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Railtrack

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Buckingham of 19 November 2001, Official Report, columns 143–44W, on meetings regarding Railtrack,

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under what section of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information he did not provide the information requested. [32086]

Mr. Andrew Smith: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 6 December 2001, Official Report, column 520W.

Credit Institutions

Ross Cranston: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which amendments to UK law (a) have been made and (b) are necessary to comply with Directive 2001/24/EC of 4 April 2001 on the reorganisation and winding-up of credit institutions; and if he will make a statement. [31717]

Ruth Kelly: The task of identifying all the relevant provisions of UK law that require amendment, in order to implement the directive by May 2004, has not yet been completed. In the circumstances, no amendments to UK law have been made so far.

KPMG

Mr. Watson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what contracts his Department has with KPMG; and what the value is of each one. [31320]

Ruth Kelly: The Treasury has no current contracts with KPMG.

Large-scale Projects

Mr. McWalter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the instruments available for the financing of large-scale projects where returns are unlikely to be made within at least a decade. [30977]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The criterion for assessing the effectiveness of investment in projects is whether value for money is secured. The Treasury's guidance on project appraisal—the "Green Book"—is aimed to help Departments achieve this objective. Departments have set out their investment plans in "Departmental Investment Strategies" published in July 2000.

Listed Buildings

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he has taken to press for the establishment of a differential rate for VAT for repairs and renovations to listed buildings in the European Commission review of reduced rates of VAT. [30782]

Mr. Boateng: EC law already allows a reduced rate of VAT for works to housing. It does not permit a reduced rate for works to other types of building, whether listed or not. However, in response to representations made by the Government, the European Commission has indicated that it will consider a reduced rate of VAT for listed places of worship in their general review of the reduced rates, which is due to take place in 2003.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent studies his Department has undertaken of the management costs of PPPs relative to conventionally procured public sector projects. [27857]

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Mr. Andrew Smith: It is the responsibility of Departments to account for the management of their programmes and projects. However the Treasury has instituted a number of reforms since 1997 to improve acquisition of services through all forms of procurement, notably through setting up the Office of Government Commerce. In the area of PFI, the reforms following the two Bates reports, including guidance on standard contract terms and conditions and the establishment of Partnerships UK, together with experience gained in both public and private sectors, are believed to have resulted in reduced procurement costs.

Public Expenditure

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the value of public sector capital expenditure, including capital grants to the private sector, as a proportion of GDP in each of the last four years. [26112]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Figures for public sector net capital expenditure as a proportion of GDP are given in Table B23 on page 195 of the November 2001 pre-Budget report (Cm 5318).

Customs Officials

Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Customs officials have been based at Newhaven in each year from 1987 to date. [25455]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 9 January 2002]: Increased flexibility, mobility and use of information technology means that numbers of Customs staff based at a location is not a valid indicator of Customs activity.

Precise figures for each year are not available following a series of structural changes and variations in the way in which levels of resource deployed are measured.

Estimated figures for Newhaven

YearEstimated staff
1990 124
1993 82
1995 60
1999 45
2000 30
2001 26
2002 15

Duty Free Allowance

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to raise the per person duty free allowance on gifts and other goods purchased in non-EU countries and then brought to the UK. [31132]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 28 January 2002]: The duty free allowances are set out in Council directive 69/169/EEC. Member states revalorise the monetary limit on goods, depending on shifts in the value of the euro. There is no case for a review at this time.

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Customs and Excise (Northern Ireland)

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people have been recruited to work within Her Majesty's Customs and Excise in Northern Ireland in each of the past five years. [23565]

Mr. Boateng: The information is given by financial year.

YearNumber
2001(54)74
2000–01108
1999–200011
1998–998
1997–9834
1996–9740

(54) 1 April to date


Mr. Dodds: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people have been promoted in Her Majesty's Customs and Excise in Northern Ireland in each of the past five years; and how many years each person promoted had (a) served at their previous grade and (b) worked in Her Majesty's Customs and Excise. [23564]

Mr. Boateng: 211 promotions and regradings with enhanced responsibilities took place in Customs and Excise in Northern Ireland between 1997 and 2001. In some instances staff were promoted or regraded more than once.

In accordance with Exemption 8 of the "Code of Practice on Access to Government Information", it would be inappropriate to provide the analysis sought of promotees previous service as this information would enable members of staff to be identified.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Ian Stillman

Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations his Department has made concerning the continued imprisonment of Ian Stillman in India; and if he will make a statement. [29473]

Mr. Bradshaw: Ian Stillman was arrested on 28 August 2000, alleged to be in possession of 20 kg and 300 g of cannabis resin. On 2 June 2001 he was sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.

Mr. Stillman appealed against this conviction at the High Court, but on 11 January this appeal was turned down. It is for Mr. Stillman's lawyers to appeal to the Supreme Court. We understand that no decision as to whether to appeal to the Supreme Court has yet been made by Mr. Stillman's lawyers.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British high commission in New Delhi have made many high- level representations to the Indian authorities regarding Mr. Stillman. The most recent of these was a meeting between the British high commissioner in New Delhi and the Indian Home Minister on 2 January 2002. This case has also been raised at various times by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. We will continue to raise the case at appropriate opportunities if Mr. Stillman

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decides to appeal to the Supreme Court. We will also continue to monitor his welfare while in jail and ensure that his special needs are catered for.

War Against Terrorism

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his policy on extending the war against terrorism to countries other than Afghanistan. [30029]

Mr. Bradshaw: Our aim is to eliminate the global threat posed by al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups. We will take the action we deem necessary in support of this objective. We are working in a number of fora, including the UN, the EU, G8, NATO and the Commonwealth, to ensure an appropriate international response to the threat of terrorism. We are also stepping up our support to countries which oppose terrorist activity, but lack the means to prevent it.

Guantanamo Base

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who comprises the British team visiting British citizens who are being held by the US at the Guantanamo base in Cuba. [29801]

Mr. Bradshaw: The British team consisted of officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Security Service. Under Exemptions 1a and 15 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, I am unable to publish the names of the officials.


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