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30 Mar 2006 : Column 1111W—continued


Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will reply to the letter dated 13 February from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, with regard to Mr. M. K. Ghafood. [62434]

Dawn Primarolo: I have done so.

Economic Growth

Mr. Bone: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of tax levels on economic growth. [62543]

John Healey: The Government's macro-economic framework has consistently delivered stability with strong growth and low inflation, thus establishing a track record that has been internationally acknowledged. GDP has now grown for 54 consecutive
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quarters and inflation remains at historically low rates. The Government's approach to taxation balances the need to finance better quality public services, deliver fairness and promote sustainable development while ensuring that the UK benefits from the advantages of being a lightly taxed economy.

Employer-supported Child Care

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the tax and national insurance incentives for employer-supported child care since April 2005; and if he will make a statement. [60628]

Dawn Primarolo: The tax and national insurance contributions exemption for employer-supported child care is designed to engage employers on the issue of child care and help parents pay for child care. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs are currently assessing and monitoring the effectiveness of the tax and national insurance contributions exemptions for employer-supported child care. However, informal qualitative evidence suggests that the scheme is working well and that the numbers benefiting may be higher than estimated.

Energy Companies (Windfall Tax)

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the merits of a windfall tax on energy companies. [62569]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government keep all taxes under review and any changes to taxation are considered as part of the normal budget process.

In PBR 2005 the Chancellor announced a package of measures to ensure that the North sea tax regime strikes the correct balance between oil and gas producers and consumers, by promoting investment and ensuring fairness for taxpayers. As part of this announcement the Chancellor committed to no further increases in North sea taxation for the lifetime of this parliament.

Financial Exclusion

Stephen Hesford: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in Wirral, West did not have access to a bank account on 31 December (a) 2005 and (b) 1997. [62346]

John Healey: The most recent data available that allows assessment to be made of the number of households with no access to a bank account is the Family Resources Survey from 2002–03. This indicates that 8 per cent. of households in the United Kingdom had no bank account of any kind. This equated to 1.9 million households containing around 2.8 million adults. This data is broken down to Government Office regional level. This shows 9 per cent. of households in the North West and Merseyside were unbanked.

In 1997–98, the Family Resources Survey was collected on a Great Britain basis, excluding Northern Ireland. 11 per cent. of households in the North West and Merseyside were unbanked at that time compared to 8 per cent. of households in Great Britain as a whole.
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In December 2004, the Government and the banks agreed to work together towards the goal of halving the number of adults in households with no access to a bank account of any kind and of making significant progress within two years. The financial inclusion taskforce has been asked to monitor progress. The taskforce recently made its first annual report, which concluded that steady progress has been made towards the goal but also encouraged banks to continue to address the difficulties faced in opening a bank account.

HM Revenue and Customs

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his Written Answer of 23 March 2006, Official Report, column 505W, on HM Revenue and Customs, what the reasons were for HM Revenue and Customs' decision to close its Basingstoke office; and what the findings were of assessments of the likely impact of the closure on (a) residents, (b) local businesses and (c) others in Basingstoke, with particular reference to equality impact assessments. [62600]

Dawn Primarolo: HMRC's targets for improving efficiency and reducing costs include reducing staff numbers by 12,500 net by 1 April 2008, and making substantial savings on the cost of its estate. So it is looking critically at how many of its 600 plus staffed buildings it needs to keep, and in what locations.

The decision to close the HMRC office at London House, Basingstoke, was taken in that context. A break in the lease gave the opportunity to give up the accommodation. An assessment of the likely impact of closure found that there would be no significant impact on local businesses, residents or taxpayers. A face to face service for customers will continue to be provided at a nearby building.

The impact assessment identified the equality issues that will need to be addressed in completing the relocation, and HMRC managers will be talking to staff about how to deal with any individual problems the closure may pose for them.


Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people have been diagnosed with lymphoma in (a) Beverley and Holderness and (b) England in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [62363]

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

Letter from Jill Matheson, dated 30 March 2006:

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Cases of lymphoma diagnoses(3) 1999–2003 in Beverley and Holderness(4), and in England

Beverley and HoldernessEngland

(3) Lymphoma sites are based on codes in the international Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD10). Hodgkin's disease is defined by code C81, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is defined by codes C82–85, C91.4, and 096.
(4) Parliamentary constituency.
Office for National Statistics

National Insurance

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what penalty fee was levied for late registration for national insurance contributions in each year since 2001. [62451]

Dawn Primarolo: A late notification penalty of £100 for the late registration for Class 2 self-employed national insurance contributions was introduced on the 31 January 2001. The penalty has remained at the same level since that date.

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many temporary national insurance numbers have been issued by HM Revenue and Customs in each year since 1997; and what proportion of these have been for tax credit purposes. [62544]

Dawn Primarolo: Temporary national insurance numbers can be issued by HMRC once the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have confirmed that a claimant has attended and passed an evidence of identity interview at their local DWP office.

Recent analysis of tax credit claimant data shows that HM Revenue and Customs issued around 16,000 temporary references using a Nino format for tax credit purposes between April 2003 and March 2004, around 6,000 between April 2004 and March 2005 and around 13,000 April 2005 to date.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many bills were issued in the last year for which information is available for national insurance contributions which had remained unpaid for more than six years; and what was the total value of such bills. [62401]

Dawn Primarolo: Full information relating to Class 2 national insurance bills could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

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