a) evidence of overseas bribery and (b) suspicions of overseas bribery have been passed to the Inland Revenue's Special Compliance Office since April 2004; 
(2) how many reports of suspected bribery have been passed by the Inland Revenue to law enforcement agencies under the gateway provided by section 19 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. 
Dawn Primarolo: Initial estimates were announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Local and Regional Government in the written ministerial statement on the distributable amount of national non-domestic rates for 200506 on 2 December 2004, Official Report, column 47WS. The net rate yield from local lists after reliefs was forecast to increase by 9.6 per cent., from £15,853 million for 200405 to £17,368 million for 200506.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much tax the Inland Revenue's Oil Taxation Office has collected on (a) signature bonuses, (b) consultancy fees and (c) special commissions on overseas business by UK companies since April 2004; 
(2) how much tax the Inland Revenue's Large Business Office has collected on (a) consultancy fees, (b) special commissions and (c) entertainment expenses for overseas business by UK companies since April 2004. 
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many penalties the Inland Revenue has issued for claims on expenditure that are disallowed under section 577A of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 since April 2004; and what the total value of these penalties is. 
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Paymaster General will reply to the letter dated 1 February from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Carl Walker. 
Mr. Timms: The Government's 1997 package of corporation tax reforms included measures to boost corporate investment by removing tax distortions. The withdrawal of payable tax credits on dividends was just one part of these measures. Pension funds and others will share in the long-term benefits from these changes to corporation tax.
The overall effects of these changes on pension funds will depend on a variety of factors including the type of scheme paying the pension, the take-up of private pensions, the level of future pension contributions, pension schemes' asset allocation and investment policies and investment returns generally.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he plans to impose VAT on sponsorship payments from those entering runners in the London Marathon; and if he will make a statement. 
There are no plans to change the VAT rules on sponsorship payments and no charity need find themselves paying VAT on the funds raised by sponsored runners. Charities can also claim an extra 28p for every £1 of sponsorship raised under the Gift Aid scheme.
15 Mar 2005 : Column 172W
Dawn Primarolo: Students nurses and midwives who receive support through the NHS Bursary Scheme are exempt from tax and from national insurance deductions on the bursary, which is treated as a student grant and not classed as salary or wage.
(2) what estimate he has made of (a) the number of employees and (b) the proportion of the private sector workforce employed in (i) the private equity industry and (ii) companies financed by the private equity industry. 
John Healey: Alongside the 2003 pre-Budget report the Government published 'Bridging the Finance Gap: next steps in improving access to growth capital for small businesses'. This set out the Government's assessment of the importance of private equity to the economy, the Government's desire to see a deep and liquid venture capital market in the UK, and the reforms that the Government are bringing forward to improve access to finance for smaller businesses affected by the equity gap.
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