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Ascension Island

Volume 714: debated on Thursday 12 November 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 3 November (WA 33), whether the "value for money" criteria for Ascension Island's taxation levels based on quality and quantity of services received create a precedent; and whether those criteria are also applied in the United Kingdom and other British overseas territories. [HL6311]

Our assessment of whether the services received from the Ascension Island Government represent best value for money takes into account not only the quality and quantity of services received but also the value of services provided by the MoD to the Island authorities and community. The taxation regime in Ascension Island together with the services provided by the MoD are unique and therefore the assessment of value for money does not constitute a precedent.

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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 3 November (WA 33), whether, if the HM Revenue and Customs study leads to a significant reduction in levels of taxable income for the Government of Ascension Island, they will include Ascension Island among the British Overseas Territories receiving grant aid and other subsidies. [HL6312]

An independent review, commissioned by the Ascension Island Government, is currently being undertaken.

The purpose of the review was to provide advice on alternative taxation regimes appropriate to Ascension's circumstances and also to provide advice on alternative non-taxation options such as levies or charges. Any alternative proposal will need to generate sufficient revenue to meet the provision of common services on Ascension. In line with government policy on the overseas territories, it is not envisaged that Ascension Island will receive budgetary support or grant aid but that it should remain self-financing—that is, with costs met by those using the island.

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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 3 November (WA 33), whether other main employers on Ascension Island, particularly the former members of the London Committee, are kept in formal contact about the dispute about the Ministry of Defence's tax liability; and, if so, whether they have been invited to make representations. [HL6313]

The Ascension Island employing organisations meet formally in London each quarter. The meeting is chaired by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Ascension Island Administrator and representatives of the Ministry of Defence attend the meeting. Representatives of the employing organisations, which include the former members of the London Committee are kept informed of developments on all Ascension Island Government issues, and have an opportunity to make representations on any of the subjects covered. The dispute over unpaid property tax was discussed at the last meeting.

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To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 3 November (WA 33), whether the Ascension Island taxation dispute has been discussed with representatives of the government of the United States or the Unites States Air Force. [HL6314]

This issue has not been raised formally with the United States Government or the United States Air Force. However, routine discussions on issues on Ascension Island affecting both the UK and USA regularly take place.

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To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 3 November (WA 33), when they expect the taxation dispute with Ascension Island to be resolved. [HL6315]

The decision by the Ascension Island Government to remove a variation in the Ministry of Defence's annual property tax liability, which had the effect of almost doubling the tax payable, is still in dispute. Discussions are still ongoing to resolve the issue and we await the outcome of the HMRC-led study, supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, into tax arrangements on Ascension Island.