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Underspend

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the (a) capital and (b) revenue underspend in his Department is expected to be in the financial year 2001–02. [47803]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Estimated outturn figures for 2001–02 will be published in the Budget report on 17 April.

Wanless Report

Mr. Howard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Buckingham on 25 February, Official Report, column 1045W, whether he has set a date for the publication of the Wanless report. [48216]

Mr. Andrew Smith: No date has yet been set for the publication of Mr. Wanless' final report.

London Underground

Mr. Howard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions (a) Ministers and (b) officials from HM Treasury have met (i) Ministers and (ii) officials from the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions to discuss the potential liabilities to the Exchequer which will arise from underwriting the contingent liabilities of the public private partnerships for London Underground, as proposed in the letters of comfort and Minute from the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions to the partners in the PPP presented to Parliament on 21 March. [47962]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Treasury Ministers and officials have discussions with colleagues in other Departments on a wide range of subjects on a regular basis.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place the accounting advice he has received from the Office of National Statistics on the treatment of the commitments given in the London Underground Public Private Partnership letter of comfort in the Library; and if he will make a statement. [46676]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Office for National Statistics has not been asked for advice on the London Underground Public Private Partnership.

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The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions' Resource Accounts are drawn in accordance with the Treasury Resource Accounting Manual, which takes account of all Financial Reporting standards pronounced by the Accounting Standards Board. The contingent liability arising from any letters of comfort would therefore be recorded as a Note to the Department's Resource Accounts.

Network Rail

Mr. Howard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions regarding the underwriting of the debt of Network Rail by means of potential emergency loans from the Strategic Rail Authority. [47958]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Treasury Ministers and officials have discussions with colleagues in other Departments on a wide range of subjects on a regular basis.

Ministerial Travel

Mr. Burns: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many times Ministers in his Department have travelled abroad at taxpayers' expense since March 2001; what countries they visited; and what the total cost of each visit was. [47102]

Ruth Kelly: Treasury Ministers, including the Chancellor have made 40 trips abroad since March 2001 and visited USA, Belgium, Italy, Canada, Portugal, Luxembourg, France, Germany, San Juan, Spain, Ireland, Korea, Malawi and Japan. Total cost of the visits was £110,250.

Property Protection

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what new measures his Department took in 2001–02 to protect its property from theft or damage. [47242]

Ruth Kelly: It is not the Treasury's practice to comment on protective security measures.

Scottish Transport Group

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make public (a) correspondence, records of verbal communication and other documents and communications between himself and the Scottish Executive and (b) advice which he has received in connection with the Scottish Transport Group Pension schemes, the winding up thereof and the disposal of and entitlement to surplus funds therefrom. [48283]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Scottish Executive is responsible for these schemes. They announced in December 2000 how the surplus is being distributed.

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the estimated value is of the Scottish Transport Group pension fund at 31 March; and whether increases in the value of the fund following 31 March 2000 will accrue to (a) the fund and (b) Her Majesty's Government. [48053]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Scottish Executive announced in November 2001 that the estimated net of tax surplus as at 31 March 2001 is £168 million and that

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£118 million is to be distributed as ex gratia payments by the Scottish Executive, which includes an additional £18 million as a result of an increase in the net of tax surplus. The size of the surplus as at 31 March 2002 is not yet known.

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what reasons underlie the proposed distribution of the surplus from the Scottish Transport Group pension schemes; what part of the distributed surplus is to be used for a contingency fund in respect of indemnities against the risk of legal action based on the actions of trustees; and whether in the event that there are no successful claims against that contingency fund, it will be the subject of a subsequent distribution to Scottish Transport Group pensioners. [48052]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The wind-up of the STG pension schemes is being taken forward by the trustees and the Scottish Executive. The Scottish Executive has announced that £118 million will be made available as ex gratia payments to pensioners. I understand that there is no intention that any part of that sum will be used for a contingency fund against potential legal action.

Tax Thresholds

Mr. Howard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how the threshold for paying (a) tax and (b) higher rate tax, in relation to average earnings, has changed since 1997. [47959]

Dawn Primarolo: The new earnings survey provides the best estimates for average earnings and the income tax personal allowance and thresholds are in annex A of Inland Revenue Statistics. The most recent edition is on the Inland Revenue website http://www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/stats/ tax—structure/menu.htm.

Sustainability Fund

Mr. Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his estimate is of the total amount that will be paid to Scotland from the Sustainability Fund in each of the next five years. [48038]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Scottish Executive's share of the Sustainability Fund is estimated at £3 million in 2002–03 and 2003–04. Decisions on the size of the Fund in subsequent years, and consequently the total amounts the Scottish Executive will receive in these years, have yet to be made.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total liability to the Exchequer of current PFI projects and the expected liability of planned PFIs. [47792]

Mr. Andrew Smith: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Ian Stewart) on 7 February 2002, Official Report, columns 1144–46W.

Road Pricing

Chris Grayling: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when road pricing for hauliers will be introduced. [48181]

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Mr. Boateng: The Government published a consultation document "Modernising the Taxation of the Haulage Industry" alongside 2001 pre-Budget report. The consultation closed on 8 February and the Government are considering the responses ahead of the Budget.

Strip Stamps

Mr. Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what analysis he has conducted of the experiences of countries that have abolished their strip stamp regimes; [46948]

Mr. Boateng: Customs and Excise are considering a wide range of issues as part of their ongoing consultation on the costs, benefits and practicalities of introducing a tax stamps system for spirits. This includes the experiences of other countries and the various sizes of container to which tax stamps would be affixed.

Mr. Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from the Scotland Office with regards to the proposed whisky strip stamps. [46950]

Mr. Boateng: The Chancellor and his Ministers meet regularly with their Ministerial colleagues to discuss a wide range of issues.


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