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Dawn Primarolo: There have been no imports of exotic birds falling within tariff classification 0106 3200 (Psittaciforms, including parrots, parakeets, macaws and cockatoos) into Northern Ireland ports directly from non-EU countries within the last two years. It is not possible to identify the number of exotic birds imported into Northern Ireland ports indirectly via other UK ports, or from other EU countries.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much VAT was collected from the sale of fuel oil in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Huhne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many people paid income tax in the last year for which figures are available; and what proportion claimed tax relief for pension contributions; 
(3) what estimate he has made of the total value of pension contribution tax relief given to those above (a) median taxable incomes, (b) mean taxable incomes and (c) twice median taxable incomes in the last year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis:
An estimate for the number of income tax payers and the proportion that claim relief on their contributions to approved pensions schemes is given in the following table.
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|Number of individuals that pay income tax (Thousand)||30,100|
|Proportion that receive tax relief on their pension contributions (Percentage)||45|
The estimated yield from restricting income tax relief on employee and self-employed pension contributions to the basic rate is £1.5 billion in 200405. The yield from restricting employer contributions is £3 billion. This estimate assumes that the proportion of total employer contributions relating to higher rate taxpayers is the same as that for employees. The estimates take no account of any behavioural effects that are likely to result from such rule changes. Nor do they account for any knock-on implications for the taxation of pension payments should full relief on contributions be withdrawn.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the cost of introducing a marginal rate of inheritance tax of 20 per cent. on estates valued above the zero-rate threshold and at less than £500,000; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what research his Department has commissioned into the effect on inheritance tax avoidance of reducing the rate of the tax; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: As with all taxes, policy on inheritance tax is continuously reviewed as part of the Budget process. Analysing the impact on avoidance of any change to policy is a key element of that process.
Since 1997, the Government have taken steps to improve the environment for all UK businessesincluding manufacturerby maintaining macroeconomic stability and implementing microeconomic reforms to remove barriers to efficient and flexible markets. The UK now has the lowest rate of corporation tax since its introduction. A number of other measures have also delivered improvements for the manufacturing sector through the tax system. In addition to 40 per cent. first year
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allowances for investments in plant and machinery by small and medium sized enterprises, the Government has introduced 100 per cent. first year allowances for investments in designated energy-saving plant and machinery. The introduction of R and D tax credits has also already led to claims of over £1.3 billion, delivering important Government support for research and development in innovative UK manufacturers and other firms.
John Healey: The Government published a 10-year Science and Innovation Investment Framework in July 2004, which set out our ambition for total public and private investment in R&D to reach 2.5 per cent. of GDP by 2014. Stimulating increased business investment in R&D is crucial to achieving this ambition, including in the manufacturing sector, which accounts for ¾ of all business R&D expenditure in the UK.
The Government have put in place a range of policies to encourage business investment in R&D, which deal with the full spectrum of business activity, both manufacturing and services, rather than targeting specific industries or sectors. These include:
The introduction of R&D tax credits which has already led to claims of over £1.3 billion, delivering important Government support for research and development in innovative UK manufacturers and other firms.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on financial measures to assist (a) the manufacturing sector and (b) British business. 
John Healey: The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, meet regularly to discuss a range of issues including the Government's policies to support manufacturing in particular, and British business more widely.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 24 October 2005, Official Report, column 79W, on marginal deduction rates, what estimate he has made of the total cost of passported benefits in the latest year for which figures are available; and how many people received them. 
The policy on the provision of passported benefits, the costs of providing them and the number of people benefiting are matters for the individual Government Department, local authority or devolved Administration which provides them. The information is therefore not held by HM Treasury
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Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost of allowing tax free lump sums to be taken from pension funds on retirement; and if he will make a statement. 
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