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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 2 May 1989


Government Debt

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what date he expects Government debt to be wholly repaid.

Mr. Lilley : Repayment of the whole of the outstanding stock of debt is not an objective of Government policy.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the approximate current overseas holding in the national debt.

Mr. Lilley : At the end of 1987-88, the total market holdings of sterling national debt were £173.2 billion, of which £22.1 billion were held by the overseas sector.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which financial sectors received the largest repayment of debt arising from the recent Budget decisions.

Mr. Lilley : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave him on 4 April 1989, at column 5. Detailed figures for 1988-89 will not be available for several months. It is impossible to identify in advance the precise composition of the debt repayment arising from the forecast PSDR of £14 billion in 1989-90.

Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the national debt at May 1979 and at April 1988.

Mr Lilley : National Debt is measured annually at the end of the financial year. The total outstanding at the end of 1978-79 was £86.9 billion (47 per cent. of GDP) and at the end of 1987-88 was £197.3 billion (44 per cent. of GDP).

National debt however, is not the best measure of public sector indebtedness, for instance because it covers only central Government debt, not the whole of the public sector. A better measure is net public sector debt, which was £95.3 billion (50 per cent. of GDP) at the end of 1978 -79, and £171.3 billion (38 per cent. of GDP) at the end of 1987-88.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the principal beneficiaries to date of his 1989 Budget decision to repay £14 billion Government debt.

Mr. Lilley : The nation as a whole will benefit from this decision as a result of the permanent reduction in debt interest payments, which will free public money for priority spending programmes while still reducing general Government expenditure as a share of GDP.

Petrol Prices

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what price assumptions for the price of (a) unleaded, (b) 2-star and (c) 4-star petrol he based his Budget

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proposals for the reduction in duty on unleaded petrol ; to what extent these have proved accurate ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lilley : My right hon. Friend made it clear in his Budget speech that he expected the full decrease in the duty on unleaded petrol to be passed on to the consumer. He also expected his proposals on 2-star petrol to raise the price at the pumps to the level of 4-star.

Siemens Printers

Ms. Walley : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Siemens ND3 printers are used by his Department, either in-house or through a private contract ; and what is the location of each.

Mr. Brooke : The Treasury does not use Siemens ND3 printers. We do not know what printers are used by our printing contractors.

Single Market

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on levels of value added tax in the context of progress towards the single market by 1992.

Mr. Lilley : The Government have made it clear on numerous occasions that they do not consider centrally imposed tax approximation to be necessary for the completion of the single market.

Capital Inflows

Mr. John Townend : To ask The Chancellor of the Exchequer if he can give an estimate of the inflow of capital into the United Kingdom due to high income taxpayers making the United Kingdom their base because of the tax regime introduced by Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Norman Lamont : Reductions in tax rates and the success of the Government's general economic policies have created a climate which encourages skilled people to work and pay tax in the United Kingdom. Tax reform has also played a part in encouraging foreign companies to locate in this country. However I regret that the information requested on capital inflows is not available.

Balance of Payments

Mr. John Evans : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are his criteria for deciding when it would be appropriate to revise his estimate of the balance of payments deficit for the current year. Mr. Major As usual, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will publish his next forecast with the 1989 Autumn Statement.

North Sea Oil

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the total value of North sea oil revenue from 1979 to the current date.

Mr. Lilley : The estimate of the value of North sea oil and gas revenues in fiscal years 1979-80 to 1988-89 is £69 billion.

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Manufactured Goods (Trade)

Mr. Mullin : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate for the balance of trade in manufacturing for the current year.

Mr. Major : I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) on 19 April, at column 168.

Value Added Tax

Mr. Battle : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Government expect to announce their proposals to levy value added tax on industrial water supply and sewerage services in line with the recent European Court of Justice ruling ; what are the expected administration costs of levying value added tax ; who will bear the costs ; and what is the expected annual return to the Exchequer of the value added tax levy.

Mr. Lilley : Clause 18 of the Finance Bill currently before the House details the Government's proposals. the expected additional administration costs for Customs and Excise will be minimal. Water undertakings will incur some administrative costs, mainly in setting up the arrangements. The net impact on Exchequer receipts will be negligible.

Income Tax and National Insurance

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will show for 1989-90 those ranges of earnings within which the burden of income tax plus national insurance is less than in 1978-79.

Mr. Norman Lamont : The burden of income tax plus national insurance will be less in 1989-90 than it was in 1978-79 at all levels of real earnings.

Housing Costs

Dr. Marek : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information he has with regard to other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries on the percentage contribution housing costs in various forms make to the calculations of a retail prices index ; and what is the comparable percentage for the United Kingdom.

Mr. Lilley [holding answer 20 April 1989] : Information on the contribution of housing costs to the consumer price indices for OECD countries is available from national statistical sources and from OECD Main Economic Indicators December 1988. The treatment varies greatly from country to country : for example, some countries include prices of fuel, water and home furnishings as part of housing costs, but others do not. There is also a variety of treatment of home ownership costs : some countries exclude these altogether, others include a measure of imputed rent, while others, like the United Kingdom, include mortgage interest payments. Available figures relate to the base year for the price indices and these differ across countries.

On this basis the information requested is as follows :

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Housing Costs                                  

Percentage weight in consumer price indices    



United States of America |42                   

Japan                    |21                   

Germany                  |15                   

France                   |9                    

United Kingdom           |18                   

Italy                    |4                    

Canada                   |38                   

Austria                  |11                   

Belgium                  |8                    

Denmark                  |19                   

Finland                  |18                   

Greece                   |13                   

Iceland                  |13                   

Ireland                  |6                    

Luxembourg               |0                    

Netherlands              |16                   

Norway                   |22                   

Portugal                 |0                    

Spain                    |18                   

Sweden                   |26                   

Switzerland              |17                   

Turkey                   |n/a                  

Australia                |14                   

New Zealand              |21                   

The following indicates precisely which costs are included in the total weight given to the housing component in the consumer price indices in each of the OECD countries. These costs are divided into three categories : (a) costs in the rented sector, (b) the costs of home ownership, and (c) other costs, including insome cases fuel, water, power and home furnishings.A -- indicates a zero weight for this item. The figures in brackets are the weights shown in the table.

United States (42) :

(a) Rent

(b) Imputed rent, taxes, repairs and insurance

(c) Fuel, power and home furnishings

Source : --Bureau of Labour Statistics

Japan (21) :

(a) Rent and repairs

(b) Imputed rent

(c) --

Source : --Statistics Bureau Management and Co-ordination Agency, Monthly Statistics of Japan

West Germany (15) :

(a) Rent

(b) Imputed rent

(c) --

Source : Statistisches Bundesamt, Statistisches Jahrbuch 1988. France (9) :

(a) Rent and repairs

(b) --

(c) --

Source : INSEE, Bulletin Mensuel de Statistique March 1989 United Kingdom (18) :

(a) Rent

(b) Interest payments, repairs, insurance and rates

(c) Water

Source : Department of Employment, Employment Gazette April 1989

Note : The weight of 18 per cent. given in the answer is the latest figure, and compares with 15.25 per cent. shown in table 3.10 of the FSBR.

Italy (4)

(a) Rent

(b) --

(c) --

Source : OECD, Main Economic Indicators December 1988

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Canada (38) :

(a) Rent

(b) Depreciation, interest payments, property taxes, insurance and repairs

(c) Fuel, power and home furnishing

Source : Ministry of Supply and Services, Canadian Economic Observer

Austria (11) :

(a) Rent

(b) Loan repayments

(c) Household services

Source : OsterreichischesInstitut fur Wirtschaftsforschung, Monatsberichte June 1987

Belgium (8) :

(a) Rent

(b) Imputed rent

(c) --

Source : Institut National de Statistique, Statistiques Sociales

Denmark (19) :

(a) Rent and maintenance

(b) --

(c) --

Source : Denmark statistics, Denmark Statistical Yearbook 1988 Finland (18):

(a) Rent

(b) Imputed rent

(c) Fuel and power

Source: OECD, Main Economic Indicators December 1988

Greece (13):

(a) Rent

(b) -

(c) -

Source: National Statistical Service of Greece, Statistical Yearbook of Greece 1986

Iceland (13):

(a) -

(b) Interest payments, land taxes, rates and maintenance (c) -

Source: OECD, Main Economic Indicators December 1988

Ireland (6):

(a) Rent

(b) Interest payments, rates, insurance and repairs.

(c) -

Source: OECD, Irish Statistical Bulletin March 1983

Luxembourg (0):

(a) -

(b) -

(c) -

Netherlands (16)

(a) Rent

(b) Imputed rent

(c) Water

Source: Netherlands Central Bureau of Statistics, Statistical Yearbook of the Netherlands 1987.

Norway (22):

(a) Rent

(b) Interest payments, rates, insurance and repairs.

(c) Fuel and power

Source: Central Bureau of Statistics, Monthly Bullettin of Statistics

Portugal (0):

(a) -

(b) -

(c) -

Spain (18) :

(a) Rent

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