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Civil Servants

Paul Flynn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many civil servants were employed in each of the past 10 years; and what changes have taken place in real terms in their total remuneration. [34083]

Mr. Andrew Smith [holding answer 11 February 2002]: The Office for National Statistics Annual Abstract of Statistics 2002 (ISSN 0072 5730) gives consistent historical data on civil service staff numbers. Numbers for paybill costs within departmental administration costs limits are given in table 5.1 of PESA 2001–02 (Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses, Cm 5101). These are not precisely comparable with civil service staff numbers statistics, as civil servants in the devolved Administrations are excluded, and casual and other non-civil service staff on departmental payrolls are included.

Aerospace Industry

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact on the competitiveness of the UK aerospace industry of recent changes to the Export Credits Guarantee Department. [53243]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The recent changes to the Large Aircraft Sector Understanding (LASU) scheme, under which ECGD provides support for the UK aerospace industry, were made as a result of a 1999 economic study undertaken by ECGD. These changes were delayed to allow time for ECGD to move in concert with its French and German counterparts. The Government are fully committed to supporting in the most effective way possible the competitiveness of all UK companies,

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including those in the aerospace sector, who will constitute some of the major beneficiaries of the new R&D tax credit announced in the Budget.

Pension Contribution Holidays

Mr. Watts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will amend the pension rules to remove the ability of companies to take contribution holidays from their employees' pension scheme. [52027]

Ruth Kelly: In general, contributions to occupational schemes are determined by the trustees' view of the funding position of the scheme and its likely needs. The Government have no plans to amend the tax rules governing the taking of employer contribution holidays from occupational pension schemes.

Pornographic Films

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether film tax relief is available for pornographic films made in the UK (a) before and (b) after the restrictions on film tax relief introduced in the April 2002 Budget; and if he will make a statement. [53335]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 1 May.


Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list in cash terms (a) at 2002–03 prices and (b) and as a percentage of gross domestic product, the net taxes and social security contributions for each year since 1996–97, incorporating the accounting changes referred to in Box C2 of the Budget Red Book 2002. [53774]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Historical figures for net taxes and social security contributions as a percentage of GDP, consistent with the new OECD classification of personal tax credits, are set out in Table C23 of Budget 2002. An estimate of this ratio for 2001–02 and projections for 2002–03 onwards are shown in Table C10.

Vehicle Seizures

Barbara Follett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if HM Customs and Excise will change its vehicle seizure policy in relation to alcohol and tobacco smuggling as a result of the Court of Appeal decision in the Lindsay case. [54790]

Mr. Boateng: The Court of Appeal confirmed in the Lindsay case that Customs vehicle seizure and non- restoration policy in relation to those who smuggle alcohol and tobacco for profit was justified and proportionate. It also confirmed that vehicles used to smuggle on a non-profit basis were similarly liable to seizure. However, the Court considered that in not-for- profit cases a proportionate response, depending on the individual circumstances, would be to offer to restore such seized vehicles.

Accordingly when Customs detect commercial for profit smugglers, any vehicles used in such smuggling will remain subject to the existing tough seizure and non-restoration policy. However, Customs have now further developed their vehicle seizure policy, taking into account the clarification provided by the Court of Appeal.

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When Customs detect not-for-profit smugglers their goods and vehicles will be seized but vehicle restoration will ordinarily be offered in the first instance for a sum equivalent to the revenue evaded. There will be a rising scale for any subsequent offences up to non-restoration. Customs will reserve the right to vary their restoration terms according to the aggravating or mitigating circumstances of any individual case.

This policy will allow Customs to continue their successful approach of hitting those who smuggle for profit with tough sanctions that strike at their illicit trade and also provides a real and proportionate penalty for those who break the law, albeit without such profit- making motivation. It represents a fair and balanced policy.

Scotland Office

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the implication of his Budget statement for the Scotland Office DEL. [53332]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Scotland Office provision (non-devolved) will be determined in the spending review within the overall Scotland DEL provision to be determined in the spending review. The increases in the Scottish Executive's (devolved) budget in 2003–04 to 2007–08 as a consequence of the increases in health spending announced for England are £224 million, £858 million, £1,576 million, £2,341 million and £3,201 million.

Property Prices

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what projected change in property prices underlies the revenue assumptions in Table C8 of the Financial Statement and Budget report 2002; and if he will make a statement. [53404]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The revenue forecasts in Table C8 of the FSBR are based on house price data calculated by taking the arithmetic average of the DTLR, Nationwide and Halifax indices available at the time of the Budget. Following this, house prices inflation is projected to moderate towards its long run relationship with earnings, as explained in paragraph B54 of the Financial Statement and Budget Report 2002. Forecasts for house prices are not published.

Projected Revenues

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the reasons are for the change in projected revenues from (a) air passenger duty and (b) capital taxes since the Budget of 2001 shown in Table C8 of the Financial Statement and Budget report 2002; and if he will make a statement. [53405]

Mr. Boateng: The change in projected revenues for APD was announced in the pre-Budget report 2001. There are a number of reasons for this change. Last year's global economic slowdown had significant effect on passenger numbers and this was exacerbated by the tragedies on 11 September. There has also been a trend towards economy class travel to European destinations, which are generally charged at the lowest rate of APD. This is attributed in part to the success of the low cost airlines.

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Explanations of the changes in forecast receipts for capital taxes since the Budget of 2001 are given in paragraphs B48 of the pre-Budget report, November 2001 and C45 of the Financial Statement and Budget Report, April 2002.

Mental Health Services

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the (a) costs and (b) savings to HM Treasury in developing a modern mental health service. [45929]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 25 March 2002]: I have been asked to reply.

The Wanless Final Report estimated the costs of developing a world class service at some £3.1 billion per annum, and the net savings across government at £3.1 billion per annum. The Department is studying the Wanless Report with great interest and it will be an important source of analysis and information in the allocation of resources to the service.

Computer Terminals

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many on-line computer terminals were available in each division of Customs and Excise in each of the last three years; what assessment was made of system reliability; and who the providers of the IT system were. [53481]

Mr. Boateng: The following number of on-line computer terminals were available to Customs and Excise in the last three financial year:

On 31 March 2000 responsibility (and ownership) for desktop and laptop computers passed to ICL (now Fujitsu Services) under a PFI contract. Responsibility for the IT system mainframes remains with Customs and Excise. Mainframe services are provided by in-house staff using mainframes, which have been purchased from Fujitsu.

Since the transfer of ownership to Fujitsu Services the level of service has been jointly monitored on a monthly basis. Although there were inevitable teething problems during national roll out/hand over, service standards have improved significantly in recent months and the monthly service report for March 2002 records a high level of service in nearly all areas.

Given major organisational changes within HMCE over the last three years a detailed breakdown of computer availability by division is not available in this format.

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