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Chris Huhne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the 10 non-public sector entities that have received the largest total sum of payments from his Department in each of the last five years. 
An equivalent list for 2001-02 could be provided only at disproportionate cost because of a change in accounting system in 2002-03. The lists cover payments made by the Treasury on behalf of the Treasury and the Debt Management Office, who operate a combined supplier payments system.
It has been drawn to my attention by Treasury officials that there was a mistake in the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) on 15 May 2006, Official Report, column 709W, on the matter of consultancy fees paid by the Treasury in 2005-06. Some of the figures in the table accompanying my answer were understated because of a fault in the software programme that was used to extract them. A corrected table has been placed in the Library of the House. I very much regret this inadvertent error.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many times the HM Revenue and Customs website was (a) overloaded, (b) off-line, (c) slowed up through demand and (d) unable to offer complete access in each of the last 24 months for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
At particularly busy periodse.g. around filing datesusers of the website may occasionally experience access difficulties or slow running. On these occasions users will be advised to try again later. Users may also experience problems at other times for a variety of reasons outside of HMRCs direct control includingfor examplethe type of connection and equipment they are using and the speed and capacity of third parties communications infrastructure.
Peter Luff: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 3 May 2006, Official Report, columns 1718-21W, on the Home Computer Initiative, if he will give further consideration to the questions asked by hon. Members to satisfy himself that all the questions asked received substantive responses in the answer provided. 
Dawn Primarolo: My reply of 16 May 2006 to the hon. Members further question, Official Report, columns 830-31W, explained that my answer of 3 May 2006, Official Report, columns 1718-21W, was designed to enable a full, substantive statement on the Home Computer Initiative to be made to the House. That remains the position.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was spent on information technology (IT) sourced from outside his Department in each of the last five years; who is responsible for such projects in his Department; and what IT (a) expertise and (b) qualifications they possess. 
|Annual spend on IT|
Projects are the responsibility of the appointed project/programme managers. Depending on the scale of the project, project managers are expected to have increasingly formal training and background in project management. The current head of technical infrastructure came with a background in MOD procurement and has Prince2 and British Computer Society project management qualifications.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the cost to the Exchequer of changing the lower earnings limit on national insurance contributions (NICs) to the equivalent of £7,500 per annum for (a) class 1 NICs, (b) class 2 NICs, (c) class 3 NICs and (d) class 4 NICs while simultaneously raising the upper earnings limit to the equivalent of £50,000 per annum. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 16 May 2006]: Raising the Lower earnings limit (LEL) would have the effect of removing employees whose earnings are between the current LEL and the new higher LEL from entitlement to contributory national insurance benefits.
Leaving the LEL unchanged but raising the earnings threshold at which class 1 national insurance contributions are payable by employees and employers to £7,500 a year, and raising the upper earnings limit to £50,000 a year, would lower national insurance contributions for 2006-07 by around £8 billion. This figure comprises £1.6 billion of primary contributions paid by employees, and £6.4 billion of secondary contributions paid by employers.
Raising the lower and upper profits limits for class 4 national insurance contributions paid by the self-employed to £7,500 and £50,000 respectively would lower national insurance contributions in respect of 2006-07 by around £80 million.
Class 2 national insurance contributions are flat-rate payments payable by all self-employed people unless they apply for a small earnings exception if their earnings from self-employment are expected to be low (below £4,465 for 2006-07). In order to preserve entitlement to benefits the self-employed with low earnings may choose to pay class 2 contributions voluntarily.
Class 3 contributions are voluntary flat-rate payments and are paid by people whose contribution record would otherwise be insufficient to enable them to qualify for retirement pension and bereavement benefits.
Ed Balls: I refer my right hon. Friend to the answer which my hon. Friend the former Economic Secretary (Mr. Lewis) gave the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) on 3 May 2006, Official Report, columns 1723-24W.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many accounting units are responsible for reporting to the Treasury across the public sector; if he will name the official concerned in each case; and what the professional accountancy qualifications are of each. 
Mr. Timms: Information relating to accounting units is available in the Treasury publication of December 2005, Delivering the Benefits of Accruals Accounting for the Whole Public Sector. The names of the officials concerned and their qualifications are not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Helen Goodman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number of properties in England and Wales on which stamp duty was levied at a rate of one per cent. sold at between £60,000 and £120,000 in 2004. 
Ed Balls: The number of residential transactions in England and Wales in 2004, costing between £60,001 and £120,000, on which one per cent. stamp duty was paid, is estimated to be 300,000. An additional 90,000 transactions were exempt from stamp duty as they took place in designated disadvantaged areas.
Kitty Ussher: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many properties sold in England and Wales attracted stamp duty in each year since 2000; and what proportion this number represented of (a) all properties in England and Wales and (b) the owner-occupier sector in each year. 
Ed Balls: The following table gives the numbers and proportion of property transactions above the stamp duty threshold in England and Wales in each year since 2000. Figures for 2005 will be published in June 2006.
|Number of property transactions above lowest stamp duty threshold (Thousands)||As proportion of total transactions (Percentage)|
The numbers paying stamp duty will be lower due to the use of various reliefs for example disadvantaged area relief and group relief, registered social landlord relief. It is not possible to separately identify properties purchased by owner occupiers.
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