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Revenue and Customs: Publicity

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how HM Revenue and Customs assesses the value for money of its expenditure on marketing and advertising to promote self-assessment online; and how it determines what proportion of the increase in the uptake of the service is due to its marketing and advertising campaign as opposed to the increased use of internet across society. [125363]

Dawn Primarolo: The value for money of HMRC's advertising expenditure is monitored via an independent specialist agency. Their most recent report concluded that HMRC are receiving excellent value compared to the industry average.

The Self Assessment campaign won Institute of Practitioners in Advertising Effectiveness awards in 2005 and 2006.

HMRC conducts analyses of trends to determine the proportion of behavioural change that can be attributed to its marketing efforts, taking account of organic take-up.

Tax Credit: Children

Jim Dowd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the progress towards issuing annual statements to those in receipt of child tax credit. [124791]

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Dawn Primarolo: At the end of the year tax credits claimants will be sent a notice containing a summary of their award history for the year as part of their renewal pack. For the end of 2006-07 this will also include playback.

Final award notices provide confirmation of the income and circumstances used to calculate the award, the amount of final entitlement to tax credits and the amount of tax credits paid for that award.

Tax Credit: North East Region

John Cummings: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many projects in (a) County Durham and (b) Easington constituency received research and development tax credits in each of the last four years. [124898]

John Healey: The information requested is not available.

For information generally on the take-up of research and development tax credits, I refer my hon. Friend to the National Statistics published in December 2006 on the HM Revenue and Customs website at:

Taxation: International Assistance

Jon Cruddas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the (a) amount of taxation on levels of remittance aid, (b) amount of tax paid on remittances from the UK to developing countries and (c) cost of providing tax relief on remittance aid; what measures he has taken to maximise levels of remittance aid; what steps he plans to take to increase the level of remittance aid; and what policy recommendations he has received from the UK Remittances Working Group. [124940]

Ed Balls: Remittances are an increasingly importance source of development finance and can have a significant positive economic impact in developing countries, particularly low-income countries. That is why the Government welcomed the report of the UK Remittances Working Group, available at:

The Government are engaged in several activities to support remittance flows, including:

There are currently no specific tax measures focused on remittances.

VAT: Manpower

Lady Hermon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people are employed by his Department to check the accuracy of VAT returns, broken down by grade. [125495]

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Dawn Primarolo: Checking the accuracy of VAT returns is not a single activity to which HMRC allocates a specific resource. It is an intrinsic element of enforcement and compliance activity within the VAT regime on which 8,924 staff years were used in the financial year 2005-06.

Welfare Tax Credits

Mike Wood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the extent to which the tax credits system has met its objectives; and what assessment he has made of the effect of problems experienced by claimants on the meeting of objectives. [121862]

Dawn Primarolo: Take-up of child tax credit (CTC) and working tax credit (WTC) has been a success with the vast majority of claimants receiving the right amount of payments at the right time.

Tax credits have helped to lift 700,000 children out of relative poverty since 1996-97—compared to a doubling of child poverty in the previous 20 years.

Tax credits have also helped increase the number of people in work by over 2.5 million since spring 1997, and since 1997 long-term unemployment has reduced by 450,000.

Furthermore, tax credits have also been central to reducing the tax burden on low to middle income families. The latest OECD study shows the tax burden on a single-earner couple with two children earning £21,000 has fallen from 17.3 per cent. of gross earnings in 1997 to 9.8 per cent. in 2004.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many overpayments have been (a) caused and (b) written off due to the original problems being caused by technical problems on the Tax Credit Office computer system. [124273]

Dawn Primarolo: The information is not available in the format requested. I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave him on 1 November 2006, Official Report, column 543W.

Working Tax Credit

Peter Bottomley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what circumstances a person living in the UK working as an au pair from (a) an EU and (b) a non-EU state may qualify for Working Tax Credit (WTC); for how long such a person must be resident in the UK before qualifying; and how many such people are estimated to be receiving WTC. [124944]

Dawn Primarolo: Entitlement to Working Tax Credit (WTC) depends on a person being in “qualifying remunerative work”. Claimants with responsibility for a child or qualifying young person, or who are disabled, must work for at least 16 hours a week to qualify for WTC. Workers without children or a disability must be aged at least 25 and work for 30 or more hours a week in order to qualify.

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A person is ordinarily resident if they normally live in the United Kingdom (apart from occasional temporary absences) and they have chosen to live and settle here in the UK for the time being.

People who have limited leave to enter or remain in the UK are generally excluded from access to public funds, including WTC.

More detailed guidance is available on the HMRC website (

The other information requested is not available.

International Development

Afghanistan: Overseas Aid

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding has been committed to Afghanistan for reconstruction and development in each year since the invasion; what proportion of this funding has been committed (a) bilaterally and (b) multilaterally; and through which organisations. [122766]

Hilary Benn: DFID spent over £390 million on reconstruction and development in Afghanistan between April 2001 and March 2006. We have committed to spend a further £330 million between April 2006 and March 2009, including a planned £102 million in 2006-07.

Our bilateral programme spend in Afghanistan over the last five financial years has been as follows:

£ million











Amounts channelled through UN agencies were £1.3 million in 2001, £2.1 million in 2002, £1.4 million in 2003, and £4.0 million in 2004. We are also contributing 18 per cent. of the EC’s pledge of £1 billion between 2002 and 2007 (around £125 million in total, or around £25 million per year). We also contribute over 10 per cent. of the World Bank’s spending of $250-$300 million a year in Afghanistan, and we also channel funds through the Asian Development Bank. The international and local non-governmental organisations through which we have channelled funds are listed at Annexes A and B respectively.

Annexe A: International Organisations

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Annexe B: Local Organisations

Departments: Publications

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether his Department’s publication The World Classroom was co-financed by the Treasury. [125497]

Mr. Thomas: The DFID/Treasury World Classroom publication was wholly funded by the Department for International Development, in relation to design, print and distribution.

Nicaragua: Bomb Disposal

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the danger posed by
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landmines in Nicaragua; and what aid the UK (a) has allocated and (b) plans to allocate for mine removal and local training to remove mines. [124702]

Mr. Thomas: In recent years, Nicaragua has made significant progress in de-mining landmines left over from its years of conflict, under the auspices of the Nicaraguan Army Engineer Corps. The most recent Landmine Monitor report of 2006 indicated that many areas, such as the Southern Atlantic Coast Region, have now been cleared entirely, but progress is still needed in other regions, such as the North Atlantic Coast. In addition, the social and economic impact of uncleared mines is still felt, with casualties continuing to occur every year. Nicaragua’s “Demining National Plan” lays out Nicaragua’s interventions with regard to demining, with the support of the international community through the Organisation of American States (OAS). The de-mining programmes are often accompanied by mine education and awareness programmes and support to victims.

Globally, DFID is committed to reduce the social and economic impact of landmines on developing countries through helping them to implement their obligations under the Ottawa Convention. In 1999-2001, DFID provided support (£283,000) to the Government of Nicaragua, through the “Humanitarian Mine Action” programme coordinated by the OAS, to remove and destroy landmines and unexploited artefacts planted throughout the country during the years of conflict.

In addition, between 2000 and 2001, the UK Government, through the embassy in Nicaragua, contributed £850,000 to the implementation of Nicaragua’s Demining National Plan through the OAS. These resources went towards the removal and destruction of land mines in the area of the Northern Atlantic Coast.

The European Commission has also undertaken a €1.3 million project (2003-04), entitled “Implementation of Humanitarian Operations for Demining in Nueva Segovia”. This project was executed by the Nicaraguan Army, under the supervision of the OAS and Inter American Development Bank.

DFID no longer provides direct support to the de-mining effort in Nicaragua, as many donor partners continue to be closely engaged, including EU partners, Canada and the United States of America.

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