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National Insurance Contributions

(Benefits in Kind)

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has under Part IV of the Child Support, Pension and Social Security Bill to extend national insurance contribution to benefits in kind which include (a) vaccination against influenza, (b) educational scholarships, to children of employees, (c) taxis provided for the security of late working employees, (d) worker children's nurseries, (e) personal safety alarms, (f) private medical insurance, (g) staff Christmas parties where the amount exceeds £75 per head, (h) membership of a sporting facility and (i) membership of the employer's sporting facilities, where these are open to the general public paid for by the employer. [107114]

Dawn Primarolo: A preliminary guidance leaflet, "Class 1A National Insurance Contributions on Benefits in Kind" CWG5, containing a table setting out the tax and proposed national insurance treatment of the majority of

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benefits in kind has been sent to all employers in the new annual pack. A copy is available in the Library of the House.

Departmental Research Contracts

Dr. Harris: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 16 December 1999, Official Report, column 300W, what restrictions were placed on contractors carrying out research projects funded by his Department in 1999 in respect of them discussing their findings with journalists (a) before and (b) after publication. [108194]

Miss Melanie Johnson: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 16 December 1999, Official Report, column 300W.

Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative

Ms Oona King: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how the Export Credits Guarantee Department's share of the future debt write-offs, announced by him, will be financed; and where the money will come from. [108717]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The costs of providing the extra bilateral relief over and above the amounts due to the UK's participation in the HIPC initiative will be met by the Department for International Development from resources additional to the existing aid budget.

Arms Exports

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much of the debt owed to the United Kingdom by highly indebted poor countries relates to defence-related business expressed in (a) cash terms and (b) as a proportion of total debt. [108767]

Mr. Caborn: I have been asked to reply.

Debt owed by Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) to ECGD under Paris Club rescheduling arrangements amounts to £1.6 billion. In addition non- rescheduled debt in arrears and current exposure is some £300 million. Much of the rescheduled debt relates to contracts entered into during the 1970s and 1980s, when ECGD did not record exposure by the nature of the goods exported. However recent researches indicate that the amount of debt, all rescheduled, currently owed by HIPCs in respect of defence-related business is £12.7 million or 0.67 per cent. of the total owed.

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what criteria were used for selecting the countries that will no longer be supplied with military equipment under the guarantee of the Export Credits Guarantee Department. [109201]

Mr. Caborn: I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 11 January 2000 an extension to the UK's unilateral ban on export credits in respect of "unproductive expenditure" to include a further 22 countries. The additional countries are those which are allowed to borrow on highly concessional terms from the World Bank--the so called "IDA only" countries. These

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countries, while they do not have an historically large debut burden, can ill afford to take on new burdens of commercial loans for unproductive expenditure.

This built on the earlier initiative announced at the 1997 Commonwealth Finance Ministers' meeting in Mauritius, which applied to the so called Heavily Indebted Poor Countries. The ban now applies to 63 countries: a full list is below.

Applications for ECGD cover of projects in these countries will be measured against whether they meet the following indicative criteria:

    wherever possible, earn foreign exchange; or encourage viable self-financing projects.

These principles need not necessarily preclude ECGD support for the sale of defence or dual use equipment, provided that such equipment is, for example, deemed essential for national security, or required to combat the drugs trade, piracy, smuggling etc. Support for projects must be cleared with the Department for International Development, who must be satisfied that the expenditure is consistent with the above.

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EU Appropriation Orders

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 6 December 1999, Official Report, column 448W, concerning Transfer of Appropriation Orders approved by or awaiting approval by the Council of Ministers, if he will list for each application from 1 July (a) the reference and original purpose and amount, (b) the reasons for non- implementation of the 1999 Budget line, (c) the purpose for which the application was made and (d) the total sum likely to be transferred by this means for the financial year 1999. [108738]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Details of all transfers of appropriations dated up to 30 September 1999, plus the "Notenboom" ("omnibus") transfer of 11 October 1999, have been deposited and are available in the House of Commons Library. Transfers since that date will be deposited shortly in compliance with the usual procedures, when all the relevant documents have been received.

Gardening Leave

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many officials in (a) Her Majesty's Treasury, (b) Her Majesty's Customs and Excise and (c) the Inland Revenue are currently on gardening leave. [108737]

Miss Melanie Johnson: None.

Cigarettes (Taxation)

Mr. Barron: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the proportion of the average retail price taken

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in tax for each of the last 10 years for a pack of 20 cigarettes in (a) the United Kingdom, (b) Belgium and (c) Luxembourg. [109099]

Dawn Primarolo: The table shows the proportion of the price taken in tax (excise duty and VAT) for a pack of 20 cigarettes in United Kingdom, Belgium and Luxembourg in the most popular price category. The figures relate to January each year. It is not possible to provide the figures for earlier than January 1993.


YearUnited KingdomBelgiumLuxembourg


European Commission excise duty tables for data on Belgium and Luxembourg.

Minimum Wage

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) women and (b) men in Amber Valley are in receipt of the national minimum wage. [109040]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Director of the Office for National Statistics. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Tim Holt to Judy Mallaber, dated 9 February 2000:

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