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Tax Credits

33. Mr. Hendrick: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on how the new integrated tax credits will affect families with children in Lancashire. [35778]

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Dawn Primarolo: The new child tax credit, to be introduced in April 2003, will be a single, seamless system of support for families with children. It will build on the foundation of universal child benefit, bringing together all income related payments for children into a single strand of support paid to the main carer.

The child tax credit will be complemented by the new working tax credit and rates and thresholds for these two new tax credits will be set in Budget 2002. As decisions on rates and thresholds have not yet been taken, it is not possible to assess the impact of the tax credits on particular families.

Labour Statistics

34. Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the estimate his Department has made of the proportion of the work force who are unemployed and economically inactive, broken down by region. [35779]

Ruth Kelly: The Government's aim is employment opportunity for all, moving towards our long-term ambition that, by the end of the decade, there will be a higher proportion of people in work than ever before.

The number of jobs has increased by over 1.25 million since the 1997 election, with employment rising and unemployment falling in every region and country of the UK.

The monthly National Statistics First Release XLabour Market Statistics" reports labour market data for the regions and countries of the UK. The regional labour market summary in Table 18(1) includes figures on unemployment and economic activity on the basis requested. This publication is available in the Library of the House of Commons.

Private Finance Initiative

35. Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the aggregate debt is authorised through PFI projects by the Government sine 1997.[35780]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The annual Financial Statement and Budget Report sets out the estimated level of payments under PFI contracts for the next 25 years. In my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Ian Stewart) on 7 February 2002, Official Report, columns 1144–46W, I updated this table.

These figures represent expected payments for services delivered under PFI contracts. Such payments are conditional on the delivery of services to the agreed standard and may be terminated or abated in the event of failure to do so.

World Poverty

36. Mr. Ross: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on progress in international efforts to relieve world poverty. [35781]

Ruth Kelly: In recent decades, global development progress has taken place at historically unprecedented rates. Over the last 40 years life expectancy at birth in developing countries has increased by a remarkable 20 years. Over the past 30 years, the illiteracy rate in the

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developing world has been cut by nearly half, from 47 per cent. to 25 per cent. of all adults. The number of people subsisting on less than $1 per day rose steadily for nearly two centuries, but over the past 20 years it has begun to fall. Thanks to better economic policies in many countries—most importantly in China and India—the number of poor people worldwide has fallen by up to 200 million, even as the world's population rose by 1.6 billion since 1980.

But progress has not been even. Sub-Saharan Africa saw no increase in its per capita incomes between 1965 and 1999, even with improved performance in the late 1990s. Despite progress in education and health indicators, the AIDS epidemic has sharply reversed progress on life expectancy in this region. Many of the transition economics of Eastern Europe and Central Asia suffered deep declines in living standards and sharp rises in inequality during the 1990s.

The UK fully supports the Millennium Development Goals agreed by the United Nations, including that by 2015: instead of 110 million children denied primary education, every child will have the chance of schooling; instead of seven million avoidable deaths each year from preventable diseases, child mortality will be reduced by two thirds; and instead of one billion living in absolute poverty, the proportion of people living in poverty will be halved by 2015.

These are challenging targets. But with the right policies in developing countries and developed countries, supported by the right amount and effective use of resources, most of the goals are achievable. For globalisation to be managed well, we need effective and transparent global institutions which address the challenges in the poorest countries. Trade, investment and development assistance are essential building blocks for poverty reduction.

The Government have increased the budget of the Department for International Development (DfID) to 3.6 billion—a 45 per cent. increase in real terms between 1997–98 and 2003–04. We will significantly raise the amount of our development aid, and also raise its share in national income, in our next spending round covering the years up to 2005–06. The Government are also promoting a significant increase in development aid from all donor countries and international institutions to build capacity and address the long-term causes of poverty in the poorest countries. The Government have proposed an International Development Trust Fund to pool contributions and build on the work of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the regional development banks.

External Contracts

Pete Wishart: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will list the 30 largest contracts awarded by his Department from (a) May 1997 to April 1998, (b) May 1998 to April 1999, (c) May 1999 to April 2000, (d) May 2000 to April 2001 and (e) May 2001 to the latest date, indicating in each case the values of the contracts and the companies with which the contracts were placed; [38728]

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Ruth Kelly: This information could be collated only at disproportionate cost.

Office of National Savings

Mr. Chope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the answer of 25 February 2002, Official Report, column 1037W, if he will place a copy of the strategic marketing review in the Library. [39035]

Ruth Kelly: It would not be appropriate to place the strategic marketing review in the Library as it contains material that is commercially sensitive.

Mr. Chope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the answer of 25 February 2002, Official Report, column 1037W, what action the Office of National Savings has taken, pursuant to the conclusion of the strategic marketing review that it should develop the relationship with Post Office. [39034]

Ruth Kelly: We have set up a governance structure at a strategic and tactical level between National Savings and Investments and Post Office Limited, working jointly on projects to achieve positive outcomes and increased value for both organisations. This has led to a deeper understanding of each organisation's primary objectives and business environment, and consequently a much greater degree of commercial and operational alignment.

Payroll Systems

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many small businesses have accepted the offer of a detailed health check of their payroll systems. [38515]

Dawn Primarolo: The information is as follows:

Year ended 31 March 2001*—1,075

1 April 2001 to 31 January 2002—627

* First year health check service offered.

Income Tax

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the trends in the number of income tax payers between (a) 1997–98 and (b) 2001–02. [38518]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to XInland Revenue Statistics" table 2.1, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. The latest version can be accessed on the Inland Revenue website http://www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/stats/income—tax/it—t01—1.htm.

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UK Poverty

Mike Gapes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his plans to reduce poverty in the United Kingdom. [35758]

Dawn Primarolo: This Government are committed to abolishing child poverty within a generation and halving it by 2010. A strategy document entitled XTackling child poverty: giving every child the best possible start in life" was published in December 2001. This document will inform the Budget and Spending Review 2002.

As a result of personal tax and benefit changes announced in the last Parliament, there are now 1.2 million fewer children in poverty than there would otherwise have been. A new tax credit for families with children—the child tax credit—will be introduced for children from April 2003 building on the foundation of universal child benefit. But child poverty is not only about incomes, it is also about inadequate service provision. The Government have made substantial new investments in this area. From 2000–01—2003–04, average real-terms annual growth in spending on education and training in England will be over 5.5 per cent. In addition, extra funds have been made available for SureStart, Neighbourhood Renewal and the Children's Fund.


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