Previous Section Index Home Page

Sex Discrimination

33. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures aimed at removing disadvantage to women he has introduced since 1997. [3357]

Ruth Kelly: The Government have introduced a series of measures to strengthen the labour market position of women and to help them combine work and family commitments. These include the National Minimum Wage, reforms to income tax and National Insurance Contributions, the Working Families Tax Credit, the New Deal, the National Childcare Strategy and improvements to paid maternity leave and the rights of part-time workers.

Global Health Fund

35. Judy Mallaber: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he is holding with his G8 counterparts on establishing the Global Trust Fund for Health. [3359]

Ruth Kelly: The UK Government's support for a new Global Health Fund was announced by the Chancellor and Secretary of State for International Development at the Westminster Conference "International Action Against Child Poverty—Meeting the 2015 Targets" on 26 February, and followed up by both Ministers through meetings at the IMF/World bank and at the UN with the Secretary-General and others. In addition, the Chancellor has discussed the Global Health Fund and other international development issues with other G7 Finance Ministers, at their meetings in Washington on 28 April and on 7 July in Rome.

Government Spending

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the sustainability of the existing planned rate of increase in Government spending over the next five years. [3334]

Mr. Gordon Brown: The Government's spending plans are set out in Table C11 of the 2001 Financial Statement and Budget Report. Table C2 of the Report shows that the projected path for the public finances is sustainable and is fully consistent with the Government's strict fiscal rules, the golden rule and the sustainable investment rule, throughout the next five years. The surplus on current budget remains positive throughout the forecast period. Public sector net debt has fallen by 12 percentage points since 1996–97 and is projected to fall further to 30 per cent. or lower, well below 40 per cent.

Tobacco/Alcohol Smuggling

Mr. Forth: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to tackle tobacco and alcohol smuggling. [3325]

Mr. Boateng: Last year the Government published the "Tackling Tobacco Smuggling" strategy and announced an additional investment of £209 million to fund almost 1,000 new Customs officers and a national network of the latest X-ray scanners. This strategy is designed to put tobacco smuggling into decline within three years.

19 Jul 2001 : Column: 379W

The Government are determined to crack down on all forms of fraud, including cross-channel smuggling of alcohol. We aim to reduce revenue loss from all cross-channel smuggling by 10 per cent. year on year. To achieve this, 170 of the additional Customs officers have been specifically deployed at the channel ports to target both alcohol and tobacco smuggling.

The strategy is at an early stage but it is already beginning to show results. In the first nine months of 2000–01, Customs have seized 1.4 billion cigarettes in the UK, helped overseas enforcement agencies seize nearly 700 million cigarettes en route to the UK and broken up 38 major organised criminal gangs.

World Bank

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the Government's policy is on purchasing from firms and individuals listed by the World bank as ineligible for World bank financed contracts for violating the fraud and corruption provisions of the World bank Procurement Guidelines or the Consultants Guidelines; and if he will make a statement. [4455]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government's procurement policy is that all Government procurement of goods and services is to be based on value for money, having due regard to propriety and regularity. It is for the individual Department to consider how best to meet this requirement in each case. The purchaser can exclude companies which have been convicted of an offence or are guilty of grave misconduct in the course of their business. In reaching decisions on exclusion, the purchaser will look, for example, at the nature and severity of the activity or offence and any remedial action taken. Verifiable and relevant information from external sources, including the World bank, can be taken into account in reaching decisions on exclusion.

Independent Insurance

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if the FSA discussed with a director of the Independent Insurance Company the sale of shares to Independent's staff as a means to raise capital finance; [4487]

Ruth Kelly: Discussions between the FSA and the directors of the companies it regulates are confidential between the parties concerned.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans the Treasury has (1) to initiate an inquiry into the role of the FSA in regulating Independent Insurance; [5293]

Ruth Kelly: The current priority is the Serious Fraud Office investigation. That must be got right before we determine what other reviews may be necessary.

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if the information on Independent Insurance provided to the FSA by the French Commission de Contrôle des Assurances had already been supplied to the FSA; [4482]

19 Jul 2001 : Column: 380W

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, prior to Independent Insurance going into liquidation (a) his Department and (b) the FSA was informed of the large losses incurred by the company's French branch. [5284]

Ruth Kelly: The French regulator, the Commission de Contrôle des Assurances (CCA), first wrote to the FSA expressing their concerns about the French insurance subsidiary of the Independent Insurance Group on 11 January 2001. This company was a sister company of the UK-supervised insurer, representing about 5 per cent of group premium income, and was subject to French supervision. The FSA, following discussions with the UK company, and having received copies of the company's own detailed responses to the French authorities, replied to the CCA in March 2001. In that letter, the FSA noted its understanding that the group had provided additional financing to the French subsidiary. The FSA subsequently had a number of further contacts with the CCA including a visit to their offices in Paris, provided financial information about the financial position of the UK company, and kept the CCA informed of events in the period leading to the company's closure.

Financial Services Authority

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many individuals have held the position of director of enforcement within the Financial Services Authority since 1 January 2000; for what periods they held office; and for what periods no postholder was in place. [4503]

Ruth Kelly: The post of director of enforcement in the FSA is currently vacant. The previous director of enforcement held the position throughout the period from 1 January 2000 to 4 June 2001. While a new appointment is being made, the responsibilities of the post are shared between relevant FSA Managing Directors and Enforcement Heads of Department.

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to ensure that the Financial Services Authority make public (a) the operating restrictions,

19 Jul 2001 : Column: 381W

(b) the fines and (c) the other sanctions which it applies to the companies it regulates. [4492]

Ruth Kelly: The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 gives the FSA a wide range of powers over the firms it regulates, including the power to restrict their business and to impose financial penalties and other disciplinary sanctions, subject to proper procedural safeguards. The FSA has published details of how it will exercise these powers, and has set out its policy on publishing the sanctions which it has imposed, in its Enforcement Manual.

Next Section Index Home Page