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European Parliament, House of Commons and House of Lords: Comparative Costs

Viscount Tenby asked Her Majesty's Government:

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    (b) salaries, allowances and pensions and other costs of support staff;


    (c) accommodation, including rent, operating costs and security; and


    (d) all other administrative costs such as stationery, office equipment, publications, payments to parliamentary bodies and any other relevant outgoings; and whether they will indicate the per capita cost per Member as well as the average number of sitting days for each institution over the past five years.[HL2535]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information is as follows:

1994-951995-961996-971997-98
Total costs£ million£ million£ million£ million
House of Lords37.439.838.539.4
House of Commons(5)167.6195.6202.3241.1
European Parliament(1)473.4564.9575.0607
of which cost to UK is53.973.865.470.5
Per capita cost per member£'000£'000£'000£'000
House of Lords(2)36383737
House of Commons(6)257300311366
European Parliament(3)835902918948
Number of sitting days
House of Lords142146145132
House of Commons158156152150
European Parliament(4)60606060

Notes:

(1) Based on average £/ecu exchange rate for the relevant year.

(2) Per capita costs based on number of Peers eligible to sit in the House of Lords at the beginning of each year.

(3) The number of European Parliament seats increased from 518 to 567 in June 1994 and has increased since to its present total of 626.

(4) It is not possible to give an exact figure for the number of European Parliament sittings. The European Parliament generally holds a five-day plenary session every month but there have been occasions when those plenary sessions have been held over a longer period. In addition to plenary sessions the calendar for 1998 includes

14 days of mini-plenary sessions in Brussels, 72 days of committee meetings and 63 days of group meetings, giving the additional

149 days.

(5) Total cost of the House of Commons includes capital costs of £34.3 million in respect of new parliamentary building.

(6) Per capita costs based on 659 Members increased from 652 at the general election.


Cross-border Shopping: Loss of Tax Revenue

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the loss of tax revenues in each year since 1992 from the purchase of (a) tobacco products and (b) alcoholic beverages by United Kingdom travellers or visitors in Belgium and France who claim on their return to the United Kingdom that the goods purchased are for their personal consumption.[HL2674]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: HM Customs and Excise estimates of the revenue lost to the Exchequer (excise duties and VAT) through legitimate cross-border

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shopping and cross-Channel smuggling in tobacco products and alcoholic drinks are set out in the table below.

£ million

Cross-border shopping Smuggling
Product type199319941995199619961997
Tobacco products65555045640690
Alcohol140175180185195195
Total205230230235835885

Figures have been independently rounded to £5 million. Components may not therefore sum to the totals shown.

Figures for estimated revenue losses use Customs' assumption that 70-80 per cent. of alcoholic drinks purchased abroad substitute for similar purchases in the UK.


The estimates of cross-border shopping are for goods purchased duty paid in all other EU member states by United Kingdom residents for personal consumption in the United Kingdom. The estimates for cross-Channel smuggling include goods purchased duty-free.

HM Customs and Excise does not have separate estimates for goods purchased in Belgium and France only. There are no official estimates for years earlier than those shown.

Tanzania

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to reduce the external debt of the Government of Tanzania to make possible higher expenditure in that country on health and education, while limiting military spending; and whether and when Tanzania will benefit from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC). [HL2673]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government support debt relief for the world's poorest countries under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Last September the Chancellor made proposals for the speedy and effective implementation of the HIPC initiative in a speech known as the Mauritius Mandate. Many of these proposals were agreed upon by the G8 at the recent summit meetings, including the Chancellor's suggestions that new export credits to HIPCs should be used for productive expenditure. Tanzania has not yet reached its decision point under the HIPC initiative and so it is not possible to say at present whether or not it will benefit from further debt reductions under the initiative.

The UK has already written off over £40 million of Tanzanian external debt. The Government have also donated over £15 million to Tanzania to use towards its debt service obligations to the international financial institutions. Following agreement between the British Government and the Government of Tanzania, another £10,000 of its debts due to ECGD have been written off with money donated by the British public.

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Economic Activity and GDP

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of the world's economic activity they consider is not measured by gross domestic product (GDP); and in which categories of countries they deem GDP measurements of economic activity to be least accurate.[HL2650]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics, who has been asked to reply.

Letter to Lord Kennet from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. T. Holt, dated 15 July 1998.

As Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to answer your parliamentary question on Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

ONS does not have the information requested. GDP is the indicator used as the main measurement of economic activity by countries around the world. Estimates of GDP may not capture all economic activity in countries which have, for example, a significant amount of illegal economic production or a large volume of transactions in barter.

M.40 Roadworks

Lord Trefgarne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the roadworks in progress on the M.40 motorway westwards from junction 1A are proceeding according to schedule, and, if so, what is now the expected completion date.[HL2635]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): I have asked Mr. Lawrie Haynes, the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, to write to the noble Lord.

Letter to Lord Trefgarne from the Director of the Highways Agency, Mr. Peter Nutt, dated 15 July 1998.

The Minister for Roads has asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency to reply to your recent question about roadworks progress on the M.40. In his absence, I am writing on his behalf.

The works are proceeding ahead of schedule. Current indications are that the motorway will be clear of roadworks by the end of November.

A.3/M.25 Junction Roadworks

Lord Trefgarne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the roadworks in progress on the A.3 at the junction with the M.25 are proceeding according to schedule and what is now the expected date of completion.[HL2636]

Baroness Hayman: I have asked Mr. Lawrie Haynes, the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, to write to the noble Lord.

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Letter to Lord Trefgarne from the Director of the Highways Agency, Mr. David York, dated 15 July 1998.

The Minister for Roads has asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency to reply to your recent question about roadworks in progress on the A.3 at the junction with the M.25. I am writing on his behalf.

The scheme to repair and improve the road and bridge on the A.3 at the junction with the M.25 is currently ahead of programme. Whilst contractual completion is mid September, if the present good progress is maintained the roadworks could be complete several weeks early.

Mobile Phones: Use by Drivers

Lord Jacobs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Having regard to the fact that all mobile phones used in cars can be fitted with hands-free devices, what steps they propose to take to legislate against the use of hand-held mobile telephones while driving, thus ending the current practice of relying wholly on prosecutions for driving without due care and attention.[HL2757]

Baroness Hayman: Existing road traffic legislation places the responsibility on drivers to have proper control of their vehicles at all times. Any motorist who fails to do so, for whatever reason, is liable to prosecution.

Drivers may be charged with failing to exercise proper control of a vehicle, or either careless and inconsiderate driving or dangerous driving, if using a mobile phone causes them to drive in such a manner. The Association of Chief Police Officers considers that existing legislation is sufficient for the police to deal with cases arising from the use of a mobile phone while driving.

A review of the evidence currently available about the use of mobile phones while driving indicates that there is even an association between hands-free telephone use and increased accident risk. The publicity campaign I launched on 16 March aims to educate drivers about the problems and dangers of using any type of mobile phone while on the move.


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