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Overseas Education

Jeff Ennis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for increasing Britain's contributions towards education in foreign countries in the next three years. [38815]

Ruth Kelly: The Government are strongly committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals of universal primary education (UPE) in all countries by the year 2015 and gender equity in primary and secondary schooling by 2005.

Since May 1997 the Department for International Development has committed over 600 million to education. In addition, we will be launching the Commonwealth Education Fund on 12 March. The Fund will support the achievement of universal primary education (UPE) in the poorest Commonwealth countries. The Government have pledged 10 million to kickstart the Fund, and will match donations from business and individuals pound for pound including tax relief.

Education will continue to be given high priority under our development assistance programme because it is a precondition of development and poverty reduction.

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The UK's International Development budget has risen by 45 per cent. in real terms since 1997 and is now at the highest level ever. The ratio of Official Development Assistance to Gross National Product is on course to rise from 0.26 per cent. to 0.33 per cent. by 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.

Debt Relief

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects all countries eligible for assistance with debt relief under the HIPC initiative to receive debt relief; and what plans he has to raise this at the Financing for Development Conference in Mexico in March. [39252]

Ruth Kelly: The UK Government have consistently been at the forefront of the international debate on debt relief issues, and have repeatedly pushed for the process to be speeded up.

To be eligible for assistance with debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative countries must show a commitment to poverty reduction and have an interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). Out of 42 HIPCs in total, the UK Government are pleased that 25 have already reached decision point.

However, of the remaining countries most are in conflict or have governance problems. For this reason the UK Government argued strongly last year for the creation of an International Monetary Fund post-conflict assistance account. This account will help these countries to make progress towards peace, good governance and a sound economic framework so that they can secure the full benefits of debt relief under the HIPC initiative.

The UK raised these issues at the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank last year, and will continue to do so in all appropriate international forums, including the Financing for Development Conference in Mexico in March.

Devolved Administrations (Spending)

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish the mathematical formula he uses to decide net change to spending for devolved administrations. [38822]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The formula was published by the Treasury in the Statement of Funding Policy in July 2000.

Special Advisers

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 4 February 2002, Official Report, column 700W, on special advisers, if he will state the purpose of advising departmental heads of information of contacts with the media; and if he will make a statement. [39109]

Ruth Kelly: The purpose is set out in clause 9 of the code of conduct on special advisers.

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Small Enterprises (Allowances)

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the answer of 14 February 2002, Official Report, column 579W, on small enterprise allowances, what use has been made of these allowances. [38660]

Dawn Primarolo: While the Inland Revenue are looking at how businesses use the scheme, it is not currently possible to draw any conclusions.

Computer Software

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what computer software complies with the Inland Revenue's payroll software standards. [38516]

Dawn Primarolo: There are currently 13 software packages which have been tested and proven to comply with the Inland Revenue payroll standard.

Inland Revenue

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the changes in Inland Revenue staff numbers between 1 January 2000 and 1 January 2002. [38519]

Dawn Primarolo: The changes in Inland Revenue staff numbers between 1 January 2000 and 1 January 2002—given in the Official Report, 4 February 2002, column 695W—are due to the net effect of various new initiatives including support for new businesses, the extension of child tax credit and the collection of student loans and in response to the Grabiner report into the informal economy. They are consistent with figures of planned annual staff usage published in the Government's Expenditure Plans, 2001–04, a copy of which is held in the Library.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the work of the Inland Revenue Business Support Team. [38514]

Dawn Primarolo: The published Inland Revenue Annual Report for the year ending 31 March 2000 (pages 12 to 13) contains full details of the work of Inland Revenue Business Support Teams.

Enterprise Schemes

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment has been made of the economic impact of the Enterprise Investment Scheme and Venture Capital Trust schemes. [38512]

Dawn Primarolo: An independent contractor is currently undertaking research, for the Inland Revenue, into the economic effects of the EIS and VCT schemes. This work is expected to be completed in the summer.

Enterprise Management Incentives

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many companies with fewer than (a) 16 and (b) seven employees took advantage of enterprise management incentives in 2000–01. [38517]

Dawn Primarolo: Enterprise management incentives (EMI) were introduced in Finance Act 2000 as part of the Government's productivity and enterprise agenda. They are targeted, tax-advantaged share option

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incentives to help small companies recruit and retain the staff they need to grow. Until Finance Act 2001 there was a limit of 15 on the number of employees in a company that could be granted EMI options. In Finance Act 2001 that limit was removed and replaced with an overall limit on the value of options granted of 3 million per company.

In January 2002 the gross asset limit, which defines the size of company that can qualify for EMI, was doubled from 15 million to 30 million. The number of people employed by a company is not relevant to the decision on whether it qualifies to grant EMI options and the information requested is not available. However, between 6 April 2000 and 5 April 2001 4,540 options were granted by 807 companies, an average of 5.6 options per company.

PRIME MINISTER

Senior Salaries

Kevin Brennan: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the report and recommendations of the Review Body on Senior Salaries. [40338]

The Prime Minister: The 2002 report of the Review Body on Senior Salaries, which makes recommendations about the pay of the senior civil service, senior military personnel and the judiciary, together with the annual uprating of Parliamentary salaries, is being published today. Copies are in the Vote Office and the Library of the House. I am grateful to the Chairman and members of the Review Body for their work.

The main recommendations of the Review Body are: Senior Civil Service (SCS): an increase from 1 April 2002 of 2.5 per cent. to the Government's final indicative rates for the minima, target rates and maxima for each pay band and a new band for Permanent Secretaries; a minimum bonus payment of 3 per cent. or 2,000, whichever is the higher, for those making the greatest contribution; and a sum equivalent to 0.4 per cent. of the total SCS pay bill to be made available for use by departments to address anomalies; Senior military: an increase from 1 April 2002 of 2.5 per cent. in the value of all points on the new incremental pay scales; and Judiciary: an increase from 1 April 2002 of 8 per cent.

The Government have decided to accept these recommendations in full for the senior civil service and senior military. The award for the judiciary will be staged, with 3.6 per cent. payable from 1 April 2002, and the remaining 4.4 per cent. payable from 1 April 2003.

The cost of all the awards will be met within existing departmental expenditure limits.

Pay increases for Members of Parliament and Ministers are linked automatically to the increase in pay bands for the senior civil service. Their pay entitlement will therefore increase from 1 April 2002 by 2.5 per cent. In addition they will receive the second and final instalment of 2,000 recommended by the Review Body on Senior Salaries in its forty eighth report of March 2001.

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