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17 Oct 2006 : Column 1112W—continued

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Premier League

Ian Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many investigations have been made by HM Revenue and Customs into premier league football clubs in the last five years. [93160]

Dawn Primarolo: HM Revenue and Customs has an on-going Employer Compliance and VAT Assurance programme whereby all businesses including football clubs are risked assessed annually. Regular visits are undertaken to businesses to examine their records. The Department is statutorily debarred from disclosing information relating to the tax affairs of those businesses.

Tax Credits

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations were made by Public and Commercial Services Union (a) officials and (b) members on the scope for fraud in the tax credits system in April 2005; and if he will make a statement. [78392]

Dawn Primarolo: HMRC has regular meetings with the Public and Commercial Services Union to discuss a wide range of matters which affect their members, but are unaware of any specific queries relating to tax credit organised fraud raised by the PCS during April 2005.

Mr. Touhig: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what systems are in place to ensure that records kept on the IT system used to process working family tax credits are not lost in the event of the system breaking down; [92924]

(2) how many recorded instances the IT system that deals with working family tax credits has overloaded and failed in the last 12 months; [92926]

(3) what capacity there is to store information on the IT system that processes working family tax credits; and what capacity there is to protect this information in the event of system breakdown; [92975]

(4) what contractual obligations the supplier of the IT system for the working family tax credit is under for (a) remedial, (b) compensatory and (c) support services in circumstances where the system becomes inoperative. [92976]

Dawn Primarolo: The working families tax credit system was decommissioned in April 2005, following the introduction of the working tax credit (WTC) and child tax credit (CTC) in 2003. The following relates to WTC and CTC.

In the event of a system failure the system and its data can be recovered to the point of failure as back- up copies of data are kept as part of the design of the system. Data and information is fully backed up on a daily basis and securely stored off site.

The system supporting these credits has not overloaded and there have been no system failures caused by an overload in the period referred to.

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The current tax credits system is designed to cater for all recipients of WTC and CTC and the system databases currently support up to six terabytes of data.

These tax credits are provided for contractually under the provisions of the Aspire contract dated 5 January 2004, as amended, and the specific IT Service Requirement (service level agreement) agreed for New Tax Credits (NTC).

Capgemini are responsible for the availability of the online service during the contracted hours, for key transactions, problem and incident investigation and remediation, batch processing, training and security. In the event of failure against the agreed performance measures for availability and completeness of batch processing, Capgemini will be liable for service credits which provide the Department with a rebate of service charges for the service not received.

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many cases involving overpayment of tax credits have arisen in each parliamentary constituency in Northern Ireland; and how many have been resolved. [93990]

Dawn Primarolo: For estimates of the numbers of in-work families with tax credit awards, including information on overpayments, by constituency I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field), on 16 June 2006, Official Report, column 1421W. Information on recovery of overpayments is not available at constituency level.

Valuation Office Agency

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the findings of the Valuation Office Agency’s latest staff attitude survey. [94683]

Dawn Primarolo: A copy of the findings of the Valuation Office Agency’s latest staff attitude survey will be placed in the Library. The figures regarding staff satisfaction are published annually in the agency’s annual report and accounts.

VAT (Fruit Drinks)

Stephen Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consideration his Department has given to reducing VAT on pure fruit drinks. [92191]

Dawn Primarolo: Most foodstuffs are VAT zero-rated, saving consumers approximately £10.6 billion in the last financial year. This zero rate does not however extend to certain beverages, including fruit drinks. Under binding European VAT agreements, made at the time of the UK’s accession to the EC and subsequently, the UK can maintain its existing zero rates but successive Governments have agreed not to extend
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these, or to introduce new ones. It is therefore not possible under these agreements to remove VAT from fruit drinks and other beverages.

These same agreements do allow the UK to introduce a reduced rate of VAT of not less than 5 per cent. for foodstuffs which are not zero-rated. While all taxes are kept under review, the use of VAT reduced rates have been used where the tax system offers the most effective and best targeted support for our social objectives, when compared with other policy instruments.

The 2004 Wanless report on public health highlighted difficulties of principle and practice with dietary based tax changes to support public health. To date, the Government have therefore focused resources to encourage healthy eating choices outside the tax system.

Culture, Media and Sport


Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what consultations have been launched by (a) her Department and (b) the Gambling Commission since the passage of the Gambling Act 2005 on gambling, broken down by (i) estimated cost, (ii) length of consultation and (iii) number of responses; and if she will make a statement. [93916]

Mr. Caborn: My Department and the Gambling Commission have launched the following consultation on the Gambling Act 2005.

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Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
Completed consultation Length (weeks) Responses Cost (£)

Categories of gaming machines



Final date for applications for new casinos

Under Gaming Act 1968



Licensing authority policy statement



Premises licence fees—costing exercise



Premises permit fees—costing exercise



Transitional arrangements




Open consultation

Categories of casino regulations



Personal licensing



Premises licences (mandatory and default conditions)



Premises licence regulations



Premises licence hearings regulations



Premises licence inspection regulations



Premise licence responsible authority regulations



Gambling Commission

Completed consultation

Guidance to licensing authorities Part 1: Main Guidance




Guidance to licensing authorities Part 2: Small Society Lotteries




Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP)




Licensing, compliance and enforcement




Statement of principles on licensing and regulation




Supplementary to LCCP: Machine technical standards:

Part 1



Part 2


Not yet known

Open consultation

Supplementary to LCCP: Financial conditions on gambling operators and personal licence holders



Supplementary to LLCP: Types of and rules for casino games



Joint DCMS and Gambling Commission

Open consultation

Gambling Commission fees




(1 )Figures given relate to physical production costs of documents only (i.e. typesetting and printing) and do not include staff time costs. Where no figure is given costs are negligible because they have been disseminated through e-mail and the web.
(2) Consultation period ends 27 October 2006
(3) Consultation period ends 8 November 2006
(4) Consultation period ends 17 November 2006
(5 )Consultation period ends 15 December 2006
(6) Consultation period ends 15 December 2006.
(7 )Consultation period began on 13 October 2006.
(8 )Consultation period began on 13 October 2006.
(9) Consultation period began on 29 September 2006
(10 )Consultation period began 22 September 2006.
(11) To date.

Online Casinos

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her Department’s most recent estimate is of the number of online casinos that will be based in the UK in each of the next 10 years; and if she will make a statement. [93914]

Mr. Caborn: My Department has made no estimate.

For the purposes of calculating draft fees for operating licences, the Gambling Commission assumed that seven remote casino operators would be based onshore from September 2007.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations her Department has made to the European Commission on the application of Article 49 of the EC Treaty in
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relation to online gambling in EU member states; and if she will make a statement. [93915]

Mr. Caborn: My Department has made no representations on this specific issue.

My Department has submitted evidence to the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law, which undertook a study on gambling services in the EU’s internal market on behalf of the European Commission, and an official attended a briefing for member states hosted by the Swiss Institute.

We continue to monitor this closely, including any relevant cases before the European Court of Justice.

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