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Research and Development Tax Credit Scheme

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): If a company claims an R&D tax credit to which it is not entitled, the error will be handled in the same way as for any incorrect tax return. There is no question of requiring companies to repay R&D tax credits where they have been claimed correctly.

At the time of the introduction of the credits in 2000 the Government acknowledged that they would want to revisit the definition of qualifying research and development (R&D) in the light of experience. The defining innovation consultation has recently closed and the Government are currently considering the responses so that the definition of R&D is even clearer.

Inheritance Tax

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Chancellor of the Exchequer considers all taxes as part of his annual Budget judgment.

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Government Departments: Unused Accommodation

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which freehold properties owned by government departments or non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) currently have more than 500m 2 vacant; and in each case what is the address, the relevant department or NDPB, the latest capital valuation or estimated current value of the property, and the duration of the vacancy.[HL5363]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The list of freehold office properties owned by Government departments having more than 500m 2 vacant has been placed in the Library. The information relating to non-office properties, valuation, duration of vacancies and properties owned by NDPBs is not held centrally, and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Government Departments: Accommodation Leases

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which new leases or lease extensions for more than 2,500m 2 have been signed by government departments or NDPBs since Budget day 2003, and in each case what is the address, the relevant department or NDPB, the annual rent, and the term of years until the expiry of the lease or, if applicable, the tenant's first option to break the lease.[HL5364]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: This information is not held centrally, and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Illegal Meat Imports

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will encourage the appropriate agencies to prosecute people who have broken the law by bringing into the United Kingdom illegal meat for their own consumption; and[HL5310]

    Whether they will encourage the appropriate agencies to prosecute people when they have broken the law by bringing into the United Kingdom illegal meats for consumption by friends and members of their community; and[HL5311]

    Whether they will encourage the appropriate agencies to prosecute people for bringing into the United Kingdom illegal meats for commercial use, such as for use in a restaurant; and[HL5312]

    Whether they have a policy not to prosecute people for bringing illegal meats into the United Kingdom; and[HL5313]

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    What is the policy of Customs and Excise for pursuing the conviction of people caught bringing illegal meat into the United Kingdom.[HL5314]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: HM Customs and Excise took on responsibility for anti-smuggling controls on meat from 11 April 2003. Their policy is outlined in a service level agreement between Customs and Defra, which says that Customs will consider for investigation and prosecution cases where suitable evidence is available, and in particular: serious cases involving repeat offenders; large-scale imports; commercial-scale smuggling; other aggravating circumstances.

To date, there have been few cases which meet these criteria. Customs' judgments in respect of these have been that there has not been sufficient evidence to warrant prosecution. Conviction is a matter for the courts. Customs balance the use of their resources between detection, seizure and prosecution to maximise their overall impact on smuggling. They believe that the most effective way to deliver their aim of reducing disease risks from illegal imports of meat and products of animal origin is to enhance awareness of the rules and regulations, to detect breaches of those rules, to seize and to disrupt, with investigation and prosecution confined to the most serious cases. The effectiveness of these measures is being kept under review. bjc (?)

Buckingham Palace: Paying Visitors

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people have visited Buckingham Palace since it was opened to the public. [HL5354]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: 3,813,000 paying visitors have visited Buckingham Palace since it was opened to the public in 1993.

Royal Palaces: Public Access

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Royal Palaces are now open to the public. [HL5355]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: There are three occupied Royal Palaces and four historic Royal Palaces now open to the public in England. The occupied Royal Palaces are Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Clarence House (which is part of St James's Palace) and the historic Royal Palaces are the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House Whitehall and Kensington Palace.

Cyclists: Casualties

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many (a) deaths and (b) injuries to cyclists occurred in England and Wales in the past 12 months. [HL5422]

Lord Davies of Oldham: The table below provides figures for the number of (a) deaths and (b) injuries to cyclists in England and Wales for the last full year available.

Pedal cycle casualties, England and Wales: 2002

CasualtiesCountryKilledInjuredAll
England11915,66115,780
Wales3495498
Total12216,15616,278



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