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Dr. Cable: (1) To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer whether an assessment has been made of the feasibility of sending out to businesses electronically the Office for National Statistics' monthly inquiry into the distribution and services sector; 
(4) how many people have been prosecuted under section 4 of the Statistics of Trade Act 1947 for failing to complete the ONS monthly inquiry into the distribution and services sector form in each year since 1976. 
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions on the Monthly Inquiry into the Distribution and Services Sector (MIDSS). (92734, 92735, 92736 & 92737).
Methods of secure electronic collection for MIDSS will be developed over the next few years as part of a wider statistical modernisation programme. For most of our shorter business surveys we already offer an electronic means to return data using our automated telephone data entry system. This method of data collection is fully available for MIDSS.
The annual direct cost of MIDSS to ONS for the last three years was approximately £2.1 million per annum. MIDSS is the main source of information about the activity of the UK service sector in the short term. It is the most important component of the Index of Services (IoS), which itself forms part of the output measure of GDP within the UK's quarterly national accounts. Other MIDSS customers include: HM Treasury in their analysis and assessment of macro-economic developments; the devolved authorities for regional accounting purposes; the Bank of England in their analysis of IoS for the Monetary Policy Committee; and the Department of Trade and Industry for operational use and to help inform policy. MIDSS data are also required by Eurostat under the EU Short Term Statistics Regulation.
MIDSS was established in 2000. To date, eight businesses have been prosecuted under section 4 of the Statistics of Trade Act 1947 for failing to complete and return the
questionnaire. MIDSS replaced a combination of quarterly and monthly surveys into turnover which commenced in 1991. Prior to this, there were no regular short term turnover surveys covering the distributive and services sector.
Mr. Meacher: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the HM Revenue and Customs officials who allowed the Kurdish Baybasin gang to come to the UK to pursue their drug trafficking and other illegal operations have been dismissed. 
Historically and currently, strict legislative and procedural requirements govern the use of human sources of intelligence by law enforcement agencies. Guidance on all HMRC activities conforms to the prevailing legislative and procedural requirements.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many anti-fraud/compliance officers were employed by the Inland Revenue and HM Revenue and Customs in (a) 2004-05 and (b) 2005-06, broken down by grade; and how many of each grade are expected to be employed in (i) 2006-07 and (ii) 2007-08. 
Dawn Primarolo: The number of full time equivalent staff, by grade, employed in HMRC's operational compliance and enforcement directorates at 1 April 2006 is shown in the following table. This includes some support and processing staff.
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There are no comparable figures for the previous year as the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise, which merged to form HMRC on 18 April 2005, were organised differently both from each other and from HMRC. Over 1,000 investigative staff also transferred from HMRC to the new Serious Organised Crime Agency towards the end of 2005-06. No estimates by grade are yet available for 2006-07 and 2007-8.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the Valuation Office Agencys submission to the Office of the Deputy Prime Ministers consultation on home information pack regulations. 
Representation on the home condition report register was made by the Valuation Office Agency on 11 August 2005. The information was provided in confidence as it relates to potential developments in the Agencys business in which decisions have yet to be taken. Disclosure would therefore be inappropriate.
The Valuation Office Agency will not have access to a home condition report register: this will be limited to buyers, sellers, their advisers and mortgage lenders and those monitoring the performance and quality of the reports.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what ways his Department has heightened public awareness about the prohibitions and restrictions on the import of illegal items into the UK. 
Dawn Primarolo: HM Revenue and Customs provides a range of publicity activities to raise public awareness of import prohibitions and restrictions, including media campaigns aimed at advising travellers of what they may and may not bring back into the UK. In particular, since April this year, HMRC has included information about prohibitions and restrictions in the following activities:
an updated Notice No.1 A Customs Guide for Travellers entering the UK issued in July 2006;
a number of local radio broadcasts and news releases that have generated over 60 written articles in newspapers, magazines and websites.
HMRCs work on illegal imports of products of animal origin includes a number of activities as part of a joint programme with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, including
leaflets, posters and advertising. Additional measures to alert travellers to countries reporting outbreaks of H5N1 avian influenza have included issuing a new bird flu leaflet and posters and placing special bins in red channel and red point areas for disposal of any animal products held by incoming passengers.
As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question, asking how the rate of inflation is calculated; and when is the next plan to review the formula for calculating it. (92752)
Both the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and Retail Prices Index (RPI) are based on the prices of a basket of around 650 goods and services that are purchased by the vast majority of UK households.
Each product or service is weighted to reflect its relative expenditure with weights derived from a number of sources including the ONS Expenditure and Food Survey (in the case of the RPI) and National Accounts (in the case of the CPI). Each year the selection of products for the basket is reviewed and updated expenditure weights calculated with considerable care taken to ensure that the final selection is representative of UK household spending patterns and so the basket is kept up-to-date.
Around 120,000 prices are collected each month. 110,000 prices are collected from retail outlets in around 150 shopping areas or out of town retail park areas throughout the UK. In addition a further 10,000 prices are collected centrally each month, typically for things like holidays, housing and air-fares.
The index is chain linked to allow comparisons to be made over more than one year and by comparing the index at one point in time with the corresponding time point the previous year, an annual rate of change (often termed inflation) can be calculated.
Further information can be found on the National Statistics website: www.statistics.gov.uk.
Chris McCafferty: To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer what the estimated cost to public funds would be of reducing VAT on the renovation of residential property left empty for over three years to (a) 5 per cent. and (b) 0 per cent. in (i) the UK and (ii) deprived areas only. 
A reduced VAT rate of 5 per cent already applies to the renovation of homes that have
been empty for over three years. While agreements with our European partners allow us to keep our VAT zero rates as they currently stand, we cannot extend them or introduce new ones. As such no analysis of the potential cost of a new zero rate has been produced.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) for what reason energy from asphalt road systems is excluded from the renewable energy systems to which the enhanced capital allowance scheme applies; 
John Healey: The Carbon Trust administers the enhanced capital allowance scheme for energy-saving technologies (ECA) and considers the merits of further technology classes for recommendation for inclusion within the scheme. The detailed information that the Carbon Trust requires to consider a new technology class is included on the ECA website. The case for a new technology class for the plant and machinery components of road energy systems can be considered by the Carbon Trust when they have received the information necessary from industry.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how often the list of renewable energy systems included in the enhanced capital allowance scheme is reviewed; and when the last review was carried out. 
John Healey: The list of qualifying technologies for the enhanced capital allowance scheme for energy-saving technologies is reviewed annually. The latest energy technology list was published by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 2 August 2006.
John Healey: The Chancellor announced the establishment of the UK stem cell initiative in the Budget of 16 March, 2005 to formulate a 10-year vision for stem cell research. Sir John Pattison was commissioned at this time to chair the Initiative. Sir John then invited, on the advice of officials, a panel of public and private stakeholders to support him in producing the initiatives report.
As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking how many people have died from sudden death syndrome in each of the past five years. (89650)
It is not possible to give an exact number of deaths which occurred suddenly, as information on whether or not a death was sudden is not currently recorded at death registration. Sudden infant death syndrome is recorded separately and a report on these deaths is published annually. The most recent covered deaths in 2004 and was published in August 2005.(1)
(1) Office for National Statistics (2005) Report: Unexplained deaths in infancy, 2004. Health Statistics Quarterly27, 52-56
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer since what date all telephone calls from claimants to HM Revenue and Customs concerning tax credits have been digitised and recoverable on computer. 
Anne Main: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his Department's policy is on issuing tax credit entitlement notices showing a zero entitlement; and how many such notices have been issued in each year since tax credits were introduced. 
Where someone has made a claim for tax credit they may be eligible for an award of tax credits but their income is such that they have no entitlement to a payment of tax credit. In such cases, where award notices are issued they are shown as a nil rate. As claims can only be backdated for three months, this ensures that people whose income is expected to be too high for there to be any rate of entitlement at the start of the year may nevertheless have full entitlement at end of the year if their income is subsequently reduced.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to review the contracts of staff working for the operational services department of the tax credits office in Newscastle from March 2007; and if he will make a statement. 
The operational services unit ceased to exist as a separate business stream from
29 September 2006. The staff working on tax credit processing became part of the tax credit office.
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