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Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the likely effects of the closure of Ryscar House, Blackpool will have on the number and accuracy of working tax and child tax credit awards. 
(3) what assessment he has made of the number of staff at Ryscar House who will opt for redundancy rather than moving to another part of the country as a result of the planned closure; what assessment he has made of the likely effects on benefit claimants; and if he will make a statement; 
HMRC is preparing business plans to meet its efficiency savings for 200508, but no decision have yet been made in this process. It is therefore too early to say how any particular office might be affected. All proposals that are drawn up as part of this work will be subject to a comprehensive social, economic and service delivery impact assessment.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce legislation to ban accountancy, law and other firms from charging contingency fees for selling tax avoidance schemes. 
Dawn Primarolo: The Government are committed to protecting the tax system against tax avoidance. Since 1997 the Government have taken a series of steps to prevent abuse of the tax system through structural reforms that made the system less vulnerable, closing loopholes in the law and improving the way that HM Revenue and Customs delivers its compliance function. In his 2004 Budget Statement, the Chancellor announced the introduction of disclosure rules for direct tax and VAT, to require notification of avoidance schemes. Contingency fees are one of the features of both direct tax and VAT avoidance that can trigger a disclosure requirement.
Dawn Primarolo: As part of the Government's commitment to protect the tax system against tax avoidance, the Chancellor announced the introduction of disclosure rules for direct tax in his 2004 Budget Statement. These rules require all promoters to disclose certain tax avoidance schemes to HMRC. HMRC reviews each scheme.
Dawn Primarolo: In his 2004 Budget Statement, the Chancellor announced that he did not intend to introduce a general anti-avoidance rule at this stage. The Government continue to keep under review a range of options to deter non-compliance and encourage voluntary compliance, ensuring fairness of the tax system.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people are employed in HM Revenue and Customs to handle (a) tax credit complaints, (b) telephone calls about tax credits and (c) compensation for HM Revenue and Custom's errors relating to tax credits; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: At 28 May 2005 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) had nearly 400 full-time equivalent staff working in the Tax Credit Office handling tax credit complaints. These staff also deal with compensation in accordance with complaints and redress procedures explained in the Department's code of practice 1: Putting things right".
The number of full-time equivalent staff employed to work on dedicated tax credits helplines at 28 May 2005 was around 3,200. In addition, HMRC can use another 500 staff to answer tax credit calls at peak times.
The Department's code of practice 26, What happens if we have paid you too much tax credit?' describes their approach to overpayments and is available on the internet at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/leaflets/cop26.pdf
|April to June 2004||14,000|
|July to September 2004||54,000|
|October to December 2004||63,000|
|January to March 2005||84,000|
|April to 31 May 2005||56,000|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he received from the (a) Inland Revenue and (b) external IT suppliers about the timescale for the introduction of the new tax credits prior to April 2003; and if he will make a statement. 
The development of Government policy on tax credits involved extensive discussions between Treasury Ministers and Inland Revenue Officials. I am not aware that Ministers received representations directly from external IT suppliers.
6 Jul 2005 : Column 438W
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1)how many people had in-year recovery of excess tax credits in (a) 200304 and (b) 200405; and what the total value of excess payments was in each year; 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the statement of 22 June 2005, Official Report, columns 80114, by the Paymaster General, on tax credits, whether he has accepted in full the recommendations in paragraph (a) 5.41, (b) 5.51, (c) 5.65 and (d) 7.14 of the Parliamentary Ombudsman's report. 
Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the written statement I made in the House on 26 May 2005, Official Report, columns 2223WA and the oral statement I made to the House on 22 June 2005, Official Report, columns 80114.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the statement of 22 June 2005, Official Report, columns 80114, by the Paymaster General, on tax credits, whether changes to the tax credit IT system are required to ensure that an in-year excess tax credit payment that is recoverable in accordance with COP 26 will be recovered at the same rate as those for previous year overpayments. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the statement of 22 June 2005, Official Report, columns 80114, by the Paymaster General, on tax credits, whether changes to the tax credit IT system are required in order to comply with the recommendation in paragraph 5.17 of the Parliamentary Ombudsman's report; and whether he accepts the recommendation. 
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