|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Paul Farrelly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much is charged per page by local councils for the marked electoral register after local elections; how much is proposed to be charged by Pickfords for the general election marked register; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Harman: The fees and charges for the inspection and provision of copies of the marked register for local elections are at the discretion of the local authority, responsible for retaining the document.
The fees structure for purchasing copies of the marked electoral registers for the 2005 general election, have been set by the Clerk of the Crown, with agreement by HM Treasury, as required under rule 57(3) of schedule 1, the Representation of the People Act 1983.
Paul Farrelly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the photocopying rate per page to be charged by Pickfords for the marked electoral register. 
Ms Harman: Charges for obtaining copies of the marked registers are set by the Clerk of the Crown, with agreement from HM Treasury, as required under rule 57(3) of schedule 1, the Representation of the People Act 1983. Charges are set on the basis of cost covering, and not on a profit making basis. The charges for the 2005 general election have, in fact, not increased from those at the previous general election in 2001.
The marked registers have traditionally been stored centrally, with other election documentation that the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery is required to retain for a period of one year after a general election.
22 Jun 2005 : Column 1089W
The Government have agreed with the Electoral Commission's proposal in its report, "Voting for change", that in future, all documentation produced at a general election, including marked registers, should be stored by local authorities in England and Wales. The Government will legislate to provide for this at the earliest opportunity.
Ms Harman: The Government currently has no plans to use National Insurance numbers in voter registration outside of Northern Ireland. This is in line with recommendations made by the Electoral Commission and the joint Office of the Deputy Prime Minster/Constitutional Affairs Select Committee.
Ms Harman: The final report of the Boundary Commission in relation to parliamentary boundaries in England has not yet been published. It will be laid before Parliament as soon as practicable after it has been submitted to the Secretary of State.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will estimate the cost to public funds of all-postal pilots election in each year since their introduction. 
Ms Harman: The all-postal pilots in June 2004 were held in combined European parliamentary and local elections across four English regions, the East Midlands, North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. The Government do not yet have firm estimates for the cost of all-postal voting in those elections as some accounts are outstanding from local authorities.
The other all-postal pilots since 2000 in local elections were funded by local authorities, not by central Government. I do not have figures for those costs. The Electoral Commission requested information on costs from local authorities as part of its evaluation of the pilots.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures he is taking to prevent the (a) smuggling into the UK and (b) sale of contraband (i) tobacco products and (ii) alcohol; and if he will make a statement. 
John Healey: In 1997 this Government cancelled a previously planned reduction of 300 Customs staff. In 2000 we launched the Tackling Tobacco Smuggling (TTS) strategy which provided HM Revenue and Customs with an extra £209 million to fund almost 1,000 additional officers and a national fleet of x-ray scanners. In 2001, as part of TTS, we introduced Fiscal Marks for tobacco to prevent the sale of smuggled products.
This strategy has been successful in first halting the previous rapid growth in cigarette smuggling and then reducing the market share for illicit cigarettes to its current level of an estimated 15 per cent. In the past four years more than nine billion cigarettes have been seized and over 259 gangs involved in large scale smuggling broken up. Furthermore, the total number of cigarettes successfully smuggled into the UK each year has been reduced by over five billion sticks, which represents a reduction of over one third.
At Budget 2005 the Government confirmed the strategic approach it is taking to tackle spirits fraudthrough the introduction of regulatory change, including duty stamps for spirits, enhancing operational activity and working closely with the UK industryaimed at reducing spirits fraud by half by 2008.
Mr. Walker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what actions Her Majesty's Customs and Revenue are taking to tackle the importation of counterfeit medicines; and if he will make a statement; 
Dawn Primarolo: Responsibility for tackling the importation of counterfeit medicines lies with HM Revenue and Customs using their powers to take enforcement action against goods that breach the import and export prohibitions on counterfeit, pirated or patent infringing intellectual property rights as set out in EC Council Regulation 1383/2003. HMRC has publicised these procedures in Public Notice No. 34 'Intellectual Property Rights', which can be viewed at www.hmrc.gov.uk/Forms leaflets and booklets.
HMRC targets counterfeit goods at importation using profiles set on its central systems in response to information received from those right holders who have submitted an application to have their rights protected at importation. HMRC detains any suspect consignments and provides the right holder with information that has been declared to HMRC, including details of the goods,
22 Jun 2005 : Column 1091W
importer and manufacturer. HMRC will seize any goods where the right holder confirms in a witness statement that the goods are counterfeit.
Where HMRC detects a consignment of medicines that they suspect is counterfeit, and there is no application from a right holder in place, HMRC will detain the goods and invite the right holder to lodge an application. If the right holder does so within three working days and subsequently confirms in a witness statement that the goods are counterfeit, HMRC will seize the goods.
In May 2005 officials from HMRC and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency met representatives from the pharmaceutical industry to explain the role of HMRC and agree steps that aim to improve the flow of information to HMRC and thereby enhance the targeting of suspect consignments of counterfeit medicines.
HMRC also publicises its role through bodies such as the Anti-counterfeiting Group, at which officials offer advice concerning frontier protection of intellectual property rights to businesses whether they are registered right holders or not.
HMRC are in discussion with the Patent Office and other enforcement agencies as part of the development of the UK's National Intellectual Property Crime Strategy. This strategy is designed to improve consumer awareness of the dangers of counterfeit goods, disseminate information of specific cases against known offenders and ensure a unified approach across Departments.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|