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Members: Correspondence

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will reply to the letters dated 23 April and 23 May from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton to the Chairman of HM Revenue and Customs on Mr. Tallat Ayub. [149155]

Jane Kennedy: HMRC replied to my right hon. Friend on 10 July 2007.

Ministerial Policy Advisers: Council of Economic Advisers

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to continue the arrangements for special advisers to work on a Council of Economic Advisers. [148923]

Angela Eagle: Policy experts will continue to be employed on the Council of Economic Advisers on special adviser terms.

National Income

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what (a) gross domestic product and (b) gross value added per head was in each (i) region and (ii) county of the UK in each year since 1998. [149490]

Angela Eagle: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 16 July 2007:


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National Insurance

Chris Grayling: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many national insurance cards are in circulation in the United Kingdom. [149970]

Jane Kennedy: It is not possible to state how many national insurance cards are in circulation. Once a national insurance number (NINO) has been allocated to an individual, HMRC IT systems issue them with a plastic NINO card to act as a permanent reminder of the number. The card clearly states that it is not proof of identity. The card itself is purely a notification card and is not considered to be a secure document and as such the card is not numbered or controlled.

Remittances

Anne Main: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Department’s mechanisms for the monitoring of agencies specialising in international money transfers; and if he will make a statement. [149162]

Kitty Ussher: The Treasury conducted an assessment of the supervision of money service businesses by HMRC for anti-money laundering purposes in autumn 2006. Its conclusions are currently being implemented as part of the UK’s criminal and terrorist finance strategy, launched in February this year.

The Government have also committed, following agreement reached on the EU Payment Services Directive (PSD) in April 2007, to bring money transfer companies into regulation from November 2009. The Treasury will launch a public consultation on the implementation of the PSD in autumn 2007.

Revenue and Customs: Personal Records

Andrew George: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) with which (a) Government Departments and (b) local authorities HM Revenue and Customs shares (i) individual tax liability records and (ii) capital gains tax liability records; [148872]

(2) what assessment he has made of the merits of (a) cross checking and (b) sharing (i) all tax liability records and (ii) capital gains tax liability records with those (A) Government Departments and (B) local authorities for which such data would assist them with the efficient discharge of their responsibilities; [148873]

(3) what rules govern the exchange and sharing of tax data and capital gains tax records with (a) officials in other Government Departments and (b) officials in local authorities. [148874]

Jane Kennedy: HMRC may only disclose information in accordance with the provisions of section 18 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005.

Statutory gateways provide HMRC with the lawful authority to share its information with others. Gateways detail with whom the information may be shared and for what purpose. All disclosures must be fully compliant with the provisions of the Data Protection and Human Rights Acts.

These gateways permit HMRC to disclose relevant, necessary and appropriate information in limited and defined circumstances to enable them to efficiently discharge their responsibilities. A list of the most commonly used gateways can be accessed via the following link:


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Taxation: Casinos

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the likely effect of the increase in casino taxation on existing small and medium sized casinos; [149992]

(2) what taxation rates and duties are paid by (a) bookmakers, (b) casino operators, (c) bingo operators and (d) online gambling operators in the UK. [149993]

Angela Eagle: The rates of taxation for betting, gaming and lotteries are published in the HM Revenue and Customs Betting and Gaming Factsheet, available at http://www.uktradeinfo.com/index.cfm? task=factbetting.

The Government take all relevant factors into consideration when establishing and maintaining fair regimes for the gambling taxes.

Unemployment: Young People

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what percentage of 19 to 21-year-olds were (a) economically inactive and not in full-time education and (b) unemployed in each year since 1997, broken down by local education authority. [149097]

Angela Eagle: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 16 July 2007:


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Welfare Tax Credits

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) individuals and (b) households were in receipt of either child tax credit or working tax credit in each year for which figures are available. [148909]

Jane Kennedy: The average number of households benefiting from either child or working tax credits in each year, or receiving the equivalent support through out-of-work benefits, is shown in ‘Child and Working Tax Credit Statistics: Finalised annual awards’ for 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06. These are available on the HMRC website at:

These publications also show the number of couple and single adult households benefiting from tax credits, as well as the average number of children in these households.

Welfare Tax Credits: IT

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the technical issues are which are affecting tax credit IT systems entitlement calculations. [148690]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to paragraph 2.39 of the Comptroller and Auditor General's Standard Report, which is available on the NAO website at:

Communities and Local Government

Departments: Pensions

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what percentage of staff in her Department are making additional voluntary contributions to their pensions; and what steps she has taken in the last 12 months to encourage more people to make such contributions. [147531]

Mr. Iain Wright: Forty-two members of staff in Communities and Local Government (1.9 per cent. of the total number of staff employed by the Department) currently make additional voluntary pension contributions through deductions from their pay. Pension scheme members receive an annual benefit statement showing the pension built up to date, and also a projection of pension on retirement if the member continues in service to scheme pension age. The benefit statement provides details of the Civil Service Pensions website where staff can obtain further information, including on options for making additional voluntary contributions to boost their pension.

Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) whether her Department has had discussions with the Community Development Foundation on the appropriateness of religious groups receiving grants from the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund where allegations of cultish behaviour have been made against them; [147208]


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(2) what representations her Department has received on cultish behaviour in the (a) Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, (b) New Kudampa Tradition and (c) Soka Gakkai International. [147209]

Mr. Dhanda: The Department has received correspondence from a member of the public regarding the alleged cultish behaviour of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, New Kadarnpa Tradition and Soka Gakkai International. No other representation has been received by the Department. Communities and Local Government has commissioned the Community Development Foundation to administer the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund. Officials made the Community Development Foundation aware of the existence of the allegations. The Department considered whether these allegations had any relevance when set against the Fund's stringent criteria and guidelines. The decision was made that the criteria were satisfied and the award of funding was made.

Fire Services

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which fire services provide no whole-time fire cover at night across their entire service area. [148983]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 11 July 2007]: The information requested is not held centrally.

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of levels of night-time fire cover across the country; and if she will make a statement. [148984]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 11 July 2007]: Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) are required by the Fire and Rescue Service National Framework to have in place and maintain an Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) which reflects local need and sets out plans to tackle effectively both existing and potential risks to communities. The IRMP enables the Authority to tailor cover, to fire and other incidents, to local circumstances by evaluating where risk is greatest and allocating resources accordingly.

It is not the role of Ministers to intervene in the operational proposals of an authority's IRMP; that is for elected members of the authority concerned to determine following full consultation with the local community. The local authority is best placed to act on the professional advice of principal officers and to balance the competing local demands on available resources for the benefits of the communities they serve.

Floods: EU Grants and Loans

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether an application has been made to the European Union Solidarity Fund as a result of the recent flooding across the UK. [150088]

John Healey: We are keen to access appropriate sources of funding to help deal with the flooding that has so badly affected some of the English regions. We are urgently investigating whether the recent flooding would meet the criteria set by the European Commission for applying for support to the European Union Solidarity Fund.


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Floods: Milton Keynes

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether (a) Milton Keynes Council and (b) Stoke Goldington Parish Council will be eligible following the severe flooding in Stoke Goldington, Milton Keynes to apply for part of the £14 million emergency fund for flooded communities recently announced by the Prime Minister. [149169]

John Healey [holding answer 12 July 2007]: The £14 million package of aid announced by the Prime Minister comprises three elements.

Firstly, there is a £10 million Flood Recovery Grant Scheme administered by my Department to support local authorities in their work within communities affected by the flooding, and in particular to enable them to help those in greatest and most immediate need get back on their feet. This is funding for lower-tier local authorities, so Stoke Goldington Parish Council is not eligible.

I announced on 13 July a series of initial payments to local authorities under this scheme, based on the information available to me at the time about the number of households affected by flooding and on my judgment as how to best share the available funding to the best benefit of affected communities. Milton Keynes was considered for, but has not received, an initial payment. We will be making allocations in due course of the remaining funding, and are encouraging all affected local authorities to work closely with their Government Office on assessing the impact of the recent flooding. I will consider the case for payments to all eligible councils on the basis of the information I have at that time.

Secondly, there is £3 million from the Department for Transport to assist emergency capital works needed to restore the functionality of the highway network. This is for highways authorities, which means that Milton Keynes can apply but Stoke Goldington cannot. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on the nature and urgency of the repairs, and the availability of resources.

Finally, there is £1 million which can be drawn on as contingency reserve by the Department for Work and Pensions for use by Jobcentre Plus to support additional demand for Social Fund Community Care Grants. This is not funding for local authorities but for individuals, who should apply direct to Jobcentre Plus in the usual way.


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