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20 Mar 2006 : Column 32W—continued

Tax Fraud

Gregory Barker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from insurance companies under investigation for alleged tax fraud; and if he will make a statement. [59633]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Representations are made to Treasury Ministers and officials on a wide range issues by a variety of organisations in the public and private sectors and by individuals as part of the process of policy development and analysis. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all representations and submissions made to the Treasury.

Tax-free Income

Philip Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the estimated total cost to public funds would be if the tax-free income threshold were raised to £12,000; [59745]

(2) what the estimated total cost to the Treasury would be if a single tax rate of (a) 10, (b) 20, (c) 30 and (d) 40 per cent. were levied on all earned and unearned income over a £12,000 threshold. [59746]

Dawn Primarolo: The information is provided in the table.
Year 2005–06

Starting rate (percentage)Basic rate (percentage)Higher rate (percentage)Yield
(£ billion)

(18) The estimates assume all personal allowances, including age-related personal allowances, are increased to £12,000.
(19) Savings and earnings are currently taxed at 20 per cent. and 22 per cent. respectively.
(20) The higher rate on dividend income is currently taxed at 32.5 per cent., while the higher rate on savings and earnings is 40 per cent..
(21) The option implies a single rate above a universal personal allowances of £12,000.

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The income tax information is based upon the 2003–04 Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI) and projected forward to 2005–06 in line with December 2005 pre-Budget HM Treasury assumptions. The figures exclude any estimate of behavioural response to the tax changes, which could be significant given the scale of the changes.

Valuation Office Agency

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Valuation Office Agency holds aerial photography produced (a) externally and (b) in-house. [59128]

Dawn Primarolo: The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) does not produce aerial photography in-house. A small number of externally produced sample aerial photographs, made available by potential suppliers when the use of aerial photography was considered and rejected in 2003.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Valuation Office Agency has held a contract with Getmapping in the last five years. [59132]

Dawn Primarolo: No.

World Heritage Sites

David Wright: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which Minister in his Department has responsibility for issues relating to world heritage sites. [59104]

John Healey: Lead responsibility for policy on World Heritage Sites rests with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport works closely with relevant Government Departments on all issues affecting World Heritage Sites. Within the Treasury I have responsibility for issues concerning World Heritage sites which fall within this Department's policy remit.



Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action his Department is taking to tackle the misuse of competitions where letters are sent requesting payment in advance of receiving a cash prize. [60149]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Under section 14 of the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976 (which is the responsibility of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport) it is an offence to promote an unlawful lottery or an unlawful prize competition. The Office of Fair Trading can enforce section 14 and also regularly runs campaigns to raise awareness of this and other scams. Obtaining money by deception would also be a matter for the police.

Directorial Accountability

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support his Department makes available for the training of non-executive directors on (a) the development of proper systems of company accountability
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to shareholders including rewards and terms and conditions for executives and (b) the protection of whistle-blowers. [59695]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The DTIs 'Building Better Boards' publication was published in December 2004. It recommends that companies should think more systematically about the effectiveness of their boards, their recruitment processes and the way in which they develop personnel. It also provides guidance to aspiring non-executives.

Appendix 1 contains signposts to training resources where training on a wide range of issues may be found. Building Better Boards can be found at

Gas/Electricity Prices

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to investigate the reasons for the increases in (a) gas and (b) electricity prices in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [58701]

Malcolm Wicks: In its role as regulator for the gas and electricity markets, Ofgem continually undertakes market monitoring in relation to both markets to ensure that they are operating effectively. As part of this monitoring role, Ofgem has been assessing the recent trends in GB gas and electricity prices. In addition, Ofgem has held several seminars in relation to the operation of the gas and electricity markets over winter 2005–06 which examined the supply/demand fundamentals associated with the recent prices. Details of the information presented at these seminars can be found on Ofgem's website at:

The Government understands the tough conditions that high-energy users are operating in and we are leaving no stone unturned, working closely with industry to mitigate the situation and reduce the impact. Our discussions with the Energy Intensive Users' Group have helped us focus our efforts on maximising gas supplies, improving the operation of the market, encouraging demand-side response and pursuing fair access to markets across Europe.

The Government takes the issue of the potential impact of rising prices on the number of households in fuel poverty very seriously. Government, with other interested parties, has taken a range of measures to mitigate the impact of price rises, including further assistance to elderly households through the significant additional funding of £300 million to tackle fuel poverty across the UK announced in the pre-Budget report in December 2005.

Global Nuclear Energy Partnership

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the United Kingdom joined the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership; what resources have been committed to date in support of the partnership; what future resources are expected be committed to the partnership; how many meetings of the partnership have been held to date; and if he will place in
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the Library copies of the minutes of partnership meetings and documents circulated amongst partnership members to date. [56893]

Malcolm Wicks: The United Kingdom is discussing, with the United States, the development of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. There have been bi-lateral meetings between the United Kingdom and the United States to discuss the American proposals. However, this proposed programme is at very early stage and there is, currently, no formal membership mechanism. No resources have been committed by the UK to this proposed initiative. Full details of the partnership, including UK participation, remain to be discussed.

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