Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the (a) budgeted and (b) actual expenditure by his Department on (1) internal and (2) overseas travel by the Secretary of State in 1992-93 after 11 April 1992 and so far in 1993-94.
|1992-93 |<1>1993-94 ------------------------------------------------- Internal travel |£621,241 |£430,540 External travel |£ 36,935 |£ 17,300 <1>To 4 February.
Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which companies or organisations were invited to compete for the supply of electricity to Northern Ireland Electricity ultimately won by Scottish Power to supply it over the proposed interconnector ; what was the procedure for this tender ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Tim Smith : I understand that NIE initially approached a number of generating companies including National Power plc, PowerGen plc, Electricite de France, Scottish Hydro Electric plc in addition to Scottish Power plc before entering into detailed negotiations with the latter.
Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will place in the Library a copy of the Ove Arup report on the commercial assessment of the electricity interconnector with Scotland.
Column 240Regulator to take account of the results of a proper independent cost benefit analysis for the Province as a whole, prior to reaching a decision on the most economic source of electric power for Northern Ireland and making any future announcement.
Mr. Tim Smith : No. Under the terms of its licence Northern Ireland Electricity plc is required to purchase its power requirements as economically as possible and must satisfy the Director General of Electricity Supply that it has done so.
Mr. Ancram : Records of the number of applications from British citizens overseas are not held. The numbers of overseas electors included on the electoral register for 1993-94, and the expected figures for 1994- 95, are given in the table.
Overseas electors Constituency |1993-94 register|1994-95 register |(anticipated) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Belfast East |10 |9 Belfast North |8 |5 Belfast South |9 |4 Belfast West |1 |- East Antrim |3 |3 East Londonderry |9 |7 Fermanagh and South Tyrone |6 |7 Foyle |2 |1 Lagan Valley |3 |2 Mid Ulster |6 |5 Newry and Armagh |4 |2 North Antrim |6 |7 North Down |21 |19 South Antrim |3 |2 South Down |2 |3 Strangford |10 |9 Upper Bann |5 |6 |------- |------- Total |108 |91
Mr. Tim Smith : LEDU, Northern Ireland's small business agency, plans to continue to encourage such activities through its community business programme which provides a package of grant aid as well as loan funding.
In addition, the Northern Ireland Co-operative Development Agency (NICDA), which is funded by Government, encourages the development of worker co- operatives, service co-operatives, community enterprises and employee share ownership plans, through a range of services.
Dr. Wright : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which appointments since 1979 to public bodies or posts for which he is responsible have included candidates nominated by the Chief Whip's Office ; if any nominees by this source have been appointed ; and if he will give details.
Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list those topics on which it is not his practice to answer parliamentary questions ; and if he will list any recent changes in the practice of his Department.
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (President)
Roger de L. Holmes, Deputy Master of the
Column 242Royal Mint (Chairman)
Marchioness of Anglesey
Professor E. Arthur Bell
Sir Hugh Casson
Dr. Christopher Challis
Sir John Hale
Professor Bryan Kneale
Dr. Conrad Swan
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the (a) budgeted and (b) actual expenditure by Her Majesty's Treasury on (i) internal and (ii) overseas travel by the Chancellor of the Exchequer since 27 May 1993.
Item |Budget (£)|Actual (£) ------------------------------------------------------- Overseas travel |38,531 |24,613 United Kingdom travel |1,087 |556
Mr. Nelson : The table shows the state of progress of EC member states with respect to the convergence criteria as set out in the Maastricht treaty. Definitions of the indicators of convergence have not yet been fully standardised and the figures are therefore only indicative at this stage.
Performance against Maastricht convergence criteria |Latest |Budget |General |Long-term |inflation<1> |balance<2> |government |bond yield<4> |debt<3> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Belgium |2.4 |-7.4 |139.1 |6.6 Denmark |1.5 |-4.4 |80.2 |6.2 France |2.1 |-5.9 |58.3 |5.9 Germany<5> |3.4 |-4.2 |50.8 |5.9 Greece |11.1 |-15.4 |111.3 |n/a Ireland |1.5 |-3.0 |93.7 |6.4 Italy |4.0 |-10.0 |116.2 |8.4 Luxembourg |3.6 |-2.5 |8.9 |6.6 Netherlands |1.7 |-4.0 |83.4 |5.8 Portugal |6.6 |-8.9 |65.8 |9.1 Spain |4.9 |-7.2 |53.8 |8.0 United Kingdom |1.9 |-7.6 |51.8 |6.5 <1> Latest percentage change in consumer prices on year ago. <2> Estimate of 1993 general government financial balance (as a percentage of GDP). <3> Estimate of 1993 gross debt of general government (as a percentage of GDP). <4> Yield on 10 year government securities on 7 February 1994. <5> Inflation figures are for western Germany. Source: OECD and European Commission.
The convergence criteria are :
a high degree of price stability, as measured by consumer price inflation over one year being within 1 percentage points of, at most, the three lowest inflation countries ;
Column 242no "excessive" budget deficit, as judged by ECOFIN. (A Commission report to ECOFIN might be triggered by a budget deficit above 3 per cent. of GDP or a ratio of public debt to GDP above 60 per cent. of GDP) ;
Column 243average long-term nominal interest rates over one year within two percentage points of rates in, at most, the three lowest inflation countries ;
respecting the normal fluctuation margins in the ERM without severe tensions for at least the last two years. In particular, the member state shall not have devalued its currency's bilateral rate against any other member state's currency on its own initiative for the same period.
Currently Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain are members of the ERM. On 2 August 1993 the fluctuation margins of the ERM were temporarily widened to 15 per cent.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated per capita average rate of economic growth in each of the industrial countries in real terms (a) between 1964 and 1973, (b) between 1973 and 1979, (c) between 1979 and 1988 and (d) between 1988 and 1993.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish figures for the current tax year, showing incomes net of income tax and national insurance contribution, plus child benefit for (a) single people earning £30,000 a year, (b) single-wage married couples earning £30,000 a year, (c) two-wage married couples each spouse earning £15,000, (d) single-wage couples plus two children aged four and 10 years and plus four children aged four, 10, 13 and 15 years, again with £30,000 per family per year and (e) two-income couples plus two children and plus four children, ages as above, each spouse with £15,000 ; if, in each case, he will equivalise the families' net incomes, using the equivalence ratios used by the Department of Social Security in their households below average incomes analysis, but taking single people as the reference point ; and if he will recalculate both sets of figures assuming that married couple's allowance had been phased out.
Mr. Dorrell : Information is given in the table. The calculation of income tax liability assumes that no reliefs or allowances other than the personal and married couple's allowance are available. All earners, including wives, are assumed to pay class 1 national insurance at the contracted-in rate. The equivalence scales used are before housing costs are deducted.
£ per year 1993-94 tax Assuming no regime married couple's allowance |Income net of tax |Equivalised |Income net of tax |Equivalised |and |and |national insurance |net income |national insurance |net income |contributions, plus |contributions, plus |child benefit |child benefit ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (a) Single people earning £30,000 |21,296 |21,296 |21,296 |21,296 (b) Single wage married couples earning £30,000 |21,984 |13,405 |21,296 |12,985 (c) Two-wage married couples each spouse earning £15,000 |22,610 |13,787 |22,180 |13,524 (d) Single-wage couples plus two children aged 4 and 10 earning £30,000 |22,925 |9,924 |22,237 |9,626 Single-wage couples plus four children aged 4, 10, 13 and 15 earning £30,000 |23,768 |7,428 |23,080 |7,212 (e) Two income couples plus two children as above each spouse earning £15,000 |23,551 |10,195 |23,121 |10,009 Two-income couples plus four children as above each spouse earning £15,000 |24,394 |7,623 |23,964 |7,489
Sir John Cope : Details of the United Kingdom's public sector receipts by Government Department and EC fund, for the current United Kingdom financial year, will be published in March in the Chancellor's 1994 departmental report. The forecast of United Kingdom public sector receipts by calendar year for 1994, that is the current EC Budget year, will be published in the spring in the White Paper, "Statement on the 1994 Community Budget".
Column 244European Community's structural fund for each of the fund's objectives in the calendar year 1994, divided into payments to (a) central Government, (b) local government, (c) other public sector bodies and (d) the private sector.
Mr. Portillo : The structural funds are implemented by multi-annual programmes and the Commission has announced the United Kingdom's allocations under objectives 1, 3, 4 and 5(b) for the years 1994-1999 and under objective 2 for the years 1994-1996. The breakdown of those allocations between years will be a matter for negotiation with the Commission on the community support framework which lay down how the funds will be used.
It is not possible to say how much any sector will receive in advance of applications, for support being received from the funds and decisions taken.
Mr. Alan Howarth : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what arrangements he is making to ensure that a wide range of charities, investment management companies and other interested parties are invited to make representations to the Treasury in connection with the current review of the Trustee Investments Act 1961 ; and if he will list the names of organisations which have been invited individually to submit views.
Mr. Nelson : A number of changes to the Trustee Investments Act 1961 are currently being drafted. These are largely technical in nature and are either necessary to comply with European obligations or result from amendments to other statutes. The Treasury has undertaken a limited consultation on these changes, seeking the views of other Departments (including the Charity Commission), the Law Society, the Unit Trust Association and a small number of law firms who have expressed a desire for technical changes.
The Government are also considering the case for wider reform. If it is decided that there are grounds for such reform, we will ensure that bodies of the type mentioned are fully consulted.
Mr. Beith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he has taken or intends to take to secure extension of the derogation permitting the continuation of VAT zero rating in the United Kingdom beyond 1996.
Sir John Cope : At ECOFIN on 24 June 1991, all member states agreed that, under transitional agreements to last until at least the end of 1996, member states which at 1 January 1991 applied zero rates of VAT to certain goods and services in accordance with the provisions of Community law then in force would have the option of retaining them. The Sixth VAT Directive 77/388/EEC, as amended, provides that the transitional period will continue beyond the end of 1996 if there is not unanimous agreement of the definitive VAT system to operate from that date. The United Kingdom has made it clear that one of the conditions for such an agreement must be our right to continue with zero rates.
Mr. Rooker : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list those topics on which it is not his practice to answer parliamentary questions ; and if he will list any recent changes in the practice of his Department.
Sir John Cope : As with other taxes, the Chancellor takes account of a wide range of factors in setting the structures and rates of vehicle excise duty (VED). These include the need to raise revenue while minimising economic distortions ; the impact of the tax on inflation ; the transport costs of British industry and the competitive position of United Kingdom hauliers relative to their continental counterparts ; and the costs of other forms of transport. In general the Chancellor will seek to ensure that, through a combination of VED and fuel duty, road users at least cover the economic costs they impose, though further work is required to estimate these costs accurately. When direct charges for motorway use are introduced the Government will take these into account in setting motoring taxes.
Policy in the past has been that road vehicles should, through VED and fuel duty, at least cover their annual "track costs". However, the Government made clear in their Green Paper, "Paying for Better Motorways", that this measure has limitations as a basis for setting motoring taxes. For example, it takes account only of the cash costs of capital expenditure on road construction, and of current expenditure on road maintenance and makes no allowance for a return on capital. Publication of the annual Road Track Costs Bulletin will therefore be discontinued. The Government intend to produce better measures of the costs of road use including, where these can be valued, wider costs such as noise and other environmental costs.
Mr. Nelson [holding answer 1 February 1994] : Except for minor cases (eg misuse of stationery, postal services and sick certificates), staff found guilty of fraud have been dismissed. The number each year since 1989 is :
|Guilty of fraud|Dismissed ---------------------------------------------------------------- 1989-90 |0 |0 1990-91 |1 |0 1991-92 |2 |2 1992-93 |9 |4 <1>1993 |2 <1> To date.
The figures given exclude the Central Computer Telecommunications Agency and Chessington computer centre as these businesses were transferred to the Cabinet Office in 1992.
Column 247investigation and possible prosecution. All cases of fraud are also considered under the Treasury's disciplinary procedures.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to his answer of 20 January, Official Report, column 719, what representations he has received about human rights in respect of the arrangement for passing information from the courts to central Government.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to his answer of 20 January, Official Report, column 719, on matrimonial cases, when the decision to set up the arrangement in question was made ; by whom that decision was taken ; what representations he has received concerning the arrangement ; who made the decision to discontinue it ; what reasons led to its discontinuance ; when that decision was taken ; what its estimated cost was ; and in how many cases and by how many courts the information was requested under the second heading by the Home Office supplied.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The arrangement came into effect on 1 November 1993, following discussions between junior officials in the civil business division of my Department and officials of the Home Office between July and October. I have received no representations other than those from the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng). The matter became known to senior officials on 18 January 1994. Legal advice was sought which stated that the arrangement had no statutory authority. The decision to discontinue the arrangement was taken by the head of the civil business division on that day. Arrangements have been made to ensure that legal advice will be sought in all future cases of this type. The cost of each notification made under the arrangement is estimated at £1.16 for the inner London area and £1.06 for the remainder of the courts. I am informed by the Home Office that they received approximately 30 notifications between 1 November and 18 January, which have all been destroyed. It is not therefore possible to say how many separate courts provided information.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to his answer of 20 January, Official Report, column 719 , on matrimonial cases, how many arrangements currently exist or have existed within the last five years by which information from the courts is disseminated to (a) the Home Office or (b) other central Government Departments.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The following arrangements currently exist or have existed within the last five years by which information from the courts is or has been disseminated to central Government Departments :
To the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys :
Information about divorce decrees absolute (in accordance with the senior district judges' direction of 20 January 1992).
To the Child Support Agency
As required by the Child Support (Information, Evidence and Disclosure) Regulations 1992.
Column 248To the Inland Revenue :
Information about small maintenance orders in accordance with the requirements of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970 (this was discontinued on 6 April 1989).
To the Home Office (Immigration and Nationality Department) : Information about divorce cases where the parties were married in the United Kingdom and separated on the same day (this was discontinued on 18 January 1994).
In addition to this information, various pieces of statistical information which do not identify particular cases or parties are supplied by the courts for use, for example, in the Judicial Statistics.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is the current charge for the issue of a writ ; what it was 12 months ago ; when it was last changed ; what considerations underlay the scale of the change ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. John M. Taylor : Under the Supreme Court Fees (Amendment) Order 1993 the writ fee was increased from £70 (set in 1990) to £100. In setting the level of these fees, the Department has sought to begin closing the gap between the present level of cost recovery and its target of full cost recovery from court users by 1996-97.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what discussions have taken place between the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Home Office concerning possible changes to the Police and Magistrates' Courts Bill [Lords].