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Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will encourage pharmaceutical companies (1) to make antiretroviral drugs for the treatment of HIV more affordable; [37843]

Clare Short: The Working Group on Access to Medicines, which I chair and which brings together UK Government, pharmaceuticals and others is looking at options for bringing about widespread, sustainable and predictable differential pricing of medicines for the poor, including antiretrovirals. We are encouraging key partners—pharmaceutical industry, developing countries, donors, and international organisations—to play their part in bringing this about.

Officials from the Working Group are currently considering what detailed arrangements to recommend, including a consideration of non-exclusive voluntary licensing of antiretrovirals and other drugs. The Working Group will have a final meeting on this issue in May. It will give a progress report and make recommendations to the Prime Minister.

In order to protect incentives for future research and development, any new arrangements would need to be consistent with the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement and the Doha declaration on trade and public health.


Gambling Review

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when she expects to make an announcement on her Department's preferred proposals from the Gambling Review; and if she will make a statement. [38060]

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Mr. Caborn: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (John Barrett) on 5 February 2002, Official Report, column 814W.

Sports Clubs

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if the Government plans to make sports clubs VAT exempt. [37882]

Mr. Caborn: There are already some VAT exemptions in place for sport: playing services provided by non-profit making clubs, lettings of sports and physical recreation facilities to all types of providers, and entry fees to sports and physical recreation competitions. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport received representations from the Central Council of Physical Recreation last year asking that a reduced VAT rate be introduced for the use of sporting facilities and for admission to sporting events. As with all proposals for tax reform the Government will need to consider full and detailed evidence of costs and benefits before taking any decision on additional VAT exemptions.


Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what further action she is taking to improve sports medicine facilities for athletes. [37818]

Mr. Caborn: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 31 October 2001, Official Report, column 758W.

In addition to this he will wish to note that over £180 million of lottery money is being committed to develop the UK Sports Institute (UKSI) to provide athletes with modern facilities which will include world class sports science and medicine facilities. Many of these facilities are now up and running and the UKSI is able to offer a wide range of services including biomechanics, massage, nutrition, medical consultation and screening programmes to elite athletes in the UK.

The UKSI has set up a number of programmes to ensure that elite athletes stay healthy, recover quickly and remain fit. These include the Athlete medical scheme, run in partnership with the British Olympic Committee, which provides access to medical consultations and treatments. There are currently over 1,000 athletes on the scheme.

The UKSI central services team is currently auditing the sports medicine support services in UK Sport's priority 1 and 2 sports. The findings of this audit will enable the development of a sports medicine strategy for each priority sport.

UKSI is also developing a sports medicine mentoring programme, currently being trialed by the Scottish Institute of Sport, which will provide training and development opportunities for sports medicine professionals.


Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the average response time was for responding to departmental correspondence; what percentage of letters took longer than one month for a response; and what percentage took longer than three months for a response in each of the last five years. [37444]

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Mr. Caborn: We do not hold this information in the format requested. We aim to reply to all departmental correspondence within 18 working days and our performance for the past five years is shown in the table.

Percentage of replies issued within 18 working days of receipt

(11) To date


Pensions (Tax Relief)

Mr. Webb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the cost to the Exchequer of allowing tax relief on pension contributions at the standard rate of income tax, regardless of the actual tax rate of the contributions. [27688]

Ruth Kelly: The estimated full year yield from restricting income tax relief on pension contributions by employees and the self-employed in 2001–02 is £1.7 billion, and on contributions by employers £2.6 billion. These estimates take no account of the behavioural effects which are likely to result from such changes.


Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff were seconded between (a) PWC Consulting and PricewaterhouseCoopers, (b) Ernst & Young, (c) Deloitte & Touche, (d) KPMG and (e) Andersen and his Department in (i) 1999–2000, (ii) 2000–01 and (iii) April 2001 to the latest date for which figures are available. [33871]

Ruth Kelly: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Deputy Prime Minister to the hon. Member for Perth (Annabelle Ewing) on 26 February 2002.

Public Service Agreements

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which units in the Treasury are responsible for monitoring public service agreements; how many people they each employ; and if he will make a statement. [37067]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The 13 teams and one central team in the Treasury with responsibility for departmental expenditure policies also monitor public service agreements. There are around 180 staff in these teams, though not all the people concerned have responsibility for PSA monitoring.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his Department holds a record of the performance of each Government Department against their public service agreement targets; and if he will make a statement. [37068]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Yes. Departments report publicly against their PSA targets in their departmental reports.

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Standing Committee on Euro Preparations

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 14 February 2002, Official Report, column 589W, on the Standing Committee on Euro Preparations, if he will place the membership list of the working groups working with the Standing Committee in the Library; and if he will make a statement. [38312]

Ruth Kelly: The organisation and membership of working groups working with the Chancellor's Standing Committee on Euro Preparations were listed in the second Outline National Changeover Plan, published in March 2000. Copies are available in the Library of the House.

ECOFIN (Scottish Administration)

Angus Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason no devolved Administration Minister attended the 2407 European Union Council of Ministers (ECOFIN) meeting on 12 February; what suggestions and matters of concern from the Scottish Executive were raised in their absence by the UK Government delegation; and what information and evidence is being provided by him to permit post-council scrutiny by the European Committee of the Scottish Parliament. [38036]

Ruth Kelly: Ministers from the devolved Administrations attend Council meetings whenever appropriate. Decisions on attendance are taken by the lead UK Minister on a case-by-case basis.

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that, under the Scotland Act 1998, fiscal, economic and monetary policy—in other words matters dealt with by ECOFIN Council—is reserved for Westminster. As such, parliamentary scrutiny is achieved through the Commons European Scrutiny Committee—of which the hon. Gentleman is a member—and through the House of Lords European Union Committee.

Company Cars

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many company car drivers whose employers have supplied the Inland Revenue with correct information have been issued with incorrectly calculated coding notices in the last 12 months; [37844]

Mr. Boateng: The recent problems which have led to some individuals' car benefit figure for 2002–03 being calculated are the only known instance where information properly submitted by employers has not been correctly used to calculate coding notices. We believe that up to 280,000 cases are affected. In all cases the Revenue will send a correct coding notice before the start of the tax year.

As at the end of December, the Inland Revenue had not received the relevant information for approximately 1.2 million company car drivers and therefore had to estimate the amount of car benefit for 2002–03. By early March all of those taxpayers will have received a leaflet asking for the necessary information to correctly calculate

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their tax code. The number of these revised coding notices issued before the new tax year will depend upon the rate of response to the requests.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what evidence he has collated on whether the changes to company car taxation due to come into force on 6 April have influenced companies' choices of cars. [37846]

Mr. Boateng: The Inland Revenue will comprehensively evaluate the effects of the changes to company car taxation applying from 6 April. The Revenue will begin this evaluation after the changes have been introduced, and the work will include an assessment of the effects on employers' and employees' choices of cars.

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