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Regulatory Standards (Crown Dependencies)

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures he takes to monitor and scrutinise the regulatory standards in the Crown Dependencies. [20209]

Ruth Kelly: The Government's policy is to encourage all offshore centres, including the Crown Dependencies, to meet the highest international standards of regulation, supervision and fair tax competition.

Financial Regulation

(British Overseas Territories)

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the recommendations are of the KPMG report on the state of financial regulation in the British overseas territories; and what steps have been taken to implement them. [20208]

Ruth Kelly: The KPMG Review of Financial Regulation in the Caribbean Overseas Territories and Bermuda recommended: the establishment of independent regulatory authorities; the introduction of investigative powers to assist inquiries by overseas regulators; and the establishment of comprehensive anti-money laundering networks.

All the overseas territories now have comprehensive money laundering frameworks fully in place.

5 Dec 2001 : Column: 326W

Good progress has been made in providing the legal basis for the introduction of powers to obtain information to assist foreign regulators. The Cayman Island, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands and Montserrat have already introduced relevant provision. Bermuda's existing regulatory powers are being strengthened. Anguilla has compulsory powers legislation in draft.

Considerable progress has been made in establishing independent regulatory authorities. The Turks and Caicos Islands have introduced legislation to establish an independent authority and legislation is in an advanced stage in the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Montserrat. Bermuda already has an independent authority for banking and securities; it is now proceeding to complete the process for the insurance sector by the end of 2001. Cayman expects to enact the relevant legislation in the first quarter of 2002.

The Caribbean Overseas Territories and Bermuda have made a commitment substantially to implement the remainder of the KPMG recommendations by the summer of 2002. They have agreed to publish further reports by February 2002 explaining how their implementation plans are progressing. This should place them in a strong position prior to their forthcoming examination by the International Monetary Fund under the Financial Stability Forum's initiative into offshore financial centres.

The overseas territories and Bermuda have pledged to play their full part in the international efforts to close off financial networks to terrorism as effectively as dealing with other types of serious criminal activity.

The UK Government will continue to work closely with the overseas territories both on closing off financial networks as well as on the implementation of the KMPG recommendations with the aim of helping them meet international standards in full.

Stamp Duty

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place a list in the Library of the wards which are to qualify for the exemption from stamp duty up to £150,000; and if he will make a statement explaining the basis of selection. [19989]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 4 December 2001]: A list of the areas which qualify for the stamp duty exemption for disadvantaged areas was placed in the Library on 27 November 2001. The qualifying areas were identified by reference to each country's most recent index of deprivation.

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason the (a) Milton, (b) St. Lukes and (c) Victoria wards in Southend on Sea did not qualify for the exemption from stamp duty announced on 27 November. [19990]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 4 December 2001]: For England, the exemption is available for the 15 per cent. most deprived wards as identified by the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2000. The wards of Milton, St. Lukes and Victoria in Southend on Sea do not fall within this category.

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Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library his response to queries from the European Commission about regulation of Lloyd's in accordance with Directive 73/239. [20900]

Ruth Kelly: The European Commission has made informal inquiries about the regulation of Lloyd's in accordance with Directive 73/239, but it has not notified the UK that in its opinion a breach has occurred. It is not the Government's policy to release informal correspondence of this sort with the Commission. However, the Government remain of the view that the requirements of EC legislation in respect of Lloyd's have been and are being properly implemented.

Building Insurance

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will regulate the fees by mortgage lenders to customers who choose (a) alternative provision for their building insurance when they take out a mortgage and (b) to switch providers for building insurance at a later stage. [20835]

Ruth Kelly: I have no plans to do so.

Capital Spending

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will provide a breakdown of total Government capital spending for each year since April 1992. [20477]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Table 3.7 of the Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2001–02 provides a breakdown of capital spending for each year back to 1995–96. Corresponding breakdowns are not available for earlier years on a consistent basis.

Crude Oil Prices

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assumptions he made (1) in preparing table B9, page 175 of the pre-Budget report, about the level of crude oil prices in each year up to and including 2006–07; [20192]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answers 3 December 2001]: The oil prices underlying the pre-Budget report projections are:


As set out in Box B1 on page 169 of the pre-Budget report, the assumption for 2002 is based on the average of independent forecasts, in line with the NAO audited assumption.

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EU (Fraud)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate has he made of the cost to the UK taxpayer of fraud in the European Union. [20479]

Ruth Kelly: The European Commission is responsible for publishing statistics on fraud and irregularities against the EC budget. Its latest report including figures for detected irregularities was published in May 2001, entitled "Protecting the Community's financial interests and the Fight against Fraud", and is available on the internet. Details of the developments described in the Commission's report are also set out in the Government's July 2001 "Statement on the 2001 EC Budget and Measures to Counter Fraud and Financial Mismanagement", Cm 5173.

Care should be taken in interpreting the statistics because the Commission's report does not distinguish between cases of fraud and irregularities. Errors arise when, for example, payments are made outside prescribed time limits or using the wrong exchange rates. Moreover, increases in the level of detected errors may be attributed to improved detection and notification of cases by member states.

Special Advisers and Press Officers

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers were employed (i) full time, (ii) part time and (iii) on a contract basis by his Department in each year since 1992. [6877]

Ruth Kelly: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office on 21 November 2001, Official Report, column 340W.

The number of press officers employed by HM Treasury has remained broadly constant since 1992. There are currently seven, in addition to the Head of Communications.

Airline Industry

Chris Grayling: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to extend the Government's temporary underwriting of third party war risk insurance for the UK airline industry. [20118]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government's replacement insurance scheme for UK airlines and service providers was due to expire at midnight on 23 November. Assessment of the aviation insurance market demonstrated that commercial capacity for underwriting third-party war and terrorism liabilities above $50 million has not yet returned. It is unlikely that there will be any significant return of commercial insurance until reinsurance contracts are renegotiated at the beginning of January, which will shape the whole of the aviation industry, including aviation, for the next 12 months. Therefore the Treasury announced on 22 November that it had decided to extend the airline insurance scheme until midnight on 22 January 2002.

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