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Foreign Secretary's Private Office

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Prime Minister if (a) he or (b) his office were consulted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the possible appointment of Ms Regan to the Foreign Secretary's Private Office. [26308]

The Prime Minister: No.

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Prime Minister if his office was consulted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the terms of the agreement which terminated Miss Bullen's appointment. [26317]

The Prime Minister: No.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Prime Minister what was the purpose of the Minister without Portfolio's recent visit to a coal mine. [25428]

Mr. Mandelson: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the right hon. Member to the reply I gave the right hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude) on 16 January 1998, Official Report, column 351.

TREASURY

Civil Service Staff

Mr. Rhodri Morgan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of Civil Service staff of grade 5 and above within his Department, (a) have spent their entire civil service career within his Department, (b) have had secondments to (i) the private sector and (ii) other departments and (c) have come from other departments. [26023]

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Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 28 January 1998]: Of civil service staff at the equivalent of Grade 5 and above within the Treasury, 30 per cent. have spent their entire civil service career within the department, 19 per cent. have had secondments to the private sector, 52 per cent. have gone on loan to other departments and 45 per cent. have come from other departments.

Asia

Mr. Rendel: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues regarding the financial crisis in Asia; and if he will make a statement. [23871]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 28 January 1998]: The financial turbulence in Asia was discussed at length by European Finance Ministers at the ECOFIN meeting on 19 January, which the Chancellor chaired. HM Treasury, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Bank of England continue to monitor developments in the region very closely.

Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the potential participants in the supplemental finance assistance package for Korea--the UK, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States--issued a statement on 24 December 1997, welcoming the Korean authorities' announcement of additional measures to strengthen macroeconomic policy and accelerate structural reforms, and the disbursement of US$5 billion by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

The potential participants stated that they would be prepared to support action to advance by early January existing commitments of official finance, including the acceleration of IMF disbursements, and the disbursement of a substantial portion (US$8 billion) of the supplemental financial commitments made bilaterally--in the context of a significant voluntary extension of the maturities of existing claims by international banks on Korean financial institutions. The UK's share of this US$8 billion would be US$440 million.

Following discussions between the major commercial banks involved, the IMF and the Korean authorities, I understand major commercial banks are generally rolling over their short term lending to Korea. Discussions are under way on a medium term agreement providing for a significant extension of the maturity of this debt. Bilateral official finance, including the UK's facility, has not yet been disbursed.

The IMF also released a statement on 24 December, which welcomed Korea's intensification and acceleration of its macroeconomic policy adjustments and structural reforms, and indicated the IMF's intention to accelerate the resources available to Korea under the existing stand-by credit.

Since these statements were made, the IMF disbursed US$2 billion on 30 December 1997, and a further US$2 billion on 7 January 1998. This brings the total IMF disbursement to US$13.1 billion.

The financial turbulence in Asia is of global concern and requires a global response. As an open economy, the UK is deeply interested in economic prosperity in Asia.

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The UK has worked closely with other G7 colleagues, especially Japan, and will work with the IMF and the World Bank to help resolve the current crisis.

Her Majesty's Government are confident in Asia's long-term economic prospects. The factors which have led to the tremendous growth in the region are still there. Now what is needed is a strong commitment from countries throughout the region to necessary policy reforms in conjunction with IMF and World Bank, to restore confidence.

Incomes

Mr. Winnick: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the percentages of those in receipt of annual incomes of (i) between (a) £5,000 and £10,000, (b) £10,000 and £15,000, (c) £15,000 and £20,000, (d) £20,000 and £25,000, (e) £25,000 and £30,000, (f) £30,000 and £35,000, (g) £35,000 and £40,000, (h) £40,000 and £45,000, (i) £45,000 and £50,000, (j) £50,000 and £55,000, (k) £55,000 and £60,000, (l) £60,000 and £100,000 and (ii) over £100,000. [24740]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 29 January 1998]: The percentage of taxpayers in 1998-99 by range of annual total income is given in the table.

Range of annual total income (£)Percentage of taxpayers
5,000--10,00028
10,000-15,00023
15,000-20,00017
20,000-25,00011
25,000-30,0006
30,000-35,0004
35,000-40,0002
40,000-45,0001
45,000-50,000under 1
50,000-55,000under 1
55,000-60,000under 1
60,000-100,0001
Over 100,000under 1

Welfare Spending

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of government spending is allocated to the welfare state in (a) the United Kingdom, (b) each European Union country and (c) each G7 country. [23359]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 19 January 1998]: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) regularly publishes the available statistics for member states. The latest edition of the OECD book "National Accounts", published in 1997, contains separate sections on each country to a consistent format. In each, Table 5 covers total government outlays by function and type. A copy is available in the Library of the House.

Non-UK Resident Discretionary Trusts

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the tax treatment of a United Kingdom resident beneficiary in respect of capital payments received by the beneficiary in the United

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Kingdom from a non-UK resident discretionary trust of which the settlor has never been resident or domiciled in the United Kingdom. [25283]

Mr. Gordon Brown [holding answer 26 January 1998]: I refer the right hon. Member to the last of my answers given to him on 10 December 1997, Official Report column 576.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Correspondence

Dr. Cable: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he will reply to the letters of 18 September, 23 June and 30 July 1997 from the hon. Member for Twickenham. [25219]

Mr. Hoon: The hon. Gentleman should by now have received a reply, dated 28 January, from my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor to his letter of 18 September which referred to letters to the Lord Chancellor from his constituent of 23 June and 30 July. The officials involved in handling correspondence are aware how seriously the Lord Chancellor regards complaints against the judiciary, and the consequent need to deal promptly and properly with such correspondence. Steps have been taken to avoid such delays in future.

Solicitors (Negligence)

Mr. Burnett: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what assessment he has made of the Law Society's ability to ensure that when a solicitor acting as a trustee has been negligent, those concerned will be compensated for resulting losses whenever they occur; and if he will make a comment. [24806]

Mr. Hoon: I have not made such an assessment. This is a matter for the Law Society. If the negligence or the quantum of the negligence is disputed, it would be a matter for the courts.

Court Leaflets and Forms

Mr. Burnett: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department in what languages small claims leaflets and county court forms are printed. [24961]

Mr. Hoon: At present the small claims leaflets are available only in English and Welsh. By April 1998 they will also be available in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu. Court forms are available only in English.

Mr. Burnett: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what steps have been taken following the National Audit Office report, "Handling Small Claims in the County Courts" (HC 271, of Session 1995-96), to make the small claims procedure more accessible for (a) non-English speaking litigants and (b) the disabled. [24872]

Mr. Hoon: (a) A contract has been let to translate all seven small claims leaflets into the following languages:

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Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu. It is expected they will be available to court users from April 1998. (b) Court users are now asked to let the court know if they need special facilities so that arrangements can be made to accommodate them. Some courts have installed Minicom and loop systems and the Court Service will pay the cost of interpreters for deaf litigants and witnesses in civil hearings. A review will also commence in April 1998 which will look at disabled provision in all the courts to identify what needs to be done to improve access and facilities in line with the Disability Discrimination Act.

Mr. Burnett: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of county courts provide (a) wheelchair access, (b) disabled toilet facilities and (c) facilities for persons with seeing and hearing disabilities. [24960]

Mr. Hoon: This information is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Burnett: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what interpreting facilities are provided in county courts for non-English speaking litigants. [24962]

Mr. Hoon: There is a National Register of Public Service Interpreters, which provides a list of qualified interpreters who adhere to a code of conduct and a standard of service delivery. Civil courts do not however, provide interpreters. It is for the parties to obtain, and pay for, any such requirements.


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