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Hywel Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many fraudulent claims for tax credits there were in each constituency in England and Wales in each of the last three years; and what the total of fraudulent claims represented as a percentage of tax credits paid in each year. 
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many demands for repayments of alleged overpayments of tax credits have been cancelled due to the Treasury accepting that (a) the overpayment was due to official error and (b) recovery would cause hardship. 
(a) HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) only seeks direct recovery of tax credits overpayments and issues notices to pay where an award has ended. HMRC does not separately record details of direct recovery cases where some or all of an overpayment has been written off due to official error according to the criteria set out in code of practice 26 What happens if we have paid you too much tax credit?.
(b) I refer my right hon. Friend to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on 4 July 2006, Official Report, column 998W.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax credit forms were (a) issued and (b) printed in 2005; on how many occasions HM Revenue and Customs has informed applicants that there were no forms available; and what action a claimant should take if no forms are available. 
David Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate he has made of (a) the amount in (i) weight and (ii) value of hand-rolled tobacco previously exported to the Benelux countries subsequently returning to the UK and (b) the proportion which was smuggled in the most recent year for which figures are available; 
(2) if he will estimate the amount in (a) weight and (b) value of exports of hand-rolled tobacco from the United Kingdom to each of the Benelux countries in the most recent year for which figures are available; 
HM Revenue and Customs publish estimates of revenue loss from legal cross-border shopping activity and the total UK illicit market in hand-rolling tobacco. The latest estimates were
published in Measuring Indirect Tax Losses 2005, published by HM Revenue and Customs in the pre-Budget report and is available from the House of Commons Library.
(2) what estimate he has made of the revenue which has been lost to the Government through (a) the smuggling and (b) the counterfeiting of (i) tobacco and (ii) tobacco products in each of the last three years; 
John Healey: The most recent HMRC estimate of the revenue lost to the UK Exchequer through the illicit trade in tobacco is for 2003-04. The latest estimates were published in Measuring Indirect Tax Losses2005 by HM Revenue and Customs in the pre-Budget report and is available from the House of Commons Library. The Government launched the original Tackling Tobacco Strategy in 2000 and successfully reduced the size of the illicit market by a quarter from 21 per cent. to 16 per cent in 2003-04. HMRC has a revised PSA target to reduce the illicit market to 13 per cent. by 2007-08.
At Budget 2006 the Government published New Responses to New Challenges: Reinforcing the Tackling Tobacco Strategy and announced new measures designed to tackle HRT smuggling and counterfeit cigarettes. These new measures include working with the tobacco manufacturers and the introduction of supply chain control legislation. A copy of New Responses to New Challenges: Reinforcing the Tackling Tobacco Strategy can be found on the HMRC website www.hmrc.gsi.gov.uk. This included a new operational target for HMRC to reduce the illicit HRT market by 1,200 tonnes by 2007-08.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of unclaimed (a) dividends and shares and (b) assets in (i) national savings accounts, (ii) bank and building society accounts and (iii) life insurance policies; and if he will make a statement. 
Ed Balls: The Government and the industry have agreed that the definition of an unclaimed asset should generally cover bank and building society accounts where there has been no customer activity for a period of 15 years as that will best identify those accounts that are genuinely unclaimed. On this basis, initial record searches by the industry suggest that several hundred million pounds may currently lie unclaimed.
The Government have also made no official estimate of the value of unclaimed share dividends or proceeds. This information is a matter between companies and their shareholders and is not held publicly.
Ed Balls: As set out in the PBR, the Government welcome the banking industrys commitment to establish a scheme to allow genuinely unclaimed assets to be reinvested in the community. The Government and industry have agreed that the definition of an unclaimed asset should generally cover bank and building society accounts where there has been no customer activity for a period of 15 years as that will best identify those accounts that are genuinely unclaimed. The work on this scheme is ongoing.
Ed Balls: The Government and industry have agreed that unclaimed assets should generally cover bank and building society accounts where there has been no customer activity for a period of 15 years as that will best identify those accounts that are genuinely unclaimed.
[holding answer 13 September 2006]: Estimates for the level of losses due to VAT fraud are not available. However, estimates of the VAT gap, which includes losses due to fraud and avoidance,
are available in the paper Measuring and Tackling Tax Losses-2005, published in December 2005. A copy of this paper can be obtained from the House Library.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many claims for VAT were withheld on the suspicion of Missing Trader Intra-Community fraud in each of the last 12 quarters for which information is available; 
(2) what steps are being taken to counter VAT carousel fraud; and what mechanisms are being put in place to ensure that companies not under suspicion of fraud achieve prompt settlement of VAT repayment. 
Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 2 May 2006, Official Report, columns 1455-456W. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has committed significant additional resources to strengthen its strategy for tackling MTIC fraud, and there are now over 1400 staff engaged in that work.
In recent months, the level of VAT repayment claims from those suspected of trading in supply chains associated with MTIC fraud has risen considerably without known economic or commercial reasons. It is therefore only right that HMRC continues to take all necessary and proportionate steps to protect the tax base and satisfy itself that these repayment claims are valid.
John Healey: The Government have committed to winter fuel payments of £200 for households with someone aged 60 or over, and £300 for households with someone aged 80 or over, for the remainder of this Parliament.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what average hourly rate his Department paid to employment agencies for agency staff in each year since 1999, broken down by agency. 
Mr. Hain: We cannot provide the information requested by the hon. Member. To identify the average hourly rate paid to employment agencies for staff for the Northern Ireland Office, excluding its agencies and NDPBS, would be at disproportionate cost.
Killough Bay and Strand Lough
River Foyle and Tributaries
Portrush West Strand
Lurgan River Wood
River Roe and Tributaries
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