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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of the population in England live in (a) London boroughs, (b) two-tier areas, (c) unitary areas and (d) metropolitan areas. 
The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your question regarding the proportion of the population in England living in (a) London boroughs, (b) two-tier areas, (c) unitary areas and (d) metropolitan areas. I am replying in her absence. (142374).
Table 1 shows these data for mid-2005. Mid-2006 population estimates will be published on 22 August 2007. The City of London has been included in the London Boroughs category and the Isles of Scilly have been included in the Unitary Areas category.
ONS is making improvements in August 2007 to the methods used to distribute international migration figures to local areas as part of its "Improving Migration and Population Statistics" work programme. The figures quoted will therefore be subject to revision.
|Table 1: Percentage of mid-2005 Population in England by type of area|
|Area||Percentage of population|
Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number, and may not sum to 100 due to rounding.
Office for National Statistics
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the estimated total expenditure (a) by the Office for National Statistics and (b) from local authority contributions was on the new computer database for registry offices; 
As National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales, I have been asked to reply to your recent questions concerning what assessment has been of the causes of the IT problems with the local authority registry offices' new RON computer database and what the estimated total expenditure by the Office for National Statistics and from local authority contributions was on the new computer database for registry offices. (142370, 142372)
A team of experts has been looking at the system and have identified a proposed resolution plan of activities. A full independent review is to be undertaken in due course.
The total cost of the new system (known as "RON") was estimated as just over £6m, of which some £3.5million is for the software, £2.5 million is for IT infrastructure. Local Authorities have not directly contributed to its development.
Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) arrests were made and (b) convictions were secured by HM Revenue and Customs for (i) drugs trafficking and (ii) associated criminal finance in each year since 1998, broken down by offence. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether tree protection orders may be placed on a tree or series of trees prior to a planning application that would result in the trees being removed or cut down. 
A tree preservation order (TPO) may be made to safeguard trees on a potential development site in the interests of amenity. This ensures that the effect of any proposed development on trees would be properly considered by the local planning authority alongside other material considerations. If full planning permission is subsequently granted, the TPO would not prevent any felling or pruning needed to implement the approved development.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 26 January 2007, Official Report, column 2134W, on the Valuation Office
Agency, what the purpose was of the visits to (a) America, (b) Malaysia, (c) Japan, (d) Thailand, (e) Spain, (f) France, (g) China and (h) Belgium. 
Dawn Primarolo: All overseas travel by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is undertaken in accordance with the Civil Service code. Overseas travel is typically undertaken in order to share international expertise in the field of property valuation. Detailed information on each visit is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Gauke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of complete and accurate VAT registration applications were processed within 21 days of receipt in each of the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 14 June 2007]: HM Revenue and Customs currently record processing time for all applications and no longer distinguish between those that are either complete or incomplete. The latest available monthly figures are as follows:
|Month||Percentage of applications processed within 21 days of receip t|
Mr. Gauke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many complaints HM Revenue and Customs received on the time taken to process VAT registrations in each of the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 14 June 2007]: HMRC registers over 280,000 new businesses every year. Over the past 12 months less than 1 per cent. of these businesses have complained about registration delays.
The recent increase in the number of complaints is the result of the introduction of more rigorous pre-registration checks designed to combat MTIC fraud. HMRC are working to reduce the number of registration delays.
|Month||Number of complaints|
Mr. Gauke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of HM Revenue and Customs performance in repaying VAT to claimants where claims are properly claimed and payments are properly payable; 
(2) what the percentage of cases is in which the extended verification process for VAT repayments have been determined by HM Revenue and Customs to be (a) connected with missing trader intra community fraud and (b) otherwise incorrectly claimed or improperly paid. 
John Healey: The vast majority of VAT repayment claims are paid promptly. However, in response to the rapid increase in missing trader intra-community fraud activity in late 2005 and early 2006, HM Revenue and Customs are actively checking a greater number of suspect claims. HMRC have deployed an additional 700 staff in 2006-07 to ensure that verification of these claims can be carried out as effectively and efficiently as possible.
The latest data indicates that over 95 per cent. of traders, whose returns are subject to the current verification programme, have so far been found to be participating in, or profiting from, MTIC fraud, or there is sufficient suspicion to warrant further investigation. Only 1 per cent. of the VAT withheld under this programme has been found to be properly payable. To date, the courts have found that HMRCs actions have been proportionate and reasonable.
HMRC does not hold centralised information relating to (b) otherwise incorrectly claimed or improperly paid. VAT incorrectly claimed or improperly paid can result from a diverse number of factors, including other fraud, avoidance or error and gathering such data would incur disproportionate costs.
Mr. Vara: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many appeals against repayment of overpaid tax credits remain unresolved due to computer or other technical issues; and how many of the outstanding cases have been unresolved for (a) one to three months, (b) three to six months, (c) six to 12 months and (d) over 12 months. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what definition he uses of the sub-category of toxicological procedure Substances used in the Household in the context of his Department's Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals; and whether this sub-category applies to both finished household products and their ingredients. 
Joan Ryan: The information published in the Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals in Great Britain on toxicological procedures is classified according to the nature of the substance tested. There is no authoritative definition of the term household products within toxicology and it is not defined in any national or international legislation.
However, in the context of the Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, regard is paid to the definition of finished household products as set out in the 2002 publication on The Use of Animals in Testing Household Products produced by the Boyd Group, a forum encompassing a wide rage of expertise and perspectives concerned with the use of animals in scientific procedures. As part of the quality assurance process for compiling the statistics each return for the use of household products is scrutinised to ensure appropriate categorisation.
All products that are primarily intended for use in the home fall within the sub-category Substances used in the household and would include such products as detergents and other laundry products, household cleaners, air-fresheners, toilet blocks, polishes, paper products such as infant nappies, paints, glues (and removers), other furnishing and DIY products and household pesticides. The sub-category applies to both finished household products and their ingredients, although in practice mainly the latter are tested.
Procedures for toxicological purposes accounted for 14 per cent. of all procedures started in 2005 and, of that, 0.005 per cent. of procedures were for the evaluation household products. The number of procedures for the testing of household products remains very small and has reduced dramatically from 1,032 procedures in 2002 to 21 in 2005, a fall of 98 per cent. It is anticipated that it will always be the case that only very small numbers of animals will be used for this purpose.
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