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The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Earl Ferrers): Substantial work is in progress within the G7, European Union and international financial institutions to help Ukraine implement its decision to close Chernobyl by the year 2000 within the framework of a sound energy sector strategy. Not all of the relevant studies will be ready by June, though good progress is being made. Once Ukraine has decided on energy options which can attract appropriate Western financial support, a detailed action plan can be finalised. The Government expect a constructive discussion to take place on Chernobyl at the Halifax Summit and that this will be followed up by further intensive discussions at the technical level.
What is the accepted method of calculation of valuation of "opening stock" to be used by traders in joining the Global Accounting Scheme and/or the Second-hand Margin Scheme and whether they will confirm that all VAT offices are required to adhere to this method; and
What remedies are available to dealers and traders if individual VAT offices are making differing interpretations of the Seventh Directive on VAT and the Information Sheet of 1st January 1995; and
What is the specific department in HM Customs and Excise where problems in dealing with anomalies in the Seventh Directive and the Information Sheet of 1st January 1995 are to be resolved.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): In general, businesses requiring advice or rulings on the details contained in Information Sheet 1/95 or other matters concerning the implementation of the Seventh VAT Directive should refer to their local VAT office. However, should businesses have concerns about, or disagree with, any decision or advice received, it is open to them to ask their local VAT office for clarification or a reconsideration. There are laid down procedures for dealing with disagreements between businesses and Customs over VAT issues and these are set out in the VAT Guide, which is available from local VAT offices. The Information Sheet is to be superseded from 1 June 1995 by a new VAT Notice covering changes resulting from implementation of the Seventh Directive. This is being co-ordinated by the VAT Collection Division, Queens Dock, Liverpool L74 4AA. (The contact official is Mrs Heather Elliott).
More specifically, there is no prescribed method of calculating opening stock for Global Accounting. In order not to place an undue accounting burden on businesses, Customs are prepared to accept any reasonable and fair method of identifying and valuing stock on hand when starting to use this system.
Eligible Margin Scheme goods on hand can be included in the Margin Scheme stock records subject to certain conditions. The principle requirement is that evidence is held of the purchase price of the goods in question.
Lord Henley: Customs and Excise have consulted widely on the Seventh Directive. Consultative meetings were held last year to which auctioneer trade bodies, auction houses with philatelic departments and the Philatelic Traders' Society were invited. Since then, there has been regular contact with a number of auctioneers on a range of pre- and post-implementation issues associated with the Seventh Directive.
The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The Government expect that the vast majority of employers taking advantage of the scheme will abide by its rules and that they will find it more worthwhile to retain employees than start afresh with new recruits simply to maximise the amount of national insurance holiday.
Nevertheless, we will monitor the scheme carefully to ensure that employers are operating it correctly. We intend to use the details of qualifying employees and their employers, which we propose to hold centrally on computer, as the basis to develop a number of checks. To complement these checks, national insurance inspectors will monitor the operation of the scheme as part of the routine examinations which they make of employers' records each year.
Lord Inglewood: An individual Name who fails to demonstrate solvency, in the sense that the solvency certificate required pursuant to Section 83(4) of the Insurance Companies Act 1982 had not been furnished, would cease to be exempt from Part II of the Act. Such a Name would then become subject to regulation by the Secretary of State, in accordance with Part II, as an insurance company (defined in Section 96(1) of the Act as a person or body of persons (whether incorporated or not) carrying on insurance business). As such he/she could, in accordance with the grounds set out in Section 37, be required, inter alia, by the Secretary of State, (in accordance with Sections 39 and 40, without recourse to the courts) to maintain specified assets in the UK, and place them in trust. He/she might also (in accordance with Section 44) be required to furnish information and produce documents, and (in accordance with Section 45) be required to take other actions for the protection of policyholders. The extent to which these and all other powers provided by Part II might be exercised in any instance would depend on the circumstances of the case.
In the event of Lloyd's ceasing to be solvent, in the sense that the members of Lloyd's taken together had failed to maintain the margin of solvency prescribed pursuant to Section 84(1) of the Act, specified powers of intervention set out in Part II of the Act, (namely Sections 3841, 44 and 45) would become exercisable in relation to the members of Lloyd's. The extent to which the powers would be exercised would depend on the prevailing circumstances.
The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): We are very interested in exploring the possibilities offered by Internet publishing for providing information of all types. The Government Centre for Information Systems (CCTA) has recently set up the Government Information System, which provides space for central and local government and other public bodies to publish information on the Internet. The Department of the Environment provides some information, including all departmental press notices.
The department and CCTA are involved in an exercise to assess the value of publication on the Internet, and officials are looking at how best to proceed.
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