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TREASURY

VAT

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) pursuant to his answer of 8 June 1999, Official Report, column 289, regarding discussions with European institutions about VAT on financial services, what his policy is on the application of VAT to financial services; and what position HM Customs and Excise has taken in the consultations with the European Commission on the feasibility of applying VAT to financial services; [86962]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 17 June 1999]: The European Commission has been studying the feasibility of applying VAT to financial services, including insurance, since 1993. No proposal has been made. The Government's position is clear: they will not accept any measures which damage British business, jobs and competitiveness. Customs' position in discussions with Commission officials have been consistent with this policy.

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will estimate the total annual revenue that would be collected if VAT were charged at (a) 17.5 per cent. and (b) 5 per cent. on the making of arrangements for, or the underwriting of, any security or secondary security; [89595]

Dawn Primarolo: It is not possible to provide the requested estimates due to insufficient data being available on these specific financial activities.

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the total annual revenue that would be collected if VAT were charged at (a) 17.5 per cent. and (b) 5 per cent. on the making of any arrangements for (i) the issue, transfer or receipt of, or any dealing with, money, any security for money or any note or order for the payment of money, (ii) the making of any advance or the granting of any credit, (iii) the provision of the facility of instalment credit finance in a hire-purchase, conditional sale or credit sale agreement for which facility a separate charge is made and disclosed to the recipient of the supply of goods and (iv) the provision of administrative arrangements and documentation and the transfer of the

2 Jul 1999 : Column: 288

title to the goods in connection with the provision of the facility of instalment credit finance in a hire-purchase, conditional sale or credit sale agreement for which facility a separate charge is made and disclosed to the recipient of the supply of goods if the total consideration therefore is specified in the agreement and does not exceed £10. [89596]

Dawn Primarolo: Insufficient data are available to provide the estimates sought, as I explained to the right hon. Gentleman in my written answer of 30 June 1999, Official Report, columns 226-27.

Withholding Tax

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the commitments he has made with respect to the withholding tax will apply to all forms of savings in addition to eurobonds. [89567]

Dawn Primarolo: We have made it very clear that the draft Directive on savings in its current form is unacceptable because of its likely impact on our financial markets. The Conclusions of the ECOFIN Council meeting on 1 December 1997 record that the United Kingdom considers the Directive should not apply to eurobonds and other similar instruments.

ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

Departmental Car Pool

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many cars are available for the use of (a) his Department's Ministers, (b) his Department's officials and (c) executives and officials of his Department's non-Governmental bodies and agencies. [88087]

Mr. Prescott: As at July 1998, my Department owned or leased the following number of motor vehicles:

No. of vehicles
(a) Ministers(9)8
(b) DETR (Central)27
(c) Agencies564
(d) Government Offices for the Regions80
Total679

(9) Leased from GCDA


Information is not available centrally in respect of vehicles owned or leased by the Departments non- departmental public bodies and other associate bodies.

Environment Agency Car Pool

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many cars are owned or leased for use by members and employees of the Environment Agency. [88090]

Mr. Meacher: 237 cars are owned by the Environment Agency and 2,500 cars are leased.

2 Jul 1999 : Column: 289

Euro Preparations

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what budget (a) his Department, (b) the regional offices and (c) the Regional Development Agencies have for preparations for the euro; [88095]

Mr. Prescott: Following the publication of the Government's Outline Changeover Plan, my Department is considering what preparations may be necessary for the introduction of the euro as far as its own areas of responsibility are concerned. Beyond this, my Department and the Government Offices for the Regions have no specific budget for euro preparations, neither do the Regional Development Agencies.

Government advice for business on the implications of the introduction of the euro in the eurozone countries is co-ordinated by HM Treasury. Government support includes the setting up of 12 regional euro fora, in which the Government Offices for the Regions were involved and in which the Regional Development Agencies have been invited to participate.

EU Environment Council

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will publish the latest agenda of the Environment Council of 24-25 June prior to the meeting. [88169]

Mr. Meacher: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave on 23 June 1999, to my hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Smith), Official Report, columns 405-06, which lists the proposals due for discussion at the Environment Council in Luxembourg on 24-25 June. Apart from the proposals listed in my earlier answer, the following items were also on the agenda:



    Procedure


    Commission Communication to the Council and the European Parliament on the internal market and the environment:


    Presentation


    Commission communication to the Council and the European Parliament: "Preparing for implementation of the Kyoto Protocol":


    Presentation


    Other business:


    (a) Conference on organic farming (Vienna 27 and 28 May 1999) Commission Statement


    (b) Best environmental protection practices in other policies (Seminar in Bonn 25 May 1999): Briefing by the German Delegation

London Underground

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he was first informed that the engineering works on the Circle line might necessitate the suspension of the Circle line service. [88429]

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Ms Glenda Jackson: The Circle line service is not suspended. London Underground (LU) continues to operate services at all Circle line stations. Where possible, they are running extra trains on other lines to minimise passenger disruption.

LU first informed officials in my Department in November 1997 that engineering works might necessitate the closure of the Circle line between High Street Kensington and Gloucester Road stations.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what are the closure dates for (a) the Circle line and (b) the Northern line. [88603]

Mrs. Liddell: Engineering works between High Street Kensington and Gloucester Road, which are preventing a normal Circle line service from operating, began on 12 June 1999 and will continue to 16 August 1999. The Northern line City branch will be closed between Moorgate and Kennington from 3 July 1999 to 5 September 1999.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans have been made to provide alternative public transport for people who normally use the Northern and Circle lines. [88493]

Mrs. Liddell: Although engineering works are disrupting services, all Circle line stations remain open. London Underground are operating additional services on the Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, along part of the route where Circle line services usually run, and a normal District line service along most of the rest of the Circle line. Additional buses are also running on routes 16, 23 and 52. Underground tickets and passes are valid on these buses.

While the Northern line City branch is closed between Moorgate and Kennington, a rail replacement bus service will operate and there will be also be an enhanced service on the 133 bus which runs along the route. In addition, there will be a 15 per cent. increase in services on the Northern line Charing Cross branch. Alternative routes will be advertised and extra station staff will help to keep passengers informed.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimate he has made of London Underground's planned investment in (i) 1999-2000, (ii) 2000-01 and (iii) 2001-02. [88492]

Mrs. Liddell: London Underground's planned investment for these years is currently under review.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many trains were (a) cancelled and (b) more than 10 minutes late on the Underground in the last available month. [88489]

Mrs. Liddell: Between 2 May and 29 May, 1,258 trains were cancelled or withdrawn from service and 239 trains were delayed for more than 10 minutes.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proportion of and how many tube travellers used (a) the Circle line and (b) the Northern line in each of the last six months for which figures are available. [88488]

2 Jul 1999 : Column: 291

Mrs. Liddell: As all stations served by Circle line trains and many served by Northern line trains are also served by other lines, London Underground (LU) are not able to provide detailed line specific information in the format requested.

However, LU estimate that 220,000 passengers use the Circle line and 540,000 use the Northern line on a typical weekday--6.2 per cent. and 15.5 per cent. of total network traffic respectively.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions which tube lines other than the Circle and Northern lines London Underground proposes to close during the next 12 months. [88487]

Mrs. Liddell: London Underground (LU) proposes to close the Victoria line between Brixton and Victoria stations from 23 October until 7 November 1999. The Bakerloo line will be closed between Queens Park and Harrow and Wealdstone stations between 23 and 31 October 1999 while Railtrack, who own this section of the track, carry out engineering work. And LU are planning to close the District line between High Street Kensington and Earl's Court stations in June 2000 for approximately 10 weeks.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he was first informed that London Underground might have to close (a) the Circle and (b) the Northern line; and what meetings he held about these potential closures. [88486]

Mrs. Liddell: London Underground (LU) first informed my Department in November 1997 and September 1998 respectively that engineering works might necessitate the closure of the Circle line between High street Kensington and Gloucester Road stations and the Northern Line City Branch between Moorgate and Kennington stations.

I met the managing director of London Underground to discuss these closures on 23 June 1999. Issues such as these closures are also discussed by my hon. Friend the Minister for Transport in London when she meets each month with the managing directors of London Underground and London Buses.


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