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13 Dec 2005 : Column 1832W—continued

Government Borrowing Requirements

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the Government's borrowing requirements for the next three years; and if he will make a statement. [36694]

John Healey: Tables B9 and B10 in annex B of the pre-Budget report 2005 set out the Government's latest projections for public sector net borrowing up to 2010–11.

Insurance Premium Tax

Gregory Barker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the level of fraud cases relating to the insurance premium tax since 1997. [37153]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Treasury is not aware of any continuing or growing level of fraud in relation to insurance premium tax. However, as with all taxes, the situation is kept under close scrutiny.

Nuclear Power

Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on the use of public funds (a) to support existing nuclear power generation capacity, (b) to deal with (i) past and (ii) future nuclear waste arising from power generation and (c) to support the construction of new nuclear plant generation capacity. [17136]

John Healey: The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry made a statement to the House of Commons on 7 March 2003 setting out the basis on which Government was prepared to provide support to British Energy. The documents setting out the relationship between British Energy and the Government are available on the Department for Trade and Industry website and on 23 November 2005 the Secretary of State was questioned by the Environmental Audit Committee about Government's relationship with British Energy.

The liabilities from past and present nuclear generation will be managed by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The Energy Act 2004 allowed for the creation of this body and it began operating in April 2005.

The future of nuclear power will be considered by the Energy Review led by the Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks. The Review will be taken forward in the context of the Government's commitment to sound public finances and will take account of all short-term medium-term and long-term costs and liabilities to both the taxpayer and energy user.

Oil Tax

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his Department's share in tax was of the average value of a barrel of North sea oil in (a) May 2002 and (b) November 2005. [37122]

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Dawn Primarolo: All North sea oil taxes are profit related. Direct tax is estimated to have accounted for 27 per cent. of the average value of a barrel of oil produced in May 2002 compared with 33 per cent. in November 2005 which reflects the increased share per barrel of oil accounted for by producers' profits between the two periods.

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the net financial impact on the UK oil and gas industry of the proposed changes to the North sea tax regime. [37125]

Dawn Primarolo: The changes in tax liabilities for the UK oil and gas industry resulting from the reform of the North sea fiscal regime announced in the 2005 pre-Budget report are shown in table 1.2 of the 2005 pre-Budget report.

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he expects to be the value to the oil and gas industry of the new ring fenced expenditure supplement contained in the pre-Budget report. [37126]

Dawn Primarolo: The ring fenced expenditure supplement is targeted at North sea oil companies that do not have sufficient profits to take immediate advantage of the 100 per cent. capital allowances for investment in the North sea. These are likely to be new entrant companies or others who invest heavily in the North sea and are an important sector for the continued vitality of oil and gas production in the UK. The value of the supplement will build up over time and is forecast to reduce tax liabilities by around £25 million by 2011–12.

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the increase in corporation tax supplementary charge on oil company future investment in the North Sea. [37160]

Dawn Primarolo: The changes announced in the pre-Budget report were subject to detailed analysis to ensure that the North Sea tax regime delivers the Government's objectives of striking the right balance between oil producers and consumers by promoting investment and ensuring fairness for taxpayers.

Personal Debt

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) men, (b) women and (c) households in (i) England and Wales, (ii) Northamptonshire and (iii) Kettering constituency are estimated to have personal debts excluding housing mortgages of over £10,000; and what the equivalent figures were (A) 10 years ago and (B) in 1997. [36139]

John Healey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 13 December 2005:

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Public Appointments

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the former hon. Members who left Parliament in 2005 who have since been appointed to public bodies by his Department, broken down by party; and who was responsible for making each appointment. [36692]

John Healey: The Treasury has not made any such appointments.

Science Cities

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to increase the number of science cities. [37128]

John Healey: In the 2004 pre-Budget report and in Budget 2005, the Government supported plans by the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to develop six science cities" in Manchester, Newcastle, York, Birmingham, Nottingham, and Bristol. These science cities are developing plans that respond to their particular strengths in terms of research and economic development. It is for RDAs to take the lead role in identifying science cities and detailed implementation plans, in line with their wider strategies for regional economic development, science and innovation.

Self-invested Personal Pensions

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps the Government is taking to encourage investment in self-invested personal pension schemes; and if he will make a statement. [36810]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Pensions tax simplification replaces eight different sets of rules with a single unified regime. It removes unnecessary obstacles to retirement planning and saving across the whole spectrum of pension saving. Lifetime allowances give much more flexibility about when a person can save, so if a person can only afford to start saving for a pension late in life, there is plenty of headroom to boost those savings when it is affordable for a person to do so.

All pension savers, including the lower income groups, will benefit from the lower administration costs of simplifying the numerous existing regimes into one, so the cost savings can be passed on via increased pension benefits.

Legislation (Sunset Clauses)

Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is in respect of the use of sunset clauses in legislation. [37405]

John Healey: The appropriateness of a sunset clause for the whole or part of any proposed legislation is considered on a case by case basis. It is also addressed when a regulatory impact assessment relating to legislation is being prepared.
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