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20 Oct 2005 : Column 1175W—continued

Firearms Seizure

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will publish the HM Customs and Excise assessment of the percentage of firearms seized at ports of entry that are intended for criminal use; [17275]

(2) how many firearms were seized at ports of entry in each of the past five years for which figures are available; and how many of these were seized as a consequence of inaccurate licences or paperwork. [17276]

Dawn Primarolo: The following table shows the number of firearms seized by HM Revenue and Customs in the last five years. It includes all firearms as defined in the Firearms Act 1968, but excludes self defence sprays, stun guns and parts of firearms.
Financial yearNumber of rifles and hand guns seizedNumber of
shot guns seized

Information on HMRC's detections of smuggled firearms is shared between HMRC's investigation staff, NCIS and police who assess the seriousness of the case and agree the arrangements for any follow up investigation. All cases other than those involving technical irregularities are considered for investigation either by police or HMRC.

HMRC does not categorise seizures according to intended use as any attempt to smuggle a firearm is serious and seizures where there was no specific information can lead to the detection of further serious crime.

Where a case has been referred to the police for investigation HMRC central records do not show whether or not criminal use was suspected at the time or subsequently established. A historic review to establish whether seizures were on the grounds of technical errors including inaccurate papers and licences or where there was smuggling for intended criminal use would only be available at disproportionate cost.

HMRC's current assessment is that the incidence where firearms are smuggled with the intention of use in gun crime is low but that this remains a constant threat. They continue to work closely with NCIS and police forces to improve the intelligence available in this area.

HM Revenue and Customs

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people work for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs in Northern Ireland. [19572]

20 Oct 2005 : Column 1176W

Dawn Primarolo: At 1 April 2005, HM Customs and Excise employed 712 full-time equivalent staff units in Northern Ireland.

In April 2005 the functions of HM Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue were brought together to form HM Revenue and Customs.

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many whole-time equivalent staff are employed in HM Revenue and Customs Large Business Service; and how many were employed in each of the predecessor sections of Revenue and Customs in April 2004. [19261]

Dawn Primarolo: At 1 October 2005 there were 1,875 FTE units employed in HMRC Large Business Services.

At 1 April 2004 there were 998 FTE units in the Large Business Group of HMCE, and 802 FTE units within the Large Business Office of Inland Revenue.

The small increase in staff over the period is due to internal reorganisation and new work for Spend to Save compliance activity.

Efficiencies will be identified as HMRC develop and implement the LBS Business Design Model next year, which will lead to a reduction in staff numbers.

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax offices were closed (a) in total and (b) in each (i) region and (ii) country in the UK in each of the last two years. [19265]

Dawn Primarolo: In 2004 the Inland Revenue closed four tax offices. Two of the offices were in London, one was in IR Central (Hertfordshire) and one in IR South (Dorset).

Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue merged in April 2005 to form HM Revenue and Customs. HMRC has a policy of consolidating offices where possible, both to ensure they offer a joined-up service to customers and also to contribute to their efficiency targets. HMRC have sought to take advantage of opportunities such as the expiry of leases and relocation into existing Government estate and have consolidated ex-IR staff as detailed in the following table.

In all but one of the closures we have maintained a presence in the town. In the one instance where this did not happen the move was involuntary (the landlord would not renew the lease).

Inland Revenue Enquiry Centres (IRECs) were closed in four locations, with customers redirected to other IRECs within a maximum of two miles from the office being closed.

The breakdown by year, region and county:
East of England112
North West011
Yorkshire and the Humber011
West Midlands011
South East011
North East022
South West123
Greater London2911
North Yorkshire011
Tyne and Wear022

20 Oct 2005 : Column 1177W

Income Tax

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost would be of reducing the higher rate of income tax from 40 per cent. to 35 per cent. [20308]

Dawn Primarolo: Reducing the higher rate of income tax from 40 per cent. to 35 per cent. on earnings and savings would reduce tax revenue by an estimated £5.6billion in 2005–06.

This cost assumes changing the higher rate tax on earnings and savings only and does not include the effect on other linked taxes and reliefs such as capital gains tax.

The income tax information is based upon the 2002–03 survey of personal incomes (SPI) projected forward to 2005–06 in line with Budget 2005 assumptions.

The figures exclude any estimate of behavioural response to the tax changes, which could be significant given the scale of the changes.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people were subject to effective marginal tax rates of over 50 per cent. in (a) 1996–97, (b) 2000–01, (c) 2003–04 and (d) 2004–05; and if he will make a statement. [20152]

Dawn Primarolo: The highest marginal income tax rate was reduced to 40 per cent. from April 1988.

The Treasury publishes ex-ante projections of marginal deduction rates: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 4 April 2005, Official Report, column 1177W.

We do not estimate other outturn figures.

Manufacturing Sectors (Work Force)

Jon Cruddas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of the (a) UK and (b) London work force was accounted for by the manufacturing sector in each year since 1992. [19156]

John Healey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.
20 Oct 2005 : Column 1178W

Letter from Karen Dunnell to Mr. Jon Cruddas, dated 20 October 2005:

Percentage of jobs in United Kingdom and London in the manufacturing sector; 1992 to 2005(29)

United Kingdom
—workforce jobs(30)
United Kingdom employee jobs(31)London—employee jobs(31)

(29)Data are for June each year.
(30)Workforce jobs, seasonally adjusted, includes the self-employed, HM Forces and Government-supported trainees.
(31)Employee jobs, not seasonally adjusted, excludes the self-employed, HM Forces and Government-supported trainees.
Work force jobs and employee jobs.

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