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Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made in including estimates of the finance lease loan element of private finance initiative deals in public sector debt figures; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Cable: To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the impact on public sector debt of the finance lease loan element of private finance initiative deals; and if he will make a statement. 
The Office for National Statistics has not yet made an estimate of the impact on Public Sector Net Debt (PSND) of including the implied debt in on-balance-sheet private finance initiative deals. Work is in hand to produce a robust number for inclusion in PSND.
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John Hemming: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many calls were made from call centres in his Department in 200405 using predictive diallers; how many such calls resulted in contact being made with the recipient without a Government agent available to talk to them; and what assessment he has made of the likely impact of Ofcom's policy on silent calls on the use of predictive diallers in departmental call centres. 
Lady Hermon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the merits of providing tax relief to small businesses investing in measures to protect themselves against crime. 
Dawn Primarolo: The Government keeps all tax reliefs under review. Expenditure incurred by businesses on the protection of business premises or the safeguarding of staff is eligible for relief providing it satisfies the general rules that provide relief for business expenditure. In addition, where relief might not otherwise be allowable under the general rules because of the personal benefit to the employee or proprietor, there is special provision for relief for security expenditure relating to threats to employees and proprietors of businesses.
Rosie Cooper: To ask The Chancellor of the Exchequer how many suicides there were in West Lancashire, in the most recent year for which figures are available, by young people aged 15 to 24 years, (a) broken down by sex and (b) expressed as a percentage of all suicides. 
The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking how many suicides there were in West Lancashire in the most recent year for which figures are available by young people aged 15 to 24 years, broken down by sex and expressed as a percentage of all suicides. I am replying in her absence. (27840)
The most recently available information is for deaths registered in 2004. In this year there were no suicides of people aged 15 to 24 registered for usual residents of West Lancashire local authority. 1
1 In routine statistics, ONS defines suicides as deaths from both intentional self-harm and 'injury or poisoning of undetermined intent'. Data were searched using the following International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes:
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list all externally commissioned surveys and research by his Department and its agencies in each year since 1997, indicating for each (a) the external contractor employed, (b) the cost and (c) the time taken to complete; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 8 November 2005]: HM Revenue and Customs introduced new telephony equipment to the tax credits MP hotline facility to provide call management information and maintain quality assurance of service it provides for hon. Members.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the (a) internal and (b) external reviews that have been conducted into the tax credit IT system (i) before it was introduced and (ii) since its introduction. 
Dawn Primarolo: HM Revenue and Customs and their IT suppliers keep the development and operation of the tax credit computer system under constant review. The Department commissioned two formal reviews of the development of the system that were carried out in September 2001 and October 2003.
Mr. Gale: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Revenue and Customs claims for the repayment of child tax credit are outstanding; what the total value of such claims is; whether he plans to change the system by which child tax credit payments are (a) assessed and (b) made; and if he will make a statement. 
In my written statement of 26 May 2005, Official Report, columns 2223WS, I said that I had agreed six measures with HMRC to improve the administration of tax credits, with particular regard to how the Department communicates with families about their tax credits award, reducing the risk of errors adding to the number of overpayments and improving procedures for recovering overpayments.
My right. hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said in the Chamber on 10 November 2005, Official Report, column 449, that where a claimant disputes the recovery of an overpayment action will be taken to prevent automatic recovery of any outstanding
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amount owed until the tax credit office has looked into the case and made a decision. This applies both to the cases on hand and to new cases going forward.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many additional tax credit payments have been made in each (a) month, (b) quarter and (c) year since April 2003; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: Figures on the number of complaints received about the recovery of a tax credit overpayment are not available for 200304. For the number of requests received disputing the recovery of an overpayment I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Osborne) on 12 September 2005, Official Report, column 2385W.
Tax credits claimants have a right of appeal against decisions about their tax credit entitlement but claimants are able to pursue with HM Revenue and Customs any disagreement concerning the recovery of an overpayment. 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
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax credit awards which are being paid off-system have received manual giro payments for (a) one month, (b) two months, (c) three months, (d) six months and (e) 12 months or more. 
Dawn Primarolo: The information requested by my right hon. Friend (the Member for Birkenhead) is not available at the requested level of detail. HM Revenue and Customs is currently making manual tax credits payments to around 16,000 households.
Mike Wood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of low income claimants have experienced gaps in tax credit payments due to (a) overpayment investigations and (b) recovery action. 
Dawn Primarolo: Complaints about tax credits can be made in various ways, including as part of telephone calls, visits to HM Revenue and Customs Enquiry Centres, and written correspondence from claimants where the primary purpose of the communication is to receive or provide information. No comprehensive count of such complaints is maintained.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many compensation payments have been made by the tax credits department of HM Revenue and Customs for poor service in each month since January 2004; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: The circumstances in which the former Inland Revenue and HM Revenue and Customs will make compensation payments to its customers are explained in the Department's code of practice 1 Putting things right" which is available at www.hmrc.gov.uk/leaflets/cop1.pdf
Mr. Frank Field:
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) in what circumstances a tax credit claimant who provides (a) job details and hours worked but no income details and (b) job details and hours worked for a disabled partner but no income details as
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part of a joint claim containing the disability element could receive working tax credits based on them having nil income; 
(2) what measures are in place to alert staff responsible for tax credits when a claim for working tax credit contains (a) job details and the number of hours worked, but no income details leading to a maximum award of tax credit and (b) the disability element in respect of a partner in a joint claim who has given job details and hours worked but no income details. 
Dawn Primarolo: Where a claimant has provided a number of hours worked but not given any income details, the Tax Credit Office will be automatically alerted to ask for further information from the claimant. The Tax Credit Office will check the income details for the award with the claimant. Any entitlement for working tax credit would be based on the information provided by the claimant at that stage.
The notes sent with the claim form inform self-employed claimants that should their business have made a loss in the preceding tax year, they should enter their income as nil. It is on this basis that a nil income claim is processed as valid.
If, for some reason, an award is established on the wrong income, the claimant would be able to check the income details on which the award is based on the award notice. Accompanying guidance asks claimants to inform HMRC if their income has gone up or down in the current year. At the end of the tax year, the claimants are asked to confirm their actual income for the year.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many times the IT system supporting the MPs' tax credit hotline has been out of operation since 2003; and what the duration of the downtime was in each instance. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 27 October 2005]: New telephony equipment was introduced to the MP hotline on 7 October 2005. There has been one case of downtime since, on the 10 October 2005, when the MP hotline was down for a 30 minute period.
I refer the hon. Members to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Yeovil on 27 October 2005, Official Report, columns 49697W. Following a data cleansing exercise, which removed some duplicated records from the system, the amounts written off in June, July, August and September 2005 were around:
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|Month 2005||Amount written off £000|
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many scheduled tax credit payments were not made automatically on the first scheduled payment date after a claim was decided for each year since 200304; and what the average delay was in each case. 
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