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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his Department has completed the study of the experience of the United States as a monetary union, which was referred to in the HM Treasury Paper issued on 6 September, entitled, ''The Treasury's Approach to the Preliminary and Technical Work''; and if he will make a statement. 
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 22 October 
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into the Royal Mint. 
The SFO announced on 26 September 2002 that it is now carrying out an investigation into the Royal Mint in respect of alleged improper payments made between 1996 and 1999.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to privatise the Royal Mint. 
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The Government must conduct a ''Prior Options Review'' of the Royal Mint every five years, due to its Executive Agency status. The next review is due in 20034.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to put out to tender the Treasury contract for United Kingdom coinage; and if he will make a statement. 
The Treasury keeps the arrangements for the supply of circulation coins under review. The current arrangements with the Royal Mint have several years to run. They are designed to enable both the Treasury and the Mint to plan for the medium term on a commercial basis, and to ensure a cost-effective supply of coins to meet demand.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made towards improving the productivity performance of the UK economy; and if he will make a statement. 
Productivity has grown since 1997, even with rapidly falling unemployment. Productivity growth between 1997Q2 and 2002Q1 has averaged 1.3 per cent. p.a. (comparing each quarter with a year earlier). This is in the context of rising employment (increased employment of over 1½ million since Spring 1997), while unemployment as measured either using the International Labour Organisation methodology or via the ''claimant count'' has been at its lowest since the 1970s over the past year.
The Government's long-term ambition is that Britain will achieve a faster rate of productivity growth than its main competitors, closing the productivity gap. The creation of a sustainable, stable macroeconomic framework since 1997 has provided the foundation for productivity growth in UK firms, and microeconomic reforms are supporting and encouraging further growth. These reforms include:
the Competition Act 1998, which prohibits anti-competitive agreements and abuses of dominant market position;
the Enterprise Bill (introduced to Parliament in March 2002), which will build on the achievements of Competition Act by further strengthening our competition authorities;
Research & Development tax creditstogether the small and large company credits provide #500 million new support for business R&D;
the largest sustained growth in spending on science for a decade, with the 2002 Spending Review committing some #1.25 billion additional spending by 200506 compared to 200203;
a Green Paper setting out a fundamental reform of the land-use planning system to ensure that it does not provide a barrier to economic growth and productivitythe 2002 Spending Review allocated the ODPM substantial additional resources to drive forward the reforms set out in the Green Paper;
a 10 year plan for transport, which sets out plans for public and private investment of more than #180 billion up to 2010, creating a modern transport network across the UKthe 2002 Spending Review continued the investment necessary to deliver the Ten-Year Plan, increasing public expenditure on transport from #7.6 billion in 200203 to #11.6 billion in 200506;
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reduced corporation tax ratesthe main rate has been reduced from 33 per cent. to 30 per cent., the lowest ever UK rate; the small company rate has been reduced from 23 per cent. to 19 per cent., and a new starting rate has been introduced, reduced in 2002 to 0 per cent. for profits under #10,000; average corporation tax bills for small companies have been cut by 30 per cent. since 1997;
increased investment to raise standards in educationspending per pupil was #2,700 in 1997, but rose to #3,500 last year; this could rise to #4,900 per pupil by 200506, which after inflation, is 50 per cent. more per pupil than in 1997;
ambitious new policies and targets to improve adult literacy and numeracy, and increase lifelong learning; and
reforms to the work permit and immigration systems to ensure that UK employers can recruit staff with the skills they need.
Substantial productivity gaps with our major competitors remain. Nevertheless, recent encouraging evidence includes:
the rating of the UK by the OECD as having the lowest barriers to entrepreneurship of any major economy;
Global Competition Review awarding the UK competition regime four and a half stars this year (compared with three and a half last year); this rating was bettered only by the US Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission (5 stars);
increased gross expenditure on R&D in the UK of 11.6 per cent. in real terms between 1997 and 2000;
improved educational achievement of young peoplethe proportion of 16 year olds achieving 5 or more GCSEs at grades A*-C increased by 8 per cent. between 19978 and 20012 to over 50 per cent.; and
an increase of 61,000 in the number of businesses registered for VAT between 1997 and 2000.
FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if Gibraltar's special tax status is held to be a barrier to integration. 
It has been the policy of successive British Governments not to integrate Overseas Territories into the United Kingdom. This Government's policy, as set out in its 1999 White Paper, is to promote a modern and effective partnership with them.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his proposals for shared sovereignty with Spain over Gibraltar. 
I refer my hon. Friend to the statement my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made to the house on 12 July, Official Report, columns 1165 to 1167.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what attempts have been made by the United Kingdom to encourage the United States administration to agree to intrusive inspections of chemical sites in the US with regard to the International Chemical Weapons Convention. 
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) entered into force in 1997. Industrial inspections did not begin in the United States until 2000, because the necessary national implementing legislation had not
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been put in place. The United Kingdom had consistently pressed the United States to put this legislation in place at the earliest opportunity. Since the implementing legislation has been in place, the United States has accepted all inspections of its chemical sites required by the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is responsible for ensuring the implementation of the Convention.
From entry into force of the CWC and 31 December 2001, the OPCW conducted 1117 inspections. Of these 374 (33 per cent.) were in the United States. In addition, OPCW inspectors are at each of the United States' chemical weapons destruction facilities at all times, conducting round-the-clock monitoring.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information was produced by UNSCOM to December 1998 that identified United Kingdom origin technology and material discoveries in production plants used for the manufacture of (a) chemical weapons or their pre-cursor agents, (b) biological weapons and (c) nuclear weapons or fissile material manufacture or processing. 
Reports of all of UNSCOM's findings are published on the UNSCOM website (www.un.org/unscom).
During their inspections, UNSCOM and the IAEA Action Team identified items imported directly or via middle-men from a variety of countries, including some of UK origin at sites that they visited.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the ambassadors he has appointed since June 2001. 
The following have taken up their positions as Ambassadors or High Commissioners since June 2001:
Christopher Prentice, Jordan
Paul Brummell, Turkmenistan
Basil Eastwood, Switzerland
Sir Emyr Jones Parry, Permanent Representative, UKDel
Bernard Whiteside, Moldova
Hamish Daniel, East Timor
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Michael Smith, Tajikistan
Richard Lavers, Guatemala
Kathryn Colvin, The Holy See
Dame Glynne Evans, Portugal
Anne Pringle, Czech Republic
Haydon Warren-Gash, Morocco
Georgina Butler, Costa Rica
Andy Ashcroft, Dominican Republic
Ian Cliff, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Sherard Cowper-Coles, Israel
Fraser Wilson, Seychelles
Peter Jenkins, Permanent Representative, UK Mission to UN, Vienna
Richard Fell, New Zealand
Alasdair MacDermott, Namibia
Richard Wildash, Cameroon