Mr. Milburn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people were (a) found to be illegally importing firearms and ammunition and (b) prosecuted for illegal importation of firearms and ammunition in each year since 1992. 
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: Customs and Excise does not hold central statistics on the number of people found to be illegally importing firearms and ammunition. The table shows, for 1992, 1993 and 1994, the number of detected irregularities in firearms importations; seized firearms; and resulting prosecutions. It is customs' policy to take offence action, either by prosecution or compound penalty, when there is sufficient evidence to show that those concerned were knowingly concerned in a fraudulent evasion of United Kingdom firearms and ammunition prohibitions and restrictions. In all other cases, action is restricted to seizure of the goods. As an alternative to criminal prosecution, the compound penalty procedure is used primarily in respect of non-commercial importations of CS gas canisters or undeclared firearms held for personal security reasons by visiting yachtsmen. These factors account for the low rate of prosecutions resulting from a large number of detections and seizures.
Year |Detections |Firearms seized|Prosecutions -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1992 |n/a |1,427 |6 1993 |276 |8,674 |4 1994 |441 |6,821 |12
Mr. Cash: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much the European Commission (a) has spent and (b) is proposing to spend on propagating its proposals for a single currency and on the green paper on the subject. 
Mrs. Angela Knight: Line A-3501 of the European Community budget sets out expenditure on technical preparatory work for economic and monetary union. An element of the expenditure under line B3-306 is attributable to the provision of information on economic and monetary union, while an element of the expenditure under line B5-600 covers relevant statistical information. These figures do not include Commission staff and publication costs, which are not broken down by function in the budget. Copies of the European Community budget for years to 1995, and of the preliminary draft budget for 1996, are available in the House of Commons Library.
Mr. Beith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has proposed or considered arrangements under which banknotes would continue to be issued to Scottish and Northern Ireland banks under a single European currency. 
Mr. Kenneth Clarke: By the terms of the Maastricht treaty, provided the European Central bank was prepared to authorise them to do so, Scottish and Northern Ireland banks could continue to issue their own banknotes, though they would remain without legal tender status, as is currently the situation. Article 16 of the statute of the European system of central banks, a protocol to the Maastricht treaty, expressly provides that the European Central bank shall respect as far as possible existing practices regarding the issue and design of banknotes.
Mr. Keen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what statistics are held on employee share ownership plans established by companies over the last five years; how many companies and employees are covered by such plans; what is the level of control and ownership established by those plans; if he can give examples of plans establishing employee control of the running of their company; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jack: The law provides favourable tax treatment for employee share ownership trusts or plans--commonly known as ESOPs--which meet certain qualifying conditions set out in the legislation. In addition, "case law ESOPs"--as they are often called--which do not meet all the statutory requirements, may nevertheless qualify for one of the tax reliefs available to qualifying ESOPs, following principles established in case law. There is no requirement for qualifying ESOPs to be approved in advance by the Inland Revenue, so it is not possible to say how many have been established. Information about other arrangements which may be described as ESOPs is not held centrally. The other detailed information requested is not available.
Mr. Waldegrave: Central Government borrowing, on its own account, was £38.3 billion in 1994 95. Local authorities made a net payment of £1.1 billion and public corporations made a net repayment of £1.9 billion.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: The amount of value added tax written off or remitted in the year ended December 1994 was approximately £550 million. The information requested on PAYE, capital gains tax, corporation tax and schedule D tax is not yet available.
Sir David Steel: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set a date for the implementation of the cheque clearing system as set out in the 1990 White Paper "Banking Services: Law and Practice", Cm 1026. 
Mrs. Angela Knight: The Government have already said that they intend to introduce legislation as soon as an appropriate opportunity arises to allow the cheque clearing system described in the 1990 White Paper to be introduced. It is not possible to be more precise at the moment.
Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the amount of irrecoverable VAT paid by charities in the last year for which figures are available; and what proposals he has to compensate charities for lost revenue. 
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: No official figures of charities' irrecoverable VAT are kept. I am currently studying proposals for a compensation scheme recently submitted to me by the charities tax reform group.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke: The Government have decided to proceed with the reform of the taxation of gilts and bonds outlined in the consultative document published by the Inland Revenue on 25 May 1995. However, these changes will not apply to the overwhelming majority of private investors.
These proposals will produce a simpler and more sensible tax regime, and will pave the way for market innovations which would help to ensure that the United Kingdom maintains and enhances its competitive position
Column 378in world financial markets. The introduction of a strips market will be a further important step in the development of the gilt market, widening investor choice and helping to reduce funding costs.
At the same time, the Government intend to protect the interests of private investors. There will be a threshold, set at nominal holdings of £200,000, below which private investors will continue to pay tax on interest on the present basis. In addition, the Government have decided that the existing regime should continue to apply to two issues of low coupon gilts--3.5 per cent. 1999/04 and 5.5 per cent. 2008/12. These gilts are widely held by private investors. The Government have also decided that all non-equity shares--including zero-coupon preference shares--should be outside the new regime, although the position may be reviewed if serious distortions result. These decisions mean that probably fewer than 4,000 private investors--0.5 per cent. of the total--will be within the new regime. Many of those affected will on balance gain, rather than lose, from the reform.
There will be special rules to ensure that gilt and bond unit trusts are not disadvantaged, and that there is tax exemption for corporate bond Personal Equity Plans.
The element in the return on indexed gilts due to indexation of the principal repayment will remain tax free.
Many of those responding to the Inland Revenue's consultative document have expressed the wish for more time to discuss technical details with the Inland Revenue. At the same time, the Government are conscious of the difficulties which the markets and those having to make commercial decisions are facing because of uncertainty as to whether the reform will go ahead.
The Government have, therefore, decided to delay the start of the new regime until 1 April 1996 for companies, and until 6 April 1996 for the few private investors with holdings of over £200,000. In the meantime, the Inland Revenue will continue technical discussions with interested parties.
The Government have decided in principle to introduce an official gilt strips facility. It has also decided that gilts strippable through any such market should be exempt from withholding tax and the quarterly accounting arrangements to be introduced in connection with gilt repo. The introduction of a strips market will not take place before the second half of 1996. In the meantime, the Bank of England will be consulting further on the details.
Ms Armstrong: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what representations he has received to exclude zero dividend preference shares from the scope of the proposed changes to the taxation of gilts and bonds; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the extent to which private investors holding zero dividend preference shares will be affected by the proposed changes to the taxation of gilts and bonds;  (3) what steps he intends to take to avoid the potential for double taxation of gilts and bonds held by collective investment vehicles under the changes proposed to the treatment of these
Mr. Darling: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what information he has on the cost to the Exchequer of tax relief for decommissioning costs claimed by oil companies operating in the North sea in each financial year since 1985 86; 
(2) what is the size of the adjustment in the forecasts of tax revenue published in the "Financial Statement and Budget Report 1995 96" to take account of relief claimed for decommissioning costs by oil companies operating in the North sea in 1995 96 and 1996 97 and any future years for which figures are available. 
Mr. Jack [holding answer 28 June 1995]: The cost of decommissioning North sea oil installations is one of the costs of extracting oil in the North sea. As it is the profits of North sea oil companies that are taxed, it is right that tax relief should be given for relevant decommissioning costs.
There were no decommissioning costs in North sea oil and gas fields before 1991. From 1991 92 to 1996 97, deductions in tax revenues--royalties, petroleum revenue tax and corporation tax--average about £5 million per annum due to relief claimed for decommissioning costs. They are then expected to rise substantially.
Mr. Jack [holding answer 5 July 1995]: Based on a projection of the 1993 94 "Survey of Personal Incomes" and other survey data in line with assumptions in the summer economic forecast, the estimated full year yield at 1995 96 income levels would be about £890 million.
Mrs. Angela Knight [holding answer 6 July 1995]: This is a matter for the Bank of England. The Bank has recently completed a review of its branches and agencies. The Bank concluded that the economic liaison and representation work of its nine regional agents, including Leeds, had become increasingly important and should continue. It has, however, decided to cease branch banking operations and will discuss the branches' work on note distribution with the major clearing banks.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the relative tax rules on spirits and other alcoholic drinks in relation to units of alcohol; and what assessment he makes of revenue maximisation in determining the level of duty imposed on spirits. 
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory [holding answer 6 July 1995]: Excise duties on all alcoholic drinks are levied at specific, rather than ad valorem, rates on the end product. Duty on spirits is levied according to the litres of pure alcohol content, whereas that on beer is charged per hectolitre per cent. alcohol by volume. Cider is also taxed per hectolitre but subject to a maximum strength of less than 8.5 per cent. alcohol by volume. Duty per hectolitre on wine varies according to the nature and strength of the product: five duty bands cover a range of strengths from 1.2 per cent. up to 22 per cent. alcohol by volume and differentiate between still, sparkling and fortified wines.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer takes into consideration a wide range of social, economic and health factors as well as revenue considerations when setting the level of taxation on spirits.
Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the criteria which he applies to reschedule drug substances under the terms of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971; how temazepam relates to these criteria; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Maclean: No rescheduling may occur under the 1971 Act except after consultation with, or on the recommendation of, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs; and the council is required to have regard to misused drugs which are having, or appear to them capable of having, harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem. The council has recommended that temazepam should be controlled under schedule 3 of the relevant regulations rather than schedule 4, the effects of which would be as the then Minister of State described in his reply of 19 April to the hon. Member, Official Report , column 196 . The Government's careful consideration of this recommendation is continuing.
Following consultation with the Department of Health the Home Office is taking steps to impose safe custody requirements on manufacturers and wholesalers, and the Department of Health is engaged in consultations with interested parties with a view to banning NHS prescribing by general practitioners of the soft gelatin gel-filled capsules. These measures were announced by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council on 10 May, Official Report , column 756 .
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many racially motivated attacks are estimated to have taken place within the Greater London area in each of the last 12 months. 
Mr. Maclean: The information requested has been provided by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and is contained in the table. The data supplied relate to the number of racially motivated incidents as per the Association of Chief Police Officers definition and excludes the City of London.
Racial incident figures: Metropolitan Police District 1 April 1994-31 March 1995 Month |Number of racial |incidents --------------------------------------------------- April 1994 |478 May |443 June |509 July |557 August |558 September |517 October |454 November |461 December |384 January 1995 |379 February |379 March |361 Total 1994-95 |5,480 Association of Chief Police Officers definition: Any incident in which it appears to the reporting or investigative officer that the complaint involves an element of racial motive, or any incidents which include allegations of racial motivation made by any person.
Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the accuracy of penile plethysmograph tests as predictions of behaviour; what are the guidelines for the use of such tests; and what assessment he has made of the consequences of taking such tests in terms of prisoners' assumptions about one another. 
Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. George Howarth, dated 10 July 1995:
The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about what assessment has been made of the accuracy of penile plethysmograph (PPG) tests as predictions of behaviour; what are the guidelines for use of such tests; and what assessments has been made of the consequences of taking such tests in terms of prisoners' assumptions about one another.
The use of PPG by the Prison Service follows the guidelines published by the British Psychological Society and is only one element in the comprehensive assessment which forms part of the Prison Service's Sex Offender Treatment Programme (SOTP). Its use is based on relevant research findings and advice from international experts. This research indicates that sadistic and paedophilic sexual preferences, shown up by the PPG, are common among convicted sex offenders and rare among unconvicted men. In addition, convicted sex offenders, who show these preferences to a more marked degree appear more likely to re-offend.
However, PPG assessment is not primarily used by the Prison Service to predict future behaviour. It is used with men who have already been identified as being at risk of committing sexual offences to assess one factor, sexual preferences, which may contribute to their offending.
Since the PPG is used as part of a comprehensive package of assessment and treatment, it is difficult to isolate this particular element from the effect of the SOTP as a whole. Research has shown, however, that by the end of the SOTP, when PPG assessment is included, participants typically:
accept responsibility for their offences rather than blaming other people.
are more aware of the damage and distress caused to victims. are more aware of the factors which put them at risk of committing further offences.
Column 382have worked out ways of controlling these factors.
behave in a less aggressive and impulsive way in relation to prison staff and other prisoners.
are less emotional and angry.
A careful and rigorous evaluation of its effects on prisoners is built into the SOTP. The programme is periodically revised in the light of evaluation results.
(2) what are the approximate costings of running experimental young offender institutions in England and Wales. 
Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. George Howarth, dated 10 July 1995:
The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Questions about the approximate start-up cost of the two proposed young offender institutions and the approximate costings of running experimental young offender institutions in England and Wales. The Prison Service is currently working on proposals for two new types of regime for young offenders. Information about the projected costs of these ventures cannot be given until the proposals have been approved and an announcement made.
There are no young offender institutions being run on an experimental basis in England and Wales at present.
Mr. Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much has been spent on outside advertising agencies for each year since 1979; and if he will list the specific advertising campaigns undertaken by his Department, their purpose and their cost. 
1979 80: £2,904,671
1980 81: £1,649,605
1981 82: £1,834,476
1982 83: £1,957,304
1983 84: £2,760,681
1984 85: £3,262,700
1985 86: £3,306,391
1986 87: £5,000,000
1987 88: £4,700,000
1988 89: £5,400,000
1989 90: £5,500,000
1990 91: £5,728,000
1991 92: £7,275,940
1992 93: £7,344,635
1993 94: £9,090,222
1994 95: £10,912,000
These figures include the 1.75 per cent. commission charged by the Central Office of Information for services associated with centralised purchasing.
Column 383The specific campaigns undertaken between 1990 91 and 1994 95 were as follows:
|£ ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1990-91 Crime Prevention To encourage more widespread crime prevention. |2,890,309 Electoral Registration To encourage un-registered but otherwise eligible citizens to register to vote. |468,419 Fire Service Recruitment To recruit retained fire fighters. |22,387 Special Constabulary To stimulate increased applications to join the Special Constabulary. |1,176,645 Fire Safety To encourage wider ownership, installation and maintenance of smoke alarms in domestic premises. |1,165,831 Miscellaneous Campaigns A range of small campaigns such as Police Graduate Recruitment and advice about Magistrates' Courts. |4,409 1991-92 Crime Prevention |3,637,514 Dangerous Dogs Legislation To inform owners of dogs included in legislation of action they must take to comply with that legislation. |262,719 Electoral Registration |627,336 Absent Voting To advise eligible voters of absent voting rights |512,062 Fire Service Recruitment |25,773 Special Constabulary |954,705 Fire Safety |1,244,000 Miscellaneous Campaigns |11,831 1992-93 Crime Prevention |3,826,280 Electoral Registration |620,000 Special Constabulary |1,357,133 Fire Safety |1,534,522 Miscellaneous Campaigns |6,700 1993-94 Crime Prevention |4,984,722 Elections |620,000 Special Constabulary |1,459,000 Fire Prevention |2,020,000 Miscellaneous Campaigns |6,500 1994-95 Partners Against Crime To encourage crime prevention and greater public co-operation with the police through Neighbourhood Watch, Street Watch and Neighbourhood Special Constables schemes. |6,675,313 Electoral Registration |650,000 Fire Safety recruitment |30,094 Fire Safety |757,428 Special Constabulary |2,799,165 Campaigns planned for 1995-96 are as follows: Partners Against Crime Electoral Registration Fire Safety Special Constabulary
This work is still being developed and it is not yet possible to give a precise budget for each campaign. The forecast total spend for advertising in the current financial year is £7,300,000.
A breakdown by campaign subjects in the years before 1990 91 could be provided only at disproportionate cost to public funds. However, the subjects listed for the past five years are broadly the same as those covered in previous years.
Mr. Maclean: The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 makes specific provision for research relating to otherwise illegal drugs, such as cannabis, to be undertaken under licence. Some licences for research into cannabis are already in existence; any future applications for licences will be carefully considered as and when they are received.
Mr. Straw: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the percentage of persons cautioned for indictable, excluding motoring, offences as a percentage of persons found guilty or cautioned for each police force area in 1994.