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Inland Revenue: Disclosure of Information

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Inland Revenue's statutory duty of confidentiality is in Section 182 of the Finance Act 1989. This prevents it disclosing any information to third parties. There are exceptions in Sections 182(5) and (6) of the Finance Act 1989, which allow disclosure in the following circumstances:



    for the purposes of the department's duties, or if authorised by the board or certain other authorities, or

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    for the purposes of a prosecution in relation to Inland Revenue, or


    following a court order binding on the Crown, or


    in response to a witness summons or subpoena served in legal proceedings, or


    when the department's legal duty to maintain confidentiality is specifically overriden by statute i.e. information gateways.

The Inland Revenue does not keep central records of the number of disclosures it makes.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what grounds decisions are taken to transfer personal or corporate data held by the Inland Revenue to other government departments.[HL1151]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Inland Revenue transfers data to other government departments when the application for such information meets the strict criteria set out in the statutory gateway that allows disclosure to that department.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What kinds of personal or corporate data held by the Inland Revenue are transferred to other government departments.[HL1153]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The sort of data that the Inland Revenue may transfer to another government department is strictly governed by the statutory gateway relevant to that department. Gateways and the sort of information that may be passed vary from one department to another but may include names, addresses and appropriate financial information. roger

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What records are kept of transfers of personal or corporate data to other government departments; and whether the Data Protection Registrar has access to the relevant records.[HL1154]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Inland Revenue does not keep central records of data it transfers to other government departments. In appropriate cases there may be a record of data transferred on an individual's file and this file would be made available to the Information Commissioner should he require it.

Tax

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to respond to submissions to the Treasury of the Institute of Directors, the Federation for Small Businesses and the Institute of Chartered Accountants calling for an urgent streamlining of the tax system.[HL1118]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government will consider all representations as part of the normal Budget process.

Illegal Meat Imports

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will introduce a system for collecting the numbers of illegal meat seizures at (a) Heathrow and (b) Gatwick.[HL1205]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Customs' systems already record details of all seizures at Heathrow, Gatwick and elsewhere in the UK.

Broadband

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they respond to the call from the Broadband Industry Group in its 3rd annual report for targets to be set for the roll-out and take-up of significantly faster broadband connections than are at present generally available.[HL1043]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Government value the work of the Broadband Stakeholder Group and the significant contribution it has made to the successful development of broadband in the UK. The current broadband target is set for 2005 and the Government are in the process of considering with stakeholders what targets are necessary to measure the UK's progress in this area after this date. This process will be completed by the summer and the Government will make an announcement once the review is complete. roger

Insolvency

Lord Chadlington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many insolvencies there have been each year since 1996.[HL1133]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The table below gives total insolvencies broken down by company and individual insolvencies for each year from 1996 to 2003.

YearTotal InsolvenciesIndividual InsolvenciesCompany Insolvencies
199639,73226,27113,461
199737,05124,44112,610
199837,75224,54913,203
199943,08928,80914,280
200043,84529,52814,317
200144,74729,77514,972
200246,89230,58716,305
200350,51236,32814,184


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Enterprise Act 2002

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the date for the coming into force of part of the Enterprise Act 2002 by means of the Enterprise Act 2002 (Commencement No. 5 and Amendment Order) SI 3340/2003 was advanced from 1 April 2004 to 18 December 2003.[HL1257]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The order made provision for the earlier commencement of Sections 270(1), (2) and (4) and Section 271 of the Enterprise Act 2002. These sections relate to the power for the Secretary of State to require fees to be payable in connection with: (a) the grant or maintenance of recognition of a body under Section 391 and 393 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (i.e. the authorisation of insolvency practitioners), and (b) the operation of the Insolvency Services Account.

Subsequently, the Insolvency Practitioners and Insolvency Services Account (Fees) Order 2003 SI 2003 No. 3363 was made on 30 December 2003. This order made provision in relation to the payment of fees for authorised insolvency practitioners and the operation of the Insolvency Services Account. The order provided for the earlier commencement of Article 2(3) on 30 January 2004 with all other provisions coming into force on 1 April 2004.

Article 2(3) provides that each body recognised pursuant to Section 391 shall on or before 31 January in each year submit to the Secretary of State a list of its members who as at 1 January in that year were authorised to act as insolvency practitioners by virtue of membership of that body.

The Insolvency Service has subsequently written to all the recognised bodies requiring them to submit the list of members. This will enable the Insolvency Service to recover fees in respect of the maintenance of the bodies' recognition with effect from 1 April 2004.

Charities

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why under the Companies Act 1985 (Accounts of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Audit Exemption) (Amendment) Regulations 2004 (S.I. 16/2004) the gross income limit for charities is left unchanged at £90,000 per annum.[HL1149]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Under the Companies Act 1985 a company which is a charity must have its accounts audited if its gross income is more than £250,000 per annum. If the gross income is between £90,000 and £250,000 a company which is a charity is required to have a report prepared by a reporting accountant.

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Following the Strategy Unit review of the law and regulation of the charitable and not-for-profit-sector, the DTI is considering with the Home Office increasing the gross income audit threshold for unincorporated charities and charitable companies from £250,000 to £500,000 per annum.

Plants: Non-indigenous Pathogens

Lord Kimball asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Plant Health Inspectorate is the front line in protecting the United Kingdom from non-indigenous pathogens; and whether sufficient funding is available to ensure that all suspicious plants are destroyed and paid for.[HL1159]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): Defra's Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate is responsible for inspecting plants and plant produce under a plant quarantine surveillance programme covering both imports from third countries and consignments moving in trade. But resources are finite and industry must share responsibility for the ongoing surveillance of imported material (which may not exhibit symptoms of pests or diseases at the time of inspection) and must exercise caution in choosing suppliers when importing plants and produce to ensure that they are not importing known or unknown pests and diseases. Others, such as the general public and transport operators, also have responsibilities in ensuring that they do not bring pests and diseases into the country.

Powers to prevent the import of plants and plant products that may contain non-indigenous pathogens are contained in the Plant Health Order 1993. This provides an inspector with a number of options including serving a notice on the importer or other person requiring that such plants are destroyed.

The Government consider that so far as possible the financial risks associated with the destruction of imported or other plants that host non-indigenous pathogens should be borne by the parties concerned. Accordingly, the Government pay no compensation to importers or other persons for any financial loss resulting from the destruction of such plants.


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