Previous Section Index Home Page


25. Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his policy on annuities. [68426]

Ruth Kelly: The consultation document, Modernising Annuities, published jointly with the Department for Work and Pensions in February, provoked considerable interest and strong feedback. I am today placing in the Library a summary of the responses.

The feedback confirmed that individuals need to be better informed about their annuity purchase. It is clear that many people could improve their retirement income if, at retirement, they were able to select the right annuity for their personal circumstances. It would be in their best interest to look for the best rate in the marketplace, which is not necessarily from the same financial institution that helped them save for retirement. The Government are working with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and providers to ensure that people are able to make the right choices at the right time. One specific idea under consideration is encouraging the provision of information and advice through the work place.

As the consultation document explains, there is no case for abandoning the requirement that people should buy a lifetime annuity by age 75. This rule ensures that they can take advantage of insurance pooling to make efficient use of their pension savings.

Without prejudicing this rule and consistent with the principles outlined in the consultation document, the Government plan to bring forward powers to make it possible to offer people buying annuities more choice and flexibility. The aim will be to empower people approaching retirement to make the right choices for their circumstances by encouraging competition and transparency in the market for annuities. It will be important that this liberalisation dovetails with simplification and other reforms being considered in the pensions Green Paper this autumn.

Net Cash Requirement

26. Mr. Gibb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the accounting principles underlying the net cash requirement. [68427]

Mr. Boateng: For those bodies classified by the Office for National Statistics to the appropriate sector in national accounts, the net cash requirement represents the sums borrowed by those bodies, in cash, from outside that sector, plus interest capitalising on certain of those borrowings. Full details of how the net cash requirement is measured and its relation to other measures of borrowing and debt are given in "Monthly statistics on public sector finances: a methodological guide" (No. 12 in the Government Statistical Service Methodology Series).

18 Jul 2002 : Column 467W

Small Enterprises (Tax Burden)

27. Mr. Prisk: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the tax burden on small enterprises. [68428]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government's aim is to make Britain one of the most competitive environments for business in the world—since 1997 the Government have cut the corporate tax bills of small companies by around 30 per cent., rewarding the entrepreneurial spirit and promoting growth. The Government have introduced numerous measures to help small enterprises since 1997, including:

Dividend Tax Credits

28. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the impact of dividend tax credits on the level of savings. [68429]

Ruth Kelly: No such assessment has been made. The abolition of payable tax credits was part of a wider reform of corporate taxation, including lower rates of corporation tax, designed to foster economic growth and in time generate better rates of return for savers and investors generally.

South-West Economy

31. Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what analysis his Department has undertaken on the impact of the slowdown in the world economy on the (a) manufacturing, (b) service and (c) tourism economies of the south-west of England. [68432]

John Healey: The Government closely monitors and assesses the sectoral incidence of economic developments in all countries and regions of the UK, including the south-west.

The Government's assessment of the impact of last year's global slowdown on the UK economy was published in the pre-Budget report 2001 (ISBN 0–10–153182–6) and in Budget 2002 (ISBN 0–10–291477-X).

Alternative Fuels

32. Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what financial incentives he has made available for the development of alternative fuels for motor vehicles. [68433]

John Healey: The Government has introduced a wide range of incentives for the development and use of alternative fuels for motor vehicles, ranging from fuel

18 Jul 2002 : Column 468W

duty incentives for alternative fuels to the tax credit for general research and development. These measures include:

Council Tax

33. Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate his Department has made of the proportion of income paid in council tax by (a) the poorest quintile of households and (b) the richest quintile of households. [68434]

Mr. Boateng: The information requested can be found in table 3 of the analysis "The effects of taxes and benefits on household income 2000–01" in the May issue of Economic Trends. The information is based on the Family Expenditure Survey.

Performance Targets

34. Mr. Butterfill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the research he commissioned in connection with performance targets to inform his decisions on the Spending Review. [68435]

Mr. Boateng: Performance against Public Service Agreement targets was one of the factors taken into account when making decisions on resources and reform in the Spending Review.

35. Mr. Brady: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made in improving public services through public service agreements. [68436]

Mr. Boateng: The Treasury, reporting against target 7 of its own PSA on page 67 of its 2002 departmental report, included and overall assessment of Departments' progress against their PSA targets.

Financial Services Compensation Scheme

36. Mr. Clapham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme; and if he will make a statement. [68437]

18 Jul 2002 : Column 469W

Ruth Kelly: The Financial Services Compensation Scheme acquired its powers and responsibilities under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 on 1 December 2001. Since then it has been an important part of the overall framework of consumer protection provided under the Act.

Crown Estates Commissioners (Scotland)

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received about the role of the Crown Estates Commissioners in Scotland; and if he will make a statement. [69287]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 16 July 2002]: I have received no recent representations about the role of the Crown Estate Commissioners in Scotland.

EU Membership

Bob Spink: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost of membership of the EU to the UK in the last year for which figures are available. [71125]

Ruth Kelly: Details of the estimated outturn for the United Kingdom's net contribution to the EC Budget in 2001–02 were set out in the answer which my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage (Barbara Follett) on 10 June 2002, Official Report, columns 835–37W. Estimates of the trend in the United Kingdom's net contribution to the EC Budget for the period 2002–03 to 2005–06 are shown at footnote 4 to Table A.2 (page 165) of the Spending Review 2002 (Cm 5570) published on 15 July.

Next Section Index Home Page