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Written Statements

Volume 713: debated on Wednesday 21 October 2009

Written Statements

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Census

Statement

My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Angela E Smith) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Draft Census (England and Wales) Order 2009 in Council providing for a census to be taken in England and Wales on Sunday 27 March 2011 has, today, been laid before Parliament. This order specifies the persons by whom, and with respect to whom, returns are to be made and the topics on which questions are to be asked, and gives effect to the United Kingdom Statistics Authority's proposals which were set out in the Government's White Paper, Helping to Shape Tomorrow, in December 2008.

The census is the most important source of demographic and social statistics available in the UK today. It provides the underlying information needed to inform a wide range of policy debates and is used extensively to plan services and allocate funds to local areas.

The design for the new census, as set out in the White Paper, builds upon the experience gained by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) from previous censuses and, in particular, from the lessons learned from the 2001 census. The design takes account of the several formal recommendations from the Treasury Select Committee, the Public Accounts Committee and the former Statistics Commission. It also reflects the concerns more recently expressed by the Treasury Sub-Committee and others about the quality of national and local population statistics generally.

Consequently, a number of major changes are proposed in the design for 2011 compared with previous censuses:

Census forms will be delivered to households by post in the majority of cases;

there will be the facility to return the completed information online;

a central address register is being developed to facilitate improved form delivery and field management;

tighter control of the field operation and the targeting of non-response follow-up will be facilitated by closer monitoring of the delivery of forms and receipt of returns through a questionnaire tracking system; and

the recruitment, training and payment of field staff will be outsourced to specialist service providers.

The topics proposed for the 2011 census are set out in the draft order, and cover those issues where information is most needed by the major users of census information. The questions have been devised to produce reliable and accurate data. ONS has carried out extensive consultations and testing over a number of years to ensure that the questions are justified, both in terms of the need for the information and public acceptability.

New questions are proposed on: national identity; citizenship; second residences; language; civil partnership status; date of entry into the UK and length of intended stay (for non-UK born); type of central heating; and number of bedrooms.

Copies of the 2011 census questionnaire will be included as part of the Census Regulations to be made early in 2010 following the Census Order.

Following devolution, separate legislative arrangements will be made in Scotland and Northern Ireland for the censuses there. However, the census date proposed is common throughout the UK in order to maximise comparability, to minimise costs, and reduce public confusion.

Correction to Commons Written Answer

Statement

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (David Kidney) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I would like to inform the House that a Written Answer I gave on 12 October 2009 (Official Report, col. 445W) to the honourable Member for Bassetlaw was incorrect.

It should not have included reference to the figures including services claims made under chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and vibration white finger schemes.

The number of coal health claims that were eligible for a vibration white finger services claim is shown in the table below.

We are unable to provide the number of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claims that were eligible for a services claim as these figures are included within the Schedule 11 calculations under the terms of the claims handling agreement, and it is not possible to isolate them.

Number Claims

Claim Eligible For Services

Claim Eligible For Services that have been Settled

Claimants' Representatives

Location

500

260

254

Ashton Morton Slack LLP

AMS UDM Claims Only

3

2

2

Ashton Morton Slack LLP

Sheffield

1

0

0

Atherton & Godfrey Solicitors

Doncaster

136

105

103

Atteys

Retford

46

41

41

Atteys

Rotherham

5

1

1

Avalon Solicitors—Ceased Trading

Warrington

1

0

0

Bakewells

Derby

3

3

3

Banner Jones

Chesterfield

1

0

0

Barber Cartain Solicitors—Ceased Trading

Manchester

4

4

4

Bell Dallman & Co

Doncaster

158

73

73

Beresfords Solicitors

Doncaster

569

247

243

Beresfords Solicitors

Doncaster (UDM Only)

8

7

7

BHP LAW

Belmont

4

4

4

Branton Bridge

Manchester

1

1

1

BRM Solicitors

Chesterfield—UDM claims only

34

22

21

Browell Smith & Co

Newcastle Upon Tyne

3

2

2

BurroughsDay Solicitors

Bristol

6

2

2

Colemans Solicitors

Manchester

13

6

6

Corries York

York

1

0

0

Davis Blank Furniss

Hadfield

4

4

4

Davis Blank Furniss

Manchester

3

1

1

Dean Thomas & Co Solicitors

Worksop

4

2

2

Farleys Solicitors

Burnley

1

0

0

Flint Bishop & Barnett Solicitors

Derby

1

1

1

Foy & Co

43

36

35

Foys Solicitors

Worksop

8

8

8

Gorman Hamilton Solicitors

Newcastle Upon Tyne

9

6

6

Gorvin Smith Fort Solicitors

Stockport

1

1

1

Grainger Appleyard & Fleming

Doncaster

610

462

452

Graysons Solicitors

Sheffield

1

1

1

Hamers Solicitors

Hull

23

16

16

Hickmotts Solicitors

Rotherham

1

0

0

Holmes & Hills Solicitors

Great Dunmow

97

84

84

Hopkins

Eden Court, Mansfield

1

1

1

Hopkins

Mansfield

4

1

1

Hopkins

3

3

3

Hugh James

Cardiff

4

3

3

Ilett & Clark Solicitors

Nottingham

3

2

2

Ingrams Solicitors

Hessle—VWF only

98

77

77

Irwin Mitchell Solicitors

Sheffield

39

32

31

Keeble Hawson

Doncaster

67

46

46

Keeble Hawson Moorhouse

Sheffield

1

1

1

Kenyon Son & Craddock

32 South Parade

163

113

110

Kidd & Spoor Harper Solicitors

Newcastle Upon Tyne

1

0

0

Kingslegal

Cardiff

1

0

0

Lloyd Green Solicitors

Glasgow—UDM Only

4

0

0

Lopian Wagner Solicitors

Manchester

3

2

2

Mark Gilbert Morse

Newcastle Upon Tyne

1

0

0

Marrons Solicitors

Newcastle Upon Tyne

3

0

0

McArdles Solicitors

Hartlepool

10

4

4

Meloy Whittle Robinson

Preston

3

2

2

Mincoffs Solicitors

Newcastle Upon Tyne

4

3

3

Morrish & Co Solicitors

Leeds

12

1

1

Mortons Solicitors

Sunderland

13

9

9

Moss Solicitors

Loughborough

501

263

252

Moss Solicitors

Moss UDM Claims Only

199

161

159

O H Parsons & Partners Solicitors

London

37

32

32

Oxley & Coward Solicitors

Rotherham

4

3

3

Pannone & Partners Solicitors

Manchester

1

1

1

Parker Rhodes Solicitors

Rotherham

1

0

0

Pinto Potts Solicitors

Aldershot

239

168

167

Raleys Solicitors

Barnsley

2

2

2

Richard J. Knaggs & Co

Redcar

1

1

1

Robinson & Murphy Solicitors

Newcastle

19

19

19

Robinson King Solicitors—Ceased Trading

Stockport

2

2

2

Russell Jones & Walker Solicitors

Sheffield

9

6

5

Saffmans Solicitors

Leeds

1

1

1

Sedgwick Phelan & Partners

Middleton, Manchester

16

11

11

Shaw & Co Solicitors

Doncaster

4

2

2

Shaw & Co Solicitors

Newcastle upon Tyne

3

3

3

Simpson Millar Solicitors

Leeds

2

0

0

Stanton Croft Estate Agents and Solicitors

Newcastle Upon Tyne

143

112

112

Stuart Bell & Associates

Worksop

1

1

0

The Quigley Partnership—Ceased Trading

Do Not Use—Bolton

1

0

0

The Smith Partnership

Derby

2

2

1

Thompsons Solicitors

Manchester

26

22

22

Thompsons Solicitors

Newcastle Upon Tyne

1

0

0

Thompsons Solicitors

Nottingham

2

1

1

Thornleys

Huddersfield

29

10

10

TLW Solicitors

North Shields

49

31

29

Towells Solicitors

Wakefield

1

1

1

Tracey Barlow Furniss & Co

Retford

9

3

3

Tracey Barlow Furniss & Co

Worksop

4

4

4

Twigg Farnell Solicitors—Ceased Trading

Rotherham

1009

698

693

Union of Democratic Mineworkers

Mansfield

6

3

3

Wake Smith & Tofields Solicitors

Sheffield

1

1

0

Walker & Co. Solicitors.

Rotherham

1

0

0

Watson & Brown Solicitors

South Shields

131

114

113

Watson Burton LLP

Newcastle Upon Tyne

Total

Total

Total

5198

3380

3326

Economy: Regulation

Statement

My honourable friend the Minister for Business and Regulatory Reform (Ian Lucas) has today made the following Statement.

The Government have today published a report on the Benefit-Cost Ratio of New Regulations Introduced in the Financial Year 2008-09.

The report shows that the benefits of new regulations enacted in the last financial year outweighed the costs by £9 billion, at a ratio of nearly 2 to 1 and confirms the Government's commitment to strengthening regulatory management.

The figures, published as part of a new benefit-cost ratio, showed that overall quantifiable benefits exceeded costs by about 80 per cent, meaning that government regulation is expected to deliver £1.85 in yearly benefits for every £1 of cost, or a ratio of 1.85 to 1. The publication of the ratio, covering the 2008-09 legislative programme, is a world first and will be published annually in the future.

The Pensions Act 2008, aimed at enabling and encouraging more people to build up a private pension income to supplement the money received from their basic state pension, is an exceptional piece of legislation, with the highest benefits and costs in 2008-09, which has a significant effect on the overall ratio. If removed from the ratio, the benefit to cost ratio would increase to 4 to 1.

The benefit-cost ratio is drawn from the detailed assessments of the impact of new regulation produced by government departments and regulators. All departments and regulators that introduce new regulation that has a significant cost or benefit must produce a full impact assessment which is published in an online library.

The Government are fully committed to ensuring that all new regulation is justified and proportionate and that the benefits outweigh the costs. It builds on commitments to increase transparency and accountability, following on from the publication of the Government's regulatory programme.

Regulation provides essential protections to employees, employers and citizens. Striking the right balance between costs and benefits is vital to make sure the regulatory framework is fit for the 21st century.

A copy of the report is being placed in the Libraries of the House.

Legal Aid

Statement

On 20 July, I tabled a Written Ministerial Statement in respect of our earlier consultation paper, Family Legal Aid Funding from 2010, published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Legal Services Commission (LSC) which set out proposals for legal aid payments for family work to apply from 2010 (Official Report, col. WS 156).

Although I remained convinced that it is right to proceed with a harmonised family advocacy scheme, I asked my officials to undertake further analysis of the assumptions that underpin the modelling of the fee schemes, to ensure the accuracy of that modelling. This additional work was necessary as there had been some significant changes made to our original consultation proposals following detailed discussion with stakeholders about the structure of both the advocacy and representation schemes.

In particular, we have introduced more graduation into the fee scheme structure to ensure that those advocates who take on the more difficult and complicated cases are fairly rewarded. In addition, I decided not to proceed with our proposal to remove independent social work from scope in private law cases but will continue to work with Cafcass to determine the best way to use our mutual resources for the benefit of vulnerable children.

I am now satisfied that the new fee schemes are based on robust data and accurate modelling, and that the final scheme allows us to achieve a reasonable balance between complexity and value for money.

The new fee schemes direct more money into public law cases to ensure that children and adults at risk of abuse take the highest priority for legal services. The fee schemes do not represent cuts to the family legal aid budget or to the services received by children and families, but some funding will be moved from barristers to solicitor advocates, as barristers and solicitor advocates will now receive the same fees for the same advocacy work. The fee schemes have been designed to be cost neutral against 2007-08 average case costs.

The LSC will shortly publish the response document and impact assessment on their website and the new schemes will be introduced with the new civil contracts in October 2010.

National DNA Database

Statement

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Crime Reduction (Alan Campbell) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have today placed the National DNA Database (NDNAD) annual report for 2007-08 and 2008-09 in the Library. The Government accept the need for ongoing accountability to the public on the operation of the NDNAD. The NDNAD annual report, which publishes details of its activities, is an important part of the aim to increase transparency and maintain and improve public confidence in the oversight, management and operations of the NDNAD.

Taxation: Avoidance Schemes

Statement

My right honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Stephen Timms) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

It is right that all taxpayers pay their fair share of tax. However, there are a minority who continue to seek ways to avoid paying their share. This is unacceptable. It is unfair on the majority of taxpayers, undermines fiscal sustainability, and reduces funding for public services. This Government will not tolerate tax avoidance or tax evasion in any form, and will act promptly to tackle both of these.

Several tax avoidance schemes have been notified to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) exploiting the sideways loss relief and double tax relief (DTR) rules, so I am today announcing changes to be made to legislation, with immediate effect, to counter these schemes.

Sideways loss relief

As made clear by the Paymaster-General in her Written Statement on 2 March 2007 and the introduction of anti-avoidance legislation in subsequent Finance Acts, the Government will not tolerate avoidance schemes designed to exploit sideways loss relief rules. The Government have recently become aware of a contrived and aggressive avoidance scheme that seeks to generate losses in a professional partnership for offset by users of the scheme against their other income or capital gains by way of sideways loss relief. This scheme relies on the creation of losses through a series of arrangements that are established for the purposes of tax avoidance.

The Government do not accept that these arrangements have the effect that is sought, but to remove any doubt, and to prevent scheme providers continuing to devise and operate even more contrived schemes that seek to challenge the sideways loss relief rules, I am announcing prompt and decisive action to protect the Exchequer.

With effect from today a general rule will be introduced to prevent sideways loss relief being given where the loss arises from arrangements and a main purpose of the arrangements is to obtain a tax reduction by means of sideways loss relief. This test does not impact on genuine loss-makers who have not entered into avoidance arrangements.

Legislation will be introduced in next year’s Finance Bill. Full details of this measure including draft legislation will be issued on HMRC’s website today.

Double tax relief: Unauthorised Unit Trusts

HMRC has been notified that unauthorised unit trusts are being used to avoid restrictions on double tax relief and to generate “repayments” of tax that the UK Exchequer has not received. To counter this, legislation will be introduced with the effect that to the extent any distribution treated as paid by a unauthorised unit trust is paid out of overseas income on which UK tax has been reduced by DTR, the distribution will be treated by the recipient as overseas income under deduction of overseas tax. The legislation will have effect from today.

A technical note setting out the details of this measure will be issued on HMRC’s website today, with draft legislation to follow shortly.

Double tax relief: Manufactured Overseas Dividends

HMRC has been notified that some companies are using manufactured overseas dividends (MODs) instead of real overseas dividends in order to disapply the anti-avoidance rules in the DTR legislation.

To counter this, legislation will be introduced amending the relevant DTR anti-avoidance provision so that it applies to deemed overseas tax deducted from MODs in the same way that it applies to real overseas dividends. The amendment will ensure that the provision can also apply in other circumstances where the UK Tax Acts treat an amount that is not overseas tax as if it were overseas tax. These changes will prevent credits for notional overseas tax from being treated more favourably than tax credits on real dividends. The legislation will have effect from today.

A technical note setting out the details of this measure will be issued on HMRC’s website today, with draft legislation to follow shortly.

Double tax relief: Manufactured Interest

HMRC has been notified that UK manufactured interest payments are being used to avoid tax under the rules relating to controlled foreign companies (CFCs) by artificial generation of DTR.

To counter this, regulations, coming into force today, will be made repealing rules that deem companies to have received UK manufactured interest under deduction of tax. Instead, the recipient will simply be taxed on the amount of manufactured interest it receives with no relief for any notional tax credit.

HMRC has identified a provision in separate regulations dealing with MODs that would allow substantially the same scheme to be implemented using MODs. To prevent this, regulations coming into force today will also be made ensuring that the MOD rules cannot be used to claim relief for overseas tax in inappropriate circumstances. Instead, the recipient will be taxed on the amount of the MOD it receives with no relief for any notional tax credit.

Both sets of regulations will be available on HMRC’s website today.