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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 5 March 2008, Official Report, column 2589W, on taxation: gambling, if he will publish
a breakdown of betting and gaming duties showing how much remote gaming duty has been collected since its introduction. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of industrial action at the Valuation Office Agency on the agency's work on (a) council tax valuations and (b) business rates revaluation. 
Jane Kennedy: The Valuation Office Agency expects that it will be able to maintain the essential services it provides to customers throughout the period of industrial action, which is planned to end on 31 March 2008.
Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of the November 2007 (National) Whitley Council meeting of the Valuation Office Agency; and whether the Agency plans to review the retirement age for its staff. 
Jane Kennedy: The minutes of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) National Whitley Committee meeting, held on 15 November 2007, have been placed in the Library. The VOA reviewed its policy on the retirement age for its employees and decided to remove the upper retirement age of 65 with effect from 1 January 2008.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many appeals regarding revaluation in Wales the Agency has processed in the last three years; how many of these were allowed (a) in whole and (b) in part; and how many appeals were outstanding at the latest date for which figures are available. 
Jane Kennedy: As at 29 February 2008 the Valuation Office Agency had received 20,316 formal appeals against the 2005 Council Tax Lists for Wales. As at the same date 19,716 had been cleared, of which 12,458 resulted in an amendment to the council tax band. As at 29 February 2008, 599 formal appeals were outstanding.
Geraldine Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the change in revenue to the Exchequer which would result from a one penny rise in the rate of value added tax in 2008-09. 
Jane Kennedy: Effects of illustrative percentage point changes in VAT rates are published in Table 6 of the Tax Ready Reckoner and Tax Reliefs, which is published annually alongside the pre-Budget Report. It is available from the HM Treasury website and a hard copy can be found in the House of Commons' Library.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations have been made to his Department for the removal of Value Added Tax from suncare products; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: Representations are regularly made to Treasury Ministers and officials on a wide range of issues. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 23 April 2007, Official Report, column 998W, to the hon. Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink).
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the proposed EU-ASEAN free trade agreement on the military regime in Burma. 
Meg Munn: The UK has consistently made it clear that the Government cannot agree to Burma benefiting from an EU-Association of South East Asian Nations Free Trade Agreement until it achieves an inclusive transition to democracy.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that the United Nations and ASEAN bring pressure on the military regime in Burma to (a) revise its proposed constitution, referendum and elections and (b) engage in dialogue with the National League for Democracy and the ethnic nationalities. 
Since the announcement of a referendum and elections, the Government have been at the forefront of international calls to the Burmese regime to ensure it is a genuinely inclusive process. Our permanent mission in New York has discussed the fundamental flaws of the constitution with Professor Gambari, who has just
completed his third visit to Burma since the crackdown last autumn. We will continue to press for action within the UN. We keep in close contact with partners in the region, including the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), to build up constructive pressure on the Burmese regime and their continued engagement on Burma related issues. Most recently, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister discussed Burma with his Vietnamese counterpart in London. I spelt out our concerns with the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (18 February 2008), the Thai Foreign Minister, Noppadon, and the Thai Minister of Interior, the ASEAN Secretary-General (29 February 2008) and the Indonesian Foreign Minister (3 March 2008). I spoke to Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon again on this issue on 11 March 2008.
Meg Munn: We continue to raise Burma regularly with the Indian Government and at the highest levels. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister discussed the situation with Prime Minister Singh during his January visit to India and Burma featured in the joint statement that emerged from that visit. Our high commission in Delhi remains engaged on the issue in its discussions with the Indian Government. We continue to encourage all those with influence on the Burmese regime to keep up pressure for reconciliation and reform, which must allow the full participation of the opposition and ethnic groups.
Meg Munn: U Khun Tun Oo, Leader of Shan National League for Democracy, remains in prison serving a 93-year sentence. The Government have, bilaterally and through EU and UN mechanisms, repeatedly called for the release of all political prisoners in Burma. This was a fundamental demand in the UN Presidential Statement of 11 October 2007.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his assessment is of the role that the Union Solidarity Development Association will have in (a) organising local-level voting and (b) other respects in the referendum and proposed elections in Burma. 
While the precise role of the Union Solidarity Development Association is as yet unknown, we believe that the regime in Burma will use its membership in the election process to secure the result that it desires. We do not discount the possibility that the semi-government social organisation will play a
central role both in the organisation of the voting and counting processes and in supporting the yes vote for the forthcoming referendum in Burma. This would further undermine the credibility of the regimes roadmap.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the rules for the conduct of the proposed constitutional referendum in Burma, with particular reference to those which indicate that the regime will not take account of abstentions and no votes. 
Meg Munn: On 27 February 2008 the State Peace and Development Council issued the referendum law, announcing a referendum committee and setting out regulations on electoral rolls, voting and counting procedures for the proposed constitutional referendum. The regulation (Chapter VIII 22 (a)(l)) states
votes in favour, votes against and cancelled votes shall be differentiated and counted.
There is no indication that abstentions and no votes will be ignored. It is, however, unclear what percentage of the vote will be needed for the constitution to be passed. We continue to press, bilaterally and through the UN, for a credible process that allows people to voice their views freely, including political prisoners and ethnic nationalities, and responds to the aspirations of the people of Burma.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on Burmas military regime new law which will result in the potential imprisonment of anyone who distributes leaflets or delivers speeches against the proposed constitutional referendum. 
Meg Munn: On 27 February, the State Peace and Development Council issued the referendum law, announcing a referendum committee and setting out regulations on electoral rolls, voting and counting procedures for the proposed constitutional referendum. One element of the regulation is a ban on public or private anti-referendum activities. The crime carries a sentence of up to three years or a heavy fine. The regulation is clearly intended to silence opposition. Unless the process allows people to express their views on the referendum freely, including those who have been silenced by their detention, the process will not be credible, neither to the people of Burma nor to the international community.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether the proposed referendum on the draft constitution in Burma will be free and fair. 
We have consistently made clear that only an inclusive process of national reconciliation can bring stability and prosperity to the country. Laws that make it a crime to criticise the referendum and to campaign against it are also unacceptable. The regimes attempts to exclude certain groups and individuals from the political process fail to meet international demands and will exacerbate tension and instability in
Burma. In our contacts with the military government, and those who have influence over them, we continue to stress the need for all political actors, including Aung San Suu Kyi and all political leaders, as well as political organisations representing ethnic nationalities, to be allowed to play their full part in shaping the countrys future.
Meg Munn: Our high commission in Kuala Lumpur keeps in regular contact with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia. Our high commission has consistently supported the work of the UNHCR, including in addressing the issue of recognition of UNHCR-certified persons of concern.
The Thai Foreign Minister assured me that the new Thai Government want to become more actively engaged on Burma as part of a wider Neighbourhood Engagement Policy. Foreign Minister Noppadon has said that he wants to help move Burma towards democracy. He stated that the political process in Burma must be inclusive and the forthcoming referendum credible. We continue to discuss all aspects of the Burma situation with the Thai Government on a regular basis and have asked the Thai Government to convey the concerns of the international community when Prime Minister Samak visits Burma this month.
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