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In any given year changes in the volume of seizures will reflect changes in attempted smuggling and the success of HMRCs policies for tackling it. As the table illustrates, seizures were at their highest in 2001-02 following the launch of the Governments highly successful Tackling Tobacco Smuggling strategy in 2000. However, smugglers adapt quickly to any new measures introduced and HRT seizures levels dropped in subsequent years. As a result of further research, we identified that the
illicit HRT market and the methods used by fraudsters differed significantly from those for cigarettes, and required different responses.
Consequently, in 2006, the Government published New responses to new challenges: Reinforcing the Tackling Tobacco Smuggling strategy. This set out further measures to clamp down on tobacco smuggling, and, in particular, the persistent problem of smuggled HRT. This resulted in an increase in HRT seizures as shown in the table.
The new measures included the introduction in 2006 of new legislation placing obligations on tobacco manufacturers to control their supply chains. We expect this measure to have a significant impact on the illicit HRT market. However, because its objective is to reduce the availability of hand rolling tobacco to smugglers, it will not necessarily result in greater levels of seizures.
At Budget 2008, the Government announced that the new UK Border Agency, which will be taking on responsibility for Customs detection work at the border, would be developing a strategy for enhancing the detection of tobacco products. This strategy was published alongside the pre-Budget report on 24 November.
Mr. Timms: Neither HM Treasury nor HMRC have the power to disallow or prohibit tax avoidance schemes. However, where a scheme is covered by anti-avoidance legislation, HMRC will investigate it and recover any tax due, if necessary through the courts. And where an avoidance scheme seeks to obtain an unfair advance by exploiting a loophole in the tax system, the Government will not hesitate to close the loophole.
Recent Finance Acts have all contained measures to close various loopholes in the tax system used by avoiders. The pre-Budget report contained further measures to tackle avoidance, details of which can be found at:
Paul Farrelly: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what research his Department has commissioned on the use of avoidance schemes in respect of (a) income tax and (b) capital gains tax in the payment of bonuses by companies in the financial services sector in the City of London between 1997-98 and 2007-08; what estimate he has made of the levels of tax avoidance on such bonuses in each of those years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: The only estimates the Government have made of the cost of direct tax avoidance schemes during the period 1997-98 to 2007-08 are contained in the HMRC paper Measuring the tax gap- an update published in March 2008. This is available on the HMRC website at:
Mr. Vara: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people were overpaid tax credits in each of the last five years; what the amount of the average overpayment was in each year; how many of those who received overpayments were asked to repay the additional amount in each year; how many people who were asked to make repayments did so in full in each year; how many of those who declared that they were unable to repay were prosecuted in each year; and how many of those who were asked to make a repayment were informed that the whole or part of the amount due had been received in each year. 
Mr. Timms: Information on the number of families who incurred overpayments and on the average overpayment in 2003-04, 2004-05,2005-06 and 2006-07 is provided in Part 2, Figure 10 of the Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, in the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) 2007-08 Accounts. This is available on the HMRC website at:
Court proceedings are only used for debt recovery as a last resort. For the number of court actions initiated between April 2006 and October 2008 inclusive I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given earlier today to the hon. Member for Cardiff Central to question 230441.
Mr. Timms: HMRC is conducting a wide-ranging review of its powers, deterrents and safeguards. As part of this work HMRC is looking at modernising the penalties charged by HMRC and also looking at the relationship between taxpayers, their advisers and HMRC.
In the pre-Budget report, the Government announced that HMRC will be giving offshore account holders a new opportunity in 2009 to disclose, of their own accord, if they have unpaid tax or duties and to settle debts.
(2) what estimate his Department has made of the additional revenue to the Exchequer that would have accrued in each year from 1997-98 to 2007-08 in (a) income tax and (b) capital gains tax from the liability of non-domiciled residents to UK tax at the domiciled rate; 
(3) what estimate he has made of the amount of (a) income tax and (b) capital gains tax foregone by the Exchequer in respect of UK residents who are not domiciled in the UK for tax purposes in the latest period for which figures are available; 
(4) what research his Department has carried out on the professional status of UK residents who are not domiciled in the UK for tax purposes; and what proportion he estimates (a) are employed in financial services in the City of London, (b) work in the private equity industry and (c) act as business entrepreneurs. 
Mr. Timms: The number of residents reporting to be non-domiciled in the UK via self assessment in 2005-06 was published in Table 1 of Annex B by HM Treasury in the consultation document Paying a fairer share: a consultation residence and domicile.
Mr. Timms: The Government legislated changes to the personal tax rules on residence and domicile in Finance Act 2008. At Budget 2008 the Government announced that these reforms would not be revisited for the rest of this Parliament or the next. This position has not changed.
Ian Pearson: The amount of revenue from Income Tax charged on personal and occupational pensions at the basic rate depends upon, among other things, the number and value of pensions in payment as well as the of the basic width of the basic rate band. The information requested is provided below. Information prior to 1998-99 is not available.
|Tax on personal and occupational pensions (£ billion)( 1)|
|(1) Based on modelled tax liabilities on pensions excluding the effect of tax credits which may reduce tax liability.|
(2) Based on the 2005-06 Survey of Personal incomes projected in line with Budget 2008 HMT assumptions.
Survey of Personal incomes
Grant Shapps: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes have been made to the threshold for the amount of redundancy pay that is tax-free since 1997; and what the current threshold is. 
Mr. McGrady: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to ensure HM Revenue and Customs implements its flexible policy towards small businesses which are in difficulties as a result of the current business climate and cash flow problems. 
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs is committed to helping businesses that have temporary difficulties in paying the tax they owe. The new dedicated Business Payment Support Service, launched by the Chancellor in his pre-Budget Report, will ensure that businesses needing extra time to pay their tax bill can get a quick decision from HMRC. HMRC will spread payment over a timetable the business can afford. This service will be available for as long as business needs it.
Mr. Prisk: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was claimed in expenses for taxi travel by officials from (a) his Department and (b) its executive agencies in (i) 2006-07, (ii) 2005-06, (iii) 2004-05, (iv) 2003-04 and (v) 2002-03; and if he will make a statement. 
Angela Eagle: For HM Treasury spend on taxis, I refer the hon. Member to the answers given by the former Financial Secretary, (John Healey), on 28 June 2007 to the hon. Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois), Official Report, columns 873-874W; 7 November 2006 to the hon. Member for Monmouth (David T.C. Davies) and the hon. Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois), Official Report, columns 1021W-1022W.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether employees of UK Financial Investments Ltd. will be eligible to (a) receive bonus payments and (b) join the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme. 
Ian Pearson: UK Financial Investments remuneration policy will be set by the Board of UKFI. UKFI employees, except those working on secondment from central Government Departments, will not be eligible to join the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his latest estimate of the (a) staff numbers and (b) staffing costs of UK Financial Investments Ltd. in its first year of operation is. 
Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 29 September 2008, Official Report, column 2307-8W, on the Valuation Office: travel, if he will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of the Dublin meeting on valuation practice. 
Mr. Timms: A copy of the minutes, of the 47(th) meeting of the steering committee on harmonisation (practice and procedure) England Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland held on 7 and 8 May 2008 in London (not Dublin), have been placed in the Library.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst of 4 November 2008, Official Report, column 313W, on the Valuation Office, if he will place in the Library a copy of the report on investigative work to assess the market coverage and support the agency's aims. 
Mr. Timms: No. The VOA provides valuation services in competition with other providers. The report relates to procurement considerations and to place it in the public domain would weaken the competitive position of the Valuation Office Agency.
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