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19 Dec 2006 : Column 1735W—continued


Vehicle hire and purchase

HM Treasury, Office of Government Commerce and the Debt Management Office have not hired or purchased any vehicles in the past three years. Data for the remaining agencies are set out in the following table.


19 Dec 2006 : Column 1736W
£000
2005-06 2004-05 2003-04

HM Revenue and Customs

Hire

2,942

2,716

2,647

Purchase

4,145

5,578

5,771

Royal Mint

Hire

0

Nil

0

Purchase

48

15

20

Valuation Office Agency

Hire

147

194

205

Purchase

Nil

Nil

Nil

National Savings and Investments

Hire

28

29

32

Purchase

Nil

Nil

Nil

Government Actuary's Department

Hire

0

Nil

Nil

Purchase

Nil

Nil

Nil


Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 29 November 2006, Official Report, column 719W, on Departmental expenditure, what his Department’s staff subsistence costs were from travel (a) abroad and (b) in the UK in each year since 1997. [109193]

John Healey: I refer to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) on 16 October 2006, Official Report, column 1060W.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many directors in his Department have a member of staff of pay band E or higher to support their duties. [105592]

John Healey: All Treasury directors have staff at pay range E that support them in carrying out their duties.

Chris Ruane: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consultations there have been with staff on the training to be offered to staff seeking redundancy in his Department; and what the deadlines are for staff responses. [109142]

John Healey: None. The Treasury has not recently offered a voluntary redundancy scheme.

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to paragraph 6.4 of his departmental report, Cm 6830, how many staff reductions have taken place. [109494]

John Healey: The Treasury Group’s performance against its headcount reduction target was published in the HM Treasury 2006 autumn performance report, which was laid in Parliament on 14 December.

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total cost was of staff recruitment campaigns in his Department for the last 12 months. [109500]


19 Dec 2006 : Column 1737W

John Healey: HM Treasury spent a total of £303,000 on staff recruitment campaigns during the financial year 2005-06.

Departmental Taxation

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department receives in taxation of other Government Departments; and what the cost of administering this is. [109446]

Mr. Timms: Government Departments are directly liable for VAT and Stamp Duty Land Tax.

In 2005-06 it is estimated that net Stamp Duty Land Tax receipts from Government Departments totalled £4 million. The administration costs associated with these receipts are estimated to be £8,000.

In 2005-06(1) it is estimated that there was a net recovery of VAT receipts by Government Departments of £3,478 million. As some departments made a net payment of VAT receipts and others a net recovery, estimating the administration costs would incur disproportionate cost.

Departmental Working Practices

Chris Ruane: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of lean working practices introduced by his Department. [109171]

Dawn Primarolo: Lean working practices are being introduced to improve delivery of key areas of HMRC responsibilities such as self assessment and pay-as-you-earn. It aims to improve the overall service to taxpayers through quicker turn-around times and increased accuracy and efficiency.

Lean ways of working have been implemented in processing over the past 12 months and are already achieving a wide range of improvements in both quality and productivity across HMRC’s largest PAYE/SA offices.

Diet Foods: VAT

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate he has made of the annual revenue that will be raised from charging standard-rate VAT on specialist diet foods; [109883]

(2) what the basis was for the decisions (a) to charge standard-rate VAT on specialist diet foods and (b) to do so retrospectively. [109884]

Dawn Primarolo: Most food is VAT zero-rated. The VAT liability of specialist diet foods generally follows the VAT liability of their mainstream food equivalents, and they may be zero or standard-rated depending on the nature of the product and the way that it is supplied. This has been the case since VAT was introduced. As such, no estimate has been made. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) may assess to recover arrears of VAT where VAT was properly due but was not charged and was not paid over to HMRC.


19 Dec 2006 : Column 1738W

Employers’ Forum Disability Standard

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in which areas his Department was measured as below average in the Employers’ Forum Disability Standard 2005. [109502]

John Healey: The Treasury was not measured as below average in any of the areas in the Employers’ Forum Disability Standard 2005.

Environmental Research Institute

Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the reasons were for the change in the level of funding for the new Environmental Research Institute in the Pre-Budget Report; and if he will make a statement. [109997]

Malcolm Wicks: I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry published the Prospectus for the Energy Technologies Institute on 14 September with the aspiration of achieving a budget of £l billion from 50:50 public/private sector funding over 10 years. Private sector commitments to-date amount to £275 million, which will be matched by the Government, to provide an initial budget of £550 million. Further private sector funding partners are being sought to help to increase the Institute's budget.

Financial Services

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the legal basis was for HM Revenue and Customs’ policy change in July 2006 to refuse the right of claimants from outside the European Union in the financial services and insurance sectors, engaged in the supply of services to non-EU customers, to recover VAT incurred on goods and services from UK suppliers. [108535]

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the reasons were for HM Revenue and Customs’ recent change of policy on the right of companies from outside the European Union in the financial services sector engaged in the supply of services to non-EU customers to recover VAT incurred on goods and services from UK suppliers; what representations he has received from industry on the change; what discussions he had with industry prior to the change; and what estimate he has made of the net annual change in revenue to the Exchequer which will result. [108565]

Dawn Primarolo: The change in the law, which was announced at the 2004 pre-Budget report and came into effect on 3 December 2004, was implemented as a result of a judgment of the Court of Appeal in connection with the EC 13th VAT Directive, which enables VAT to be recovered by non-EU businesses in certain circumstances. No further changes to the law were made in July 2006.


19 Dec 2006 : Column 1739W

In order to minimise the risk of forestalling, no pre-announcement of this change was made, and no impact assessments have been made.

In 2004 it was estimated that it would have a negligible revenue effect. There has been no impact estimate post implementation.

Representations are regularly made to Treasury Ministers and officials on a wide range of issues.

Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact on (a) inward investment to and (b) the competitiveness of the City of London of HM Revenue and Customs’ policy change in July 2006 to withdraw the right of claimants from outside the European Union in the financial services and insurance sectors engaged in the supply of services to non-EU customers to recover VAT incurred on goods and services from UK suppliers. [109593]

Dawn Primarolo: The change in the law, which was announced at the 2004 pre-Budget report and came into effect on 3 December 2004, was implemented as a result of a judgment of the Court of Appeal in connection with the EC 13th VAT directive, which enables VAT to be recovered by non-EU businesses in certain circumstances. No further changes to the law were made in July 2006.

In order to minimise the risk of forestalling no pre-announcement of this change was made, and no impact assessments have been made.

Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer why HM Revenue and Customs changed their policy in July on the right of claimants from outside the European Union in the financial services and insurance sectors engaged in the supply of services to non-EU customers to recover VAT incurred on goods and services from UK suppliers; what the legal basis was for that policy change; what research was conducted into the effect of that policy change on (a) inward investment and (b) UK competitiveness before the change took place; what consultation was completed before the policy change; and what discussions (i) he and (ii) senior members of his staff had with representatives of the financial services and insurance sectors on the Varney Report since July. [108568]

Dawn Primarolo: The change in the law, which was announced at the 2004 pre-Budget report and came into effect on 3 December 2004, was implemented as a result of a judgment of the Court of Appeal in connection with the EC 13th VAT Directive, which enables VAT to be recovered by non-EU businesses in certain circumstances. No further changes to the law were made in July 2006.

In order to minimise the risk of forestalling no pre-announcement of this change was made, and no impact assessments have been made.

As the lead department for financial services, HM Treasury has extensive discussions with the financial services and insurance sectors on wide-ranging issues, including tax administration.


19 Dec 2006 : Column 1740W

Flood Risk

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the economic costs to the UK of increased flood risk; and whether he will take these costs into account when determining the appropriate level of funding for flood defences over the period of the forthcoming spending review; [109969]

(2) what provisions he intends to make in the Comprehensive Spending Review to ensure that appropriate levels of investment continue to be made in flood defences. [109970]

John Healey: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as the Department with lead responsibility for flood risk management, continues to keep the investment needs for flood risk management under review. The Government take all the available evidence into consideration when determining Defra's CSR settlement.

Government Gilts

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the end-life total debt is associated with Government gilts issued since May 1997. [109503]

Ed Balls: £272 billion (nominal value) of gilts have been issued since May 1997, raising some £295 billion (cash). Gilt redemptions were £173 billion over the same period.

HM Revenue and Customs

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any corrupt data have been detected on the computer systems of HM Revenue and Customs. [109038]

Dawn Primarolo: HMRC continually monitors the quality of its data, and works closely with its customers, including employers, small businesses and other organisations from whom it receives data to ensure that its records are up to date and accurate.

Where inaccuracies in data are detected, they are corrected and the causes of the inaccuracies are investigated.

By working closely with employers, HMRC has been able to successfully identify and address the causes of poor quality data, which will significantly reduce inaccuracies in the future.

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what HM Revenue and Custom’ performance has been against its targets on (a) combating drug smuggling and (b) productivity gains; and if he will make a statement. [109564]

Dawn Primarolo: HM Revenue and Customs publishes an annual report of its activities and results and these are available in the Library of the House of Commons. The annual report for 2005-06 is due to be published on the 18 December 2006.


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