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Departmental Controls

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list (a) the defence procurement contracts with value of greater than £5 million for each year since 1995 and (b) the companies involved in each of these contracts. [95351]

Mr. Kilfoyle [holding answer 26 October 1999]: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Army Regiments

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the current location in the United Kingdom of each army regiment; the number of service and support personnel at each such site; and the total wage bill for each such site in the last year for which figures are available. [95276]

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Mr. Spellar [holding answer 26 October 1999]: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Japanese Prisoners of War

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to make ex-gratia payments to former prisoners of war who were held captive by the Japanese in the Second World War; and if he will make a statement. [95573]

Mr. Kilfoyle [holding answer 26 October 1999]: There are no plans to make an ex-gratia payment to former Japanese prisoners of war. The Government's emphasis is on providing support to those who are in current need, through health services, pensions and war pensions as appropriate.

Departmental Property Sales

Mr. Swinney: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list all former buildings of his Department or land sold since 7 May 1997, and the sale price for each. [95283]

Mr. Kilfoyle [holding answer 26 October 1999]: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Gurkha Pensions

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in the examination of Gurkha pensions and gratuities; and if he will make a statement. [96019]

Mr. Spellar: As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced in the House this afternoon, gratuities payable in respect of death attributable to service for Gurkhas will be brought into line with those of their British counterparts. The new payments take effect from 26 May this year and so will apply to the widow of Staff Sgt Balaram Rai killed in Kosovo in June.

The announcement is the result of the first stage in our examination of Gurkha pensions and gratuities. The increase remains firmly within the conditions set out in the 1947 Tri-Partite Agreement between India, Nepal and the UK and follows increases that have been implemented recently by the Indian Government. To take account of the fact that the UK is the home base for British Gurkhas I have introduced a UK element to substitute for the Indian State Government payments which are variable throughout India. This will bring payments for all deaths attributable to service up to British Army rates.

We are also looking at Gurkha pensions, still within the context of the Tri-Partite Agreement, and I hope to report on this by the end of the year.

Soldiers (Minimum Age Limit)

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the current minimum age for soldiers of the British Army to be sent into armed combat; and what plans he has to alter this limit. [96260]

Mr. Spellar: On 22 October 1998, Official Report, column 1161, my predecessor announced that Service personnel would no longer be deployed on operations if

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under 17 years of age, although in practice most personnel will be well over 17 prior to their being deployed. Personnel under 18 years of age are not deployed on UN peacekeeping operations, at the request of the UN. Both our recruitment and deployment policies are in line with international standards set by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the recent International Labour Convention 182.

TREASURY

Working Families Tax Credit

Mr. Webb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the monetary value of the poverty line for a family with two children aged under 11 years which is consistent with his estimate of the number of children taken out of poverty by the working families tax credit; and what is the rate of Income Support for a family of this size and composition. [94694]

Dawn Primarolo: For the analysis behind the estimate that around 800,000 children will be lifted out of poverty by recent Budget measures, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by the former Economic Secretary on 14 April 1999, Official Report, column 244. Latest statistics on household incomes (covering 1997-98) can be found in "Households Below Average Income 1994-95 to 1997-98" and current rates of Income Support are published in "Social Security Statistics 1999", both published by the Department for Social Security. The Government have also increased the personal allowance for children under 11 on Income Support by £4.70 from this October, and announced a further increase of at least £1.05 from next April.

Equal Opportunities

Jackie Ballard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if an action plan for increasing the representation of women in public life has been (a) prepared by his Department and (b) published since November 1998. [94840]

Miss Melanie Johnson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer the Minister for the Cabinet Office gave her on 25 October 1999, Official Report, column 682.

National Changeover Plan

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the organisations represented on each working group in respect of the national changeover plan; [95301]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Outline National Changeover plan identified the next steps in changeover planning. These are being taken forward in a number of working groups, which include representatives from the following organisations:


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    Qualifications and Curriculum Authority


    Age Concern England


    Mencap


    Local Government Association


    Central Office of Information


    British Retail Consortium


    Citizens Advice Bureau


    Confederation of Indian Industries


    British Chambers of Commerce


    Confederation of British Industry


    The Royal Mint


    Bank of England


    Consumers in Europe Group


    The Post Office


    Automatic Vending Association of Britain


    Securicor


    Securitas


    National Federation of Retail Newsagents


    Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales


    International Primary Markets Association


    International Petroleum Exchange


    International Underwriters Association


    International Swaps and Derivatives Association


    International Securities Markets Association


    London Investment Bankers Association


    LIFFE


    Lloyds of London


    London Stock Exchange


    City Law Society


    Fund Managers Association


    National Association of Pension Funds


    London Clearing Houses


    Financial Services Authority


    Association of Investment Trust Companies


    Association of Corporate Treasurers


    CHAPS Clearing Co.


    CRESTCO


    Finance and Leasing Association


    Financial Law Panel


    Futures and Options Association


    Gilt Edged Market Makers Association.

Euro

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the nature of the circumstances whereby the Bank of England will be required by the European Central Bank to prosecute

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breach of copyright of euro banknotes, with reference to ECB/1999/3 (1999/656/EC); what manner of appeal is permitted; and what part he played in the discussions leading to the decision. [95400]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Guideline of the European Central Bank (ECB) on certain provisions regarding euro banknotes (ECB/1999/3 and 1999/656/EC) is addressed to the national central banks of participating member states. As such, it does not apply to the Bank of England, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not involved in the adoption of the Guideline by the ECB Governing Council.

Stamp Duty

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the cost in terms of lost revenue of exempting trades under £5,000 from stamp duty on share transactions. [95090]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The 1999 Budget forecast of revenue from stamp duty on transactions in shares and other securities is £3.3 billion in 2000-01.

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the cost in terms of lost revenue of reducing the rate of stamp duty on share transactions to (a) 0.4 per cent., (b) 0.3 per cent., (c) 0.2 per cent., (d) 0.1 per cent. and (e) 0.003 per cent. [95091]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The 1999 Budget forecast of revenue from stamp duty on transactions in shares and other securities is £3.3 billion in 2000-01. The estimated costs of reducing the rate of duty from the current 0.5 per cent. are given in the table. These estimates take account of the impact the relevant changes would be expected to have on the value of share transactions.

£ billion
Reducing the rate of duty on share transactions toEstimated cost
(a) 0.4 per cent.0.6
(b) 0.3 per cent.1.2
(c) 0.2 per cent.1.8
(d) 0.1 per cent.2.5
(e) 0.003 per cent.3.3


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