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Rebated Fuels

Barbara Follett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for consultation on the proposal to introduce an approval scheme for distributors of rebated fuels. [25096]

Mr. Boateng: Customs and Excise today published a formal consultation document on this proposal, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

National Statistics Code of Practice

Barbara Follett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the National Statistics Code of Practice will be released for public consultation. [25097]

Ruth Kelly: The National Statistics Code of Practice, which represents a significant step in the implementation of the proposals contained in the White Paper "Building Trust in Statistics" (Cm 3882), is being published today. Copies are available in the Libraries of both Houses and electronic copies are accessible via the National Statistics website www.statistics.gov.uk. The code sets out the professional standards applicable to National Statistics, the range of official statistics that together provide an accurate, up-to-date, comprehensive and meaningful description of the UK economy and society.

The public consultation will end on 28 March 2002. Responses should be sent by post to James Denman, Room D4/12, ONS, 1 Drummond Gate, London, SW1V 2QQ, or via e-mail to [email protected] Hard copies of the consultation documents are available from either of these addresses.

Debt Management

Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the UK Debt Management Office's debt management accounts. [25098]

Ruth Kelly: The first published Debt Management Account covering the period 15 November 1999 to 31 March 2001 is being laid before the House and published today. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Aggregates Levy

Mr. Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost of the introduction

19 Dec 2001 : Column: 326W

of the aggregates levy in Scotland; and what the cost will be to Scottish local authorities per year in each of the five years after April 2002. [23954]

Mr. Boateng: No estimates have been made.

Mr. Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what aid the Government will provide to businesses in Scotland which will be affected by the aggregates levy. [23955]

Mr. Boateng: The aggregates levy receipts will be returned to business through a 0.1 percentage point reduction in employers' national insurance contributions, and the £35 million Sustainability Fund. The Government will not provide specific aid to businesses affected by the levy because their objective is to provide an incentive to make more efficient use of virgin aggregate and to use more recycled or alternative materials.

Tax Credit Fraud

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff are employed by the Inland Revenue in investigating fraudulent claims for tax credits. [22941]

Dawn Primarolo: As at 31 December 2001, there were a total of 542 Inland Revenue staff involved in investigating possible false applications for tax credits. This figure comprises 27 Investigators and 226 support staff employed centrally at the Tax Credit Office. There are a further 247 Inland Revenue Network staff who also deal with tax credit investigations, and a specialist team of 42 staff dealing with the most serious cases including those resulting in prosecution.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the value is of (a) overpayments and (b) penalties recovered by the Inland Revenue as a result of fraud investigations in respect of each tax credit in each year since their introduction. [22929]

Dawn Primarolo: I will write to the hon. Member about this matter and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Air Passenger Duty

Mr. Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue has been raised by air passenger duty in each year since 1997. [24027]

Mr. Boateng: Receipts of air passenger duty for the financial years 1997–98 to 1999–2000 are published in Table A1 of the tables and statistics accompanying the HM Customs and Excise Annual Report for 2000, available on the Customs and Excise website www.hmce.gov.uk/general/about/index.htm—scroll down to 'Annual Report 2000', click on 'Tables and Statistics'.

Details for the year 2000–01 can be found in the National Statistics Publication "Financial Statistics" Table 2.1D.

Stamp Duty

Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the VAT which will be forgone in this financial year as a result of the new stamp duty exemptions for properties where the price does not exceed £150,000. [23761]

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Mr. Boateng: The stamp duty exemption will have no direct impact on VAT receipts. Any VAT due on the sale of a property is charged before stamp duty is calculated.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people were employed in his Department in each of the last four years. [23783]

Ruth Kelly: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office on 18 December 2001, Official Report, column 256W.

National Insurance

Adam Price: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much the national insurance fund is in surplus. [23978]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Gentleman to table 2 of the report by the Government Actuary on the drafts of the Social Security Benefits Up-rating (No. 2) Order 2000 and the Social Security (Contributions) (Re-rating and National Insurance Funds Payments) Order 2001 (Cm 4933), a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

Stakeholder Pensions

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the first stage of the changes to NIRS2 needed to support the introduction of stakeholder pensions was completed by the October deadline. [24236]

Dawn Primarolo: The first stage of changes to NIRS2 needed to support the introduction of stakeholder pensions was delivered on time and to the required standard.

Tax Credits

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason it was decided to base entitlement to the child tax credit and the working tax credit on current year income. [24232]

Dawn Primarolo: No such decision has been taken. It has been decided that tax credits will be based on the income of a tax year. The Tax Credits Bill allows for a variety of approaches to responding to changes in income as between one year and the next.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of total compliance costs for employers the reduction listed in paragraph 2.20 of the Inland Revenue Regulatory Impact Assessment for the new tax credits is; and if he will make a statement. [24129]

Dawn Primarolo: The estimated recurrent compliance costs to business of the working families tax credit and the disabled person's tax credit were set out in paragraph 44 of the Regulatory Impact Assessment for the Tax Credits Act 1999 and accompanying regulations (December 1999).

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library (a) a summary and (b) a complete set of the responses to the Inland Revenue consultation paper, "New Tax Credits". [24241]

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Dawn Primarolo: The Treasury issued a summary of the responses to the Inland Revenue's consultation paper, "New Tax Credits: supporting families, making work pay and tackling poverty" (July 2001). This summary was attached to a Treasury press notice of 29 November 2001 (no. 132/01). A copy has been placed in the House of Commons Library. A complete set of responses, except for those we have been asked to keep confidential, has also been placed in the Library.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the minimum age of working tax credit recipients will be. [24233]

Dawn Primarolo: Workers with a disability or with children will be eligible for the working tax credit from the age of 16. The minimum age for those without children or a disability is to be set at 25, since those aged 25 or over are more likely to face severe financial barriers to work or suffer persistent poverty.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether entitlement to the child tax credit and the working tax credit will be based on net income. [24231]

Dawn Primarolo: No. The Government have decided, in the light of representations received in response to consultation, that entitlement to the working tax credit and the child tax credit will be based on gross income.


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