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Mr. Illsley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many members of defined contribution pension schemes are paying the (a) higher rate and (b) standard rate of tax; [18627]

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Dawn Primarolo: Available estimates for 2001–02 are contained in the table, it is not possible to break down those contributing to occupational schemes according to whether they are in defined benefit or defined contribution schemes. All those contributing to personal pensions will be in defined contribution schemes.


Number of individuals with contributions
Occupational pension schemes(10)Personal pension schemes(11)
Marginal rate of income tax
Basic rate8,0003,500
Higher rate2,000500

(10) Approximate estimates based on overall numbers from the GAD survey of occupational pension schemes and survey data on the earnings distribution of contributors.

(11) Approximate estimates based on overall numbers from plan managers, survey data, and relief claimed on tax returns by higher rate and self-employed contributors. Figures are provisional and consistent with the 1999–2000 Survey of Personal Incomes projected to 2001–02 levels of earnings and prices.

Mr. Illsley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many defined contribution occupational pension schemes are covered by the pre-1987 tax regime; and how many members of such schemes there are; [18611]

Ruth Kelly: Latest estimates from the Government Actuary's Department Survey of Occupational Schemes (1995) suggested that there were 8.8 million active members in 38,000 defined benefit occupational schemes; 1.1 million members in 109,000 defined contribution occupational schemes; and around 0.3 million members in 4,000 mixed defined benefit/defined contribution schemes. It is not possible to derive from this survey or from other sources how many schemes and members are covered by the different tax regimes.


Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 20 November 2001, Official Report, column 267W, on the accounting treatment of the successor organisation to Railtrack, on what date he received a reply from the Office for National Statistics; and if he will place in the Library advice given by the ONS on the accounting treatment of other possible successor organisations to Railtrack. [19183]

Mr. Andrew Smith: ONS replied on 5 October to Treasury's request of 3 October for advice on the accounting treatment of a company limited by guarantee that was a possible successor organisation to Railtrack. ONS has not given any advice on other possible successor organisations to Railtrack.

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Inland Revenue Investigations

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the Inland Revenue make inquiries into family backgrounds in advance of looking at the financial affairs of the individual into whom they are inquiring. [18889]

Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue does not routinely look into family backgrounds before commencing a tax inquiry. But there are circumstances in which it would be relevant to do so. For example, the main reason for considering whether to inquire might be that an individual's reported income seemed much lower than his probable expenditure.

In such a case the Revenue might look at the financial position of others in the household to see whether their incomes and, therefore, possible contribution to family finances might account for any perceived shortfall. Preliminary research of this kind helps to focus inquiries on those cases presenting the biggest risks.

Capital Assets

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 20 November 2001, Official Report, column 270W, on capital assets, what guidelines the (a) National Audit Office and (b) Treasury issue on how to classify who bears the risks and rewards associated with an asset. [19189]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Generally accepted accounting practices are used to determine who bears the risks and rewards associated with an asset, and hence its accounting treatment. These are applied by accountants working for departments, and subsequently audited by the National Audit Office (NAO). The Office for National Statistics (ONS) follows the same treatment for national accounts.

The Treasury's "Resource Accounting Manual" makes clear that all complex transactions should be accounted for under the overriding principles of the Accounting Standards Board's (ASB) Financial Reporting Standard (FRS) 5 "Reporting the Substance of Transactions". Such transactions include those where ownership of capital assets reverts to the public sector, for leasing transactions, the more specific principles of the ASB's Statement of Standard Accounting Practice (SSAP) 21 "Accounting for Leases and Hire Contract Contracts". For Private Finance Initiative transactions, more specific guidance is given in the Treasury document "Technical Note no. 1 (revised)—How to Account for PFI Transactions", which sets out additional practical guidance on how to apply the ASB's Application Note "Amendment to FRS5—Private Finance Initiative and Similar Contracts".

The aspect of the question relating to National Audit Office guidelines has been referred to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission who can respond on behalf of the NAO.

Inland Revenue (Informers)

Mr. Gray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with regard to Section 32 of the Inland Revenue Regulation Act 1890, what criteria the Commissioners of Inland Revenue employ to determine whether to exercise their discretion afforded by the Inland Revenue

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Regulation Act 1890 to reward an informer; when these criteria were established; and how they differ from the criteria previously in force. [18927]

Dawn Primarolo: Financial rewards can be made to an informer following the conclusion of an inquiry where tax is recovered as a result of the information provided. In deciding the amount of any reward, the Commissioners have regard to the amount of tax recovered. Calculation details are not disclosed since this would enable an informer to estimate the amount of tax recovered, which would breach the Revenue's duty of confidentiality to the taxpayer.

It is not possible to say whether these criteria have applied unaltered since the enactment of 1890, but they have remained unchanged for many years.

National Insurance (Married Women)

Mr. Page: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action he is taking to inform working women of the consequences of paying the married women's rate of National Insurance. [16503]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to Inland Revenue leaflet CA 13 "National Insurance contributions for women with reduced elections". The leaflet, which was updated in May 2001 and can also be found on the Inland Revenue website, explains what contributions married women pay and the implications for future contributory benefit entitlement resulting from keeping their reduced liability.

The Inland Revenue undertook a major publicity exercise in October 2000 writing to around 250,000 married women who had previously elected to pay reduced rate National Insurance contributions. The letter advised them to consider their elections following recent structural changes to National Insurance contributions. A dedicated helpline was set up to provide further information and assistance and some 63,000 telephone inquiries were received.

The September 2001 edition of the Employers Bulletin, which again can be found on the Inland Revenue's website, included an article about married women's reduced rate contributions recommending action that employers should take on a regular basis to remind their employees, who pay a reduced rate, what information they need to report which could affect their National Insurance liability.

NHS (Additional Spending)

Tim Loughton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment his Department has made of the cost-effectiveness of additional spending on the NHS since 1997. [19286]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Government Departments are required to demonstrate that all their expenditure on services provides value for money. The Public Service Agreement between the Treasury and the Department of Health requires NHS trusts to converge over time on a benchmark defined by the cost of care commissioned from NHS trusts which perform well against indicators of fair access, quality and responsiveness. The Treasury monitors progress against the benchmark regularly.

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