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Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many parliamentary questions tabled to his Department were awaiting a reply on 10 July 2006; which of those had been waiting longer than (a) two and (b) three weeks for a reply; and what the reason for the delay was in each case. 
John Healey: Treasury Ministers endeavour to answer parliamentary questions promptly wherever possible. Of the 173 written questions which were awaiting answer on 10 July, 119 had been received at least a fortnight previously and 85 of these questions had been received at least three weeks previously.
Treasury Ministers had answered 5,252 questions in the present session up to 10 July. For the Treasury's performance in answering written questions within the timescales set by the House, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on 11 July 2006, Official Report, columns 1724-5W.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will answer Question (a) 38754, (b) 46531, (c) 62788, (d) 63040, (e) 63323, (f) 72367, (g) 75746, (h) 75752, (i) 75754, (j) 75747, (k) 75748, (l) 75756, (m) 75751, (n) 75757, (o) 75755, (p) 75768, (q) 75769, (r) 75775, (s) 75776, (t) 75780, (u) 75783, (v) 75784, (w) 75789, (x) 75817, (y) 75818, (z) 75842, (aa) 76207, (bb) 76418, (cc) 76419, (dd) 76421, (ee) 76422, (ff) 76423, (gg) 76425, (hh) 76426, (ii) 76429, (jj) 76430, (kk) 76431, (ll) 76432, (mm) 76470, (nn) 76471, (oo) 76474, (pp) 76475, (qq) 76476, (rr) 76478, (ss) 76480, (tt) 76481, (uu) 76482, (vv) 76483, (ww) 76484, (xx) 76485, (yy) 76487, (zz) 76488, (aaa) 76853, (bbb) 76854, (ccc) 76870, (ddd) 76946, (eee) 76994, (fff) 76995 and (ggg) 76996, on tax credits, tabled by the hon. Member for Yeovil; what the
reasons are for the time taken to reply in each case; and what guidance his Department applies on the length of time that should be taken to answer. 
Dawn Primarolo: Question 38754 was a duplicate of the hon. Members question 38697, which was answered on 10 January, and as such was withdrawn by the Table Office and never appeared in the Questions Book. Some of the other questions concerned have already been answered. Those that have not will be answered as soon as possible.
Treasury Ministers endeavour to answer questions within the timescales set by the House. The provision of timely answers depends in part upon the number of questions the Department is dealing with. The Treasury has answered 554 questions from the hon. Gentleman in the present Session, the great majority of which have concerned tax credits.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many written submissions the Government have received to the consultation on Planning Gain Supplement; and if he will place in the Library a copy of each submission. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he plans to change the methods of collecting local authority population statistics to take account of immigration from EU accession countries in the period since May 2004; and if he will make a statement. 
As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer plans to review the methods of collecting local authority population statistics in order to take account of immigration from EU accession countries in the period since May 2004. (85001)
Migration of accession country citizens to and from the UK is captured via existing data sources that are used to estimate population change. For population estimation purposes, the definition of a migrant is someone who changes their country of usual residence for a period of at least a year which is the UN recommended definition of a long term migrant. The 2005 mid-year population estimates, due to be published on 24 August 2006, will therefore include an estimate of the number of long term immigrants from the EU accession countries, based on the UN definition.
It is recognised that information about short-term migrants is needed, both nationally and at local levels, for policy and planning purposes and for service provision. In May of this year, ONS set up an Inter-departmental Task Force on Migration Statistics. The Task Force will report to me by the end of August, making recommendations on timely improvements that could be made to the estimates of migration and migrant populations in the United Kingdom, both nationally and at local level.
ONS are also carrying out an extensive programme of work titled Improving Migration and Population Statistics (IMPS) Project which is designed to investigate improvements to the population and migration statistics produced by ONS. Further information on this work can be found at: www.statistics.gov.uk/IMPS. In particular:
The IMPS programme of research is taking forward recommendations from the National Statistics Quality Review (NSQR) into International Migration. The quality review made recommendations for improving the estimation of total migration flows to and from the UK and the allocation of international migration to local areas. This work includes investigating administrative sources that may be used in producing or quality assuring the international migration estimates (such as the Worker Registration Scheme data), investigating potential sources of information about short-term migrants and making improvements to the current source of information on international migrants, the International Passenger Survey (IPS).
The latest Progress Report on taking forward the recommendations of the NSQR on International Migration can be found at http://www.statistics.gov.uk/about/data/methodology/quality/reviews/population.asp
Also, as part of the IMPS programme, ONS are conducting Local Authority case studies. These aim to get a better understanding, from a local perspective, of the administrative data sources that are currently used in the population estimation procedure. They will also investigate any other high quality sources that the local areas use themselves for population purposes. The local areas selected for these studies are ones that are known to have reasons which make their population difficult to estimate, e.g. those with a high volume of migratory moves. It is intended that these studies will contribute towards the improvement of both internal and international migration statistics.
Dawn Primarolo: Meat detection dogs were introduced by DEFRA in 2002, and were transferred to HMRC in 2003. The number of animal origin detector dogs used at ports and airports in Great Britain since 2002 is in the following table:
|Number of dogs|
We cannot disclose further information about the deployment of the dogs as this would provide information of value to those seeking to circumvent HMRC controls, thereby prejudicing the prevention and detection of crime.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what occasions a statutory instrument sponsored by his Department has been reported by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments as defective since October 2005. 
One in its report of 2 November 2005, and
One in its report of 8 November 2005.
As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects the Taskforce on Migration Statistics to report to Ministers. (85002)
The aim of the Task Force is to report to me, as National Statistician, by the end of August, making recommendations on timely improvements that could be made to the estimates of migration and migrant populations in the United Kingdom, both nationally and at local level. I will report to Ministers in October, after the Parliamentary recess.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost of abolishing the family element of the child tax credit and giving equivalent support through child benefit; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: Child tax credit (CTC) includes a family element of £545 per year. It also includes a baby addition at a rate of a further £545 per year for families for periods when they are responsible for a child aged under one year. Equivalent payments are made to families receiving their child support via income support or jobseekers allowance. Abolishing these elements would reduce expenditure on CTC by around £3.3 billion per year, based on 2004-05 awards. The extra child benefit expenditure resulting from adding the weekly equivalents to the rate for the eldest child would be around £4.3 billion per year. Therefore, the net cost would be £1 billion per year.
The recent Joseph Rowntree Foundation report What will it take to end child poverty? suggested that the child tax credit was probably the most cost-effective way of reducing child poverty. To achieve the same effect by raising child benefit would be up to three times as expensive.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many frauds involving claims for tax credits have been found to be based on false identities in (a) 2003-04, (b) 2004-05 and (c) 2005-06; and how much was paid in respect of fraudulent claims based on false identities in each year. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 10 January 2006, Official Report, column 557W, on tax credits, (1) how much had been paid out to the 22,284 claims in payment that were stopped; on what dates he met the Paymaster General to discuss the problem of tax credit fraud; how many calls to the helpline have been received where fraud is suspected; and if he will commission an independent review into tax credit fraud; 
(4) what his estimate is of the scale of identity fraud in relation to tax credits; how many tax credits staff have been involved in identity fraud since 2003-04; and if he will make a statement; 
(7) what his latest estimate is of the number of people who experienced identity fraud as a result of tax credits fraud in (a) 2005-06 and (b) 2006-07 to date; and if he will make a statement; 
(18) whether (a) Ministers and (b) special advisers have seen (i) drafts and (ii) a final version of the HM
Revenue and Customs report into tax credit fraud and error which was due to be published in spring 2006; and if he will make a statement; 
(19) what his latest estimate is of the breakdown between (a) fraud, (b) official error and (c) claimant error in the existing estimates for tax credit fraud and error; and if he will make a statement; 
Dawn Primarolo: I refer my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) and the hon. Members for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) and for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Danny Alexander) to the statement I made to the House on 11 July 2006, Official Report, columns 1281-82. I refer them also to the HMRC publications Child and Working Tax Credits: Error and fraud statistics 2003-04 and Tackling error and fraud in the Child and Working Tax Credits, available on the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/news/index.htm., and to HM Revenue and Customs 2005-06 Accounts: The Comptroller and Auditor Generals Standard Report, part 2, available at http://www.nao.org.uk/pn/05-06/05061159.htm.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many small companies have claimed a tax rebate on the cost of purchasing computers or investing in information technology in each year since 2000. 
Dawn Primarolo: Small companies are able to claim tax relief in the form of capital allowances for expenditure on a wide range of assets. Claims for capital allowances are not broken down to the level of detail required for firm estimates of the number of small companies investing in computers or information technology specifically.
Dawn Primarolo: Receipts from taxes on energy are published by the Office for National Statistics in table 3.1 of the Environmental Accounts that can be found at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_environment/EAMay06.pdf.
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