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22 May 2008 : Column 437W—continued

Income Tax: Tax Allowances

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost to (a) private businesses and (b) public sector employers of implementing his decision to increase income tax personal allowances in 2008; and if he will publish a full impact assessment. [206653]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 19 May 2008]: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and employers' representatives have long established processes in place to ensure any changes to tax can be implemented by businesses as soon and simply as possible. HMRC is talking to employers' representatives about the smooth and timely implementation of the changes announced by the Chancellor. Each year, HMRC sends tools to employers so that they can automatically implement the annual Budget changes. HMRC are following this well-understood process in implementing the changes announced by the Chancellor. HMRC are issuing updated tools to employers, which will include all the details to enable an employer to automatically implement the changes. For smaller employers who continue to operate their payrolls manually, HMRC will provide tax tables to help them deal with the changes.

Mr. Brady: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the likely effect on economic growth of the reduction in income tax
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revenues arising from the proposed increase in the personal allowance. [207097]

Jane Kennedy: The Treasury last published forecasts for the UK economy in the 2008 Financial Statement and Budget Report (HC 388). These will be updated as part of the 2008 pre-Budget report, as is normal practice.

Ministerial Statements

Peter Bottomley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when copies of his Oral Statement of 13 May 2008 (a) were planned to be and (b) were made available to (i) hon. Members (A) in the Vote Office and (B) behind the Speaker’s chair and (ii) the media. [206183]

Angela Eagle: The Treasury made arrangements for copies of the statement to be made available to Members and the media after the Chancellor had delivered it in the Chamber. That is what happened.

Motor Vehicles: Excise Duties

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the criteria are for determining when to uprate the rate at which private car owners may claim tax relief for journeys undertaken for companies and voluntary organisations; when the rate was last amended; and what plans he has to review the rate. [207325]

Angela Eagle: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given to him on 12 November 2007, Official Report, column 22W.

The Government consider that the mileage rates, introduced in 2002, are sufficiently high to cover the business motoring expenses of most drivers. The Chancellor announced in Budget 2008 that the Government would maintain the tax-free mileage allowance (AMAPs) rates and thresholds at current levels.

Offshore Funds

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many offshore accounts have been declared under HM Revenue and Customs' amnesty; how much additional revenue has been collected as a result of the amnesty; whether foreign owned UK banks have been included in the disclosures; and whether offshore subsidiaries of UK banks have been included in the disclosures. [206693]

Jane Kennedy: HMRC is considering the information provided by over 44,000 taxpayers who took the opportunity to put their tax affairs in order under the recent offshore disclosure facility. The disclosures totalled over £400 million and included details of over 65,000 offshore accounts.

The facility was not an amnesty as taxpayers were required to pay the full tax due (not just the tax linked to an offshore account) plus interest and, except in the very smallest cases, a penalty of a set 10 per cent. of the tax.

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Taxpayers were not asked for details of their accounts held at UK banks (whether foreign owned or not) but were required to declare outstanding tax due from all sources.

Accounts with both offshore subsidiaries and offshore branches of UK banks have been included in disclosures received by HMRC.

Public Sector: Pensions

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects public sector pension scheme liability estimates to appear on all Government accounts. [206712]

Yvette Cooper: Public sector pension liabilities will be published in Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) for financial year 2009-10. An exact date for publication of these accounts will be set after the 2008-09 dry run WGA process has been completed.

Revenue and Customs: Southport

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans HM Revenue and Customs has for the usage of Dukes House in Southport in the next 10 years. [207081]

Jane Kennedy: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced on 29 February its plans to vacate its office in Dukes House, Southport, by spring 2010 or earlier as staff are relocated to other buildings which will be retained. The enquiry centre services currently available at Dukes House will either remain in the current building or be relocated nearby.

HMRC leases Dukes House from its strategic estates partner, Mapeley, under the terms of the STEPS contract. HMRC will give at least 12 months' notice to Mapeley of its intention to vacate the building. Once HMRC's lease has ended, responsibility for the future use of Dukes House will be entirely a matter for Mapeley.

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what revisions HM Revenue and Customs has made to its plans to relocate its offices in Dukes House, Southport, following the outcomes of appeals against its original proposals on the part of employees. [207294]

Jane Kennedy: HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC's) plans are still as announced on 29 February: to relocate staff from most of the business units in its office in Dukes House Southport to join larger teams in other offices within reasonable daily travelling time. Customer Contact staff will remain in or near their current location to maintain the enquiry centre services currently offered at Dukes House.

Individual members of staff may object through a grievance and appeals process against a decision that it is reasonable to require them to relocate. Where agreement is reached that it would be unreasonable for an individual to relocate with their team to the long-term location preferred by their own business unit, all alternative options will be explored, such as transfer to another business unit in an HMRC office
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within reasonable daily travelling time, or to another Government Department within the locality.

If none of the alternative options is feasible, temporary work of comparable quality will be provided in the Southport office for individuals who cannot move until a permanent solution is found. That will not affect the business decision to vacate the office, though it may affect the timing of the vacation.

Taxation: Aviation

Mr. Evans: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effects of levying aviation duty on business in the UK. [206996]

Angela Eagle: An initial impact assessment was included in the formal consultation document issued on 31 January 2008.

A final impact assessment will be published at the same time as the policy announcement in the autumn. The main areas covered in the impact assessment will include the impact of the tax on business compliance costs (including estimates of these costs), overall competition in the aviation sector, small firms, other sectors carbon and other environmental effects.

Valuation Office: Cameras

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) digital and (b) video cameras the Valuation Office Agency has purchased in the last 24 months; and at what cost. [199119]

Jane Kennedy: 791 digital cameras were purchased in the last 24 months (April 2006-March 2008) at a total cost of £112,486.64. No video cameras were purchased.

Welfare Tax Credits

Anne Main: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last visited a tax credit office. [199155]

Jane Kennedy: I was appointed as the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in June 2007 and as the Minister responsible for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) I have visited a number of HMRC offices, including the tax credit office in Preston in September 2007, and tax credit staff working in Liverpool in February 2008.

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost to the public purse was of tax credits awarded to deceased persons in the last financial year. [205877]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 8 October 2007, Official Report, column 243W.

The same information for 2006-07 will be available from 20 May 2008.

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which user groups he has consulted on the operation of the tax credit system. [206866]

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Jane Kennedy [holding answer 20 May 2008]: HMRC consults on a regular basis with a wide range of organisations.

It also has a tax credit specific consultation group, which has met regularly since the scheme began. Members of this group include organisations such as Child Poverty Action Group, One Parent Families, Citizens Advice and Low Incomes Tax Reform Group. The minutes of those meetings are published on HMRC's website at

HMRC also seeks the advice of the Social Security Advisory Committee under the terms of the memorandum of understanding signed between the former Inland Revenue and the Committee.

Wines: Measurement

Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what guidance HM Revenue and Customs issues on the sizes of wine glasses used by wine-selling on-trade establishments; and if he will make a statement. [206571]

Angela Eagle: HM Revenue and Customs does not issue guidance on the sizing of glasses used for serving wine in on-trade establishments. Trading standards authorities are responsible for enforcement of the Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquors) Order 1988, which specifies that wine, when sold in a glass or other vessel from which it is intended to be drunk, may be sold only in units or multiples of either 125 ml and 175 ml.

Communities and Local Government

Campusalam: Finance

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department has allocated to (a) the Campusalam website and (b) the Lokahi Foundation in each year for which figures are available. [206865]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 20 May 2008]: The Department for Communities and Local Government has not funded the Campusalam website nor the Lokahi Foundation.

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Community Relations: Religion

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the statement of the Prime Minister of 14 November 2007, Official Report, columns 667-72, on national security, when she expects the new board of experts to advise local authorities, councillors and local communities on tackling radicalisation and those promoting hate announced by the Prime Minister to be set up; who she expects to be members of the board; what she expects the cost of the board to be; and if she will make a statement. [168399]

Mr. McNulty: I have been asked to reply.

We are working with the Improvement and Development Agency to develop a network of qualified peer mentors to provide advice to local authorities on work to prevent violent extremism. Peer mentors are made up of locally elected councillors, local council officials and voluntary sector representatives who will be available to work with local authorities to develop their approaches to preventing violent extremism. The approach is currently being piloted, with a view to rolling out the programme further shortly. To date 25 new peers have been accredited. The costs of accreditation and training totalled approximately £35,000 in 2007-08.

Council Tax: Newcastle Upon Tyne

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many properties there were in each council tax band in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in each year between 2003 and 2007; and how many in each band were (a) empty and (b) exempt because all residents were students in each year. [206694]

Mr. Iain Wright: Details of the number of dwellings in each council tax band in Newcastle upon Tyne in each year between 2003 and 2007 are shown in the following table. Also shown for each year are the total number of properties that were either empty or exempt from council tax because all residents were students. It is not possible to break these figures down by council tax band.

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Number of dwellings
Valuation band Valuation band range (£) 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007


Under 40,000







40,001 to 52,000







52,001 to 68,000







68,001 to 88,000







88,001 to120,000







120,001 to 160,000







160,001 to 320,000







Over 320,000












Empty dwellings






Student exemptions






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