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Mr. Newton : In the current Parliament up to and including Friday 15 July, 11,153 oral and 92,414 written questions have appeared on the Order Paper. These figures do not include questions for oral answer which were unsuccessful in the shuffle or questions which were withdrawn before the day on which they were to be asked. Using the latest estimated costs of £225 for answering an oral question and £97 for answering a written one-- Official Report, 30 November 1993, column 387, --the total cost of answering these questions is estimated at £11,473,583. These costs do not include printing and publishing costs or the work of the Table Office in processing the questions.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what effect the known earnings of rugby union players has on the private club status of rugby union clubs with regard to the payment of income tax.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 11 July, Official Report, column 378 (1) how many rugby union clubs are paying employers' national insurance contributions in respect of earnings or financial rewards received by players ;
(2) if payments of income tax and national insurance contributions from earnings through playing rugby union are now being received.
Mr. Dorrell [holding answer 15 July 1994] : The Inland Revenue's special compliance office has started investigations into rugby union clubs. These investigations are continuing and at this stage is not appropriate to comment further.
|£ million ------------------------------ 1990-91 |70 1991-92 |115 1992-93 |125 1993-94 |110 Note: Figures rounded to the nearest £5 million.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how the public sector accounts for pension costs and for the change in potential pension liabilities for (a) civil servants in Departments and (b) executive agency staff.
Mr. Dorrell : Staff in Departments and executive agencies are members of the principal civil service pension scheme. Although the scheme is unfunded, employers meet on an accruals basis the cost of pension cover provided for their staff by the payment of accruing superannuation liability charges. These payments are appropriated in aid of the treasury civil superannuation vote ; class XVII, vote 3. The level of the charge reflects actuarial assessment by the Government Actuary of the payments that need to be made to finance the liabilities of the scheme.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the cost of pensions paid to former Treasury staff in real terms in 1965, 1975, 1985 and the most recent year ; and what is the estimated cost in 1995 and 2000.
Mr. Dorrell : Staff of the Treasury are members of the principal civil service pension scheme which is the occupational pension arrangement for civil servants. The Treasury meets, on an accruals basis, the emerging pension costs of the staff it employs. Pension payments to former Treasury staff, including surviving spouses, are estimated at £21.75 million for 1993-94. Information relating to previous and future years is not readily available.
Sir John Cope : There are no plans to reduce the rate of pool betting duty upon the introduction of the national lottery. The rate of duty on the national lottery was included in the Finance Act 1993 in the light of many factors including the rate of pool betting duty.
Mr. Bayley : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of households in (a) York, (b) North Yorkshire and (c) Yorkshire and Humberside have incomes of (i) £10,000 per annum or less, (ii) £20,000 per annum or less, (iii) £64,000 per annum or less and (iv) £100,000 per annum or less.
Proportion of households with gross income of :
(i)--£10,000 per annum or less--40 per cent.
(ii)--£20,000 per annum or less--69 per cent.
(iii)--£64,000 per annum or less--99 per cent.
(iv)--£100,000 per annum or less--not available.
Mr. Hendry : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the cost to Her Majesty's Treasury if personal allowances were increased by (a) £1,000, (b) £2,000, (c) £3,000 and (d) £5, 000 for all people aged over (i) 70 and (ii) 75 years for the most recent year for which figures are available.
£ million Cost of increase in personal allowances for people aged |Increase in |70 years |75 years |allowance of|or over |or over ----------------------------------------------------------------- (a) |£1,000 |340 |190 (b) |£2,000 |600 |340 (c) |£3,000 |820 |460 (d) |£5,000 |1,130 |640
Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the upper percentage limit on pay increases in the public sector consistent with the Government's public sector pay policy.
Mr. Portillo : The approach to public sector pay is that increases should be met from existing budgets and should be paid for by greater efficiency or other savings. Settlements should reflect the particular circumstances of individual groups.
Mr. McMaster : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what role will be played by his Department in any consultation on disability ; and what plans he has to publish a consultation paper on countering unfair discrimination in financial services.
Mr. Portillo : My right hon. Friend the Minister for Social Security and Disabled People announced the publication of a consultation document on 15 July. The Treasury contributed to its preparation. I would encourage everyone with an interest in services to disabled people, including financial services, to respond to the consultation paper.
In the morning, the Council discussed, in open session, the work programme for the German presidency. I emphasised that the main task of the EU was to establish the conditions to reinforce the recovery of the European economy and thus create the new jobs that Europe needs to get unemployment down. This required the convergence of economic policies to restore healthy public finances and to keep inflation low. I also emphasised the importance that the United Kingdom attaches to effective action to tackle fraud against the Community budget.
The Council adopted the broad economic guidelines for the economic policies of the Community and the member states which had been approved by the European Council at Corfu on the basis of the text agreed by ECOFIN on 6 June.
The Council agreed in principle to a loan of up to 130 million ecu for Slovakia, to be disbursed in two equal tranches. Disbursement of the second tranche would be subject to further Council agreement. The Council adopted a set of detailed conclusions on the Commission's 1993 report on fraud, its strategic programme and 1994 work programme. Conclusions were also adopted, at United Kingdom initiative, on the procedure for examining special reports of the Court of Auditors to ensure that effective follow-up action is taken on the issues raised.
There was a general discussion of a proposed withholding tax--taxation of savings--from which no conclusions were drawn. I emphasised the United Kingdom's strong opposition to a tax of this sort. The presidency said that ECOFIN would return to the matter on 27 July.
The Council agreed to hold an orientation debate on 27 July on a VAT definitive system. There was a brief presentation from the Commission on the taxation of small and medium-sized enterprises, of which the Council took note.
No formal votes were taken in the Council meeting.
(2) what was the revenue cost of the capital gains tax concessions on personal equity plans in each of the last three years ; (3) what was the revenue cost of the tax concession on dividends in personal equity plans in each of the last three years.
Mr. Dorrell : Latest estimates of the income tax revenue costs are in the table. The average annual tax saving for a typical investor with a £6,000 PEP cannot be estimated, nor can a reliable estimate be made of the cost of tax relief on capital gains.
Estimated total cost of income tax relief |£ million ------------------------------ 1991-92 |90 1992-93 |120 1993-94 |<1>140 <1> Provisional.
Mr. Portillo : The Government propose to finance from the Treasury's civil superannuation vote 80 per cent. of the costs of early departures paid by the Paymaster General and currently recharged in full to Departments, to cover those eligible people leaving the civil service between 1 October 1994 and 31 March 1997. Parliamentary approval for this expenditure will be sought in a winter supplementary estimate for HM Treasury's civil superannuation vote ; class XVII, vote 3. Pending that approval, any urgent expenditure will be met by repayable advances from the Contingencies Fund.
Mr. Dorrell : The Government have arranged for an independent inquiry into the Inland Revenue's power to request accountants' papers. Mr. Philip Ely, a former president of the Law Society, has been appointed for this purpose, and representations are invited in an Inland Revenue press release issued today.
Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the initiative the Inland Revenue is taking in north- west England to apply PAYE to self-employed construction and plant-hire operators ; and what plans he has to extend this to other areas.
Mr. Dorrell [holding answer 18 July 1994] : There is no special initiative to apply PAYE to self-employed construction and plant- hire operators in north-west England. The Inland Revenue has reviewed the employment status of a number of individuals taken on by plant-hire operators in north-west England. This is to ensure that taxpayers are treated consistently in line with the Inland Revenue's commitment under the taxpayers charter. There are no plans for special initiatives in other areas. However, employment status will continue to be reviewed, where necessary, as part of the Inland Revenue's normal compliance activity.
Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer of 7 July, to the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett), Official Report, column 447, what assessment he has made of the appropriateness of the payment of £500 to members of the Railtrack board for attendance at a board meeting.
The Prime Minister : All Railtrack board payments were agreed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport and by the Treasury before Railtrack was established. No additional payments have been introduced since that time.
Non-executive directors of Railtrack receive a £500 fee for each meeting of one of the board's committees--safety, environment and health ; audit ; and remuneration--which they attend as a member. Each committee meets up to four times a year, and no non-executive director is a member of more than two. They receive a separate annual fee of £10,000 for their main board duties.
These payments are consistent with the Treasury guidelines on nationalised industry board members' appointments, pay and bonuses.
Mr. Pike : To ask the Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with (a) European leaders and (b) Commonwealth leaders about (i) the Trinidad terms and (ii) Kashmir ; and if he will make a statement.
The Prime Minister : I announced in the House on 11 July 1994, Official Report , column 668, that the Naples summit had agreed to pursue additional measures aimed at increasing the level of debt relief for the poorest countries in line with the initiative that I originally proposed four years ago. We have consistently pressed for the implementation of full Trinidad terms in contacts with European, Commonwealth and other Governments. We regularly discuss Kashmir with our European Union
Column 97partners, and with the Indian and Pakistan Governments who are the Commonwealth Governments most directly concerned.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what representations Her Majesty's Government have received from the Secretary General of the Arab League about the Arab League's resolutions on Lockerbie and the destruction of Pan Am 103.
Mrs. Roche : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 12 July, Official Report, column 483, how many overseas visits he has made as Prime Minister during which he undertook fund-raising activities for the Conservative party.
The Prime Minister : A special meeting of the European Council was held in Brussels on 15 July to consider the presidency of the European Commission and certain international questions. I attended with my right hon. Friend, the Foreign Secretary and with my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Following his consultations with Council members over the previous two weeks, the President of the European Council, Chancellor Kohl, proposed that the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Mr. Jacques Santer, should take over as the President of the European Commission on 7 January 1995.
All members of the Council endorsed this proposal. During a short discussion, I underlined the challenges facing the European Union in the period ahead, including making the single market and the need to extend prosperity and security to the east. I believed that Mr. Santer was well qualified to lead the European Commission during this period. He will have an important role to play in bringing together different points of view.
In accordance with article 158 of the treaty on European Union, the Council President will now consult the European Parliament on the nomination of Mr. Santer.
Column 98After a report by the Italian Prime Minister on the Naples summit, the Council discussed the former Yugoslavia. My right hon. Friend reported on the visit which he had paid earlier in the week to the region with the French Foreign Minister. Heads of Government expressed their support for the contact group's plan. They believed that everything possible should be done to secure its acceptance and avoid a yet more dangerous situation.
The French Prime Minister briefed the Council on the action taken by his Government in Rwanda. In the light of the grave humanitarian situation there, the Council asked the Commission to bring forward proposals for additional aid from the European Union.
Finally, the Council discussed the Baltic states and Ukraine. The European Union is seeking to develop its relationships with those countries ; to work for the withdrawal of the last Russian troops from the Baltic States ; and to help Ukraine to develop a new energy strategy, including closure of the nuclear power plants at Chernobyl.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We are aiming to achieve increases over the next two years and more in some or all of the following countries : Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, the Gambia, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Cambodia, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Peru. Achieving this aim will depend on agreeing, with the countries and institutions concerned, proposals that we judge to be sufficiently likely to succeed in their objectives.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the percentage of their aid budgets that is spent by each of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries on population and reproductive health.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I refer the hon. Member to the OECD's 1993 development assistance committee chairman's report, a copy of which will be placed in the House Library, for details of the percentages of each member state's aid budget spent on population and health. The most recent information from the OECD and the United Nations Population Fund indicates that in 1991 average OECD expenditure on population as a percentage of overall development assistance was about 1.3 per cent. The United Kingdom figure was just under 1.5 per cent.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the World bank that more should be spent on population and reproductive health measures ; and what has been the result of those representations.
Column 99representatives have urged that further attention should be given by the bank to population and reproductive health. This approach has been endorsed by both bodies. World bank funding of this work is increasing and it is producing a sector review of population in developing countries.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether, at the forthcoming United Nations Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, he will make it clear that Her Majesty's Government's policy is that when, how many or whether to have children is a decision for women and men to make freely without coercion.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We believe that women and men should be able to access the information, commodities and services that they need to reduce the likelihood of conception and thus have children by choice, not chance. They should be free to decide whether to use contraceptive measures, and which to use, without coercion of any kind. Our delegation to the United Nations Conference on Population and Development in Cairo will emphasise these elements of Government policy.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : At present, less than 1 per cent. of the European Community aid budget is spent on population and reproductive health measures. Between 1991 and 1993, the EC provided 58 mecu--£45 million --for population and reproductive health measures, mostly in South Asia and Mediterranean countries. Financing of some 27 mecu--£21 million --is planned for 1994.
Conversion rate for July 1994 : 1 ecu = £0.7817.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of Britain's bilateral aid budget was devoted to population and reproductive health activities in 1979 and each of the past five years.
Percentage of bilateral net official development assistance devoted to population and reproductive health programmes |Per cent. ------------------------------ 1979 |0.31 1989 |0.30 1990 |0.97 1991 |0.89 1992 |0.93 1993 |1.48
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the World Health Organisation that more should be spent on population and reproductive health measures ; and what has been the result of those representations.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Decisions about the allocation of the World Health Organisation's regular budget are made by successive world health assemblies, by means of resolutions that are based on recommendations of the
Column 100executive board. Through participation in the executive board's working group on WHO's response to global change, British officials encourage WHO to propose plans of work that reflect global priorities--including the need to improve reproductive health. The United Kingdom is the single largest donor to the co-sponsored United Nations programme of human reproduction research, administered by WHO. This contribution and active role in the HRP's policy and co-ordination committee has enabled us to influence the intensity and focus of this programme's research.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the United Nations Development Programme about the rate of progress in implementing reconstruction projects in north-west Somalia.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We continue to press UNOSOM and other multilateral agencies to pursue sustainable programmes of assistance in the north-west. But their ability to do so is dependent on the existence of a secure environment, stability and a planning framework which sets clear priorities and mechanisms for accountability.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : According to recent reports there are some 50,000 Sudanese refugees in three camps in Ethiopia, a number that has not substantially changed over the last three years. The camps are managed by the Ethiopian administrator for refugee affairs, are largely financed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and are in receipt of food aid supplied by the World Food Programme.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his latest information from the World Food Programme about the extent of humanitarian need in southern Sudan and about the adequacy of the international response ; and what action he is going to urge upon the United Nations.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The United Nations operation Lifeline Sudan has reported outstanding emergency needs of about £26 million for southern Sudan to the end of 1994, including 26,000 tonnes of food aid. We initiated and participated in United Nations-led discussions last month which produced a plan of action to address constraints on the delivery and management of the relief effort.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the difficulties in the relationship between the French forces and aid agencies in Rwanda ; and how they are to be resolved.
Column 101ODA assessment mission to this area last week, we will be funding a number of specific projects with British non- governmental organisations in that area.