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Consultation Documents

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which consultation documents published by Government Departments and their agencies in 2001 did not carry the consultation criteria as recommended in the Cabinet Office Code of Practice on Written Consultations. [49954]

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Mr. Leslie: Responsibility for compliance with the Code of Practice rests with individual Departments and their agencies.

Government Documents

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what percentage of the consultation documents published by Government departments or their agencies in 2001 were made available on the internet. [49949]

Mr. Leslie: Monitoring and compliance with the Code of Practice on Written Consultation, including the requirement to make consultation documents available on the internet, rests with individual Departments and their agencies. The Cabinet Office does not, therefore, keep a central statistical record of the percentage of documents put on websites.


Form DOM1

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many completed versions of Form DOM1 the Inland Revenue has received in each of the last five fiscal years; and if he will make a statement. [38260]

Dawn Primarolo: I regret that the publication of such statistics in a form which would enable me to say how many completed versions of Form DOM1 the Inland Revenue has received in each of the last five fiscal years would involve disproportionate cost.

State Pension

Mr. Davidson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action the Treasury has taken to quantify unfunded state pension liabilities in Britain and the European Union since 1996; if he will publish figures for (a) unfunded state pension liabilities and (b) unfunded occupational scheme liabilities for (ii) the UK and (ii) those EU countries for which comparable figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [48700]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government Actuary's Department estimates that as at 31 March 2001 the liabilities for UK unfunded public service pension schemes were about £350 billion and figures for schemes administered by Departments are now published annually in pension scheme Resource Accounts. We do not have comparable information for unfunded private sector schemes or for equivalent unfunded public and private occupational arrangements in other EU countries. On a slightly different basis the Government Actuary has estimated that, as at 1 April 1999, discounted future expenditure on the state pension from past contributions is £1,108 billion (as shown in Table 13.4 of Inland Revenue Statistics 2001, on the Inland Revenue website).

Comparable figures for state pension expenditures across the EU are not published by Governments. However, the European Commission's Economic Policy Committee (EPC) has published projections of annual expenditure on state pension-related expenditure as a share of GDP in EU member states (in the EPC report "Budgetary Challenges posed by Ageing Populations" of 24 October 2001). Since this study the UK Government

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has announced the introduction of the pension credit from October 2003, which will slightly increase UK public pension spending as a share of GDP, although this expected to stay broadly around its current level in the long-term ("The Pension Credit: long-term projections", DWP, January 2002).

Pension Rights

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost to public sector pension schemes of the House of Lords' ruling in February 2001 on the pension rights of part-time workers. [50035]

Mr. Andrew Smith: It is difficult to estimate precisely the numbers of part-timers eligible for retrospective access to public service schemes. But on the basis of estimates that up to 60,000 part-timers may be granted access, the resulting increase in the present value of public service pension liabilities may lie in the range of £0.5 to £1 billion. These pension liabilities will be payable over a period in excess of 40 years.

Small Businesses (Greater London)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the economic prospects for small businesses within the Greater London area. [50589]

Mr. Boateng: In terms of business creation, the Greater London area continues to out-perform other UK regions. Recent figures show that the number of VAT registrations in London per 10,000 residents is 65 compared with a UK average of 39. However, as in all regions, the level of small business activity varies markedly across Greater London.

Small firms in London have access to a range of national and local policies and programmes designed to support new and small businesses. These include financial support (through schemes such as the Small Firms' Loan Guarantee Scheme) and business advice and guidance. The London Regional Venture Capital Fund will be up-and-running shortly provided £50 million of investment for small firms with growth potential.

Heavily Indebted Poor Countries

Ms Drown: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 11 April 2002, Official Report, column 576W, on heavily indebted poor countries, if he will estimate the proportion of the additional $50 billion per annum which would be devoted to debt relief, broken down by country. [51278]

Mr. Boateng: The cost of achieving the International Development Targets has been estimated at an additional US$50 billion per annum, equivalent to a doubling of current global aid. The commitment by the US and EU is a major step towards meeting the requirements for this additional US$50 billion; there has not yet been full commitment to deliver the entire amount, nor decisions made on how such an amount could be delivered if the total was achieved.

Debt reduction under the HIPC initiative can therefore be only one element of the additional finance required. Both the US and EU have yet to decide on how to distribute this increased level of resources, we expect that one of the ways could be through debt relief.

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At the moment the HIPC initiative is helping to increase social expenditures in countries receiving HIPC debt relief by $1.7 billion in 2001–02, equivalent to 1.2 per cent. of GDP. On average, health and education spending account for 65 per cent. (40 per cent. on education and 25 per cent. on health) of the use of HIPC debt relief.

EU Energy Tax

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had at EU level on the proposed EU energy tax; and if he will make a statement. [50443]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government continues to take part in discussions about proposals for an Energy Products Directive.

Tax Credits

Mr. Webb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the (a) total cost and (b) cost per claimant to businesses for administering (i) working families tax credit, (ii) children's tax credit, (iii) child tax credit and (iv) the working tax credit in the last 12 months. [50992]

Dawn Primarolo: Estimates of the costs to employers of operating the Working Families' Tax Credit and the Disabled Person's Tax Credit are given in paragraphs 40–46 of the regulatory impact assessments for the Tax Credits Bill 1999, a copy of which is in the Library. There are over 1.3 million recipients of these tax credits.

Employers are involved in administering the Children's Tax Credit only through implementing the PAYE codes routinely supplied by Inland Revenue, which include adjustments for the credit as appropriate. No estimate is available of the additional cost incurred by employers.

There have been no costs to employers in administering the Child Tax Credit or the Working Tax Credit in the last 12 months.

Tax Liability

David Winnick: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on recent action which he has taken to ensure that the full tax liability is paid by very wealthy individuals. [51000]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 18 April 2002]: Whilst recognising the right of businesses and individuals to manage their tax affairs efficiently, the Government is committed to ensuring a fairer tax system by countering abuses and contrived avoidance schemes. Each Budget since 1997 has included measures to secure the tax base and combat avoidance by blocking tax loopholes, including those used by wealthy individuals. We will continue to stop abuses of the tax system which benefit a small minority at the expense of taxpayers generally.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his 2002 Budget speech reiterated this commitment when he said that, "to ensure fairness for taxpayers and businesses, we must act swiftly to close tax loopholes and be vigilant against tax avoidance". He also announced that the Government is reviewing the complex rules of residence and domicile.

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Delegated Legislation

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the cost effectiveness of the Utilities Contracts (Amendment) Regulations; and if he will make a statement; [51880]

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Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 17 April 2002, Official Report, columns 976–82W.

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