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Third-world Debt

John Mann: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he plans to cancel debt owing to the UK by Uganda. [62354]

John Healey: There is no longer any debt owing to the UK Government by Uganda. As a highly indebted poor country (HIPC) Uganda was eligible for debt relief under the enhanced HIPC initiative; for its part the UK goes further than is required and provides 100 per cent. debt relief to all qualifying countries such as Uganda. In February 2000 Uganda reached decision point under that initiative and qualified for interim debt relief on payments due, and in May 2000 Uganda reached completion point and its debts were irrevocably cancelled.

ECOFIN Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the ECOFIN Council held on 4 June; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [62929]

Mr. Gordon Brown: I attended the ECOFIN meeting on 4 June.

ECOFIN had an orientation discussion on the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines. These will be considered further at the ECOFIN meeting on 20 June prior to the Seville European Council.

The Council noted that a qualified majority existed on a presidency compromise text on the occupational pensions directive.

ECOFIN also had an orientation discussion on the draft directive on prospectuses, and the Commission presented its sixth half-yearly progress report on the Financial Services Action Plan.

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ECOFIN adopted conclusions on the tax package. I reported on the significant progress the UK has made in discussions with our overseas and dependent territories on taxation of savings, which was welcomed by the Council. The Commission gave an oral update on progress on negotiations with third countries. ECOFIN called for greater progress to be made, and a presidency letter to the Swiss President was agreed.

Presidency guidelines on energy taxation were discussed. These were discussed further by the High Level Group (HLG) on Energy Taxation on 11 June, and the chairman of the HLG will report back to ECOFIN on 20 June.

There was a conciliation meeting with the European Parliament to examine the remaining outstanding items on the recasting of the financial regulation. Agreement was reached on the draft text.

ECOFIN discussed the VAT treatment of cross-border motor vehicle leasing, and invited the presidency and the Commission to examine the situation and report at the end of 2002.

The Council noted a preliminary oral report on issues of corporate governance by Professor Winter (Chairman of the High Level Group on Company Law).

ECOFIN also adopted texts on the preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development and on the implementation of the new EIB Euro-Mediterranean Facility.

No votes were taken at the meeting.

Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting

Barbara Follett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the 2002 Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting. [63191]

Mr. Boateng: The UK will host the 2002 Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting (CFMM) from 24–26 September. This is an annual event whose timing is intended to provide Finance Ministers with an opportunity to prepare for the annual meetings of the IMF and World bank.

The overall theme of the 2002 CFMM is "Stability; Growth; Poverty Reduction". Within this theme, Finance Ministers will discuss the world economy, IMF/World bank issues and Commonwealth issues.

They will also discuss the special theme which this year will be "Delivering the Monterrey Consensus". The International Conference on Financing for Development took place in Monterrey, Mexico, in March 2002. The resulting 'Monterrey Consensus' achieved a significant breakthrough by recognising the mutual responsibilities of both donors and developing countries to advance the development process. But to impact on the lives of the poor, these commitments require effective follow-up. The aim of the special theme session is therefore to develop an action plan for Commonwealth Finance Ministers to take forward the Monterrey Conclusions.

Prior to the ministerial meetings, senior officials only will discuss a technical theme. This year, the technical theme will be "Managing Resources for Development" and include such issues as budgetary systems and public expenditure management.

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At the Chancellor's request, the 2002 CFMM will be the first to engage civil society, whose views will be sought on the special theme. The Commonwealth Foundation is facilitating this process. After an initial introductory meeting in Monterrey, a number of regional civil society consultations are planned. The first has already taken place in Ghana. Further consultations are scheduled for Jamaica, Fiji, Bangladesh and the UK. The outputs of these consultations will then be combined into a single paper at a larger civil society event in London in July. This paper will be presented to Finance Ministers at CFMM.

The UK is hosting the 2002 CFMM to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee year. In recognition of this, Her Majesty will open the meetings on 24 September.

In addition, there will be a number of events taking place in the margins of the ministerial sessions:

To help ensure that Commonwealth citizens have access to information about the CFMM and that preparations for the meeting are as transparent as possible, a CFMM website has been established ( The site has been designed to give people across the Commonwealth quick access to information about both the policy aims and logistics of CFMM.

The website design takes into account potential technological limitations that may affect many developing Commonwealth countries. It is simple, easy to navigate and has a fast download speed.

World Debt

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his estimate is of the total costs to the Exchequer of the recent UK developing world debt cancellation, as announced since 1 May 1997, in each year from 1997–98 to 2020–21; and if he will make a statement. [62392]

John Healey: Prior to 1 May 1997 the UK had already cancelled its aid loans to all the poorest countries and payments are written off as they become due. Remaining debts are owed to the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD). The original highly indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative was launched in October 1996 and in 1999 the UK was at the forefront of the international debate on debt relief in helping to secure agreement for the enhanced HIPC initiative. In December 1999, the UK Government announced that we would provide 100 per cent. debt relief on all ECGD debt for qualifying HIPCs to free up more resources for poverty reduction. The table sets out, by country and calendar year, all developing country debts to ECGD that have been written off since May 1997.

Some countries have benefited from both the original and the enhanced HIPC initiative but figures on the exact attribution between each initiative are not readily available. The total future costs to the Exchequer of debt

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relief under the enhanced HIPC initiative will depend upon the progress of the remaining countries towards decision point, when they begin to receive interim debt relief on any payments due, and the subsequent completion point when debts are irrevocably cancelled.

Developing country debts to ECGD written off since 1 May 1997
£ million(46)

Central African Republic0.
Cote D'Ivoire1.142.821.170.000.00
Guinea Republic0.

(46) Amounts written off.

(47) From 1 May 1997 onwards.

Mr. Romano Prodi

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met Mr. Romano Prodi; and if he will make a statement. [62189]

Mr. Gordon Brown: I meet Mr. Prodi regularly at meetings of European Councils.

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