HC Deb 06 November 2002 vol 392 cc298-9W
Mr. Prisk

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much was spent by the Government in each year since 1997–98 on chartering business jets as a result of the RAF's jets in 32 (The Royal) Squadron being unavailable or unsuitable. [79463]

Mr. Alexander

I have been asked to reply.

Since 1999, the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The list makes clear where private charter or RAF aircraft have been used. The Government have also published on an annual basis the overall cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. The costs include all Ministers' visits overseas undertaken by private charter or RAF aircraft. Copies of the lists and costs for the period 2 May 1997 to 31 March 2002 are available in the Libraries of the House.

All travel is undertaken fully in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

Information in respect of travel by Ministers within the UK is not held centrally. However, the use of private charter jets within the UK would be expected to be exceptional.

Mr. Love

To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer what evaluation he has made on extending the discretion to local authorities to charge the full rate of Council Tax on empty properties; and if he will make a statement. [77106]

Mr. Raynsford

I have been asked to reply.

An analysis of the responses to the consultation exercise is already available in the Library of the House and on the website of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. I hope to be able to announce our decisions on the way forward shortly.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien

To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effects of measures to allow sports clubs to claim council tax relief through becoming registered charities; and if he plans to amend these regulations. [79110]

Mr. Leslie

I have been asked to reply.

Sports clubs will normally be liable for national non-domestic rates.

The Charity Commission announced new rules allowing sports clubs to qualify for charity status in November 2001 and now recognise as charitable purposes certain sports related activities. Mandatory rate relief at 80 per cent. of the rates bill is available for all premises used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes. However, no assessment of the number of sports clubs that qualify for mandatory rate relief is available.

Non-profit making sports clubs that are not registered charities can receive discretionary relief from their local authorities. Sports clubs will also benefit from our proposals for small business relief included in the draft Local Government Bill.

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