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Flooding (Insurance)

Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to secure an extension to the agreement reached with the Association of British Insurers in respect of insurance cover available to properties subject to flooding. [8007]

Ruth Kelly: The agreement among ABI members is that they will continue to provide flood cover, except in exceptional circumstances, for domestic properties and small businesses which they currently insure, during 2001 and 2002. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for flood defence in the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and I met the Association of British Insurers on 5 September to discuss our mutual aim of ensuring that affordable flood insurance cover continues to be generally available after December 2002.

The Government are acting to reduce flood risk, through substantial increases in investment in flood and coastal defence (which now totals over £400 million a year). Flood defences are being repaired, renewed, maintained and improved. The flood warning scheme is being continually improved. The Government have issued strengthened guidance to local planning authorities on control of development in flood risk areas, and are reviewing the financial and institutional arrangements under which the flood defence service is delivered. These are the chief concerns raised by the ABI. The Government are continuing to work with the ABI on these issues.

Pool Re

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the annual premiums collected and payments made have been in each year since the establishment of Pool Re. [8018]

Ruth Kelly: Pool Re was established on 1 January 1993. The information is as follows:

£ million

Gross written premiumsPaid claims

15 Oct 2001 : Column: 861W

UK Economic Outlook

Mr. Howard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received concerning the effect on individual sectors of the UK economy of the terrorist attacks on the US. [7704]

Ruth Kelly: The Government monitor all sectors of the UK economy as a part of their commitment to effective economic surveillance and management. We will present to Parliament our second annual forecast for the UK economy in the forthcoming pre-Budget report. The Government continue to receive a wide variety of representations from individuals, business and organisations in all sectors of the economy.

Mr. Howard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if Treasury officials are planning to revise UK GDP growth projections downwards to 1.5 per cent. this year; [7946]

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will make an assessment of the reduction in tax revenues that would result from a 1 per cent. reduction in GDP growth between now and October 2002; [7645]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government's latest forecasts for the UK and world economies and the public finances were published in "Budget 2001" (HC 279). Updated forecasts will be presented as part of the forthcoming pre-Budget report.

Terrorist Bank Accounts

Mr. Allen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action he has taken in respect of known terrorists' bank accounts since 11 September. [7312]

Ruth Kelly: Since the events of 11 September the UN Security Council has passed a resolution calling upon States to freeze the assets of terrorists. The Government have implemented this resolution (UNSCR 1373) by way of an Order in Council (SI No. 3365). The Government are in the process of notifying banks and financial institutions of known terrorists, such as those detailed in the 24 September US Executive Order, as and when they are issued.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to reform the Private Finance Initiative. [7786]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The underlying principles applying to all types of partnership were set out in "Public Private Partnerships—the Government's Approach" which was published last year. Copies are available in the Library of the House and are accessible on the Treasury's website

15 Oct 2001 : Column: 862W

Consistent with these principles a number of significant improvements have been made to the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) since the Government took office in 1997.

Further refinements to improve value for money continue to be implemented, including expanded and revised guidance on Standardisation of PFI Contracts, which is expected to be issued before the end of the year.

Financial Exclusion

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures he is taking to reduce financial exclusion among persons without a bank account. [7782]

Ruth Kelly: The Government attach great importance to tackling financial exclusion—it is a key part of our strategy for ending social exclusion. Details of measures being taken to reduce financial exclusion can be found in the "National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal: Policy Action Team Audit" report, a copy of which is in the Library.

Bureaux de Change

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the Government's proposals are for regulating bureaux de change; and what plans he has for (a) consultations with the industry, (b) the timetable for regulation, (c) registration requirements, (d) the establishment of a regulating body and (e) regulating impact assessment. [8014]

Ruth Kelly: A consultative document on a proposed regulatory regime for bureaux de change is being published today. Copies are available in the Vote office and the Library of the House.

Wind-powered Electricity

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much income has been received by the Crown Estate from wind-powered electricity generating installations situated offshore in the 2001–02 financial year; [7330]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Blyth Offshore Wind Farm is currently the only offshore wind-powered electricity generating station. In previous financial years the Crown Estate has received no income from this source; during the current financial year it has been paid £2,500 base rent and is due 0.5 per cent. of the Gross Turnover for the first Turnover period or (if greater) £2,500.

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Partnerships UK

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) which companies successfully bid for 51 per cent. of Partnerships UK; and what are the shareholdings of each such company; [6477]

Mr. Andrew Smith: HM Treasury sold a 51 per cent. shareholding in PUK plc to private sector investors, following an offer for sale issued on 26 February 2001.

Up until 31 March 2001 all shares in PUK plc were owned by The Solicitor for the Affairs of Her Majesty's Treasury. As at 31 March 2001 and 30 April 2001 the shareholders and the number of shares held by the private sector are as laid out in the table.

Shares"A" shares percentage holding
Abbey National Treasury Services plc666,6666.67
Sun Life Assurance Society plc666,6666.67
The Prudential Assurance Company Limited666,6666.67
Barclays Industrial Investments Limited605,5586.06
The Royal Bank of Scotland plc605,5586.06
The Governor and Company of Bank of Scotland (Uberior Investment plc)444,4444.44
Halifax Project Investments plc444,4444.44
Serco Limited333,3333.33
The British Land Company (Boldswitch Limited)222,2222.22
Group 4 Falck Joint Ventures Limited222,2222.22
Jarvis plc222,2222.22

15 Oct 2001 : Column: 864W

The public sector retains 49 per cent. of Partnerships UK plc. Scottish Ministers acquired a 4.4 per cent. shareholding from HM Treasury on 23 April, so that on 30 April 2001 the public sector shareholding was 4.4 per cent. by Scottish Ministers and 44.56 per cent. by HM Treasury.

HM Treasury was advised throughout the sale process by: NM Rothschild and Sons acting as placement agent and financial adviser; Treasury Solicitors Department supported by Herbert Smith; and PriceWaterhouseCoopers who provided tax and accounting advice.

Partnerships UK was advised by UBS Warburg.

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