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Tourism Website

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Harginey: Research commissioned by the Holiday Care Service showed that, by the end of 1998, some 14 per cent of disabled people were Internet users and that usage was growing. There is thus potential to integrate information technology initiatives with those designed to widen access to tourism.

The British Tourist Authority's VisitBritain website, featuring information on some 40,000 hotels, other guest accommodation, attractions and events, has been used by nearly 3 million people over the last 12 months and has won three major international awards. The BTA is now working with the Government and other agencies on a number of initiatives to extend the use of, and to improve, VisitBritain. The BTA is currently considering how VisitBritain could be developed so as to provide more and better information on the levels of accessibility to establishments it features.

Accessibility Standards: EU Draft Directive

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

11 Nov 1999 : Column WA225

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I regret that it has not been possible to provide an answer before Prorogation. I shall therefore write to the noble Baroness and place a copy of my reply in the Libraries of the House.

National Savings: Limits

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which forms of National Savings are subject to a limit per holder, indicating in respect of each the present limit, the date the limit was last changed and what the limit would be today if adjusted for inflation since it was last changed.[HL4561]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey:

ProductCurrent LimitDate changedAdjusted using RPI (to nearest £1,000)
Income Bonds£1 millionOctober 1999n/a
Pensioners Bonds £1 millionSeptember 1999n/a
Fixed Rate Savings Bonds £1 millionOctober 1999n/a
Capital Bonds£250,000March 1993£298,000
Premium Bonds £20,000April 1993£24,000
Investment Account £100,000May 1993£118,000
Ordinary Account £10,000July 1969£50,000
Treasurers Account £2 millionSeptember 1996£2,161,000

Other products have a limit per issue and individual holders may invest up to the maximum in each issue. A new issue will be made available, for example, when there is an interest rate change.


ProductCurrent LimitDate changedAdjusted using RPI (to nearest £1,000)
Fixed Interest
Savings
Certificates
£10,000 per IssueDecember 1992£12,000
Indexed
Linked
Savings
Certificates
£10,000 per IssueDecember 1992£12,000
Children's
Bonus
Bonds
£1,000 per IssueDecember 1993£1,000

National Savings also has a cash mini ISA (Individual Saving Account) which has the limit set under the ISA Regulations--£3,000 for tax year 1999-2000 and £1,000 per tax year thereafter.


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Excise Duty: Minimum Rates

Lord Lucas of Chilworth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement of Lord McIntosh of Haringey that the Government "want to see higher minimum excise rates on alcohol, tobacco and fuel. Indeed, we want to see higher minimum excise rates in other countries" (HL Deb., col. 977), how they reconcile this policy with the statement by Commissioner Monti that, "the purpose [of European Union tax harmonisation/co-ordination] is not, and even the side effect must not be, that of raising taxes". [HL4614]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Successive governments have long been in favour of sensible and realistic minimum rates of duty on mineral oils, tobacco, beer and wine to facilitate the functioning of the internal market.

Harmful Tax Competition Negotiations

Lord Lucas of Chilworth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What difference, if any, they see between political negotiations conducted behind the closed doors of the Code of Conduct Group on harmful tax competition and international negotiations conducted in the more transparent arena of the Council of Ministers.[HL4613]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Council Conclusions of 9 March 1998, published in the Official Journal of the European Communities, state that the Code of Conduct Group is a group established by and set up within the framework of the Council. Its rules of procedure were agreed by the Council.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Governments of the Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies subscribe to the view that the negotiations being conducted in the Code of Conduct Group on harmful tax competition are "within constitutional arrangements."[HL4618]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The UK Government are responsible for international relations of the UK's overseas territories and the Crown Dependencies.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any existing tax measures of either the Crown Dependencies or the Overseas Territories have been referred to the Code of Conduct Group on harmful tax competition; and, if so, by the authority of which Government.[HL4619]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The ECOFIN Council Conclusions of 9 March 1998 state that the Council

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"agrees that the work of the Code of Conduct Group shall be confidential".

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their definition of the term "harmful tax competition" and how this differs from any definition of the term held by (a) other European Union Member States' Governments and (b) the European Commission; and[HL4615]

    What is their definition of the term "tax co-ordination" and how this differs from any definition of the term held by (a) other European Union Member States' Governments and (b) the European Commission.[HL4617]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The conclusions of the ECOFIN Council meeting on 1 December 1997 concerning taxation policy state that there is a "need for co-ordinated action at European level to tackle harmful tax competition in order to help achieve certain objectives such as reducing the continuing distortions in the single market, preventing excessive losses of tax revenue or getting tax structures to develop in a more employment-friendly way".

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they justify the view that the conclusions of the Code of Conduct Group on harmful tax competition will be on the one hand "not legally binding", and on the other "an international commitment which [the United Kingdom Government] expects to honour and expects other people to honour" (HM Treasury evidence to European Communities Committee, Sub- Committee A, 20 April, Q151).[HL4691]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Code of Conduct is a political compact by member states, meeting within the Council, to respond to the problem of harmful tax competition. The Code of Conduct Group was established by the Council to assess the tax measures that may fall within the scope of the Code. Paragraph 2 of the Council Conclusions of 9 March 1998, published in the Official Journal of the European Communities, states that its establishment is "without prejudice to the respective competences of Member States and the Community in the fields covered by the work of the Group".

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will define the difference between unjustified and/or discriminatory state aids and reasonable tax allowance measures, regional or otherwise, as understood by (a) the United Kingdom Government, (b) other European Union Member States' Governments and (c) the European Commission.[HL4620]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Articles 87 and 88 of the European Communities Treaty set out the basis of the Community rules on state aid.

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State aid measures, including taxation schemes, may be approved by the European Commission in so far as they do not distort or threaten to distort competition between member states.

Tax Harmonisation

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their definition of the term "tax harmonisation" and how this differs from any definition of the term held by (a) other European Union Member States' Governments and (b) the European Commission.[HL4616]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The only reference to any such term in the European Communities Treaty is in Article 93 which provision formed part of the revised Treaty under the Single European Act signed in 1986.


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