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Revenue and Customs: Shrewsbury

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what effect the closure of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC's) Shrewsbury office is expected to have on HMRC's costs, broken down by category of expenditure. [273326]

Mr. Timms: The closure of the HM Revenue and Customs office in Shrewsbury will contribute to improved efficiency through the concentration of function into a smaller number of sites. These efficiencies will be realised at a department-wide level rather than at individual office level. The closure will also contribute to cumulative overall accommodation cost savings of some £230 million by 2011-12.

Reliable figures for the specific costs of closing the Shrewsbury office will only be established once workable options have been found for all staff prior to the accommodation being vacated.

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward proposals to assist school leavers in Shrewsbury and Atcham constituency
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to apply for jobs in HM Revenue and Customs constitution following the closure of the HMRC office in Shrewsbury. [273329]

Mr. Timms: At a time when HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is reducing in numbers and closing offices, the opportunities for school leavers will be more limited. HMRC is recruiting to fill only posts with particular requirements which cannot be met internally.

Taxation: Arts

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will amend HM Revenue and Customs’ guidelines to allow charities with an annual turnover of less than £25,000 to pay honoraria tax-free to organisers of arts and music festivals. [273712]

Angela Eagle: HM Revenue and Customs’ published guidance reflects the law and sets out the rules on the tax-treatment of honoraria in the hands of voluntary workers and unpaid office holders. Although such guidance is kept under review we have no plans to introduce a specific exemption on the lines suggested.

Taxation: Bingo

John Hemming: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason the rates of tax imposed on profits from bingo participation and other gambling activities differ; and if he will make a statement. [273125]

Angela Eagle: The Government consider all relevant factors when establishing and maintaining fair regimes for the gambling taxes, including the state of the gambling industry, wider economic considerations, and the state of the public finances.

For bingo, the overall effective tax rate is 22 per cent. down from 35 per cent. in 2003. This is in line with that
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on casinos, machines and the national lottery, all of which are taxed within a 20-25 per cent. range.

Taxation: Sports

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on the taxation of the testimonial benefits of sportsmen and women; and what assessment he has made of its operation by HM Revenue and Customs in respect of (a) cricketers, (b) rugby union players and (c) rugby league players. [273711]

Mr. Timms: The treatment of the money raised at testimonial and benefit events that is received by sportsmen and women is described in HM Revenue and Customs employment income manual under the heading “Tax treatment of benefits matches and testimonials given to sportsmen and women—in particular rugby, soccer and cricket players” available at:


Non-Domestic Rates: Ports

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales which ports in Wales have been affected by retrospective levying of business rates on ports. [270267]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Ports affected by retrospective business rates on businesses outside the control of the Ports Authority are:

Barry, Cardiff, Fishguard, Holyhead, Milford Dock Company, Mostyn, Newport, Port Talbot and Swansea.

Work is still ongoing in respect of Milford Haven Port Authority where new facts are being investigated and discussed, which may impact on the number of properties involved.

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