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5 Jun 2008 : Column 1082W—continued


5 Jun 2008 : Column 1083W

Minimum Wage: Telephone Services

Mark Lazarowicz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many complaints the National Minimum Wage hotline has received in each of the last three years for which figures are available. [207912]

Jane Kennedy: The following table shows the number of complaints received about possible underpayment of the minimum wage. The figures include complaints received by the National Minimum Wage Helpline and some other sources such as email.

Complaints

2005-06

2,141

2006-07

2,210

2007-08

3,231


National Debt

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the national debt was as a percentage of GDP in real terms in (a) 1990, (b) 1995, (c) 2000 and (d) 2005; [208051]

(2) what the national debt was as a percentage of GNP in (a) 1990, (b) 1995, (c) 2000 and (d) 2005; [208052]

(3) what the national debt was per working person in real terms in (a) 1990, (b) 1995, (c) 2000 and (d) 2005. [208053]

Angela Eagle: For the purposes of assessing performance against the sustainable investment rule, public sector net debt is measured as a percentage of GDP. Figures for the public-sector net debt (£ billion) and public-sector net debt as a percentage of GDP are published monthly on Table A7 and Table A8, respectively, of the Public Finances Databank produced by HM Treasury, which is available on

The Office for National Statistics does not specifically release figures for the gross national product (GNP), but releases figures for gross national income (GNI), which can be found in the Blue Book on Table 1.2: Gross National Income in Current Prices (series ABMX).

Figures for the working age population are released by the Office for National Statistics, based on the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which can be found in Labour Market Statistics on Table 1: Population (all) aged 16-59/64 and Economically active (all) aged 16-59/64 (series YBTF and YBSK, respectively).

Both GNI and LFS figures are available on

Public Expenditure: York

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average public expenditure per capita in the City of York was in 1996-97 and 2007-08. [208610]


5 Jun 2008 : Column 1084W

Yvette Cooper: The lowest level at which public expenditure per capita information is available is the region. Between 1996-97 and 2007-08 (planned spend), per capita public expenditure on services in the Yorkshire and Humberside region grew from £3,989 to £7,590.

Railways: Finance

David Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the effects on the economy of expenditure on rail infrastructure. [208603]

Angela Eagle: The most recent assessment of the effects on the economy of expenditure on all modes of transport was made in the Eddington Transport Study carried out by Sir Rod Eddington for the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Transport in December 2006.

The Department for Transport also published a White Paper, “Delivering a Sustainable Railway”, in July 2007 fulfilling the remit the Government set themselves in 2005 to provide strategic direction for the rail industry.

Revenue and Customs: Internet

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his latest estimate is of the cost of the current update project for the HM Revenue and Customs website. [208745]

Jane Kennedy: HM Revenue and Customs is currently undertaking a web convergence project to improve its customer facing web content and manage the transition of that content to the Businesslink.gov.uk and Directgov websites by March 2011. The estimated cost of the web convergence project is approximately £10 million over a five-year period from 2007-12.

Revenue and Customs: Manpower

Chris Huhne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many HM Revenue and Customs employees worked on preventing the importation of (a) controlled drugs, (b) illegal firearms and (c) illicit (i) alcohol and (ii) tobacco in each year since 2002-03; and if he will make a statement. [206518]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 19 May 2008]: I have been asked to reply.

HM Revenue and Customs frontline detection staff are multifunctional and are deployed on an intelligence-led basis according to risk. As a result it is not possible to break down the deployment of staff by commodity, as this would provide information of value to those seeking to circumvent HM Revenue and Customs' controls, thereby prejudicing the prevention of crime.

The previous year's detection staffing figures for HM Revenue and Customs are provided in the following table.


5 Jun 2008 : Column 1085W
Number

2002-03

3,790

2003-04

3,754

2004-05

3,910

2005-06

4,256

2006-07

4,397

2007-08

4,495


Smuggling: Wildlife

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many people were (a) cautioned and (b) successfully prosecuted for attempting to smuggle into the UK (i) turtle shells and (ii) other items derived from endangered species in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [207732]

Jane Kennedy: Since April 2000 nine people have been successfully prosecuted for offences relating to the illegal importation into the UK of endangered species and derived products in breach of Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein. One case, in which one person was convicted, involved the smuggling of various animal skulls including a turtle skull.

Officers of HM Revenue and Customs do not have statutory powers to issue a caution to an offender as an alternative to prosecution.

Unemployment

Susan Kramer: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of three to five-year-olds were living in (a) workless households and (b) relative poverty in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [205613]

Mr. Timms: I have been asked to reply.

In the period April to June 2007, there were around 350,000 children in the United Kingdom aged between three and five years old living in workless working age households. This corresponds to 17.5 per cent. of all three to five-year-olds.

The Government's preferred measure of relative low income poverty for children is defined as being in a household with a household income of less than 60 per cent. of the contemporary median income on a Before Housing Cost basis. In 2005-06, there were 0.5 million children in the United Kingdom aged between three and five years old in households with incomes below 60 per cent. of median income on a Before Housing Cost basis. This corresponds to 23 per cent. of all three to five-year-olds.


5 Jun 2008 : Column 1086W

Susan Kramer: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of children were born into (a) workless households and (b) relative poverty in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [205620]

Mr. Timms: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested is not available.

Valuation Office: Databases

Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Valuation Office Agency's electronic records project involves the digitisation of information on age, size and construction of domestic properties. [208078]

Jane Kennedy: The project involves the scanning of existing hard copy survey records held by the VOA, including those of domestic properties. More information about this project can be found on the VOA website at

Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the budget is for the Valuation Office Agency's electronic records project. [208079]

Jane Kennedy: A significant part of the cost of this project relates to services provided by external contractors, whose charges are commercially confidential.

Welfare Tax Credits

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many compensation payments for tax credit maladministration have been made in each quarter from April 2003 to April 2008; and if he will make a statement. [207121]


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Jane Kennedy: The circumstances in which HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will make compensation payments to its customers are explained in the Department's fact sheet C/FS ‘Complaints and Putting Things Right' which is available at

The Department will pay compensation for reasonable costs incurred as a direct result of any mistakes or delays and to recognise worry and distress caused.

For the number and value of compensation payments made in 2003-04, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answers my predecessor gave the hon. Member for Northavon (Steve Webb) and to the then hon. Member for the former Hamilton, South constituency, Mr. Bill Tynan, on 20 July 2004, Official Report, column 191W.

For the number and value of compensation payments made in 2004-05, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answers my predecessor gave him on 4 July 2005, Official Report, columns 95-96W, 15 November 2005, Official Report, column 1212W and 18 July 2006 , Official Report, columns 360-61W.

Information for 2006-07 can be found in the answer I gave the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Julia Goldsworthy) on 23 January 2008, Official Report, columns 2100 -01W.

Quarterly information for 2007-08 is shown in the following table:

2007-08
Number

April to June

2,369

July to September

1,158

October to December

2,896

January to March

2,097


The information for 2007-08 differs from that published in answers that I gave the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne on 23 January 2008, Official Report, columns 2100-01W and the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Danny Alexander) on 31 March 2008: columns 675-76W. The Department started recording information about compensation payments made to its customers on a new database from the beginning of 2007-08. In finalising the details for 2007-08 HMRC identified that the bespoke query used to extract this information was producing inaccurate results. The total value of compensation paid by TCO to tax credits customers in 2007-08 was around £475,000.

Monthly figures for 2003-04 are not available, and therefore the quarterly figures cannot be given for that year.

Welfare Tax Credits: Complaints

Jon Trickett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many complaints his Department received on the tax credit system from residents in (a) Wakefield District and (b) Yorkshire and Humberside in the last year for which figures are available. [207967]

Jane Kennedy: The information is not available at constituency or regional level.


5 Jun 2008 : Column 1088W

Work and Pensions

Better Off in Work Credit

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what timetable he has set for the pilots of the Better Off in Work Credit; when he plans to introduce the credit nationally; what budget has been set for administering the credit in each of the next three years; and what estimate he has made of the total value of the credit to recipients in each of the next three years. [204647]

Mr. Timms: As we stated in the Command Paper ‘Ready for work: full employment in our generation’, published on 13 December 2007, the new Better Off in Work Credit will be piloted from October 2008. If the pilot proves successful we will extend the scheme nationally in 2009.

On 20 May 2008, I announced that Jobcentre Plus would pilot the new measure in all districts in the Yorkshire and Humberside region, a total of 59 Jobcentre Plus offices. We estimate that around 12,000 individuals would be eligible for the credit each year in the Yorkshire and Humberside region.

Administrative costs will be dependent on the operational model currently being developed by Jobcentre Plus and will be met from within existing resources.

The projected annual cost of the Better Off in Work Credit payments will be £31 million if rolled out nationally.


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