HC Deb 25 March 2002 vol 382 c732W
Mr. Lidington

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people were sentenced to imprisonment in(a) 1999–2000, (b) 2000–01 and (c) 2001–02 to date following the completion of VAT criminal prosecutions; what was the sum total of custodial sentences imposed in each year; and if he will make a statement. [12216]

Mr. Boateng

[holding answer 6 March 2002]: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment in the year 1999–2000 following—the completion of VAT criminal prosecution was 83 and custodial sentences totalling 213 years were imposed.

The number of people sentenced to imprisonment in the year 2000–01 following the completion of VAT criminal prosecutions was 61 and custodial sentences totalling 116 years were imposed.

The figures for the number of people sentenced and the custodial sentences imposed for the current year 2001–02 will not be available before the end of the financial year.

Ms Oona King

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether small businesses which make appropriate arrangements with the VAT Office to spread their VAT payments are liable to a surcharge in addition to their original VAT bill; and whether firms are advised of this surcharge at the time of renegotiation. [44749]

Mr. Boateng

A business which has incurred a surcharge because of a failure to meet VAT obligations, may include that surcharge in any subsequent arrangements made with Customs and Excise to clear their VAT arrears by instalments. Any business which enters into an agreement will remain subject to the default surcharge provisions if subsequent VAT returns or payments of tax due are received late. This is made clear in correspondence issued by customs when they confirm such payment arrangements.

However, following changes announced in the Chancellor's autumn statement when small businesses start to have difficulties in meeting VAT obligations, they are first offered advice and support, rather than incurring automatic surcharges.

Mr. Hammond

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to ensure that VAT on hot take-away food is charged in a uniform way across different types of retail outlets. [45137]

Mr. Boateng

There have been no changes to the VAT treatment of hot take-away food. Customs and Excise plan to issue further advice to confirm that hot take-away food is VAT standard rated, regardless of the type of retail outlet that supplies it.

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