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26 Apr 2006 : Column 1174W—continued

Parish Councils

Mr. Todd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will ensure that parish meetings have the same VAT status in relation to works carried out on their behalf as parish councils. [65663]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Parish meetings, unlike parish councils, are not regarded as local authorities. The question of extending the VAT relief given to local authorities to parish meetings has been looked at many times. In general, the amounts of tax involved would be exceeded by the cost of administration and processing each claim. For this reason, successive Governments have concluded that a change in the law would result in disproportionate costs and could not be justified.

I have instructed my officials to explore with parish meetings, relevant representative bodies and other stakeholders whether this remains the case.

However, a different solution is possible. I understand that, under Section 9 of the Local Government Act 1972, a parish meeting can request its district council to establish a parish council for the parish, which is able to recover VAT under the provisions of Section 33 of the VAT Act 1994.

Pensions (Tax Relief)

Chris Huhne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will estimate the number of people who would be affected if pension contributions were allowable for tax relief only against the basic rate of income tax; [65763]

(2) if he will estimate the effect on Government revenues of allowing relief on pension contributions only at the basic rate of income tax. [65764]

Dawn Primarolo: Around 2½ million taxpayers would be affected if tax relief on their pension contributions were limited to the basic rate of income tax.
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The estimated yield from restricting income tax relief on employee and self-employed pension contributions to the basic rate is £1.5 billion in 2004–05. The yield from restricting employer contributions is around £3 billion. This estimate assumes that the proportion of total employer contributions relating to higher rate taxpayers is the same as that for employees. The estimates take no account of any behavioural effects that are likely to result from such rule changes. Nor do they account for any knock-on implications for the taxation of pension payments should full relief on contributions be withdrawn.

The information is based on the 2003–04 Survey of Personal Incomes projected to 2004–05.

PFI/PPP Contracts

Adam Price: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in Table 1.10 and Tables 8.10 of Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2005, Cm 6521, the capital includes the capital expenditure elements of private finance initiative and public private partnership contracts. [63046]

Mr. Des Browne: PFI/PPP deals may be on or off the government's balance sheet depending on where the balance of risks in the project lies. The decision as to whether a deal is treated as on or off balance sheet is taken by the National Audit Office in the case of central government projects, and the Audit Commission in the instance of local government projects.

Where the NAO or Audit Commission judge that projects are on balance sheet, Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA) capital expenditure includes the capital expenditure imputed to the public sector, where appropriate for the coverage of each statistical table. For off balance sheet projects, where the asset economically as well as legally belongs to the private sector, the capital expenditure is the private sector's and is not included in PESA 2005, the same as in previous years.

Public Sector Pensions

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the Answer of 2 March 2006, Official Report, column 388, on public sector pensions, and the technical note placed in the Library, if he will break down the amount referred to in paragraph 8 by scheme; how the error came to be made; and what steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence. [61347]

Mr. Des Browne: Prior Year Adjustments of £6 billion recorded in the scheme accounts for 2004–05 break down as follows:
£ billion
Armed Forces Pension Scheme-0.4
NHS Pension Scheme (E&W)3.0
NHS Pension Scheme (Scotland)3.5
Teachers Pension Scheme (E&W)-0.5

These adjustments arise because new data became available which were not taken into account in earlier estimates. These primarily related to deferred pensions
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and guaranteed minimum pensions in NHSPS (England and Wales). Details for the other schemes are given in their resource accounts: Armed Forces (HC 286), Teachers Pension Scheme (HC 627).

Responsibility for NHSPS (Scotland) is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Schemes keep their data and administration systems under regular review.

Road Fuel Prices

Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received requesting that the price of (a) petrol and (b) diesel be reduced; and if he will make a statement. [65258]

John Healey: The Chancellor receives many representations on a wide range of subjects including fuel duty levels.

These are considered carefully in the context of his Budget statement.

Smuggling (Northern Ireland)

David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many prosecutions there were in relation to cross-border fuel smuggling in Northern Ireland in the 2005–06 financial year; how many prosecutions were successful; what the names were of the persons prosecuted in cases in which all proceedings are complete; and what penalties were imposed. [65155]

John Healey: The latest details of prosecutions were published in HMRC Annual Report 2004–05 in which the prosecution details relate to all types of hydrocarbon oils fraud and smuggling, including cross-border smuggling. Prosecution figures for 2005–06 will be published in HMRC's Annual Report 2005–06.

David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many fuel tankers were seized in Northern Ireland in the 2005–06 financial year as a result of fuel smuggling. [65156]

John Healey: The HM Revenue and Customs Annual Report records the total number of vehicles seized as a consequence of fuel related offences. This number is not broken down into sub categories. The Annual Report for 2005–06 has not yet been published.

Stamp Duty

Mr. Todd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what period the stamp duty lease calculator was unavailable to users as a consequence of the Budget; and if he will make a statement. [65668]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The online Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) lease calculator tool, available through HMRC's website and offering customers an indicative calculation of the SDLT charge on the grant of a new lease, was temporarily withdrawn for 12 working days following the Chancellor's Budget Statement on 22 March 2006. The Budget change raised the starting Stamp Duty Land Tax threshold of 1 per cent. from £120,000 to £125,000 for all residential transactions including the grant of a new lease. The calculator required revisions to ensure it provided a robust service
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for those customers who needed it. While the lease duty calculator was offline HMRC invited practitioners to phone their enquiry line where their operators would make the calculation for them.

Mr. Todd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many penalties were issued for delays in filing stamp duty returns in each year since 2001. [65669]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Inland Revenue (since April 2005, HMRC) has issued the following number of penalties on late-filed stamp duty and stamp duty land tax cases as follows:

Mr. Todd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many penalties were issued for delays in filing stamp duty returns in 2004–05 where the subsequent filing demonstrated stamp duty payable to be nil. [65670]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: In 2004–05 the Inland Revenue issued 82,302 penalty notices for late filed stamp duty land tax (SDLT) and stamp duty cases. The Inland Revenue did not record how many of those notices were for transactions where the SDLT or stamp duty payable was nil.

Mr. Todd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received on the (a) functionality and (b) ease of completion of stamp duty returns; and if he will make a statement. [65671]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Both issues are regularly reviewed by practitioners and HMRC in the Stamp Tax Working Together Group. Changes made in the summer of 2005, as a result of discussions with the law societies, were welcomed by, for example, the Law Society of England and Wales. Use of HMRC's online filing facility provides the simplest and quickest method of completing Stamp Duty Land Tax Returns.

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