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Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the ECOFIN Council held in Brussels on 12 February. [36862]

Mr. Gordon Brown: I attended ECOFIN on 12 February.

The European Commission presented reports on the functioning of EU product and capital markets and set out its priorities for the 2002 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines.

The Council examined and after debate agreed opinions on the updated stability and convergence programmes for Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom, produced in line with the Stability and Growth Pact. The Council also agreed additional statements on Germany and Portugal, in which both countries set out the disciplines they should follow in future years.

The Commission and the ECB summarised latest developments on the transition to the euro.

The presidency noted that all member states had now ratified the Council decision of September 2000 on own resources. This will now take effect from March 2002, with any differences resulting from the late entry into force being corrected with retrospective effect from 1 January.

The Commission presented its proposals for a budgetary framework for enlargement, for use in the accession negotiations. Following a brief discussion, the presidency concluded that the Commission should now draw up draft common positions for the financial aspects of enlargement that were in conformity with the Berlin European Council budgetary settlement. These should not be linked with parallel discussions later in the year on reform of the common agricultural policy. Equally, it was important that enlargement should not impede reform.

ECOFIN reached political agreement on VAT on e-commerce without discussion. The amended directive and regulation make welcome changes to the rules governing the taxation of digitised products, so as to correct certain distortions of competition. During the negotiations the UK successfully secured an explicit commitment, which now features in the directive, to move, by 2006, to a comprehensive electronic solution for the taxation of such items which will treat EU and non-EU businesses on an identical basis.

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Population Income (Increases)

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for each income decile what the annual increase in total income has been for (a) pensioners since 1992 and (b) the population as a whole. [36408]

Mr. McCartney: I have been asked to reply.

Such information as is available can be found in the publication "Households Below Average Income 1994–95 to 2000–01", a copy of which is available in the Library.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what definition of a film he uses in extending tax allowances to film production; and how many (a) films and (b) television programmes have benefited from such allowances in the last five years; [31716]

Dawn Primarolo: There are three main measures providing enhanced tax relief for the production or acquisition of films. A "film" is defined in Schedule 1 of the Films Act 1985 as including:

We estimate that between 1 July 1997 and 30 June 2001 1,433 productions have benefited from the films tax reliefs.

Partnerships UK

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 4 February 2002, Official Report, column 706W, on Geoffrey Spence, which Department has responsibility for Partnerships UK. [35715]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Partnerships UK (PUK) is a public limited company in which the HM Government and Scottish Ministers together hold a minority (49 per cent.) shareholding.

PUK provides services to a wide range of Government Departments and other public bodies. It also assists public bodies with joint venture and investment activities. HM Treasury is responsible for the Government's shareholding and nominates two non-executive directors to the PUK Board. HM Treasury has also established an advisory council chaired by Sir Andrew Turnball, Permanent Secretary to the Treasury. The membership consists of representatives from Government Departments, the devolved Administrations, local authorities and other public bodies drawn from PUK's client base. The council's remit is to review the effectiveness of Partnerships UK in fulfilling its public sector mission.

Research and Development Investment

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make a statement on the additional support he intends offering small and medium-sized enterprises to increase research and development investment. [36414]

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Mr. Boateng: Budget 2000 introduced an R&D tax credit for small and medium-sized companies. It provides a tax deduction of 150 per cent. of the cost of all qualifying R&D expenditure. Under this enhanced relief the cash cost of R&D will be reduced by 30 per cent. for a company paying tax at the small companies' rate. Companies that are not yet in profit can take the relief up front and reduce the cash cost of their R&D by 24 per cent.

To encourage high risk investment by small enterprises PBR 2001 announced:

Government Expenditure (NHS)

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state, for each year since 1990, Government spending on the NHS in (a) the UK, (b) England and (c) Scotland, (i) in real terms and (ii) as a percentage of GDP. [36415]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Figures for identifiable total managed spending on health and personal social services in the UK, England and Scotland are published annually in the Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses. The latest publication shows figures for 1995–96 to 1999–2000. Figures for earlier years are published in earlier publications which are available in the House of Commons Library.

Information on NHS expenditure as a proportion of GDP in the UK for the period 1999–2000 to 2003–04 is also published in the Department of Health departmental report (Cm 5103) for England and the United Kingdom. Health spending in Scotland is a devolved matter described in the Scottish Executive's budget documents for Scotland.

Departmental Overseas Visits

Mr. Chope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many overseas visits have been undertaken by parliamentary private secretaries in his Department at departmental expense in each of the last four years; and at what cost to public funds. [36813]

Ruth Kelly: No such visits have been undertaken at departmental expense in the period specified.

National Savings

Mr. Chope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if a cost benefit analysis of changing the name of the Office of National Savings was carried out; and if he will make a statement. [36800]

Ruth Kelly: The name change is just one part of the transformation process undertaken by National Savings and Investments to modernise its operation, improve efficiency and upgrade services to customers.

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It followed a strategic marketing review which showed that the agency's main role of raising funds for the Government cost effectively could only be sustained if it:

The most important key success factor was demonstrated to be the relaunch of the brand.

Unitary Authorities

Andrew George: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the mean average population is of unitary authorities in England; [36639]

Ruth Kelly: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell to Mr. Andrew George, dated 25 February 2002:

Table 1 Population at mid-2000: unitary authorities in England and Wales

Darlington UA100.6
Hartlepool UA92.3
Middlesbrough UA143.9
Redcar and Cleveland UA136.4
Stockton-on-Tees UA184.1
Blackburn with Darwen UA138.1
Blackpool UA150.7
Halton UA120.8
Warrington UA190.8
Yorkshire and The Humber
East Riding of Yorkshire UA318.9
Kingston upon Hull, City of UA254.3
North East Lincolnshire UA155.2
North Lincolnshire UA152.5
York UA179.3
East Midlands
Derby UA236.3
Leicester UA289.7
Nottingham UA282.9
Rutland UA37.8
West Midlands
Herefordshire, County of UA169.3
Stoke-on-Trent UA249.0
Telford and Wrekin UA151.3
Luton UA183.1
Peterborough UA156.5
Southend-on-Sea UA176.9
Thurrock UA135.8
Bracknell Forest UA111.1
Brighton and Hove UA259.9
Isle of Wight UA129.4
Medway UA244.8
Milton Keynes UA209.8
Portsmouth UA189.1
Reading UA147.7
Slough UA111.1
Southampton UA214.9
West Berkshire UA144.3
Windsor and Maidenhead UA142.6
Workingham UA146.0
Bath and North East Somerset UA170.2
Bournemouth UA163.4
Bristol, City of UA406.2
North Somerset UA191.1
Plymouth UA254.2
Poole UA140.9
South Gloucestershire UA247.9
Swindon UA181.5
Torbay UA126.1
Total population in unitary authorities in England8,318.8
Average persons per unitary authority in England180.8
Blaenau Gwent71.2
Isle of Anglesey64.8
Merthyr Tydfil55.8
Neath Port Talbot138.0
Rhondda, Cynon, Taff239.8
The Vale of Glamorgan122.9
Total population in unitary authorities in Wales2,946.2
Average persons per unitary authority in Wales133.9


Figures may not add exactly because of rounding


Office for National Statistics

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