Previous Section Index Home Page


University Museums

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations he has received from non-charging university museums regarding the repayment of irrecoverable VAT; what discussions he has had with HM Treasury regarding this matter; and if he will make a statement. [154750]

Mr. Chris Smith: I have received representations from one university about the scheme under which national museums and galleries which are directly sponsored by Government and which do not charge for admission will be able to recover the VAT that relates to the free admission element of their normal business. The scheme was announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget statement on 7 March and will apply to directly funded national museums and galleries. It is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor to determine which institutions are included in the scheme.

20 Mar 2001 : Column: 172W

Intellectual Copyright

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what measures he proposes to take to ensure that Culture On Line's activities do not infringe intellectual copyright; [154758]

Mr. Chris Smith: In September 2000 we secured £5 million from HM Treasury to develop the concept for Culture Online. We are currently preparing a business case for Culture Online, which will include an assessment of both the cost of delivering Culture Online and the scope for any commercial participation. The business case will be completed by July 2001 and will establish the case, if any, for public funding. It will also include an assessment of the most suitable business model for Culture Online, taking into account a number of issues including ownership of Intellectual Property Rights. Specialist legal advice will be included in this assessment.

TREASURY

University Museums

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to permit non-charging university museums to recover the value of VAT payments; and if he will make a statement. [154751]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government's VAT refund scheme for the main national museums and galleries was set out in the March 2001 Budget.

Chester Street Holdings

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what action was taken to enforce the provisions of the Insurance Companies Act 1982 concerning margins of solvency following the restructuring of Iron Trades Holdings Ltd. and the liquidation of Chester Street Holdings; [154169]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Since 1 January 1999, the Financial Services Authority has been the prudential supervisor of insurance companies, operating under contract to the Treasury. In carrying out functions under the Insurance Companies Act 1982 the FSA keeps under review the appropriate use of the intervention powers available to it under that Act.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to ensure that sufferers from an asbestos-related disease working in a publicly owned industry at the time of their contact with asbestos do not lose their rights to compensation following the liquidation of Chester Street Holdings. [154080]

Miss Melanie Johnson: As I said in Westminster Hall on 6 March 2001, Official Report, columns 46-49WH, the insolvency of Chester Street Holdings Limited does

20 Mar 2001 : Column: 173W

not affect the liability of an employer to its employees or former employees. That is the case for all employers, whether they are in the private or public sector.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what contact he had with the Financial Services Authority about the conduct of Chester Street Holdings in the period before liquidation; and what action is being taken as a result. [154167]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Financial Services Authority is in regular contact with Treasury officials about a wide range of insurance supervisory matters.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to investigate the reasons underlying the decision by the Financial Services Authority to approve the restructuring of Iron Trades Holdings shortly before the collapse of Chester Street Holdings. [154168]

Miss Melanie Johnson: As I said in Westminster Hall on 6 March 2001, Official Report, columns 46-49WH, the provisional liquidators are required to review the affairs of Chester Street Holdings and the actions of the directors and other parties. The provisional liquidators will report on their findings.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent contact he has had with the Association of British Insurers about Chester Street Holdings and compensation for asbestos sufferers. [154166]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Treasury officials are in regular contact with the Association of British Insurers.

Asbestos

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to ensure that insurance companies honour asbestos-related claims. [154269]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Insurance Companies are under a contractual obligation to meet a claim made by a policyholder where this falls within the terms of a contractual policy agreement. The Policyholders Protection Act 1975 has been established to protect the interests of policyholders of insolvent insurance companies.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has had with the insurance industry about (a) the sufficiency of their funding for the Policyholders Protection Board to fully compensate those suffering from asbestos-related diseases and (b) about safeguarding those suffering from asbestos- related diseases who were in contact with asbestos before 1972 and who are not safeguarded under the terms of the present Policyholders Protection Board. [154222]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Under the Policyholders Protection Act 1975, the Policyholders Protection Board may impose levies on authorised insurance companies carrying on business in the UK to meet the liabilities of the board incurred in assisting or protecting policyholders under that Act.

As I said in Westminster Hall on 6 March 2001, Official Report, column 47WH, the insolvency of Chester Street Holdings Ltd. does not affect the liability of an employer to its employees or former employees. We are investigating carefully the position of employees whose employers no longer exist.

20 Mar 2001 : Column: 174W

Policyholders Protection Board

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the next meeting of the Policyholders Protection Board is. [154268]

Miss Melanie Johnson: I understand that the next meeting will take place on Wednesday 21 March.

Road Fuel Duty

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the reduction in duty for road fuel gases announced in the Budget will be applied; and if he expects the reduction in price to be passed on to consumers. [154738]

Dawn Primarolo: The duty reduction for road fuel gases applies from 6pm on 7 March 2001. Pricing decisions are a matter for the fuel suppliers.

Departmental Policies (Newbury)

Mr. Rendel: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out, including statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Newbury constituency, the effects on Newbury and west Berkshire of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [154577]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Newbury, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, is benefiting from the long-term action we have taken to build economic stability and secure high and stable levels of growth and employment. Since the general election, claimant unemployment in the constituency has fallen by 565, or 55 per cent., youth unemployment is down by 93 per cent. and long-term unemployment has fallen by 85 per cent.

Macro-economic stability is being complemented at the micro-economic level by the Government's policies to ease the transition from welfare into work and to make work pay. To the end of December 2000, the New Deal for 18-24 year olds had helped 172 young people in Newbury constituency gain valuable skills and experience--93 (54 per cent) of whom had moved into employment. The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC), introduced in October 1999, is helping to make work pay for low and middle income families. In August 2000, 1,300 families in Newbury constituency were benefiting from WFTC.

The Government are also committed to policies which enable pensioners to share in the country's rising prosperity. All pensioners, including 14,100 in Newbury, will receive an above-inflation increase in the basic state pension from April 2001. Single pensioners will receive an extra £5 a week, and couples will receive an extra £8 a week. All pensioners aged 75 or over have also been entitled to a free TV licence since November 2000--including around 9,000 in Newbury.


Next Section Index Home Page