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Kick Boxing

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will make a statement about his Department's policy towards kick boxing. [4086]

Mr. Banks [holding answer Monday 23 June 1997]: The Government does not regulate kick boxing--or indeed any other sport in this country. This is a matter for the relevant governing body, or bodies, acting within the bounds of the law. However, I believe that those in charge of such sports have a duty to ensure they are conducted safely, particularly where there is a risk of injury, and that governing bodies of sport should have the appropriate medical and safety regulations in place. The tragic death of Sean McBride, following his participation in a kick boxing bout in Northern Ireland, highlights the need for governing bodies to take urgent and appropriate action.

Tobacco Companies (Sponsorship)

Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage, pursuant to his answer of 19 May, Official Report, column 361, if he will list the alternative sponsors he has identified to replace existing funding provided by tobacco companies for each sport in the event of the proposed ban on tobacco sponsorship of sport. [4289]

Mr. Banks: I will be looking very carefully at how best to achieve an end to the advertising and promotion of tobacco at sports events in a way that will minimise any damage to the sports concerned. Clearly we will do all we can to help the sports concerned identify alternative sponsors.

Tourism Industry

Mr. Butterfill: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what assessment he has made of the effect of VAT and the VAT threshold on the international competitiveness of the British tourism industry. [5137]

Mr. Tom Clarke: Issues concerning VAT and the VAT threshold are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am aware of the tourism industry's concerns about VAT-related issues, as is he.

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TREASURY

National Savings Accommodation Review

Mr. Jack: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to receive the results of the National Savings Accommodation Review. [3370]

Mrs. Liddell: The review of National Savings, future accommodation needs has now been subsumed into the exploration of a possible Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project. A shortlist of three property firms are being consulted, and the Agency hopes to issue an Invitation to Negotiate next month.

European Single Currency

Ms Kelly: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what respects the Bank of England would need to be reformed to meet all the requirements for central bank independence in the Maastricht treaty; and when legislation would need to be passed if the United Kingdom wished to join a European single currency at the beginning of 1999. [4243]

Mrs. Liddell: The proposed changes to the Bank of England will not make it compatible with the requirements in the EC Treaty which would apply if the United Kingdom were to adopt the single currency. In particular, the Governor would need to be fully independent when carrying out his tasks in the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, and the Bank of England would need to be able to play a full role in the European System of Central Banks and the formulation and implementation of the single monetary policy.

The Treaty provides for the ECB to take responsibility for the monetary policy of the single currency on 1 January 1999. The legislative framework enabling the Bank of England to play its part would need to be in place by 1 January 1999 at the latest if the United Kingdom were to adopt the single currency. Progress towards making the Bank of England compatible with the Treaty will be assessed by the Commission and the European Monetary Institute as part of their reports made in accordance with the procedure under Article 109j(1) of the Treaty probably in spring 1998.

Sir Richard Body: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) in whose name the deeds for the gold reserves for the Euro will be held; [4463]

Mrs. Liddell: The foreign reserve assets to be held and managed by the European Central Bank (ECB) will be provided by the national central banks of countries which adopt the single currency in accordance with Article 30 of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) annexed to the EC Treaty. The amount to be

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provided by each national central bank will depend on the size of its country's population and national income. It is not possible at this stage to say precisely how much the Bank of England would need to provide if the United Kingdom were to join. The amount required in total by the ECB and its precise composition will be decided by its Governing Council, within a ceiling provided by the Treaty.

Foreign reserve assets held and managed by the ECB will be "pooled", in the sense that the central banks which provide them will have in turn a proportionate claim on the assets of the ECB. The Governing Council will decide the degree of decentralisation of the activities of the ESCB. There are likely to be good reasons for some or all foreign reserve assets to remain in individual national central banks, so that they can be used more effectively in local financial markets for example.

The Treaty provides no mechanism or sanction specifically for use against a national central bank which fails to provide the required amount of foreign reserve assets.

Unemployment Benefit (Portsmouth)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people aged 17 to 25 years were claiming unemployment benefit in Portsmouth in June of (a) 1974, (b) 1979, (c) 1988, (d) 1992, (e) 1993, (f) 1994, (g) 1995 and (h) 1996; and what percentage of the total number of those in this age group these figures represent. [4743]

Mrs. Liddell: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given. Letter from Tim Holt to Mr. Michael Hancock, dated 25 June 1997:


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Unemployment

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people aged 18 to 24 years have come off unemployment benefits in each of the past five years; and what were the alternative activities to which they moved.[4995]

Mrs. Liddell: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given. Letter from Tim Holt to Mr. David Willetts, dated 25 June 1997:

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has asked me to reply as the Director of the Office for National Statistics to your recent question on how many people aged 18 to 24 years have come off unemployment benefits in each of the past five years; and what were the alternative activities to which they moved.


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Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many persons aged 18 to 24 years in the Colchester parliamentary constituency who are currently registered unemployed have never been employed. [5003]

Mrs. Liddell: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given. Letter from Tom Holt to Mr. Bob Russell, dated 25 June 1997:




    The Chancellor of the Exchequer has asked me to reply as the Director of the Office for National Statistics to your recent question asking how many persons aged 18 to 24 years in the Colchester parliamentary constituency who are currently unemployed have been employed.

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