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Public Expenditure

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the reasons for the difference between the initial voted annually managed expenditure and provisional outturn for financial year 2000–01, as listed in the Treasury document, "Public Expenditure 2000–01: Provisional Outturn", for the accounting and other adjustments category; and if he will make a statement. [24109]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Treasury document "Public Expenditure 2000–01: Provisional Outturn" presented early estimates of annually managed expenditure accounting adjustments in 2000–01, based on the difference between published national accounts estimates of total spending and Treasury estimates for the identified individual components of spending. Updated estimates, which remain provisional, of the outturn for 2000–01 were published in the 2001 pre-Budget report (Cm 5318), Table B13. The pre-Budget report also includes, in Table B15, a detailed breakdown of accounting and other adjustments.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for (1) what reason the final departmental expenditure limit and provisional outturn rows relating to the Capital Modernisation Fund in Table 1 of the Treasury document, Public Expenditure 2000–01: Provisional Outturn are blank; and if he will make a statement; [24106]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The line for the CMF 2000–01 is left blank in the public expenditure outturn white paper and the pre-Budget report because the fund for that

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year was fully allocated to Departments. Allocations for 2001–01 from the CMF have been drawn down into the capital Expenditure Limits for individual departments and will be included in the outturn figures for those departments.

Customs and Excise

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many people arriving in the Channel ports in each of the last four years were found to have (a) alcohol and (b) tobacco in excess of EC-defined minimum guide levels; what proportion were unable to satisfy Customs that those goods were for their own use; and if he will make a statement; [23257]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 17 December 2001]: While Customs do maintain and publish records on the number of people they have searched and on the numbers of seizures they have made, there are no records either of the total numbers of people spoken to by Customs officers or of the qualities of goods they were carrying.

Customs use the indicative levels set out in EC legislation as a guide to help distinguish between goods being imported for individuals' own use and goods which may be being imported for a commercial purpose. Customs then consider a range of other factors in order to determine whether goods are actually being brought into the UK for a commercial purpose.

It is estimated that—in the majority of cases—those individuals with goods in excess of the indicative levels who were stopped and asked questions by Customs when entering the Channel ports in 2000–01 were able to demonstrate that the goods they are carrying were for their own use and were allowed to travel on freely.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has set a specific target for the rate of checks to be carried out by HM Customs and Excise on spirits consignments entering this country under duty suspension, pursuant to paragraph 4.23 of 'Tackling Indirect Tax Fraud'. [23273]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 17 December 2001]: No specific targets have been set.

Excise Warehouses

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what plans he has to strengthen the controls on bonded warehouses within the United Kingdom; [23275]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 17 December 2001]: Customs have already begun to strengthen the controls on excise warehouses by increasing the number of visits made to excise warehouses and by extending the range of checks performed during those visits. Customs are also tightening up procedures for the approval of warehouse premises and for the authorisation and registration both of warehouse-keepers and of the owners of excise goods held in warehouses. A review of current warehouse approvals will be completed by 31 March 2002.

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Older People

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out for each of the conclusions in section 6.4 of the Performance and Innovation Unit report, 'Winning the Generation Game', (a) what progress his Department has made and (b) what future plans his Department has for acting on them; and if he will set out against each of the conclusions the targets and deadlines that have been set. [24204]

Ruth Kelly: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him today by the Minister of State, Cabinet Office.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the preliminary technical work to be undertaken before the assessment of the five economic tests for Euro entry will be completed. [24825]

Ruth Kelly: The Government have said that they will complete an assessment of the Five Tests within two years of the start of this Parliament. The assessment has not yet started, but the necessary preliminary analysis—technical work that is necessary to allow us to undertake the assessment within two years as promised—is under way.

Asbestos Victims

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what measures he will introduce to stop companies and insurers avoiding their asbestos liabilities; [24878]

Ruth Kelly: Since 1 October, Turner and Newall have been operating under an Administration Order, and as a consequence all legal actions against the company have been stayed. They are continuing to trade. We understand

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the driver for the administration is to crystallise asbestos claims in the US and UK in a consistent and fair manner so the company can arrange for their payments. The administrators are exploring ways of trying to resolve this problem, and if necessary will seek direction from the courts to do that. We do not yet know when the stay on legal actions will be lifted. The insurance and compensation arrangements surrounding asbestos-related claims against Turner and Newall are very complex, and not yet completely clear. Officials are in contact with the administrators and are looking into this as a matter of urgency. Therefore I am not able to make further comments about Turner and Newall's insurance arrangements or payment of compensation claims.

Once the situation is clear the Government will be in a position to assess whether and what action is required.

User Fees

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the 2001 IMF Article IV consultation, Concluding Statement, regarding user fees; and if he will make a statement. [23759]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government have made their commitment to increasing resources for the NHS over the next three years funded from general taxation and linked to reform. Decisions on taxation and spending will be taken in future Budgets and the Spending Review next year.

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