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30 Nov 2005 : Column 523W—continued

Lyons Inquiry

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether (a) his Department and (b) the Valuation Office Agency has made a written submission to the Lyons Inquiry on local government finance. [31729]

John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer she received on 12 September 2005, Official Report, column 2431W from the Minister for Local Government.

Maladministration

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many payments for maladministration have been made by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies, (c) its non-departmental public bodies and (d) other bodies for which his Department has responsibility in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [32237]

John Healey: Information concerning payments related to maladministration is not available.

National Insurance

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was raised in (a) national insurance contributions and (b) income tax from 16 to 18-year-olds during the 2004–05 financial year. [31026]


 
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Dawn Primarolo: The information on the amounts raised in the national insurance contributions and income tax from 16 to 18-year-olds in the last financial year is not available.

Northern Ireland (Fiscal Regime)

David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to ensure that Northern Ireland presents a more attractive fiscal regime. [32122]

Mr. Des Browne: The funding arrangements for Northern Ireland are set out in the Statement of Funding Policy published by the Treasury in July 2004. Public spending per head in Northern Ireland is higher than in any other region of the UK.

Predictive Diallers

John Hemming: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many calls were made by (a) his Department and (b) Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs in 2004–05 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 by his Department. [30683]

Dawn Primarolo: In respect of the Treasury, I refer the hon. Member to the Financial Secretary's reply of 15 November 2005, Official Report, column 1209W. The Treasury does not use predictive diallers.

HM Revenue and Customs was created as a legal entity on 7 April 2005. Of the two former Departments, HM Customs and Excise did not make use of predictive diallers during the period.

It is estimated that the Inland Revenue—and contractors acting on its behalf—made around 7.5 million calls using predictive diallers during 2004–05. Full information is not available on the number of calls where contact was made but operators were not available.

HMRC is considering Ofcom's latest policy and guidance on silent calls alongside the associated Ofcom Consultation Document which was published on 31 October.

Private Finance Initiative

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total value of private finance initiative contracts on the Government Balance Sheet was as at July. [27043]

John Healey: Based on departmental returns, the total value of private finance initiative contracts on the Government Balance Sheet is £23.1 billion. This figure is the aggregate of the initial capital values of on-balance sheet PFI contracts signed.
 
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Race Equality Impact Assessments

Keith Vaz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many race equality impact assessments his Department completed between (a) April 2004 and March 2005 and (b) April 2005 and November 2005; and how many assessments in each period resulted in a change of policy. [32835]

John Healey: The Treasury actively embraces its duties under the Race Relations Act. It works with other departments on a wide range of policies, and in turn those departments are responsible for producing race equality impact assessments (REIAs). In addition, successive Pre-Budget and Budget reports have given explicit commitments to promoting equality, fairness and opportunity and have published the distributional analyses necessary to deliver change.

The Treasury has not led on any REIAs between April 2004 and November 2005. A copy of the Treasury's race equality scheme, which gives information on how the Treasury meets its duties to promote race equality, can be accessed via the following link:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk./media/1B7/85/ race_equality_scheme050705–1.pdf

Railways

Mr. Newmark: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much debt the Government holds on and off balance sheet for London and Continental Railways Ltd.; and whether this debt assumes par value. [26222]

Derek Twigg: I have been asked to reply.

The most recent accounts produced by London and Continental Railways Ltd. (LCR) showed that, as of 31 December 2004, it held total debt of £6.2 billion.

The Government do not hold any debt for LCR. However, the Office for National Statistics currently classifies £1.25 billion of the debt held by LCR as government borrowing in the National Accounts. The remainder of LCR's debt is classified to the private sector.

Renewable Fuels

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will reduce duty on renewable fuels to accompany the introduction of the Government's Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations. [33039]

John Healey: The Chancellor announces changes to taxation policy in the context of the Budget.

Road Fuel Imports

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people have been stopped by HM Customs and Excise for importing road fuel in excess of the 10 litres allowed free of excise duty in each year from 2001. [32484]

John Healey: HM Revenue and Customs record seizures of road fuel improperly imported. The following table details the numbers of seizures in calendar years.
 
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Number of seizures of imported oil
Calendar yearUnder 100 litresOver 100 litres
2001785
2002566
2003624
200468

Tax Credits

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether it is possible for a tax credit award in payment to be fraudulently redirected to a new bank account without detection; and what systems exist to prevent this; [25244]

(2) in how many cases identity fraud has been suspected following contact from tax credit recipients asking why their award has stopped, for each month since April 2003. [25245]

Dawn Primarolo: Tax credit claimants can notify HMRC of changes to their bank details. This is normally done by telephone to one of the Department's contact centres. Before any change to a person's details are made; however, the caller must satisfy a variety of security questions designed around personal information held about them by HMRC.

HMRC have a number of sophisticated measures in place to help them detect fraud and to minimise the risk of fraudulent payments being made this way.

The information requested on the number of cases where identity fraud has been suspected following contact from tax credit recipients is not available.

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the average time taken to process annual tax credits declarations; what measures have been put in place to speed up current processing times; and whether a new annual tax credits declaration may be submitted before a dispute about an overpayment for previous years has been settled. [28419]

Dawn Primarolo: For average processing times, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Guildford (Anne Milton) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) on 2 November 2005, Official Report, column 1058W.

Claimants who are required to make a declaration must do so by 30 September, following the end of the year of claim, whether or not they have an ongoing dispute with HM Revenue and Customs about a tax credits overpayment.

David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total estimated cost of dealing with tax credit overpayments made to people in Northern Ireland has been; and what the average cost was of a tax credit overpayment in Northern Ireland in 2005. [32126]

Dawn Primarolo: The information requested is not available.

Danny Alexander: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in how many tax credit cases from 2003–04 in Scotland an overpayment was identified where there was no ongoing award. [33020]


 
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Dawn Primarolo: There were around 25,000 2003–04 tax credit awards made to families in Scotland, where an overpayment was identified at April 2004 but there was no ongoing award.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what definition of product development he uses in relation to tax credits; and whether this includes design development. [33368]

John Healey: Research and development (R&D) tax credits are available for expenditure on qualifying activities, defined under the DTI's guidelines of 5 March 2004. R&D takes place where an activity seeks to achieve an advance in science or technology—through the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainty.

Product development activities qualify for R&D tax credits where they meet the definition in DTI guidelines.

Design permeates the process of new product development; design activities also qualify for R&D tax credits where they meet this definition.


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