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Independent Licensing Fees

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (James Purnell): I am pleased to inform the House that I have today formally published the interim report of an independent panel that has been set up to consider whether the licensing fees are set at the right level.

The panel's terms of reference are to:

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While the panel, which includes representatives of local government, local communities and industry, has collectively concluded that it is too early to take a view on the current fee levels associated with the Licensing Act 2003, it has made the following initial recommendations to the Government:

We will now fully consider the panel's recommendations.

The interim report also identifies areas that the panel will now consider further, including:

The panel is due to publish a final report on the fee levels in the autumn of 2006. Where it is able to do so, it will make further recommendations in advance of its full report.

I can re-affirm today that costs incurred by local authorities in meeting their requirements under the new Licensing Act will (provided they have been incurred legitimately and efficiently) be fully met by fees within the national fee regime. There should therefore be no liability for the council tax payer because of the new licensing regime. My Department and the Local Government Association will work with the independent fees review panel as a matter of urgency to agree the process for verifying these costs.

Everyone involved in the new fees system can rest assured that, if evidence proves that the current system needs fine-tuning, we are fully committed to doing just that.

Copies of the report have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and are available at
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Northern Ireland Battalion 1

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): As part of our normal process of keeping force levels under review, the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland (GOC NI), in consultation with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), has concluded that the remaining roulement battalion can be removed from his command as it is not required for routine support to the police in Northern Ireland. This follows a rundown in the requirement such that the tasks currently performed by this battalion can be delivered instead by resident battalions. Accordingly, the battalion known as Northern Ireland Battalion 1 (NIBAT 1) can be removed from the command of the GOC NI to Commander in Chief Land on the 16 January 2006.

This is a prudent measure to provide military support to the police efficiently and does not reflect the Army's ability to support the PSNI in countering the threat
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from terrorism and preventing potential public disorder. We will continue to keep force levels in Northern Ireland under regular review to match the support required by the PSNI.


National Non-Domestic Rates

The Minister for Local Government (Mr. Phil Woolas): I have today presented the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2006–07. Included in the announcement was the distributable amount of National Non-Domestic Rates in England for 2006–07 to be redistributed to local authorities, which will be £17.5 billion.

The provisional national non-domestic rating multiplier for 2006–07 is 0.433 (43.3p in the pound) and the provisional small business non-domestic rating multiplier for 2006–07 is 0.426 (42.6p in the pound).

The calculation of the distributable amount for 2006–07 is set out in the table below.
Calculation of distributable amount for 2006–07
£ million
1.Income from local lists
Multiplier (p)43.744.445.641.542.6
Gross rate yield in respect of current year17,19517,46317,84419,16520,103
(i) Reliefs
(a) Net Transitional Relief-182-120-125-452-300
(b) Net Small Business Rate Relief-250
(c) Empty or partly occupied properties-1,144-1,219-1,288-1,294-1,357
(d) Charitable-602-616-645-674-707
(e) Rural shops and post offices-6-6-6-6-6
(f) Community amateur sports clubs-4-6-6
(g) Former agricultural premises0-1-1-1-1
(h) Discretionary-42-39-36-39-40
Net rate yield in respect of current year after reliefs15,22015,46415,73916,66917,685
(ii) Collection costs and other reductions to contributions
(a) Costs of collection-84-84-84-84-84
(b) Losses on collection-106-93-115-113-113
(c) City of London offset-7-7000
Total contribution in respect of current year15,02415,28015,54016,47317,489
(iii) Prior year adjustments
(a) Interest on repayments-59-78-64-12-6
(b) Repayments-479-803-789-342-156
Total prior year adjustment-538-881-853-354-162
Net rate yield from local lists14,48514,39914,68716,11917,327
2.Income from Central list
Net central list yield1,0441,0291,0371,1021,000
3.Income from the former Crown list
Contributions in lieu of rates810101110
Total yield15,53715,43815,73417,23118,337
4.Exchequer Contributions
Exchequer contribution towards transitional relief411117700
Total NNDR pool payments (= 1+2+3+4)15,57815,54915,81117,23118,337
Surplus brought forward133-915-966-155-923
Combined total15,71114,63414,84517,07717,413
Distributable amount16,62615,60015,00018,00017,500
Surplus carried forward-915-966-155-923-87

The above calculation involves estimating several figures that are inherently difficult to forecast accurately, such as the gross rate yield and the prior year adjustments. The resulting figure of £17.413 billion has therefore been rounded to £17.500 billion exactly to avoid spurious accuracy.
For 2002–03, 2003–04 and 2004–05, the amounts shown are generally those reported on the outturn (NNDR3) returns, with those for 2003–04 and 2004–05 being regarded as provisional in advance of the receipt of audited returns from all billing authorities. For 2005–06, the amounts shown are the provisional outturn for the year based upon authorities' provisional contributions to the non-domestic rating pool, largely as reported on NNDR1 and—where submitted—NNDR2 returns. For 2006–07, the estimates are based on:
1. Item 1: The gross rate yield represents the estimated effective total rateable value of non-domestic hereditaments on local rating lists multiplied by the small business non-domestic rating multiplier of 42.6p. The supplement of 0.7p that is also applied to businesses paying for the small business rate relief is not included, and neither is the small business rate relief included within the reliefs at item l(i). This reflects the fact that the income from the supplement is intended to equal the cost of the relief nationally, resulting in a zero net effect upon the Distributable Amount.
2. Item l(i)(a): the cost of the transitional reliefs in 2006–07 is estimated to be £300 million, to reflect the fact that the increase in the multiplier for 2005–06 onwards to take account of expected losses from appeals has had an impact upon the in-year revenue neutrality of the transitional arrangements. At least part of this cost will be recouped once the appeals take effect, and the power exists to adjust the multiplier in later years as necessary.
3. Item l(i)(b): net small business rate relief. This is assumed to be zero: see note 1, above.
4. Item l(i)(c): The empty properties relief includes voids and partially occupied hereditaments.
5. Item l(i)(d): Charitable rate relief.
6. Item l(i)(e): Rural Shops and Post Office relief. Figures include mandatory relief for general stores and post offices under the Local Government and Rating Act 1997.
7. Item l(i)(f): Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs). This is mandatory rate relief for sports clubs registered with HM Revenue and Customs (formerly Inland Revenue) as Community Amateur Sports Clubs under the Section 64 of the Local Government Act 2003, which came into effect on 1 April 2004.
8. Item l(i)(g): Discretionary relief granted to charities, non-profit making organisations and for other reasons including discretionary relief for village shops and post offices under the Local Government and Rating Act 1997.
9. Item l(ii)(a) and (b): The allowances for the costs and losses incurred by authorities in collecting non-domestic rates from ratepayers.
10. Item l(ii)(c): City of London offset—the amount which the City of London is not required to pay into the non-domestic rating pool. It has been set to zero for 2004–05 onwards.
11. Item l(iii): net adjustment in respect of appeals and other amendments to the rating list affecting liability for previous years rates settled in that year: comprising repayments and associated interest payments.
12. Item 2: a forecast of the rateable value of non-domestic hereditaments on the central rating list multiplied by the multiplier, less the net effect of transitional arrangements, and adjusted for appeals and other changes in respect of previous years.
13. Item 3: Almost all properties previously included in the Crown List are now included in the local list figures at item 1.
14. Item 4: the contribution from central government to offset the amount of the Secretary of State's estimate of income forgone as a result of transitional arrangements is assumed to be zero for 2006–07.

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