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Pensioners

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people of pensionable age there are in the Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East constituency. [16436]

Ruth Kelly: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from John Pullinger to Dr. Ashok Kumar, dated 20 November 2001:




Fuel Taxation

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what taxes and excise duty are payable on fuels used by providers of internal UK passenger services by (a) bus, (b) coach, (c) local train, electrically powered, (d) local train, diesel powered, (e) ferry, (f) hovercraft and (g) aeroplane. [14278]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 12 November 2001]: The rates of excise duty on ultra-low sulphur diesel, liquid petroleum gas, gas oil aviation turbine fuel and aviation gasoline—the fuels generally used by providers of passenger services in the UK—are set out in the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979.

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As far as VAT is concerned, passenger transport provided in any vehicle, ship or aircraft that has 10 or more passenger seats, including the driver (or pilot, captain etc.) is zero-rated. Transport provided in such vehicles, ships or aircraft with fewer than 10 passengers, including the driver etc., is standard-rated.

Corporate Tax

Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made in the review of corporate tax treatment of substantial shareholdings and intangible assets for large companies. [15922]

Dawn Primarolo: Good progress continues to be made on these reviews.

Company Leases

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason there is not a public sector accounting counterpart to the Statement of Standard Accounting Practice 21 concerning the accounting treatment of leases that UK companies enter into; and if he will make a statement. [16076]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Public sector accounting standards require the application of Statement of Standard Accounting Practice (SSAP) 21.

Capital Assets

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if capital assets where the ownership at the end of the contract reverts to the public sector are taken into account when calculating public sector (a) net investment and (b) net worth; and if he will make a statement. [16078]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The treatment of this type of contract will depend on how it is classified by the Department's accountants and the National Audit Office. If it is classified as a finance lease, it is included in net investment and net worth. If it is classified as an operating lease, it will not be. The decision will depend on whether it is the private or public sector which bears most of the economic risks and rewards associated with the asset.

VAT

Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total VAT receipts from the corporate sector were for the last financial year; and what receipts had been anticipated. [15930]

Mr. Boateng: Total Value Added Tax receipts are shown in the Office for National Statistics publication "Financial Statistics". The forecast can be found in the "Financial Statement and Budget Report 2000".

Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact of (a) debt investment and (b) equity investment in SMEs on growth in employment and output. [15938]

Mr. Boateng: Both debt and equity investment are essential for small firms if they are to grow and make a full contribution to the UK economy. The Government are stimulating growth in SME investment by reducing

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the tax burden for SMEs, and increasing the supply of finance through measures such as provision of small firms' loan guarantees and venture capital finance.

Climate Change Levy

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to exempt coal mine methane generated power from the climate change levy. [15721]

Mr. Boateng: The Government are at present discussing with the Association of Coal Mine Methane Operators (ACMMO) the treatment of electricity generated from coal mine methane under the climate change levy there are currently no plans to exempt coal mine methane generated power but the Chancellor of the Exchequer makes these decisions on a Budget by Budget basis.

Mortgages

Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the Bank of England has made representations to UK mortgage lenders on current average mortgage income multiples. [15928]

Ruth Kelly: Responsibility for the prudential regulation of banks and building societies now rests with the Financial Services Authority (FSA). In addition, the FSA is taking on responsibility for regulating mortgage lending. Both the Government and FSA consider it important that mortgage borrowers should not be exploited by lending in circumstances where they are self-evidently unable to repay through income but have no alternative repayment plans. The FSA is therefore setting rules in respect of responsible lending. Lenders will be required to show that they have taken account of a borrower's ability to repay the loan before entering into a regulated mortgage contract with him.

European Commission Proposals

Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the proposals outlined on 12 November by the President of the European Commission on (a) EU budgetary powers and (b) the growth and stability pact. [15931]

Ruth Kelly: Mr. Prodi's speech is part of the on-going debate on the future of Europe.

On budgetary issues the Government's position is clear. At ECOFIN on 10 July several Finance Ministers, including my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, rejected ideas for a euro tax. It has been made clear that the Government do not support, and have no plans to impose, a harmonised tax on their citizens. Any proposal for a euro tax would have to be agreed unanimously by member states.

On fiscal policies in the EU, the Government will assess carefully any proposals for a further Code of Conduct one they are presented by the European Commission.

Small Businesses

Chris Grayling: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received on changes to insurance policies and premiums for small businesses since 11 September. [16175]

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Ruth Kelly: We receive representations on a wide range of subjects from a variety of organisations and individuals.

Aggregates Levy

Mr. Cawsey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of the aggregates levy on the rural economy. [16089]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 19 November 2001]: The rural economy will benefit from the levy funded 0.1 percentage point reduction in employers' national insurance contributions and the new £35 million Sustainability Fund which deliver local environmental benefits to areas subject to the environmental costs of aggregates extraction.

Mr. Cawsey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assistance he will provide to those whose employment is affected as a result of the aggregates levy. [16090]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 19 November 2001]: The aggregates levy receipts will be returned to business, principally through a 0.1 percentage point reduction in employers' national insurance contributions, which will have a positive effect on employment, as will the £35 million levy funded Sustainability Fund.

Financial Services Compensation Scheme

Mr. Battle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if self-insurance by companies is specifically excluded from the financial services compensation scheme; and if

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claimants can be denied fall back compensation granted from the financial services compensation scheme where the employer and insurer are insolvent. [15959]

Ruth Kelly: The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is set up to provide compensation if an FSA regulated financial services firm—bank, building society, investment firm or insurer—collapses. The FSCS is funded by these firms. The FSCS does not, therefore, cover claims against insolvent employers who did not hold insurance with a regulated insurer.


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