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Individual Savings Accounts

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the effect on tax revenues of setting the cap on tax exempt savings held in individual savings accounts at (a) £30,000, (b) £50,000, (c) £100,000, (d) £150,000 and (e) £250,000. [19704]

Mr. Geoffrey Robinson [holding answer 8 December 1997]: TESSAs and PEPs will cost about £1½ billion a year by April 1999. Under the proposals set out in the consultation document, funds currently held in TESSAs and PEPs will be able to transfer into individual savings accounts, subject to the overall £50,000 limit. People with PEPs and TESSAs whose value exceeds £50,000 will be unable to transfer the excess to ISAs.

The estimated cost to the Exchequer of these proposals is broadly similar to the combined cost of TESSAs and PEPs, but estimates are sensitive to assumptions made eg on the level of take up. The effect on cost of varying the level of the cap will depend on the way in which people decide to invest the balance of their investments.

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 34

Agency Tax Rules

Mr. Timms: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the draft legislation to implement the changes in the agency tax rules for construction workers announced by the Financial Secretary on 31 July 1997 will be published in advance of the Finance Bill 1998. [28961]

Dawn Primarolo: The draft legislation, which will implement this change, will be published today. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House. This will give agencies as much time as possible to alter their systems and procedures in advance of the change which comes into effect on 6 April 1998. The change will help to align the tax and national insurance treatment of these workers and is part of the Government's commitment to streamline and modernise the tax and benefits system.

CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

World Cup (Disabled Supporters)

Mr. Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the (a) proportion of tickets available and (b) facilities for disabled supporters in each of the stadiums in which Scotland and England will play their first round World Cup matches. [27128]

Mr. Tom Clarke: I understand that the French World Cup organisers will set aside facilities for disabled supporters in the stadia at which matches will be staged. A decision on the number of tickets to be allocated for England and Scotland supporters will be taken shortly. The English and Scottish Football Associations have applied for tickets for existing members of the England Members Club and the Scottish Travel Club, who regularly attend away matches.

Sport (Governing Bodies)

Mr. Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the cost to public funds of the governing bodies for sport. [27127]

Mr. Tom Clarke: In 1997-98, the UK Sports Council and English Sports Council will provide Exchequer grants totalling almost £11.2 million directly to governing bodies of sport to help them develop strategies and a range of activities which support the Councils' objectives.

A number of governing bodies are also eligible to apply for funding from the Lottery Sports Fund. To date, almost £23 million has been awarded to governing bodies under the English Sports Council's 'World Class Performance' Programme.

Civil Servants

Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list by grade the number of officials in his Department at grade 3 or above who have (a) taken early retirement, (b) taken official leave, (c) been dismissed, (d) changed jobs within the Department, (e) moved to another Department and (f) been offered and rejected an alternative position (i) within the Department and (ii) in another Department since 1 May. [27464]

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 35

Mr. Tom Clarke [holding answer 5 February 1998]: None.

Publications

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list by title the publications produced by his Department between 1 May 1997 and 31 January 1998. [26321]

Mr. Tom Clarke: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport produced the following publications between 1 May 1997 and 31 January 1998:












FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Official Cars

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many official cars are available for use by Ministers in his Department; and how many new cars have been acquired for the use of Ministers in his Department since 1 May. [25177]

Mr. Fatchett [holding answer 23 January 1998]: Five cars are provided for the five Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers under the Government Car Scheme. This Department has not acquired any new cars for its Ministers.

Turkey

Mr. Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the British Vice-Consul in Istanbul will be permitted to give evidence to a Turkish court regarding incidents in Istanbul on 2 September 1997. [26042]

Mr. Doug Henderson [holding answer 29 January 1998]: As set out in the answer given by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Central (Mr. Lloyd) on 29 January 1998, Official Report, column 385, our guidelines are that we generally expect British officials to co-operate with local judicial authorities. In this particular instance, no request has been made by the local courts. Under Article 44(3) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, members of a consular post are not obliged to give evidence on matters encountered in the exercise of their functions. We have concluded that it would be inappropriate for the British Vice Consul (Information) to give evidence because of the need for him to retain the status of impartial observer in attending subsequent court cases in his consular capacity.

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 36

Millennium Compliance

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consideration is being given by the European Union to the consequences of the failure of computer and safety systems controlling nuclear plants in the former eastern bloc to be millennium compliant. [28246]

Mr. Fatchett: The failure of a computer system would not directly affect the safety of any nuclear reactor power plants in the former eastern bloc. The control of these plants is carried out by analogue or electro-mechanical means. However, computers are used for data recording and plant management purposes, and the European Union has a programme to up-grade a number of these. The Health and Safety Executive publication "Safety and the year 2000" has been sent to the senior nuclear regulators in the former eastern bloc and it will form the basis of discussion at a meeting of these regulators with their EU counterparts in June 1998.

Schengen Agreement

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 20 January 1998, Official Report, column 466, what was the date of the response by the United Kingdom permanent representative to the Dutch permanent representative's letter of 16 July; and if he will make a statement on his meeting with the Dutch Minister for Europe and his Irish counterpart on 22 July 1997. [28238]

Mr. Doug Henderson: The United Kingdom Permanent Representative replied to the Dutch Permanent Representative's letter of 16 July on 25 July. At a meeting on 22 July the Dutch Minister for Europe, the Irish Foreign Minister and I discussed Article 4 of the Protocol integrating the Schengen Acquis into the Framework of the European Union.

Video Conferencing

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what use has been made by the British presidency of the European Union of interactive video conferencing; what responses have been received to date; what has been the cost to public funds to date; and what plans he has to make further use of video conferencing in this area. [28204]

Mr. Doug Henderson: Video conferencing is being used extensively during the UK's Presidency of the European Union, particularly between London and Brussels. We are also exploring ways of encouraging greater use of video-conferencing for contacts with EU Partners, but it is too early to draw conclusions on the practical scope for this.

The information requested on cost to public funds of video-conferencing is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


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