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Low Income Households: Tax Payments

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

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    On average what percentage of the income of those in the top 10 percentile of earnings is spent on:


    (a) council tax; and


    (b) VAT and excise duty; and


    (c) income tax.[HL3561]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Director of the Office for National Statistics who has been asked to reply.

Letter from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. Tim Holt, dated 15 July 1999.

As Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to reply to your recent parliamentary questions on the proportion of income spent on various items by those in the bottom and top decile groups of the earnings distribution.

The information you require is given in the attached table. The figures are derived from Table 2A, Appendix 1 in the latest edition of the article 'The effects of taxes and benefits on household income' published in the April 1999 edition of Economic Trends, a copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library. The information is given for the top and bottom decile groups of the income distribution, as no information is available on the amount of these taxes paid by decile groups of the earnings distribution. We cannot determine the percentage of extra income which households in the bottom decile pay in council tax, VAT and excise duty for every £1 in extra earnings.

Expressing expenditure taxes as a proportion of income for households in the bottom decile may give a misleading impression of the impact of these taxes on the poorest households. Among the households in the bottom decile are some with low incomes but high expenditure. These may be households suffering temporary reductions in income or fluctuating income levels. These households can maintain previous high levels of expenditure by borrowing or drawing on savings. As expenditure taxes tend to be proportional to expenditure rather than income, expressing such taxes as a percentage of income gives a high figure for this group.

Percentage of gross income paid in selected taxes, 1997-98

Households in the bottom decileHouseholds in the top decile
Council tax(1)6.91.6
VAT and excise duties(2)23.17.2
Income tax(3)2.519.0

(1) Includes water charges and Northern Ireland rates.

(2) Duty on alcohol, tobacco, petrol and diesel, betting taxes and vehicle excise duty.

(3) Net of tax relief on mortgage interest and life assurance premiums.


Press Complaints Commission

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What meetings have been held between Ministers at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and

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    the Press Complaints Commission since 1 January 1999 to discuss (a) the extension of the Press Complaints Commission's power to investigate complaints of its own volition; or (b) other matters; and which Ministers attended such meetings.[HL3371]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: None.

"Seahenge"

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether English Heritage was within its rights in (a) intervening for research purposes and (b) moving "Seahenge" (the Bronze Age wooden structure discovered on the North Norfolk foreshore); and, if so, whether the law is sufficiently precise about newly discovered antiquities offshore other than wrecks.[HL3518]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The timber circle at Holme-Next-The-Sea is owned privately by the Le Strange Estate. English Heritage is acting within the terms of Sections 24(2) and (3A) of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and with the full endorsement of the Le Strange Estate in excavating and removing the Timber Circle. As the site is not offshore but between the low and high water marks, the legislation which covers other monuments on land is applicable in this case.

Nuclear Weapon Movement in the UK

Baroness Rendell of Babergh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to review the arrangements for the movement of nuclear weapons in the United Kingdom now that the RAF has relinquished its nuclear capability.[HL3718]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): On 1 April 1999 the Chief of Defence Logistics assumed overall responsibility for the movement of nuclear weapons in the United Kingdom. The responsibility for the day-to-day movement of nuclear weapons is being moved, in phases, from RAF personnel to the Ministry of Defence Police, with support from AWE civilians and the Royal Marines. We have established an implementation team to manage the transfer, which will be completed by 31 March 2002. The process will occur gradually in recognition of the importance and complexity of the task. The MoD will continue to maintain the highest levels of safety and security during the convoy operations.

No. 2, Marsham Street

Baroness Hamwee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will announce a firm date for the demolition of the former headquarters of the Department of the Environment at Number 2 Marsham Street; and, if not, why not.[HL3503]

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The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Responsibility for this matter has been delegated under the terms of the Framework Document for Property Advisers to the Civil Estate. I have asked its Chief Executive, Mr. John Locke, to write to the noble Baroness.

Letter from the Acting Chief Executive, Property Advisers to the Civil Estate, Mr. Barry Redfern, dated 15 July 1999.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton has asked me, as acting Chief Executive of the Property Advisers to the Civil Estate (PACE) which has responsibility for the disposal of 2 Marsham Street, to reply to your question about the Government's future plans for this building.

I would refer you to the Chief Executive's letter of 28 June 1999 (copy attached) to Lord Brougham and Vaux, in response to his recent question, in which he stated that it is certainly our intention to demolish as soon as practicable. You may be aware that, in connection with their Headquarters PFI project, Home Office are considering rebuilding or temporary re-use of 2 Marsham Street.

A decision by Home Office is expected later this year, but it cannot be taken until a further round of bids for their project has been completed. Pending this decision, Home Office have taken on management responsibility and are paying the holding costs of the property.

Letter to the Lord Brougham and Vaux from the Chief Executive, Property Advisers to the Civil Estate, Mr. John Locke, dated 28 June 1999.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton has asked me, as Chief Executive of the Property Advisers to the Civil Estate (PACE) which has responsibility for the disposal of 2 Marsham Street, to reply to your question about the Government's future plans for this building.

It is our intention to demolish 2 Marsham Street as soon as practicable. However, immediate plans to commence demolition have been put on hold because temporary reuse, as well as demolition and rebuilding, is an option under consideration by Home Office as part of their Headquarters' PFI project.

A decision by Home Office is expected later this year, but it cannot be taken until a further round of bids for their project has been completed. Pending this decision, Home Office have taken on management responsibility and are paying the holding costs of the property.

Meat Hygiene

Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What hygiene benefits accrue, in the continued absence of any evidence of pest infestation in a slaughterhouse, from requiring owners and operators to provide numbered bait points and a plan showing the location of those bait points.[HL3108]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): All licensed slaughterhouses are required by law to have "adequate protection against the entry of insects, vermin

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and birds". The use by slaughterhouse operators and occupiers of a documented, verifiable system for the identification and elimination of insects and pests, which includes, among other things, the use of numbered bait points and bait plans, is considered best practice and is not in itself a statutory requirement. The use of such systems identifies emerging pest problems thereby keeping any risk to the hygienic operation of the premises to the minimum.

Import of Live Fish Act

Lord Onslow of Woking asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What recent action has been taken to enforce the Import of Live Fish (England and Wales) Act 1980.[HL3614]

Lord Donoughue: The Prohibition of Keeping or Release of Live Fish (Specified Species) Order 1998, made under the Import of Live Fish (England and Wales) Act 1980, introduced new measures to protect native flora and fauna in England and Wales. Under the terms of the order a licence is required to keep or release certain non-native fish species. Since the new licensing arrangements were brought into effect on 1 November 1998, over 550 licences have been issued in England and Wales. Enforcement of the order is being carried out jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture's Fish Health Inspectorate and the Environment Agency. The first case under the new arrangements involving the unlicensed introduction of non-native fish was successfully prosecuted by the Environment Agency on 2 July.


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