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Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what guidance and advice the Treasury has issued to HM Revenue and Customs in respect of the collection of PAYE and national insurance arrears from NHS trusts. 
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question concerning what plans the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to meet the Professional and Commercial Services Union to discuss changes in the Office for National Statistics (ONS). (19239)
John Healey MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, met with representatives from the Public and Commercial Services and Prospect trade unions on 20 July to discuss changes within the ONS. Having heard their concerns, Mr Healey referred the unions back to ONS management for more detailed discussion.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the relative effects of the proposed pension self-investment scheme on those on different wage and salary levels. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Pension simplification will provide benefits for all taxpayers, whatever their level of income. The regulatory impact assessment (RIA) Simplifying the Taxation of Pensions" published in April 2004, which can be found at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ria/simplifying-pensions.pdf set out an assessment of the potential impact of the whole pensions simplification package.
Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 13 October 2005]: The Government receive many representations from individuals and organisations on the operation of the tax system. The Chancellor keeps all aspects of the tax system under review. Decisions on tax are normally made in the Budget.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to change the minimum retirement age for stakeholder pension members; and if he will make a statement on the future of the stakeholder pension. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The new simplified regime for the taxation of pensions, which comes into effect on 6 April 2006, introduces a new minimum pension age for all tax registered pension schemesincluding stakeholder pensionsof 55 by 2010.
Stakeholder pensions are an established pension product. Since their introduction in April 2001 over 2.5 million have been sold. They form an integral part of the range of Stakeholder Savings products introduced in April 2005.
The Office for National Statistics produces Subnational Population Projections that are fully consistent with the National Population Projections produced by the Government Actuary's Department. The latest of these are 2003-based and project the population over a twenty five year horizon to 2028.
Official 2003-based Subnational Population Projections for England were published by the Office for National Statistics in November 2004. They are available at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/Product.asp?vlnk=997
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning the progress in the development of regional price indexes showing differences in regional inflation rates. (18945)
The Office for National Statistics has, from time to time, made estimates of inter regional differences in price levels. The most recent of these was released in Economic Trends earlier this year (Relative regional consumer price levels in 2004Economic Trends February 2005 page 615), copies of which are available in the House of Commons Library. We do not however plan to produce regional estimates of price changes in the near future.
Stephen Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will raise the threshold for annual turnover of the self-employed below which they may use a short version of the income and expenses section of a tax return; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The slow down in the global and European economies in recent years has tested the effectiveness of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) in supporting both stability and growth, as well as highlighting problems surrounding the operation and design of the SGP's Excessive Deficit Procedure. The Government have consistently argued for a prudent interpretation of the SGP that takes account of country-specific factors including debt sustainability, the economic cycle and public investment.
The reforms to the Pact agreed in March 2005 rightly place a greater focus on reducing and maintaining low debt, with the flexibility for low debt countries such as the UK to invest in the provision of much needed public services. During our presidency of the EU, the UK will be working closely with member states and EU institutions to ensure effective implementation of the new Pact going forward.
18 Oct 2005 : Column 923W
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