To 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;
(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, (b) 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000 and (d) 2000–01.
Customs 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.