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EU Committees

Angus Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many meetings of the EU (a) Contact Committee on certain schemes for collective investment in securities, (b) Contact Committee: European economic interest grouping and (c) Accounting Directives Contact Committee have taken place during the UK presidency of the EU; who presided over each meeting; what other UK representatives were present; what provision was made for representations of the devolved governments; and if he will make a statement. [38810]

John Healey: The Contact Committee on certain schemes for collective investment in securities has been wound up and its work taken over by the European Securities Committee. Financial services is a reserved matter for the UK Government and Treasury officials represent the UK at ESC meetings. HM Treasury has regular contacts with significant financial services centres throughout the UK to inform the position of the UK at these meetings.

There were no meetings of the Contact Committee on European Economic Interest Groups during the UK presidency.

The Contact Committee on the Accounting Directives has now been amalgamated with the Accounting Regulatory Committee. The Committee met three times during the UK Presidency. Meetings were chaired by the European Commission. The UK is represented by officials from the Department of Trade and Industry.

EU Meetings

Chris Huhne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list EU meetings of (a) heads of state and (b) government that he has attended in the company of the Prime Minister since June 1997. [39900]

John Healey: In normal circumstances the Prime Minister represents the UK at European Councils, accompanied by the Foreign Secretary. The Chancellor of the Exchequer represents the UK at the Economic and Financial Affairs Council.

In addition, Finance Ministers also occasionally attend the spring European Council which focuses on EU Economic Reform.

Gershon Review

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will provide a break down by (a) Department and
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(b) activity of the £4.7 billion efficiency savings as a result of the Gershon Review announced in the pre-Budget report. [37150]

Mr. Des Browne: This information is available in departmental Autumn Performance Reports that have been published and in forthcoming Departmental Reports which all departments are required to publish by April.
Table 2: Efficiency Gains Reported to September 2005, by workstream

WorkstreamTotal gains reported (£ million)
Productive Time894
Policy, Funding and Regulation520
Corporate Services288

(6)SR04 efficiencies where Departments have not specified an allocation to a Gershon workstream.

Insurance Premium Tax

Gregory Barker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from insurance companies under investigation for alleged fraud regarding the insurance premium tax. [44795]

Dawn Primarolo: The Treasury has received no such representations.

Local Pay Arrangements

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the Government Departments that operate local pay arrangements, excluding London weighting. [44941]

Mr. Des Browne: Departments and agencies have authority to determine pay and conditions for their staff below the Senior Civil Service, which are appropriate to their business needs and which take account of Government policies on public sector pay. Under these arrangements Departments and agencies are required to submit a Pay Remit to Treasury outlining its proposals for increases in pay.

Departments and agencies are expected to ensure that their pay systems reflect the local labour markets in which they operate. However as a consequence of delegated pay no centrally collected list exists of the number of Government Departments that operate local pay arrangements excluding London Weighting.

Online Gambling Companies

Mr. Swire: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much tax was paid by online gambling companies in the last year for which figures are available. [44289]

John Healey: Separate figures for the amount of tax paid by online gambling companies are not available.

Private Finance Initiative Scheme

John Hemming: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what calculations are performed to compare
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the costs of a private finance initiative scheme with traditional funding schemes from public sector borrowing. [44807]

John Healey: The required analysis for comparing whether a given project would be value for money using PFI compared with conventional funding is laid out in the Value for Money Guidance and the accompanying Quantitative User Guide, published in August 2004. These can be found on the HM Treasury website at:

Private Members' Clubs

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) working men's clubs and (b) other private members' clubs there were in England in the most recent year for which figures are available, broken down by local authority. [43532]

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 23 January 2006:

Tax Arrears

Harry Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) charges interest on tax arrears determined following reviews of tax accounts, from a date prior to that on which HMRC (a) determined and (b) informed the liable person that such arrears existed; if he will amend this practice so that interest on tax arrears is only charged from the point that the liable person could reasonably first have made payment; and if he will make a statement. [44784]

Dawn Primarolo: Interest is not a penalty, and is charged in order to recompense the Exchequer where tax is paid later than the due date. In that, it is like any commercial interest. Interest applies whatever the reason for the delayed payment, and I cannot accept the case for different dates applying depending on the reason payment was not made on time.
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Tax Credits

Greg Clark: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 10 January 2006, Official Report, column 556W, on tax credit, whether an estimate was made by his Department in advance of the pre-Budget report of the prospective cost of the increase in the disregard from £2,500 to £25,000. [44872]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) and the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on 13 December 2005, Official Report, column 1836W.

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff in his Department have administered each tax credit in each year since their introduction; and what the cost of administering each tax credit in each year has been. [43763]

Dawn Primarolo: The information is not available in the format requested.

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