Private boat owners in Britain are permitted to use red diesel under a derogation of the European energy products directive, which is due to expire at the end of 2006. Officials from HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs are discussing this issue with boating associations.
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Mr. Ivan Lewis: On the number of vouchers issued and accounts opened, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on 6 June 2005, Official Report, columns 28687W.
John Healey: The Government expect 1 million people to enter home-ownership over the next five years as a result of the strong and stable macro-economic conditions that it has created and sustained with interest rates close to historically low levels; unemployment close a record low; employment rising in every region; and uninterrupted economic growth.
This growth in homeownership will be supported by the measures set out in the Deputy Prime Minister's five-year plan "Homes for All" which will assist up to 110,000 households to become first-time buyers.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost in (a) 200506 and (b) 200607 of removing from income tax liability the first £10,000 of income; and how many people he estimates this would remove from income tax liability. 
|Cost of removing from income tax liability the first £10,000 of income
|Number of people removed from
income tax liability
The personal allowance is currently linked to the Primary and Secondary Class 1 National Insurance contributions thresholds and the Class 4 Lower Profits Limit. No cost has been included to increase these thresholds in line with the personal allowance.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what guidance has been given to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs in respect of deferment of VAT payments by companies suffering losses as a result of MG Rover going into administration; what guidelines are in operation on this; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) continue to treat businesses affected by the administration of MG Rover as sensitively as they usually do in such circumstances. Their approach to revenue debt is not only to secure the revenue but to provide flexible assistance to help viable businesses survive short term financial problems and restructuring. Within the legislation governing VAT and PAYE, deferred payment arrangements are made available on a case-by-case basis within HMRC's usual remit. Guidance has been published on HMRC's internet site about debt management issues, with particular reference to the administration of MG Rover.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether Article 45 of the new EU Public Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC applies only to EU companies tendering for public procurement projects in the EU; 
(2) what steps the Office of Government Commerce has taken to establish information-sharing mechanisms with (a) local authorities and (b) Government Departments in (i) the UK and (ii) the EU on convictions held by UK companies for corruption, fraud, money laundering and criminal investigation; 
(3) what steps the Office of Government Commerce has taken to establish an agreed contact point for advice on blacklisting companies in public procurement for (a) local authorities, (b) Government departments and (c) companies; 
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(4) if he will place a copy of the record of discussions held between the Office of Government Commerce and the Home Office's Criminal Investigation Bureau about implementation of Article 45 of the new EU Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC in the Library; 
(6) what sanctions will be applicable under the EU Public Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC to those companies that fail to alert contracting authorities to convictions held for corruption, fraud, money laundering and criminal organisations. 
John Healey: Article 45 of the new ED public procurement Directive (2004/18/EC) will apply to the award of all public contracts for goods, works and services which are covered by that Directive. The Directive requires that candidates or tenderers shall normally be excluded where the contracting authorities are aware of relevant convictions, and that the contracting authorities may apply to a so-called competent authority in each member state to obtain further information about the convictions of the companies concerned. The Office of Government Commerce is currently considering, with the Criminal Records Bureau, how this need for information on convictions, via a competent authority, can best be implemented in the UK. This will then be reflected in guidance on Article 45, which will be published before the implementation of the new Directive. Companies which fail to notify contracting authorities about their relevant convictions, in response to questions from such authorities, should be considered for exclusion from future contracts and for breach of any terms and conditions for contracts awarded under the new Directive.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many meetings the Office of Government Commerce has had with UK companies and businesses to discuss Article 45 of the new EU Public Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC since August 2004; and if he will list the companies with which he has had such meetings; 
(3) if he will place a copy of all the responses to the Office of Government Commerce consultation on the new EU Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC in the Library; and how many consultees requested confidentiality for their responses. 
The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has engaged with both the public and private sectors on the implementation of the new EU public procurement Directive, by means of the consultation exercise undertaken in 2004. This consultation included
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Article 45, which concerns the mandatory exclusion from public contracts of suppliers convicted of certain offences. A summary of the 255 replies to the consultation exercise, from Government Departments, local authorities, law firms, suppliers, trade unions and other interested parties, together with OGC's response to the issues raised, has already been published on the OGC website: http://www.ogc.gov.uk/embedded_object.asp?docid=1002381. The OGC will begin the second stage of consultation, on the draft Regulations to implement the new Directive, shortly. The draft Regulations take account of the responses to the earlier consultation exercise. OGC intends to publish additional guidance on specific provisions, including on Article 45, before the implementation of the new Directive. The deadline for which in all member states is 31 January 2006.