§ Mr. LidingtonTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many cases of criminal VAT fraud were reported in(a) 1999–2000, (b) 2000–01 and (c) 2001–02 to date; how many prosecutions were completed in each year; and how many of those prosecutions were completed successfully.[12208]

§ Mr. BoatengThe number of reported VAT fraud criminal cases is:

- 1999–2000: 105
- 2000–01: 92.
During 1999–2000, 49 prosecutions were completed, of which in 48 one or more defendants were convicted. During 2000–01, 24 prosecutions were completed, of which in 20 one or more defendants were convicted.

Accurate figures for 2001–02 will be calculated after the year in question.

§ Mr. LidingtonTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the value was of criminal VAT evasion prevented by HM Customs and Excise in(a) 1999–2000, (b) 2000–01 and (c) 2001–02 to date.[12207]

156W

§ Mr. BoatengThe value of criminal evasion prevented by Customs while investigating rose from £618 million in 1999–2000 to £993 million in 2000–01. Figures showing the total value of revenue evasion prevented by Customs in 2001–02 will be published in due course.

§ Mr. LidingtonTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many traders were dealt with by the VAT large payers unit in(a) 1997–98, (b) 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000 and (d) 2000–01; how many traders are now being dealt with by the unit; and if he will make a statement.[12205]

§ Mr. BoatengThe number of traders dealt with by the VAT large payers unit was 10,000 in 1997–98, 13,000 in 1998–99, 13,500 in 1999–2000, 14,500 in 2000–01 and is currently around 14,900.

§ Mr. LidingtonTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what was the total value of VAT repayment returns in(a) 1997–98, (b) 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000 and (d) 2000–01;[12203]

(2) what the target of HM Customs and Excise is for effecting VAT repayment returns; and what proportion of VAT returns, representing what sum of money, were effected within the relevant target time in (a) 1997–98, 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000 and (d) 2000–01.[12204]

§ Mr. BoatengCustoms processes around 2 million VAT repayment returns each year, the values of which are set out on a regular basis in the HM Customs and Excise "Value Added Tax Factsheet", available from the House of Commons Library.

A target to authorise 92 per cent. of all repayments within 10 working days of the receipt of a claim in the VAT central unit was set for the year 1997–98, and this was increased to 96 per cent. for 1998–99 and subsequent years. The actual achievement in each of the subject years was over 97 per cent.

§ Mr. LidingtonTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the value of(a) court fines and costs and (b) confiscation and compensation orders following the completion of prosecutions in VAT criminal cases in (a) 1999–2000, (b) 2000–01 and (c) 2001–02 to date.[12215]

§ Mr. BoatengThe amount of money realised for each of the periods referred to was, in respect of confiscation orders for VAT cases only, as follows:

£ (a) 1999–2000 415,585,93 (b) 20007–01 795,020.25 (c) 2001–02 ^{1}102.411.78 ^{1}April to SeptemberCustoms does not keep details as to the value of court fines or costs orders made nor does it have any record of compensation orders made. Similarly, it does not keep any record of confiscation orders made—only the amount realised through enforcement.

§ Mr. LidingtonTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the value of VAT civil evasion prevented by HM Customs and Excise was in(a) 1997–98. (b) 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000 and (d) 2000–01.[12209]

157W

§ Mr. BoatengThe value of VAT civil evasion prevented by HM Customs and Excise in the years 1997–98 and 1998–99 are contained in Customs annual reports for these years. Figures for 1999-2000 and 2000–01 are:

£ million 1999–2000 70 2000–01 71 From the current financial year, HM Customs and Excise has ceased to calculate a figure for VAT criminal evasion prevented.

§ Mr. LidingtonTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many and what proportion of applications for VAT registration during(a) 1998–99, (b) 1999–2000, (c) 2000–01, and (d) 2001–02 to the most recent date for which information is available were (i) refused or (ii) referred for further investigation;[12197]

(2) how many and what percentage of applications for VAT registration were found to be (a) invalid or (b) potentially fraudulent in (i) 1999–2000, (ii) 2000–01 and (iii) 2001–02 to the most recent date for which information is available.[12200]

§ Mr. BoatengFor 1998–99, information on the proportion of applications falling into these categories is published in appendix B of the HM Customs and Excise annual report 1998–99. For 1999–2000 and 2000–01, this information was not centrally collated and would now involve disproportionate cost to produce. National registration statistics for 2001–02 will be published in due course.

§ Mr. LidingtonTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many VAT fraud cases were investigated under the civil penalty procedure in(a) 1997–98, (b) 1998–99, 1999–2000, (d) 2000–01 and (e) 2001–02 to date. [12210]

§ Mr. BoatengPrior to 2001–02, HM Customs and Excise has recorded information on the numbers of VAT fraud cases where a civil penalty was imposed but not the number investigated. Figures for 1997–98 and 1998–99 were published in Customs annual reports for these years. Figures for 1999–2000 and 2000–01 are as follows:

Number 1999–2000 860 2000–01 729 Accurate figures for 2001–02 will be calculated after the year in question.

§ Mr. LidingtonTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many businesses were sent the annual reminder mailshot with VAT returns in(a) 1999, (b) 2000 and (c) 2001.[12201]

§ Mr. BoatengThe information is as follows:

158W

Million 1999 1.6 2000 1.7 2001 0

§ Mr. LidingtonTo ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the value, net of withdrawals and reductions, of the(a) default surcharge, (b) penalties and (c) interest charged by HM Customs and Excise in respect of VAT in (i) 1999–2000, (ii) 2000–01 and (iii) 2001–02 to date.[12198]

§ Mr. BoatengThe information is as follows:

£ million Net value of penalty charged 1999–2000 2000–01 2001 ^{1}Default surcharge 117.3 126.9 47.9 Default interest 77.4 71.6 25.8 Other penalties 22.9 29.8 10.8 ^{1}To 31 August 2001