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19 Oct 2005 : Column 1084W—continued

Tax (Late Payment Fines)

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was raised from fines imposed by (a) Her Majesty's Customs and Excise and (b) the Inland Revenue for (i) late completion of tax forms and (ii) late payment of tax owed in the last five financial years. [19584]

Dawn Primarolo: Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs charge interest, penalties and surcharge for the following purposes;

Interest is charged to provide restitution to Government for taxes paid late and to cancel the immediate financial advantage for those who pay taxes late over those who pay on time.

Surcharge is used to encourage prompt payment and 'stepped' rules for calculating surcharge have been designed to increase the incentive to pay liabilities that are late.

Penalties are intended to encourage customers to submit returns by the due date.

Indirect Taxes (VAT)

Revenue received from penalties for late submission/payment of VAT returns.

Year ending
Surcharge paid for late payment of VAT (£ millions)
March 0187
March 0276
March 0390
March 0499
March 0599

Direct Taxes

The former Inland Revenue accounting year runs till the end of October and revenue raised from interest, penalties and surcharge are shown in the following table.

Year ending
Interest paid for late payment of direct taxes (£ millions)
October 2000351.89
October 2001420.76
October 2002389.52
October 2003406.49
October 2004400.77

Year ending
Surcharges paid for late payment
of direct taxes (£ millions)
October 200050.84
October 200159.34
October 200267.51
October 200366.80
October 200462.49

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Year ending
Penalties paid for late submissions
of returns (£ millions)
October 200064.57
October 200174.26
October 200281.63
October 200389.89
October 200486.59

Tax Credits

Mr. Bailey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will introduce tax credits for self-employed low earners; [15744]

(2) what tax provisions are available to help self-employed low earners. [15745]

Dawn Primarolo: Working tax credit and child tax credit are available for both employed and self-employed earners. Both employed and self employed earners may become eligible for working tax credit if they work 16 hours or more a week and so self employed earners on low incomes are already supported by working tax credits.

Help can also be provided with the costs of child care for those workers in receipt of working tax credit. This can be for up to 70 per cent. of the total child care costs incurred to a maximum of £175 a week for one child and £300 a week for two or more children.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate of the cost of tax credit overpayments in 2004–05 has been given to the National Audit Office; and when the final figure will be available. [19291]

Dawn Primarolo: In order to produce the provision for irrecoverable debt estimates for the Trust Statement, which UK accounting standards require us to make, HM Revenue and Customs needed to make an assessment of 2004–05 overpayments. As there was no information or data on which to make such an assessment, it was decided to use a stylised and prudent assumption, reproducing the same figure from 2003–04.

Estimates of level of 2004–05 overpayments as at 5 April 2005 will be published as National Statistics in spring 2006.


Mr. Carswell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much Customs and Excise collected in VAT revenue during the last financial year for which figures are available. [16396]

Dawn Primarolo: The total amount of VAT revenue received in the last financial year was:

Information on revenue from VAT can be found in the HM Revenue and Customs 'Annual Report', which will be published on the HM Revenue and Customs website at the end of this month.
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Childhood Leukaemia

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment she has made of the link between childhood leukaemia and overhead power lines. [18728]

Caroline Flint: The Department's radiation protection research programme supports a number of studies investigating the possible health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF). A study by Dr. Draper and colleagues on childhood leukaemia and distance from power lines, recently published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and funded under this programme, has added to a large existing body of work in this area (BMJ Vol 330, 4 June 2005).

The Health Protection Agency's radiation protection division (HPA-RPD) keeps the world-wide research findings on EMF continually under review. In 2004, on the basis of a comprehensive review of the existing body of research to date, the HPA-RPD (previously the National Radiological Protection Board) recommended the adoption of new EMF exposure guidelines in this country. In addition, in view of the scientific uncertainties, the HPA recommended the Government consider the need for further precautionary measures" in relation to power frequency electromagnetic fields. They have also noted that the majority of elevated magnetic fields are due to variations in the electricity supply and distribution system, the presence of substations and equipment in the home rather than proximity to power lines.

Practical precautionary measures are now being considered in detail by a stakeholder advisory group that includes the Government Departments, agencies, electricity industry, specialists and public concern groups. Details of the process can be found on the website at:

Teenage Pregnancies

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made towards achieving targets for the reduction of conception by women under the age of 18 years. [18826]

Beverley Hughes: I have been asked to reply.

Between 1998 (the baseline year for the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy) and 2003 (the latest year for which data are available) the under-18 conception rate in England has fallen by 9.8 per cent. The under-16 rate has fallen by 9.9 per cent. over the same period.



Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which of the Department's Priorities for Action for 2005 involve autism. [18427]

Mr. Woodward: The Department's priorities for 2005–06 onwards have been conveyed to Boards and Trusts, and they are working together to achieve the
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associated targets and actions. The priorities require that Boards and Trusts develop strategies to address waiting lists for patients requiring therapy services, which includes autism, and should develop support services for Asperger's Syndrome, a specific form of autism. The Department is monitoring their progress towards these goals

Breast Cancer

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many breast cancer patients in Northern Ireland are being treated with Herceptin. [18907]

Mr. Woodward: There are currently 80 breast cancer patients being treated with Herceptin in Northern Ireland.

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the availability of the breast cancer treatment drug Herceptin in Northern Ireland; and what plans he has to increase its availability, with particular reference to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. [18908]

Mr. Woodward: Herceptin is available to every breast cancer patient in NI, who is judged by their oncologist to have a clinical need for the drug in the advanced disease setting. It is not currently licensed for use in the treatment of early stage breast cancer.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health has said that as soon as Herceptin has been licensed for use by those patients with early stage breast cancer suitable for treatment it will be fast-tracked by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in relation to its availability throughout the NHS. NICE guidance does not automatically apply in Northern Ireland. However, the quality of its advice is well recognised and the HPSS will normally take it into account when deciding on its priorities for the future funding of new drugs.

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