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Q6. Dr. Godman : To ask the Prime Minister if, when he last met President Clinton, they discussed the structure, functions and membership of the Security Council of the United Nations ; and if he will make a statement.
The Prime Minister : This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what latest assessment Her Majesty's Government have received from medical sources of the latest disease position in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, related to defective water-pump and water-filtering equipment.
Column 222the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security on 14 March, Official Report, column 480, in respect of the uprating of the savings disregard.
The Prime Minister : There is no discrepancy between my answer on the lower savings disregard and my hon. Friend's answer, which explained the basis of the formula affecting savings held between £3, 000 and £8,000. There is no statutory requirement to increase the capital limits as part of the annual uprating of benefits. We keep the limits under review, but there are no current plans for change.
Mr. Byers : To ask the Prime Minister how many current and former officials and Ministers in his Department, including the Cabinet Office, have been asked to give written or oral evidence to the Scott inqury.
The Prime Minister : My predecesor and I have both given written and oral evidence to Lord Justice Scott's inquiry. In addition, one serving and one former official have given written and oral evidence relating to their respective service within the Prime Minister's Office and the Cabinet Office, and two former officials have submitted written evidence only.
2. Mr. Evennett : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much marginal rates on income tax have changed since 1979 ; and what evidence he has of the effect on incentives of cutting marginal rates of direct taxation.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : Since 1979 we have cut the top rate of tax from 83 per cent. to 40 per cent. and the basic rate from 33 per cent. to 25 per cent. We have introduced a new 20 per cent. rate for those on low incomes. This has improved incentives and encouraged enterprise at all levels.
Mr. Winnick : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of earnings was payable by a person on average income married with two children in direct and indirect taxation in 1978-79 and 1994-95.
Mr. Dorrell : I refer the hon. Member to the information placed in the House of Commons Library as noted in the answer to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Griffiths) on 13 April 1989, Official Report, column 620, for estimates, based on illustrative assumptions, of direct and indirect tax payments in 1978-79. Direct and indirect tax payments in 1994- 95 will depend on what happens to prices, income and spending patterns.
Sir Fergus Montgomery : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what effect the changes in interest rates since 1990 have had on the disposable income, after mortgage payments, of an average family with an average mortgage.
7. Mr. Streeter : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the difference between (a) the total annual amount of income tax and national insurance contributions that it is estimated that a married man on average earnings with two children will pay in 1995-96 and
Column 224(b) the amount that the same person would pay in 1995-96 under the regimes of (i) 1977-78, indexed and (ii) 1978-79, indexed.
If a married man on average earnings with two children paid income tax and national insurance contributions in 1994-95 on the basis of the 1977-78 tax regime indexed to current prices he would be about £930 a year worse off ; on the same basis, the 1978-79 regime would make him £690 a year worse off.
Mr. Dorrell : Assuming that all income is earned, that the only income tax allowances and reliefs available are the married man's allowance for 1978-79 and the personal and married couple's allowance for 1993-94, and that class 1 national insurance contributions are paid at the contracted-in rate, the amounts payable were £116,542 in 1978-79 and £56,015 in 1993-94.
Mr. Portillo : In the first quarter of 1994, United Kingdom gross domestic product grew by 0.7 per cent., to a level 2.6 per cent. higher than a year before. GDP has now grown for eight quarters in succession.
Mr. Simon Coombs : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the average rate of retail price inflation in each of the last five Parliaments ; and what is the current average for the present one.
Parliament Assembled |Dissolved |Average rate of |Retail |Price Inflation Per |cent. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6 March 1974 |20 September 1974 |17.0 22 October 1974 |7 April 1979 |15.2 9 May 1979 |13 May 1983 |11.5 15 June 1983 |18 May 1987 |4.8 17 June 1987 |16 March 1992 |6.4
These compare with a current average of 1.4 per cent. for the present Parliament, assembled 27 April 1992 up to and including March 1994.
Mr. Portillo : Non-seasonal sales discounts are recorded in the retail prices index in the same way as any other price change, as are special offers that involve a straightforward price reduction. However, some special offers, such as discounts on multi-pack buys or on the next purchase, are not measured in the RPI.
The RPI does not identify the reasons for price changes, so the impact of non-seasonal sales and special offers is not separately distinguishable.
11. Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate how much more a married man on average earnings with two children will pay in taxation over the next two years as a result of the changes in taxes announced in last year's Budgets.
Mr. Portillo : Since 1978-79 the real take-home pay of such a family has risen by around £83 a week. What happens to its tax payments and take-home pay in the next two years will depend on what happens to its income and its spending pattern.
Sir John Cope : In the March 1992 Budget excise duties on all alcoholic drinks were increased by 4.5 per cent. In March 1993 most of these duties increased by 5 per cent., while the duty on spirits remained unchanged. On 1 January 1994 most alcohol duties increased by 1.9 per cent. but the duties on beer and spirits remained unchanged. Full details are available in the Budget documents and the relevant legislation.
Mr. Portillo : For domestic demand, the most recent figures available are for the fourth quarter of 1993. By then it had risen for seven successive quarters, to a level over 4 per cent. above its trough in the first quarter of 1992.
17. Mr. Steen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated loss of duty from alcoholic beverage sales in the United Kingdom for 1993-94 and for 1994-95 as a result of cross-border shopping in the single market.
Sir John Cope : Information on which to base an estimate is available only for the calendar year 1993. Customs and Excise estimate the loss of duty from additional cross-border alcohol sales as £70 million.
Mr. Nelson : Work on the industrial finance initiative and the associated programme of consultations will continue tinto the second half of this year. The output from the exercise will, in the first instance, inform our Budget considerations in the autumn.
Mr. Dorrell : Of the projects listed in "Breaking New Ground", published by the Treasury in November 1993, 30 are either completed or under construction. Decisions have still to be taken on some of the remaining projects, but the total value of those currently expected to proceed under the private finance initiative is over £6 billion, or approximately £8 billion if the Jubilee line extension is included.
Mr. Nelson : My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had a meeting with the Managing Director of the IMF on 24 April before the spring meetings of the IMF and World bank. He discussed many issues during the meeting, including relations with Russia.
Mr. Portillo : In the November 1993, "Financial Statement and Budget Report", GDP was forecast to grow by 2.5 per cent. in 1994-95. Underlying inflation, as measured by the RPI excluding mortgage interest payments, was forecast to be 3.25 per cent. in the fourth quarter of 1994. A new forecast will be published in the summer.
Paper Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the progress being made on follow up work on the Delors White Paper on growth, competitiveness and employment.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : The Brussels European Council in December 1993 discussed the Commission's White Paper on growth, competitiveness and employment. The presidency conclusions of the Council set out a framework for action, mainly by member states, to tackle unemployment and improve the European Community's competitive position. The main elements of this framework concern structural reform of labour markets ; deregulation ; completion of the single market ; and work on a programme of infrastructure projects--trans-European networks. I welcome the shift in the Community's agenda towards priorities advocated by the Government which this framework represents. The Council of Economic and Finance Ministers will discuss progress on 16 May and 6 June, in preparation for the Corfu European Council. I shall be reiterating the importance which the Government attach to effective implementation of the Brussels European Council conclusions, on a basis consistent with the principle of subsidiarity, and shall be seeking further progress in a number of areas.
Reform results in payments to farmers based on area of land rather than output produced, and this, combined with a set-aside obligation, reduces the encouragement of surplus production. Area payments to farmers increase budgetary costs, while the accompanying lower support prices reduce consumer and resource costs.
The budgetary costs of CAP reform continue to be met within the agricultural guideline.
Sir John Cope : Customs do not hold central records of seizures of illegal weapons prior to 1983. The table sets out the number of illegal weapons seized by Customs and Excise nationally in each financial year since 1983-84.
Year ended 31 March |Handguns |Rifles |Shotguns |CS Gas |Stun guns |Total |canisters ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1984 |908 |155 |10 |152 |11 |1,236 1985 |150 |52 |7 |174 |2 |385 1986 |108 |156 |11 |141 |30 |446 1987 |1,071 |28 |21 |114 |291 |1,525 1988 |168 |31 |6 |276 |309 |790 1989 |130 |55 |28 |395 |73 |681 1990 |1,489 |144 |44 |414 |301 |2,392 1991 |253 |535 |49 |1,132 |48 |2,017 1992 |176 |126 |82 |692 |53 |1,129 1993 |138 |41 |39 |2,580 |427 |3,225 1994 |304 |349 |68 |6,266 |216 |7,203 |------- |------- |------- |------- |------- |------- Totals |4,895 |1,672 |365 |12,336 |1,761 |21,029
Mr. Milburn : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people (a) were found by Customs to be illegally importing firearms and ammunition and (b ) were prosecuted for illegal importation of firearms and ammunition in (i) 1992 and (ii) 1993.
Sir John Cope : Customs do not hold central statistics on the number of people found to be illegally importing firearms and ammunition. The table shows, for 1992 and 1993, the number of : detected irregularities in firearms and ammunition importations ; seized firearms ; and resulting prosecutions. It is customs policy to take offence action, either by prosecution or compound penalty, when there is sufficient evidence to show that those concerned were knowingly concerned in a fraudulent evasion of United Kingdom prohibitions and restrictions. In all other cases action is restricted to seizure of the goods. The compound penalty procedure is used primarily in respect of non-commercial importations of CS gas canisters or undeclared firearms held for personal security reasons by visiting yachtsmen. These factors account for the low rate of prosecutions resulting from a large number of detections and seizures.