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TREASURY

Mutual Building Societies

Ms Drown: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he will take to (a) protect the position of mutual building societies and (b) ensure real competition in the financial services sector. [47086]

Mrs. Liddell: Building societies are competing strongly in the savings and loans markets, and continuing to show the benefits that mutuality can offer their members. The Government believe societies should be accountable to their members and therefore increased the proportion of members who must vote in order for any conversion from a mutual society to a bank to succeed from 20 to 50 per cent. last year.

Sierra Leone

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to reply to the Question from the hon. Member for Wells for answer on 14 May relating to the UN arms embargo on Sierra Leone (reference 41883). [47246]

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Dawn Primarolo: I refer to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Fallon) on 15 June 1998, Official Report, column 106.

Royal Mint

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate how much Exchequer revenue will be lost as a result of the sale of the Royal Mint in each of the financial years (a) 1999-2000, (b) 2000-2001 and (c) 2001-2002. [47312]

Mrs. Liddell: The impact on Exchequer revenue of selling the Royal Mint would depend entirely on how this were effected. No decisions have yet been made on the form that a public/private partnership for the Mint might take.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what funds are generated from producing coins for other countries by the Royal Mint; and how many countries the Royal Mint produces coins for. [47310]

Mrs. Liddell: The Royal Mint produced coins or blanks for 64 other countries in 1997/98. Overseas sales revenue in that year was £63 million.

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Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with which Commonwealth countries the Royal Mint has contracts for production of their coins. [47311]

Mrs. Liddell: The Royal Mint produced coins or blanks for 41 Commonwealth countries in 1997-98. Information about individual contracts, obtained in a competitive international market, are commercially confidential.

Contingency Reserves

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his policy on the level of the Contingency Reserve. [46388]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 18 June 1998]: The policy on the Reserve is to set it at a level that allows for emergencies and genuine contingencies, as well as reasonable expectations of take-up of End Year Flexibility.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the level of contingency reserves for (a) departmental expenditure limits, and (b) annually managed expenditure for (i) 1999-2000, (ii) 2000-2001 and (iii) 2001-2002; and if he will make a statement. [46393]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 18 June 1998]: The Reserves for the period 1999-2000 to 2001-02 will be published in the CSR White Paper.

Departmental Underspending

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in which areas he intends departments to spend the £1.5 billion carried forward from last year as an underspend, in 1998-99; and if he will make a statement. [46441]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 18 June 1998]: £1 billion of the £1.5 billion underspend in 1997-98 identified in the March 1998 "Financial Statement and Budget Report" was allocated to programmes in 1998-99 as described in paragraphs 4.9 and 4.10 of the "Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 1998-99" (Cm 3901). The remaining £0.5 billion was allocated to the Reserve for 1998-99.

Public Sector Spending

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the public sector net cash requirement, including windfall tax receipts and associated spending, for (a) 1997-98, (b) 1998-99, (c) 1999-2000, (d) 2000-01, (e) 2001-02 and (f) 2002-03. [46374]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 18 June 1998]: Forecasts of the public sector net cash requirement including the windfall tax and associated spending were published in Tables 4.4 and 4.5 of the Economic and Fiscal Strategy Report.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the effect on the public sector net cash requirement for (a) 1998-99, (b) 1999-00, (c) 2000-01, (d) 2001-02, and (e) 2002-03, of the new accounting treatment of

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student financial support, as indicated in the Economic and Fiscal Strategy report of June 1998; and if he will make a statement. [46389]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 18 June 1998]: The new accounting treatment for student loans in Departmental Expenditure Limits will have no effect on the Public Sector Net Cash Requirement, which is a cash measure.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes to the gross Contingency Reserve for Public Spending have taken place between the publication of the Financial Statement and Budget report of March 1998 and the Economic and Fiscal Strategy report of June 1998; and if he will make a statement. [46377]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 18 June 1998]: The reduction of £0.3 billion in the Reserve from £3 billion in the March 1998 "Financial Statement and Budget Report" to £2.7 billion in the Economic and Fiscal Strategy Report 1998 reflects the transfer of £0.75 billion unspent in 1997-98 and a rephasing of sales of student loans.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the increase in real public expenditure for each year from 1998-99 to 2001-02, in terms of the previously defined, Control Total for Public Expenditure; and if he will make a statement. [46381]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 18 June 1998]: It would not be possible to produce these figures until full spending plans for each year from 1998-99 to 2001-02 are published at the time of the Comprehensive Spending Review announcement.

Stability and Growth Pact

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what implications the Stability and Growth Pact has for the conduct of UK fiscal policy; and if he will make a statement. [46400]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 18 June 1998]: The Stability and Growth Pact does not place any new legal obligations on UK fiscal policy. UK fiscal policy is conducted with a view to ensuring economic stability which is in the best interests of the UK economy.

Local Authority Budgets

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his proposals to relax the capping regime for local authority budgets, in the Economic and Fiscal Strategy report June 1998, page 27. [46394]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 18 June 1998]: The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions recently undertook a public consultation on possible reforms to the local government finance system. The Government are considering responses to that consultation and the result will be published in due course.

Economic and Fiscal Strategy

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will restate Table 4.6 in the Economic and Fiscal Strategy report (June 1998) to show figures in cash terms. [46396]

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Mr. Darling [holding answer 18 June 1998]: Forecasts of the current budget, net borrowing and net cash requirement in cash terms were published in Table 4.4 of the Economic and Fiscal Strategy Report (EFSR). Forecasts of the cyclically adjusted budget balances in Table 4.6 can be converted onto a cash basis using the money GDP figures in Table 4.1.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will extend (i) Table 4.A.1, page 49, and (ii) Table 4.A.2, page 50 of the Economic and Fiscal Strategy report (June 1998) to show the series given for the years 1999-2000 to 2002-03. [46397]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 18 June 1998]: Forecasts of the public sector finances were published in Tables 4.4 and 4.5 of the Economic and Fiscal Strategy Report.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will recalculate tables 4.4, 4.5, 4.6 and 4.7 in the Economic and Fiscal Strategy report on the assumption that the retail prices index excluding mortgage interest payments averages (a) 3.0 per cent. in 1998-99 and 2.75 per cent. in 1999-2000 and (b) 3.25 per cent. in 1998-99 and 3.0 per cent. in 1999-2000. [46848]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 22 June 1998]: The implications for the public finances of inflation higher than assumed in the Economic and Fiscal Strategy Report will depend on the reasons why inflation was higher, and the impact of such inflation on the economy.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will recalculate tables 4.4, 4.5, 4.6 and 4.7 in the Economic and Fiscal Strategy report on the assumption that total managed expenditure grows in real terms by (a) 0.75 per cent., (b) 1.5 per cent. and (c) 2.25 per cent. in 1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2001-02. [46851]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 22 June 1998]: Full information contained in tables 4.4, 4.5, 4.6 and 4.7 of the Economic and Fiscal Strategy Report (EFSR) cannot be recalculated for different assumptions about the growth of Total Managed Expenditure without information on the composition of that expenditure, in particular the allocation of expenditure between current and capital.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action he will take if the cost of social security benefits in 1998-99 exceeds £95.8 billion, in order to ensure that total managed expenditure rises no higher than the figure cited in table 3A.1 in his Economic and Fiscal Strategy report. [46855]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 22 June 1998]: Table 3A.1 sets out figures for 1998-99 in terms of the new aggregates to illustrate how the new control regime announced in the Economic and Fiscal Strategy Report would work. That regime does not apply in 1998-99.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will reproduce tables 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6 and 4.7 in the Economic and Fiscal Strategy report for each of the years from 1991-92 to 1996-97. [46847]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 22 June 1998]: Many of the series contained in tables 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7 can be found in Annex 4A of the Economic and Fiscal

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Strategy Report. Apart from assets sales, the remaining information can be derived from Table 10.1A of Financial Statistics and Table 2.1 of "Economic Trends" (which gives money gross domestic product). These publications can be found in the House of Commons Library. Information on assets sales can be found in Table B17 of the "Financial Statement and Budget Report" (March 1998).


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