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Indonesia

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer on 16 February 1998, Official Report, column 483, what was the nature of the exercises conducted by the Royal Navy with Indonesian forces in the South China Sea in 1997; and what was the cost of those exercises. [41551]

Dr. Reid: HMS Richmond visited Jakarta from 9 to 12 April 1997 as part of the Royal Navy's Ocean Wave 97 deployment to the Asia-Pacific region. She participated in a low-key, passing exercise (PASSEX) with a ship from the Indonesian Navy as she left Jakarta following the visit. The PASSEX comprised a communications exercise and practice approaches for replenishment at sea. HMS Richmond also gave a demonstration of her Lynx helicopter as she left port. Exercises of this type are

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routinely undertaken with host navies by Royal Navy ships either at the beginning or upon completion of a visit to an overseas port. No separate costings of this activity were made.

TREASURY

Economic and Monetary Union

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 4 March 1998, Official Report, column 664, if he will place in the Library his Department's latest assessment of the effect of the sale of excess reserves of (a) gold and (b) foreign currency by central banks participating in EMU on (i) world gold prices and (ii) international exchanges; and what assessment his Department has made of the need to modify Bank of England holdings of such prior to the settling of the Frankfurt reserves of the Central Bank. [41509]

Mr. Geoffrey Robinson: No.

Economic Growth

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the quarterly growth rate of the combined industrial, construction and agricultural sector of the United Kingdom economy in (a) the fourth quarter of 1997 and (b) the first quarter of 1998; and if he will make a statement. [41162]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 11 May 1998]: Output in the combined industrial, construction and agricultural sector fell by 0.5 per cent. in the fourth quarter of 1997. Estimates for the first quarter of 1998 will be published by the Office for National Statistics on 22 May.

Comprehensive Spending Review

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the progress of the Comprehensive Spending Review. [41163]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 11 May 1998]: The CSR is proceeding to timetable. It is on schedule for completion this Summer.

NVQ Training Providers

Mr. Chope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if flying instructors registered with the Inland Revenue as training providers under the NVQ scheme will be able to continue to provide to existing clients training at a cost reduced by the standard rate of income tax beyond 30 June; and if he will make a statement. [41351]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 11 May 1998]: Vocational training relief, the tax relief for certain training expenses, is available on payments for training which can count towards a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) or a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ). Notice has been given by the Qualifications Authorities that the Piloting Transport Aircraft and Piloting Rotary Wing Transport Aircraft qualifications will cease to be accredited as NVQs or SVQs from 30 June 1998. Trainees who have registered with an Awarding Body for these qualifications before 30 June 1998 will be able to complete their training towards the NVQ or SVQ during the three years after 30 June (four years in Scotland).

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These trainees will be able to continue to obtain vocational training relief on the cost of training which takes place after 30 June 1998. The Inland Revenue is writing to all training providers who operate vocational training relief to explain the arrangements for giving tax relief on flight training after 30 June 1998.

North Sea Fiscal Regime

Sir Robert Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will publish his consultation paper on the North Sea fiscal regime; and if he will make a statement. [41575]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 12 April 1998]: The consultative document on the North Sea fiscal regime is expected to be issued shortly.

Mozambique (Debt Repayments)

Mr. Timms: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much in debt service is expected to be paid by Mozambique, in US dollars, in each year from 1998 to 2002, following the recent agreement under the HIPC initiative, according to (a) the HIPC final document, and (b) the latest estimates. [41207]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 8 May 1998]: The HIPC Final document produced by the IMF does not give figures of debt service after full debt relief under the HIPC initiative.

The latest estimates of the debt service that Mozambique will have to pay after receiving debt relief under the HIPC initiative are:

YearDebt service $ million
1998124
1999147
200097
2001101
200297

Debt relief under the HIPC initiative will reduce Mozambique's stock of debt by $1,487 million in Net Present Value terms. Without this debt relief, Mozambique would have been due to pay an average of over $450 million a year in debt service over this period.

Mr. Timms: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was paid in debt service by Mozambique, in US dollars, in each year from 1995 to 1997. [41206]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 8 May 1998]: The debt service paid by Mozambique between 1995 and 1997 was:

YearDebt service paid $ million
1995112
1996131
199797

The debt service paid in these years was, however, only a fraction of the total debt service due, which was some $375 million a year.


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Tax-free Sales

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on (a) income and (b) employment, in manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom of the abolition of internal European Union tax-free sales in 1999, with particular reference to the Scotch whisky sector; and if he will make a statement. [41171]

Dawn Primarolo: No assessment has been made of the effect on income or employment in the Scotch Whisky sector in the United Kingdom of the abolition of intra-EU duty and tax-free sales in 1999.

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the advantages to the United Kingdom of the abolition of internal European Union tax-free sales in 1999. [41174]

Dawn Primarolo: Customs and Excise have advised me that the abolition of intra-EU and duty-free sales in 1999 may result in an increase in Customs' receipts of about £100 million in a full year. This is very much a provisional estimate.

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will ensure that the abolition of internal European Union tax-free sales will be on the agenda of the next ECOFIN meeting. [41172]

Dawn Primarolo: This issue is on the agenda for the next ECOFIN Council meeting to be held on 19 May 1998.

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with European finance ministers regarding possible structural assistance to industries and areas which face a loss of business as a result of the abolition of internal European Union tax-free sales; and if he will press for such financial assistance to be given. [41173]

Dawn Primarolo: I have had no such discussions with European finance ministers regarding possible structural assistance to be given to industries or areas which face a loss of business as a result of the abolition of intra-EU duty and tax-free sales in 1999.

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact on patterns of tourism to and from the United Kingdom of the abolition of internal European Union tax-free sales in 1999; and if he will make a statement. [41170]

Dawn Primarolo: No assessment has been made of the impact on patterns of tourism to and from the United Kingdom of the abolition of intra-EU duty and tax-free sales in 1999.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to respond to the resolution of the Transport Ministers Council on 17 March calling on ECOFIN to ensure that a study is undertaken of the impact of abolition of duty free within the European Union. [41222]

Dawn Primarolo: This matter is on the agenda for the next ECOFIN Council meeting to be held on 19 May 1998.

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