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Nuclear Power Stations (Insurance Liabilities)

Greg Clark: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how public sector insurance liabilities relating to nuclear power stations are recorded in the national accounts; and whether there are special rules for this case that do not apply to other public sector insurance liabilities. [42014]

Mr. Des Browne: The framework for managing nuclear liabilities arising from damage to nuclear power stations or damage caused by nuclear power stations in the UK is set out at:

Any contingent liabilities or provisions stemming from the implementation of this insurance framework will be included in the accounts of the relevant Government Department, NDPB or public corporation.

National accounts will include any payment required to meet a nuclear insurance liability in the year in which the payment falls due.

Public Sector Pension Schemes

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which public sector pension schemes (a) provide and (b) do not provide benefits for unmarried heterosexual partners. [42675]

Mr. Des Browne: Information is not held centrally on the benefits in all occupational pension schemes in the public sector. The Treasury is responsible for the general policy on the statutory public service pension schemes. All of these schemes provide survivor pensions for partners of scheme members where there is a legal partnership through marriage or civil registration in the case of same gender couples. Our policy is not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in provision for partners who are not married or civilly-registered to the scheme member. Any scheme may modernise its benefits to provide survivor pensions for unmarried and unregistered partners provided this improvement is introduced in a way which does not add to costs falling on the taxpayer. Of the statutory public service schemes (a) the 2002 section of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (premium) and the new armed forces scheme launched in 2005 have introduced provisions for unmarried and unregistered survivor pensions, as have the parliamentary pension scheme and the scheme for UK Members of the European Parliament with effect from 2004; and (b) none of the other public service schemes have yet done so. Many of
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the other schemes have proposals to do so as part of the restructuring of benefits associated with increases to normal pension ages and other changes which will overall reduce taxpayer costs, including the schemes for local government, the NHS, teachers, police, and firefighters.

Self-assessment Tax Returns

Anne Milton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was spent on advertising (a) on television and (b) in printed media for the HM Revenue and Customs self-assessment awareness campaign in the last 12 months. [42397]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) on 18 July 2005, Official Report, column 1334W. £3 million relates to television advertising and £4.5 million to press, radio, printed and ambient media.

Anne Milton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what criteria he will use to measure the effectiveness of the HM Revenue and Customs recent self assessment awareness campaign. [42398]

Dawn Primarolo: The Income Tax Self Assessment media campaign is evaluated through tracking research. An independent consultancy (Billetts) is employed by the Central Office of Information to audit the media buying agencies used by HMRC to ensure that they achieve value for money and provide levels of customer awareness. Analysts employed by HMRC will formally evaluate the direct mailing campaign trialled in 2005–06.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the plans to change the procedures for the processing of tax returns such that HM Revenue and Customs will no longer issue receipts for self assessment tax returns handed into tax offices; whether this change was agreed with the Institute of Chartered Accountants; and whether the Chartered Certificate Institute was informed of this change. [42226]

Dawn Primarolo: It has not been HMRC policy to provide receipts for self assessment tax returns handed in at tax offices although, in practice, some offices have provided receipts. The change in procedure this year simply standardises the approach across the UK. It was the subject of consultation with the main accountancy representative bodies-CIOT, ICAW, ICAS, ACCA AAT and ATT-and an announcement was published on the HMRC website on 9 December 2005 and in Tax Bulletin 80 on 19 December 2005.

Tax Credits

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) terminations of tax credit notices and(b) new re-instatements of terminated tax credit notices have been issued in each month since 1 January 2004. [19262]

Dawn Primarolo: The information requested is not available.

Greg Clark: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what target the Government have for minimising the overpayment of tax credits in 2004–05; and what targets have been set for (a) 2005–06 and (b) 2006–07. [38933]

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Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 20 December 2005]: HM Revenue and Customs does not have targets for minimising the overpayment of tax credits.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the written statement I gave to the House on 5 December 2005, Official Report, column 53WS for the factors from which overpayments result, for an update on improvements already made to the tax credit system, and the announcement of a package of further improvements. The measures announced strike a balance between providing more certainty and stability of financial support for families, while maintaining flexibility to respond to changes in their income and circumstances.

HMRC is committed to responding quickly and effectively to changes of circumstances and changes in income reported by claimants that impact on tax credits awards so that the likelihood and size of any overpayment is kept to a minimum. It is also committed to supporting claimants to report changes promptly and more regularly.

Jenny Willott: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of telephone calls for tax credits in Wales (a) received the engaged tone, (b) were disconnected during the IVR process and(c) were abandoned by the caller in each year since the tax credit system began; and if he will make a statement. [39474]

Dawn Primarolo: The technology behind the tax credits helpline telephone network distributes calls across the UK on the basis of the next available adviser, regardless of the area of origin of the call. Therefore we do not have the available information to answer this question.

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much has been lost in tax credit payments by those people who failed to renew their tax credit applications by the annual deadline in 2005. [42122]

Dawn Primarolo: Claimants awards are terminated if they fail to renew by the annual deadline. If a claimant appeals and HMRC accepts the reason for late renewal, their award is reinstated, with full back payments, and they incur no loss of tax credit payments. Claimants
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whose payments are terminated may wish to reapply for tax credits, in which case theirs will be treated as a new claim and normal arrangements apply including backdating of credits for up to three months.

The failure to return the annual declaration means that the information needed to establish entitlement, and hence any lost payment, for any period is not available.

Tax Investigations

Mr. Bone: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost of tax investigations by the Inland Revenue was in each year since 1997; and how many staff were employed to carry them out in each year. [40928]

Dawn Primarolo: The information requested is available only at a disproportionate cost.

Untaxed Spirits

Jim Sheridan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions HM Revenue and Customs staff detected the illegal sale of untaxed spirits in Scotland in 2005. [42035]

Dawn Primarolo: There were 14 inland detections of non-UK duty paid spirits in Scotland in 2005. These would have been at or close to the point of sale.

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