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Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number of person days lost through unemployment since May 1979. [12316]

Mrs. Angela Knight: There is no means of assessing such a figure because no central records are kept of the numbers of hours unemployed people worked prior to becoming unemployed, nor of the number of hours they now wish to work.

North Sea Oil and Gas

Mr. Battle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much income the Government have received from North sea (a) oil and (b) gas exploitation for each year since 1979. [12480]

31 Jan 1996 : Column: 753

Mr. Jack: Tax revenues from oil and gas production were given in answer to the hon. Member for Warley, West (Mr. Spellar) on 12 December 1995, Official Report, columns 1053-54. Separate figures for revenues from oil and gas are not available because the main taxes concerned, corporation tax and petroleum revenue tax, are charged on aggregate company and field profits respectively. Royalties are also levied on each field's aggregate production. Many companies have interests in both oil and gas extraction and, in many fields, both products are extracted.

Positive about Disabled People Symbol

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list for his Department and each of the agencies for which he is responsible, if it uses the Employment Service's positive about disabled people symbol for (a) external recruitment and (b) internal recruitment and promotion. [11992]

Mrs. Angela Knight: The Employment Service's positive about disabled people symbol is one of the action points in the Department's action plan on disability introduced last year.

Of the Treasury's four agencies, one--the Royal Mint--currently uses the symbol for external recruitment. The Central Statistical Office, Paymaster and the Valuation Office agency are considering whether to become symbol users.

Bills (Late Payment)

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions his Department has had with other Government Departments following the publication of the figures showing percentages of bills paid late in 1994-95. [12223]

Mrs. Angela Knight [holding answer 29 January 1996]: The Treasury has an ongoing dialogue with other Government Departments and commercial organisations on a range of procurement-related topics, including bill payment. Lessons learnt during these discussions can result in the adoption of more efficient methods of working for all concerned.

The Treasury is a signatory to the Confederation of British Industry code of payment.

Retail Prices Index

Sir Timothy Sainsbury: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will instruct the retail prices index advisory committee to assess whether the retail prices index takes sufficient account of (a) quality change new versions of products, (b) totally new products and (c) a formula bias arising from overweighting of items entering the index at temporarily low prices; [12692]

31 Jan 1996 : Column: 754

Mr. Kenneth Clarke: I have no plans at present to convene the retail prices index advisory committee. However, a recent report by Nicholas Oulton of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, commissioned by the Treasury, looked at many of these issues in detail. This report, "Treasury Working Paper 68: Reliability and Accuracy in UK Price Indices", which was published in March 1995, is available in the House of Commons Library.

Disabled People (VAT)

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what factors have led to the imposition of VAT on disabled individuals purchasing computer equipment; [12691]

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: There have been no changes in the application of VAT to computer equipment for disabled people. Such equipment, when designed solely for disabled people's use, is zero rated. General purpose equipment is, and always has been, liable at the standard rate. There has been no need to consult because there has been no re-interpretation of the law.

No directives on the liability of computer equipment have been issued by Customs and Excise. A copy of customs notice 701/7/94, "VAT reliefs for people with disabilities", has already been placed in the Library of the House.

Gross Domestic Product

Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the average annual rate of growth of Britain's gross domestic product (a) since the first quarter of 1990 and (b) since the first quarter of 1979. [12596]

Mrs. Angela Knight: The average annual rate of growth of Britain's real GDP--gross domestic product at constant factor cost--between the first quarter of 1990 and the fourth quarter of 1995 was 1.1 per cent. Between the first quarter of 1979 and the fourth quarter of 1995, the average annual rate of growth was 2 per cent.

Employment Statistics (Lancashire)

Mr. Pike: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what percentage of (a) manual and (b) non-manual (i) male and (ii) female part-time workers work less than (1) eight hours, (2) 16 hours and (3) 24 hours in each borough in Lancashire. [12839]

Mrs. Angela Knight: It is not possible to provide data for county boroughs.

Information showing hours worked by part-time men and women in Lancashire is given in the table.

New Earnings survey 1995
Part-time employees in Lancashire--weekly hours

Percentage working less than:
Excluding overtimeIncluding overtime
8 hours16 hours24 hours8 hours16 hours24 hours

31 Jan 1996 : Column: 755

31 Jan 1996 : Column: 755


Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the amount of debt per household for every £100 of disposable income at the last date for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [12024]

Mr. Angela Knight: There are no official estimates of the financial assets and liabilities of the household sector. Estimates for the personal sector--which includes households, individuals, private trusts, unincorporated businesses and non profit-making bodies serving persons--are published by the Central Statistical Office in table 12.2 of the "UK National Accounts", known as the "Blue Book", which is available in the Library of the House. At the end of 1994, the personal sector had financial liabilities worth £524 billion, financial assets worth £1,656 billion, and non-financial assets worth £1,419 billion, implying total net wealth of £2,551 billion. Personal disposable income in 1994 was £473 billion. So, for every £100 of disposable income, the personal sector held £111 of financial liabilities and had total net wealth of £539 at the end of 1994.


Land Mines

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what mechanisms exist to ensure public notification occurs in respect of changes in the moratorium on the export of land mines. [12761]

Mr. Arbuthnot: Any change to the UK's moratorium on the export of anti-personnel mines would be notified to Parliament, as was the change announced on 15 March 1995 by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Official Report, columns 860-63.

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