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Social Fund Budget
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will increase the Social Fund budget, with particular reference to (a) the Community Care Grant and (b) the Budgeting Loan budgets. 
The Government are examining options to enable the Social Fund better to fulfil its aim of helping the poorest and most vulnerable people in society meet certain needs.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce fiscal incentives to encourage consumers to purchase and use combined electric and petrol engine powered vehicles. 
The Government have introduced fiscal incentives for the purchase of combined electric and petrol powered vehicles through discounts in vehicle excise duty and company car tax.
Furthermore, the Government are also promoting the use of cleaner fuels through schemes such as the PowerShift programme, which offers grants for motorists to buy or convert vehicles which run on LPG, natural gas or electricity.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what fiscal incentives he has made available for the wider use of alternative fuels for motor vehicles. 
In successive Budgets, the Chancellor has introduced a number of initiatives to promote the use of cleaner fuels. These include duty differentials for road fuel gases and bio-diesel, discounts to vehicle excise duty for cars using cleaner fuels, and the environment-focused changes to the company car tax system.
Furthermore, the Government continues to promote the use of cleaner fuels through schemes such as the PowerShift programme, which offers grants for motorists to buy or convert vehicles which run on LPG, natural gas or electricity, and the Green Fuel Challenge which is supporting projects for the development of biogas, ethanol and hydrogen through duty reliefs.
VAT Compliance Costs
Mr. Matthew Taylor:
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 23 October 2002, Official Report, column 352W, on VAT, for what reason he is unable to give a publication date; and if he will make a statement. 
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Ministers are considering the research methodology, data and analysis in this research, in accordance with their continuing commitment to reduce compliance costs for VATregistered businesses.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien:
To ask the Chancellor of the Excheque what the value of shares given in Gift Aid was in the last tax year. 
There is no Gift Aid scheme on gifts of shares. However, Budget 2000 introduced relief at a taxpayer's marginal tax rate on gifts of shares and other qualifying investments.
The value of shares and other qualifying investments given to charities in 200001 is estimated at #100 million.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps the Government are taking to decrease disparities in regional gross domestic product per capita; and which Minister is in charge of these efforts. 
[holding answer 7 November 2002]: The Government set out in the 2002 Spending Review White Paper (Cm 5570) the steps which it is taking to promote prosperity in every region of the UK. Given the Government's long term ambition to reduce the persistent gap in performance between regions, the Spending Review established a new Public Service Agreement target to make sustainable improvements in the economic performance of all English regions and over the longer term reduce the persistent gap in growth rates between the regions. This target, as described in full in the 2002 Spending Review White Paper, is jointly owned by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, DTI and the Treasury. Devolved policies are the responsibility of the devolved administrations.
Third World Debt
Mr. Ben Chapman:
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on recent measures he has taken to reduce third world debt. 
I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Chancellor to the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Dr. Tonge) earlier today.
Mr. Menzies Campbell:
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the groups recognised in Census 2001 with numbers of less than 700,000 as recorded in the 1991 Census; which groups other than Sikhs requested separate monitoring for the Census 2001 but were denied their request; and which groups recognised
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in law as distinct ethnic groups requested separate monitoring for the Census 2001 but were denied their request. 
The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.
Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Menzies Campbell, dated 7 November 2002:
As National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales I have been asked to reply to your recent question concerning the groups recognised in the 2001 Census with numbers of less than 700,000 as recorded in the 1991 Census; which groups other than Sikhs requested separate monitoring for the 2001 Census but were denied their request; and which groups recognised in law as separate ethnic groups requested separate monitoring for the Census but were denied their request.
Those ethnic group categories identified in the 2001 Census question on ethnic group by a separate tick box responses, but for which less than 700,000 responses had been recorded in the 1991 Census question, were:
Mixed White and Black/Caribbean
Mixed White and Black African
The matter of determining which ethnic group categories should be specifically identified in the 2001 Census resulted from a programme of wide consultation with census users on their requirements for information and with representatives of the various ethnic communities, and of extensive small- and large-scale testing of potential questions, including a major Census Test in 1997 and the Census Rehearsal in 1999.
The question that was eventually proposed in the Government's White Paper on the 2001 Census in March 1999 and which was subsequently included in the 2001 Census in England and Wales, following approval by Parliament, had been revised in consultation with users, both to meet their requirements for additional information, particularly about the Irish population in Great Britain and people of mixed origin, and to be as acceptable as possible to respondents.
Special attention had been given to using words or terms that encompassed the widest range of attributes including birthplace, race and cultural characteristics.
The new response categories were such as to provide optimum comparability with the 1991 Census question while, at the same time, attempting to improve response to the question particularly among those communities who, tests had shown, preferred to describe themselves as ''Black British'' or ''Asian British''.
Prior to the 2001 Census, a number of representations were made to ONS to include in the ethnic group question, additional tick boxes response categories for the purpose of recognising particular groups. Other than those from the Sikh community, these included representations concerning the following groups that could not, in the event, be included in the question, either because there was not a sufficiently wide enough user support or because the case was made too late:
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However no such groupwhether or not subject to any lawful recognition as an ethnic groupwas denied the opportunity of being recognised as such in the 2001 Census, since the form of the ethnic group question provided for write-in responses within each of the main groups in order to allow persons to describe their ethnicity in whichever way they chose. I announced at the time of the Census that such responses would be identified in coding and that counts would be made available in the results if there were a user requirement for the information.
Additional and specific information on Sikhs was, however, collected in the 2001 Census through the new question on religion.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the present practice of the Board of Inland Revenue is with regard to instituting criminal proceedings in cases of suspected serious tax fraud. 
Mr. Gordon Brown:
Further to the statement made on 18 October 1990 at column 882 by the then Chancellor, the right hon. John Major, the practice of the Board of Inland Revenue in cases of suspected serious tax fraud is as follows:
The Board reserves complete discretion to pursue prosecutions in the circumstances it considers appropriate.
Where serious tax fraud has been committed, the Board may accept a money settlement instead of pursuing a criminal prosecution.
The Board will accept a money settlement and will not pursue a criminal prosecution, if the taxpayer, in response to being given a copy of this Statement by an authorised officer, makes a full and complete confession of all tax irregularities.