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18 Jun 2008 : Column 988Wcontinued
Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the Answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 7 May 2008, Official Report, column 913W, on housing: valuation, how many localities there are on average in each individual billing authority. 
Jane Kennedy: There are approximately 10,000 localities covering all the 354 billing authorities in England. Therefore the average number of localities in each billing authority is approximately 28.
Paul Rowen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the annual saving to the Exchequer of providing tax relief at the 20 per cent. rate for upper rate tax payers. 
Jane Kennedy: The estimated costs of principal tax expenditures and structural tax reliefs can be found in table 1.5 on the HM Revenue and Customs website at:
The total yield from restricting all reliefs to the basic rate is not readily available.
Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 7 May 2008, Official Report, column 980W, on departmental contracts, what costs the Valuation Office Agency incurred in contesting the challenge by GVA Grimley on the business rates assessments of the premises referred to. 
Jane Kennedy: The costs of considering the rating proposals made by GVA Grimley contesting rating assessments were met from funding made available to the Valuation Office Agency to deal with proposals received from ratepayers. The cases were dealt with from existing resources and no additional costs were incurred.
Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans there are to increase the amount of public sector data held on the e-PIMS property database; and what plans there are to extend its application to (a) the NHS, (b) police authorities and (c) local authorities. 
Angela Eagle: There are no plans to increase the amount of public sector data held on the e-PIMS property database.
Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff are employed in the HM Revenue and Customs offices in (a) Oban, (b) Dunoon and (c) Rothesay; and whether members of the public may visit these offices to discuss their tax affairs in person. 
Jane Kennedy: HMRC staff employed in each of the following locations at 1 June 2008 is as follows:
The Dunoon and Rothesay offices have inquiry centres which are open to the public. The one at Oban has no facilities for dealing with the public.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for the future of the HM Revenue and Customs office in Yeovil. 
Jane Kennedy: HMRC announced on 11 June that it proposes to withdraw from its office in Yeovil, with the exception of its inquiry centre services which will be maintained either from the current building or one nearby. As with all HMRC's proposals, these will be subject to consultation with internal and external stakeholders, including MPs with a constituency interest, and detailed feasibility work will also be undertaken before final decisions are taken. Decisions on the future of all HMRC's offices are expected to be announced by the end of the year.
David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many petrol filling-station owners have been convicted of selling (a) illegally laundered and (b) smuggled fuel in Northern Ireland in the last two years; 
(2) how many petrol filling-station owners have been convicted of selling (a) illegally laundered and (b) smuggled fuel in England in the last two years. 
Jane Kennedy: Five petrol station owners have been prosecuted in Northern Ireland for selling illegally laundered and smuggled fuel in the last two years; in all instances the stations were selling combinations of illegally laundered and smuggled fuel. Three of the owners, who pleaded guilty, were served with the UK's first Serious Crime Prevention Orders which prohibits them from dealing in oils in any manner for five years and also directed them to submit signed affidavits disclosing their entire assets/financial affairs. They have also been served with Confiscation Orders totalling £1.2 million.
No petrol filling-station owners have been convicted of selling illegally laundered or smuggled fuel in England in the last two years.
The number of people convicted in relation to hydrocarbon oils fraud in Northern Ireland during the period 2007-08 will be published in the HMRC autumn performance Report 2008, later this year.
Criminal investigation and prosecution for hydrocarbon oils offences form only one part of HMRCs overall approach to tackling oils fraud, together with the investigation/prosecution of wider oils excise offences, combined with a strong regulatory control system and the civil penalties regime.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he plans to publish the findings of the multinational forum on tax. 
Jane Kennedy: The forum has agreed to publish summaries of the forums discussions and related documents.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the remit is of the multinational forum on tax. 
Jane Kennedy: The forums remit is to discuss ways in which the business tax system can provide the long-term certainty that multinational companies need, considering competitiveness and other challenges facing both business and government.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many times the multinational forum on tax (a) has met and (b) is scheduled to meet in the next three months. 
Jane Kennedy: The forums first meeting was 9 June. The next meeting will be arranged shortly after summer recess.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the evidential basis is for his Department's assessment, expressed to the Chief Executive of the Bingo Association by letter dated 12 March, that tax is not at the root of the bingo industry's problem. 
Angela Eagle: The Government's assessment that tax is not at the root of the bingo industry's problems is based on evidence from a number of sources, including data on the number of bingo clubs and on bingo stakes, commercial sector reports on the bingo industry, and representations from the bingo industry. The assessment noted the need for the bingo industry to adapt to the smoke free legislation and the impact of the implementation of the Gambling Act 2005. It concluded that the industry's problems are a product of a combination of factors including greater competition in the leisure sector and changing tastes in leisure activities.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the efficiency of the online system for filing tax returns; what assessment he has made of the effect of promoting the online system on those people who prefer to submit paper returns, with particular reference to older people; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: Lord Carters Review of HMRCs online services found that there are benefits for businesses, individuals and for Government from the use of online services for filing tax returns. The Government expect recurrent net savings of up to £80 million a year for businesses and taxpayers once Lord Carters recommendations are implemented in full, and around £70 million a year in net benefits for Government. HMRC published a full regulatory impact assessment in March 2007 which sets out the estimated benefits and efficiencies.
All self-assessment customers may still submit a paper return. HMRC has improved and simplified it so it is easier to complete. The deadline for filing a paper return has, however, moved to 31 October. HMRC is undertaking a marketing campaign, which includes media widely used by older people to make customers aware of the earlier deadline for filing a paper self-assessment return.
Online returns must be filed by 31 January. HMRC has provided a number of support options for those that choose to file online. One of these is a detailed guide on how to file online, which has been tested with a wide range of HMRCs customers, including older people.
Mrs. Dean: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans next to review the effects upon mainland businesses of the low value consignment relief from value added tax for imports from the Channel Islands; and against what criteria the relief will be reviewed. 
Jane Kennedy: Import VAT is not chargeable on commercial consignments of goods with a value below £18 that are imported into the UK from outside the EU (low value consignment relief). As with all taxes, the Government keep the operation of this relief under review, and take into account a wide range of factors, including the revenue effect, competitiveness of UK businesses, the resource requirements of Royal Mail and HMRC, and the practicality of enforcing any changes to the relief.
Mrs. Dean: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received on the effects of low value consignment relief from value added tax for imports from the Channel Islands. 
Jane Kennedy: Treasury Ministers and officials receive representations from a wide range of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such representations.
Mrs. Dean: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what recent estimate he has made of the value of (a) food supplements and herbal remedies and (b) recorded music and films imported annually from the Crown dependencies without the imposition of value added tax under the low value consignment relief scheme; and what assessment he has made of the effect of this trade upon mainland specialist high street retailers; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the tax foregone by the Exchequer as a result of the provision of low value consignment relief from value added tax for personal imports from Crown dependencies; for what reasons the relief is provided; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: The relief reduces administrative costs for businesses, HM Revenue and Customs, the authorised postal carrier (Royal Mail), express carriers and consumers by removing the requirement to pay VAT on large volumes of low value packages.
As set out in PBR 2006 the total cost of the low value consignment relief is estimated at around £90 million. HMRC tentatively estimates that around three quarters of this cost is attributable to imports from the Crown dependencies.
Although HMRC collects data on the total aggregate value of goods imported from many companies in the Crown dependencies these data are not broken down into individual products such as food supplements and herbal remedies or recorded music and films.
As the then Paymaster General said on 1 November 2006, Official Report, column 146WH, it is not clear that the competitive pressures on small retailers are solely or even mainly related to the VAT relief enjoyed by offshore online retailers. It is difficult to disaggregate the effect of the relief from other factors, such as the substantial growth of supermarket sales, and rapid technological change in the case of the market for audio-visual products, which are increasingly sold in download form over the internet. The Channel Islands authorities have, however, applied their regulatory powers to prevent the establishment of new businesses on the Islands where these are simply attempting to take advantage of the relief, and in the case of Jersey have required several businesses to leave.
Mr. Kemp: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many families in the city of Sunderland were in receipt of each category of tax credit in 2007-08. 
Jane Kennedy: HMRC do not produce these statistics separately for child tax credit and working tax credit.
Estimates of the number of families with tax credit awards in 2006-07 in each local authority, based on final family circumstances and incomes, are available in the HMRC publication Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics. Finalised annual awards 2006-07. Geographical analyses. This publication is available on the HMRC website at:
The same information for 2007-08 is not yet available because awards have not yet been finalised. However, estimates of the number of recipient families with tax credits, based on provisional awards, by local authority, as at 5 April 2008, are available in the HMRC snapshot publication Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics. Geographical analyses. April 2008. This is also available on the HMRC website at the same address.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the administrative costs to employers of implementing the changes to tax allowances announced on 13 May 2008. 
Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave on 22 May 2008, Official Report, column 437W to the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond).
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 25 March 2008, Official Report, column 42W, on tax credits, what the highest possible income is that a family which does not claim disability element for any children or adults may receive while being eligible for the child care element of the working tax credit with (a) one, (b) two, (c) three, (d) four and (e) more than four children. 
Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to the first row of the table provided in the answer I gave him on 14 May 2008, Official Report, column 1630W.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many families with children aged between one and five years have been awarded the
childcare element of the working tax credit since its introduction; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: The information requested is available only at a disproportionate cost.
However, estimates of the number of families benefiting from the child care element of working tax credit, by age group of children, including those under five years, at selected dates are published in Table 4.4 of the HMRC publications Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics. These publications are available on the HMRC website at:
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