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Mr. Hood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the ECOFIN Council held in Brussels on 7 May; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [55301]

Mr. Gordon Brown: I attended the ECOFIN Council on 7 May.

ECOFIN held an orientation discussion on the draft Commission proposals for the 2002 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines. After further preparatory work in the Economic and Financial Committee, the draft guidelines will be agreed at ECOFIN in June and submitted to the Seville European Council.

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Political agreement was reached on the draft directive for financial conglomerates and on the articles of the draft directive on market abuse. After clarification of the recitals, the market abuse directive will return at the 4 June ECOFIN for political agreement on the text as a whole.

ECOFIN discussed a Presidency key issues paper on energy taxation. It was agreed that further preparatory work should be undertaken, with a view to reaching political agreement at the 4 June ECOFIN.

The Commission gave an oral update on progress with third countries on the savings tax directive. Ministers updated the Council on progress with dependent territories.

The Commission introduced the Preliminary Draft Budget for 2003. Along with colleagues, I stressed the importance of respecting the Berlin Financial Perspective ceilings. I also welcomed the Commission's proposals to target a greater proportion of external aid at the poorest countries, and called for further progress towards meeting the EU's November 2000 Development Strategy. The draft budget for 2003 will be agreed at the Budget Council in July.

ECOFIN discussed the Council's proposal for a revised Financial Regulation. Italy maintained its reserve on the article allowing delegation of aid delivery to member state agencies. Ministers requested further discussion of this by EU Ambassadors in COREPER to enable the regulation to be agreed at the 4 June ECOFIN.

Under Any Other Business, the Swedish Finance Minister emphasised the need to keep track of member states' progress in meeting the development aid target agreed at the recent Monterrey Conference. It was agreed that ECOFIN would consider the issue at a later date.

Following discussion over lunch, ministers also adopted texts on the economic and financial aspects of the EU-Latin America summit and on further work on arrangements for financial supervision and stability.

No votes were taken at the meeting.


Mr. Evans: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much tax revenue was raised from the bingo sector in the latest year for which figures are available; and what his projections are for such revenue in each of the next five years. [55258]

Mr. Boateng: Duty receipts from bingo can be found in the HM Customs and Excise statistical bulletin "Receipts from Betting, Gaming and Lottery Duties", a copy of which can be found in the House of Commons Library. Details of the amount of VAT received from the bingo industry are not readily available.

Projections for total revenue from duty on betting and gaming, including bingo, were published on 17 April in the Financial Statement and Budget Report 2002. Revenue projections for bingo are not made separately.

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Home Energy Efficiency

Ms Walley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will increase investment in home energy efficiency to meet the improvement target proposed in the Energy Review. [55275]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Performance and Innovation Unit's Energy Review is a report to the Government and was published in February 2002. The Government are currently considering the issues raised by the PIU, including its recommendations on energy efficiency. A consultation paper to inform the Government's response will be issued shortly. Decisions on public expenditure for home energy efficiency measures will be taken in the context of the current Spending Review.

Beer Duty

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the cost to the Treasury of extending the reduced rate of duty on beer from small breweries to those local breweries that produce between 30,000 hectolitres and 200,000 hectolitres, using the brewery rate formula published in the Finance Bill. [55599]

Mr. Boateng: Extending the relief for small breweries to breweries producing up to 200,000 hectolitres would raise the cost in 2002–03 from £10 million to £15 million by bringing around 25 additional brewers with turnovers up to £25 million within the scope of the relief.

Orphan Assets

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the value is of orphan assets held in the life assurance sector in the UK. [55640]

Ruth Kelly: A precise figure is not available. Any estimate would be subject to a wide margin of error.

Sustainable Development

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans his Department has to assess the impact of the 2002 Comprehensive Spending Review on sustainable development; and if he will make a statement. [55689]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Improving quality of life and promoting sustainable development is an overarching aim of SR2002. The Treasury has for the first time in this spending review provided Departments with specific guidance on how to consider sustainable development systematically. This guidance has been made publicly available. Ministers are currently considering all aspects of departmental proposals to the Spending Review, including their implications for sustainable development. A statement on the outcome of the review will be made in due course.

Tax Credits

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the numbers of families and persons receiving (a) the working families tax credit, (b) the child care tax credit supplement to WFTC and (c) the disabled persons tax credit. [55791]

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Dawn Primarolo: The latest figures appear in "Working Families' and Disabled Person's Tax Credit Statistics. Geographical analyses. November 2001", a copy of which is in the Library.

Christian Groups (Annuities)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what discussions he has had with Christian groups on alternative provision of annuities for those who are not able to purchase an annuity because of Christian conscience; [55618]

Ruth Kelly: The Treasury and the Inland Revenue have had several meetings with a Christian group to discuss their concerns about annuities and alternative approaches to retirement income consistent with their beliefs.

Royal Family (Tax Status)

Paul Flynn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish the principles of the arrangement made between the Government and the monarchy for the payment by the royal family of (a) income tax, (b) inheritance tax and (c) capital gains tax. [56421]

Mr. Gordon Brown: The arrangements are set out in full in the Memorandum of Understanding in the Royal Trustees report (HC 464) published on 11 February 1993.

Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy to ensure inheritance tax is paid on the estate of the Her late Majesty the Queen Mother. [55825]

Mr. Gordon Brown: Inheritance tax is payable in accordance with the normal rules and paragraph 21(b) of the 1993 Memorandum of Understanding in the Royal Trustees report (HC 464).



London Underground

Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the (a) total passenger capacity and (b) the theoretical maximum capacity of London Underground was at peak periods in 1996–97 and 2001–02; and what changes in capacity resulted from (i) new lines, (ii) new trains, (iii) signal upgrades, (iv) speed restrictions, (v) signal failures, (vi) supply failures, (vii) line failure and (viii) structural problems. [54264]

Mr. Jamieson: This is an operational matter for London Underground (LU).

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Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the application of the phrase "minimum ambiguity" to deciding who is responsible for tube assets under the PPP. [54287]

Mr. Jamieson: London Underground is responsible for development of the PPP plans for the modernisation of the underground's infrastructure. I understand that when London Underground was restructured into an operating company and three infrastructure companies in April 2000, that restructuring was effected by an asset transfer scheme. It is correct to say that the requirement of "minimum ambiguity" as to the responsibility for asset maintenance within the underground has been a guiding principle for the development of the PPP Service Contracts with the infrastructure companies following the asset transfer scheme. During the period of shadow running since April 2000 there has been considerable work carried out to develop detailed asset information, with clear allocation principles to be incorporated in the contract documents, the application of which will enable responsibility for maintenance and renewal of underground assets to be determined.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the results of the recent consultation regarding the proposed Private Public Partnership for the London Underground; and if he will place a full report of it in the Library. [55809]

Mr. Jamieson: London Underground Ltd. has addressed London Regional Transport's consultation with the Mayor of London and Transport for London in its "Update to Final Assessment Report". This document is available on London Underground Ltd.'s website.

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