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John Healey: The Government keep all taxes under review. In addition, Sir Michael Lyons is considering the merits of reforms to council tax. Sir Michael is due to report in time to inform the comprehensive spending review.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what research (a) his Department and (b) the Office for National Statistics has undertaken in relation to developing (i) a national property database and (ii) a national spatial data infrastructure. 
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question concerning what research has been undertaken in relation to developing (i) a national property database and (ii) a national spatial data infrastructure. 89404
Neither HM Treasury nor the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has undertaken research into developing a national property database or a national spatial address infrastructure.
Currently two national address gazetteers are available. One has been developed by Ordnance Survey and forms part of their MasterMap product (and is referred to as Address Layer 2); the other is the National Land and Property Gazetteer developed by the Improvement and Development Agency.
ONS is beginning to conduct research into the suitability of the two products as an address source in the preparation and undertaking of the 2007 Census Test.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how regularly moneys collected on behalf
of the Student Loan Company (SLC) by the Inland Revenue are passed onto the SLC; and how soon after moneys are collected by the Inland Revenue those sums start counting against each individuals SLC balance. 
Dawn Primarolo: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) does not make payments to the Student Loans Company (SLC). Employers deduct student loans repayments from earnings exceeding £15,000 during the year and send these to HMRC who make payments to the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) every quarter. Borrowers get credit for repayments at the date they were made and no additional interest is charged as SLC credits their accounts retrospectively to the tax year in which deductions were made from their earnings.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which cases where successful prosecutions of tax credit fraud have been achieved involved the greatest (a) value of fraud, (b) number of identities used and (c) size of criminal gang. 
|Month/year||Number of automated payments (Thousand)|
For the numbers of manual, including interim, payments made since April 2003, I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave him on 29 November 2005, Official Report, columns 343-44W and 5 June 2006, Official Report, columns 188-89W.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer why tax credit payments are not made when the award falls below the payment threshold; and why these payments are not carried over to awards in future years. 
Dawn Primarolo: Tax Credit regulations confirm that tax credits will not be paid where the award is less than £26 a year. This is because it is administratively disproportionate to pay such small sums.
Dawn Primarolo: HMRC takes fraud very seriously and has a range of checks in place throughout the life of each claim. If fraud is suspected, payment is stopped. It would be inappropriate to give specific details as this could aid those seeking to gain through fraud.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has (a) to collect and (b) to publish additional data on the performance of the tax credits system; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: HMRC publishes a wide range of statistics about tax credits on its website, reports and annual accounts. They keep this under review and will continue to consider publishing additional data on the tax credits system as appropriate.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what criteria for tax credit overpayment write-off were used (a) before and (b) after the streamlined procedure was introduced in spring 2005; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) whether the tax credit recipients who are challenging tax credit overpayments have been treated under different criteria since December 2004; what changes in criteria there have been; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) for how long the streamlined procedure introduced in spring 2005 was used to clear the backlog of disputed tax credit overpayments; how many overpayments were written off under this procedure; what the value was; and if he will make a statement on how this procedure differs from that currently applied; 
Details of the streamlined procedures have been published in the Supplementary memorandum submitted by HM Revenue and Customs published in the Treasury Committee's report: The administration of tax credits: sixth report of session 2005-06: Volume 2 Oral and written evidence (page Ev193), House of Commons papers 811-11 2005-06.
The procedures were applied between 1 April 2005 and 30 September 2005 and covered outstanding disputed overpayments for tax year 2003-04 and those for 2004-05 where the award had not been finalised . Around 139,000 disputed overpayments were remitted under the exercise at a value of around £156.8 million. HMRC's 2005-06 accounts were published on 11 July and gave the total amount of overpayments written off for 2003-04 and 2004-05. Amounts written off are included in the remissions figures for HMRCs accounts.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many cases of tax credits fraud have been investigated by HM Revenue and Customs Special Compliance Office in each quarter since April 2003; and if he will make a statement. 
|Quarter ended||Number of cases|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in how many cases investigations into tax credit fraud have been initiated after a letter had been sent to a tax credit claimant explaining that the money had been paid in error and was being written off. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many letters have been received by (a) Ministers and (b) senior HM Revenue and Customs staff from tax credit office employees and compliance officers about the extent of tax credit fraud in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: Customers have a right of appeal against decisions about their tax credit entitlement and are able to pursue with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) any disagreement concerning the recovery of an overpayment.
For the number of disputed tax credit overpayments Tax Credit Office (TCO) wrote off between May 2004 (when the Department began recording intake of disputed overpayment requests) and March 2006, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on 18 July 2006, Official Report, columns 359-60W.
John Healey: Research and development tax credits were extended to large companies in April 2002. I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Burnley (Kitty Ussher) of 8 December 2005, Official Report, column 1454W, for the cost associated with claims received up to that point.
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