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India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to visit India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to commemorate 50 years of their independence from Britain. [714]

The Prime Minister: Her Majesty, The Queen, and His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, will pay State Visits to India and Pakistan in October, and the Prince of Wales visited Bangladesh in February. I hope to visit South Asia before too long.

Roisin McAliskey

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has received from (a) the Government of the Irish Republic and (b) others about the continuing detention at HMP Holloway of Ms Roisin McAliskey; and if he will make a statement. [155]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 19 May 1997]: As far as I am aware, I have received no representations from the Government of the Irish Republic. There have been nine representations from members of the public and others about Ms McAliskey.


Forecasting (Market Testing)

Mr. Timms: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the feasibility and scope of possible market testing of the Treasury's forecasting function. [954]

Mr. Gordon Brown: The Government support market testing as one means to secure better value for money in the provision of public services.

Initial steps in the market testing process are to identify the feasibility and scope of services subject to market testing, and to check whether the potential value for money gains are sufficient to outweigh the costs of testing the market. In line with this procedure, consultants KPMG Management Consulting were appointed earlier this year to advise on the feasibility and scope, including value for

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money, of a market test of all, or some part of, the Treasury's macro-economic and public finances forecasting and monitoring function.

KPMG have now delivered their report, and I have considered it carefully. The touchstone must be value for money, that is achieving the most efficient and cost-effective method of delivering the forecast.

After extensive consultations, both inside and outside the Treasury, KPMG have noted that the quality of Treasury forecast output is generally perceived to be high, and that a decision to opt for an outside provider is unlikely to turn on this issue. In considering whether the market test would yield better value for money, KPMG have advised that the balance of potential resource savings and costs would not justify a market test. A copy of the KPMG report will be placed in the Library.

In the interests of securing best value for money, I am content to accept the KPMG advice, on merit, that the Treasury's forecasting function should not be subject to market testing, because in this case market testing would not lead to savings. I am concerned, however, to ensure that the forecasting function remains of high quality, and that it is carried out with the greatest efficiency. I intend to set rigorous targets for achieving that. With this in mind, I have noted that KPMG outlined possible internal reforms designed to use Treasury forecasting staff more flexibly and broaden their experience. I have asked my officials to pursue these suggestions.

Price Stability

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about the level of interest rates needed now to create price stability in two years' time. [286]

Mrs. Liddell: The Chancellor judged it necessary to raise interest rates on 6 May by a ¼ percentage point, to 6¼ per cent., in order to put us back on track to achieve the Government's inflation target. He also decided to give operational responsibility to the Bank of England to set interest rates at the level necessary to meet the Government's inflation target.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his definition of price stability. [302]

Mrs. Liddell: The Government are committed to meeting the previous target for low and stable inflation of 2½ per cent. or less.

Landfill Tax

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the names and addresses of those landfill operators who are currently paying landfill tax to HM Customs and Excise. [68]

Dawn Primarolo: The information requested will shortly be published by HM Customs and Excise. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House as soon as they are available.

Inheritance Tax Exemptions

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy to collect

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information on the number of members of the public who have exercised their right to require owners of chattels conditionally exempt from inheritance tax to allow viewing of these objects. [282]

Dawn Primarolo: I have noted the suggestion. The current arrangements are designed to ensure that qualifying chattels are preserved by their own owners and that these chattels are available for viewing by members of the public who wish to exercise their right of access under the law.


Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total level of tax per head of population for each EU country taking into account all sources of revenue. [295]

Dawn Primarolo: The information requested is provided in the table.

EU member stateTax revenue per capita
Republic of Ireland3,540
United Kingdom3,875


Revenue Statistics 1965 to 1995 OECD 1996 edition.

The information provided refers to 1994 as complete information for the year since then is not yet available.

Monetary Policy Committee

Dr. Marek: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what factors the Monetary Policy Committee will take into account when setting interest rates other than those relating to the meeting of the Government's inflation target. [138]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 19 May 1997]: The Monetary Policy Committee will be responsible for delivering price stability as defined by the Government's inflation target and, without prejudice to this objective, will support the Government's economic policy, including their objectives for growth and employment.



Mr. Hogg: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate she has made of the cost of rejoining UNESCO; and from what budget it will be met. [122]

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Clare Short: We plan to rejoin UNESCO with effect from 1 July. Our contribution for 1997 will cover the period 1 July-31 December 1997 at a cost of about £5 million. This will be met from the contingency reserve in the development budget.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what plans she has for further bilateral assistance to flood victims in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; [280]

Clare Short: We have provided over £968,000 in emergency grants since September 1995 to assist flood victims in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Funds have been channelled through international appeals by the United Nations and the International Federation of the Red Cross.


Whitemoor Prison

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will place a full transcript of the second Whitemoor escape trial in the Library. [158]

Mr. Hoon: The question concerns a matter which has been assigned to the Court Service under the terms of its framework document. I have therefore asked the chief executive to write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Michael Huebner to Mr. Kevin McNamara dated 20 May 1997:

PQ 98/16: Availability of the full transcript of the second Whitemoor escape trial

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