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13 Feb 2006 : Column 1556W—continued

Scottish Bank Notes

Miss Begg: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is legal to use Scottish bank notes in (a) England, (b) Scotland and (c) Wales. [50618]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Under the Bank Notes (Scotland) Act 1845, certain commercial banks are allowed to issue their own banknotes in Scotland. There is no Act of Parliament that makes provision for Scottish banknotes to be legal tender in any part of the UK including Scotland itself. However, legal tender is a narrow legal concept that has little to do with the way in which most payments are made. Contrary to popular belief, the payment arrangements for transactions are not dependent on whether the means of payment are legal tender" but are rather a matter for the parties concerned to agree upon as a matter of contract. Many transactions are settled through means of payment that are not legal tender such as credit and debit cards, and cheques.

Legally, no one is obliged to accept Scottish notes, or indeed other methods of payment, in any part of the UK as a means of payment if they do not wish to do so.

St. Bartholomew's Hospital

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the role of his Department in the funding of the scheme to rebuild St. Bartholomew's Hospital. [50084]

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Mr. Des Browne: The business case for the proposed redevelopment of St. Bartholomew's Hospital and the Royal London Hospital is being considered by the Department of Health. As with any other large investment scheme, once Health Ministers have approved it, it will be formally referred to the Treasury.

NHS investment schemes are not funded directly by the Treasury, but are paid for at a local level by trusts, from within the NHS spending review settlement allocated to Department of Health.

Staff Absences (High Cholesterol)

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate he has made of the annual cost to the economy in terms of lost working hours through staff absence and reduced productivity of people with unhealthy cholesterol levels. [36769]

Caroline Flint: I have been asked to reply.

The Secretary of State has made no estimate of this kind. There are published estimates suggesting that coronary heart disease (CHD) caused 65.4 million certified incapacity days in 1999, entailing £2.2 billion in lost production that cholesterol levels above five millimoles/litre account for half of the burden of CHD.

Tax (Shrewsbury and Atcham)

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average amount of tax paid by families in Shrewsbury and Atcham constituency was in (a) 2004, (b) 2005 and (c) 2001. [50109]

Dawn Primarolo: Estimates of the average amount of income tax paid by families at constituency level are unavailable.

Available information on the number of taxpayers and their mean and median total income by constituency, can be found in table 3.15 Total Income by Parliamentary Constituency" on the HM Revenue and Customs internet website

Tax Avoidance Schemes

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in which court cases, heard by (a) special commissioners in which proceedings are complete and (b) the European Court of Justice his Department successfully challenged tax avoidance schemes operated by (i) corporate and (ii) non-corporate entities. [49716]

Dawn Primarolo: The information is not readily available in the form requested and obtaining it would incur disproportionate cost.

Tax Credits

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which tax credit decisions carry the right of appeal. [50157]

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Dawn Primarolo: Appeal rights of tax credit decisions are prescribed by section 38 of the Tax Credits Act 2002. The Act can be found on the website of the Office of Public Sector Information.

UK Coinage

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the costs were of minting each denomination of UK coinage in each of the last five years. [50855]

John Healey: I refer my right hon. Friend to the written answer I gave him on 4 February 2005, Official Report, column 1188W.

VAT Fraud

Mr. Soames: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of VAT fraud in each of the last three years. [50630]

Dawn Primarolo: Estimates of VAT revenue loss—the VAT gap", for each of the last three years, are available in the paper Measuring Indirect Tax Losses", published in December 2005. The publication can be found in the Library of the House or in the following link:

Vegetable Oil

Tony Baldry: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will reduce the level of taxation on vegetable oil to the level for natural gas; [50900]

(2) how much revenue the Government expect to receive from the changes to the level of tax on vegetable oil as a fuel in 2005–06; [50902]

(3) what the level of taxation on vegetable oil as a fuel was in each year since 2001; [50903]

(4) what estimate he has made of the number of motorists using vegetable oil as a fuel; and what assessment he has made of the effect of changes to the taxation of such fuel on the numbers of motorists using it. [50905]

John Healey: Fuel produced from vegetable oil is eligible for the rate of duty for biodiesel (currently 27.10 pence per litre) if it meets the legal definition of biodiesel for tax purposes set out in section 2AA of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979. In other cases it is liable to duty at 47.10 pence per litre, as has been the case since Royal Assent to the Finance Act 2002.

Duty rates for all fuels are reviewed annually as part of the Budget process. Duty rates for biodiesel are set according to the principles of the Alternative Fuels Framework, published in the 2003 pre-Budget report. In line with the commitment to provide rolling three-year certainty set out in the framework, the current differential for biodiesel of 20 pence per litre is guaranteed until 2008.

There has been no increase in excise duty on road fuels, including biofuels, since October 2003, when duty dates were revalorised on line with inflation.
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The rates of duty for fuel produced from vegetable oil since 2001 are as follows:
Pence per litre

Fuel produced from vegetable oil that meets the fiscal definition of biodiesel
All other fuel produced from vegetable oil
used as road fuel
7 March 200145.8245.82
26 July 200225.82
1 October 200327.1047.10

The Government continue to review its progress in encouraging the development of a biofuels market in the UK. In January 2006, over 4 million litres of biodiesel were released for consumption in the UK, representing a three-fold increase in the level of consumption since the same period last year.

Vehicle Excise Duty

Mr. Walker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what criteria were used in making the decision no longer to use the rolling 30-year period for exempting older, historic cars from vehicle excise duty; and if he will make a statement. [50314]

John Healey: In his 1998 Budget speech, the Chancellor announced his intention to introduce a more environmentally sensitive system of VED. The Government have since re-structured VED so that it more closely reflects environmental impacts.

The continuation of the 25-year rolling exemption was difficult to justify on environmental grounds within the reformed VED system because older cars tend to be less clean—especially in terms of local air pollutants such as particulates and nitrogen oxides—than newer cars.

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