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Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason the Capital Modernisation Fund made no allocations in 2001. 
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Mr. Andrew Smith: Over £1 billion was allocated from the Capital Modernisation Fund in March 2001 to support 55 new projects.
Mr. Hood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the ECOFIN Council held in Brussels on 4 December; what the Government's stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Gordon Brown: I attended ECOFIN on 4 December.
ECOFIN agreed reports to the Laeken European Council on pensions and on structural performance indicators (to measure progress on economic reform). The report on pensions respects the position of the Government and other member states that decisions on pensions are primarily for member states. I reminded ECOFIN colleagues of the importance of economic reform and it was agreed that ECOFIN should closely monitor progress.
There was a discussion of the tax package, including the directive on taxation of savings. I made it clear, along with 11 other Finance Ministers, that the substantial content of this directive had been agreed by ECOFIN in November 2000, reflecting the principles agreed at the Feira European Council, and that this should now be reopened. The Commission noted that it would shortly commence formal negotiations with third countries on the adoption of equivalent measures. I reported on the Government's discussions with United Kingdom dependent territories, noting that every jurisdiction recognised and fully supported the need for greater co-operation in the fight against tax abuse and evasion.
ECOFIN received a written report from the Code of Conduct working group, which the Paymaster General chairs. There was no discussion of the report.
The Commission provided a progress report on its negotiations with the European Parliament on the Lamfalussy procedure to fast-track financial services legislation. During a short discussion of the draft prospectus directive, I emphasised that it must meet its objective of reducing the cost of capital, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.
The Court of Auditor's annual report was presented to Ministers.
The Commission noted that, since not all member states had yet ratified the new Own Resources Decision, the 2002 Community budget would in the meantime need to be based on the old Own Resources Decision. The UK has already ratified this Decision.
Along with six other Finance Ministersa majority of those speakingI called for further analysis of the Galileo satellite navigation project before additional funds are committed.
Most member states could accept a March 2002 cut-off date for ending Government guarantees for airline insurance. The Government recently extended their schemeTroikauntil 22 January 2002.
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In a discussion of the forthcoming UN Financing for Development (FfD) conference, I emphasised that EU aid should be reformed to make it more effective and that untying was an important way to meet aid targets. I also advocated the international development trust fund as a way to lever in more resources to reach the $50 billion target in the Zedillo report.
The Commission agreed to examine an Austrian proposal to tackle VAT fraud.
It was agreed that concrete proposals would be brought forward on gender mainstreaming the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines.
Agreement was not reached on EIB loans to EFTA countries. This will be discussed again on 13 December.
ECOFIN was followed by a dialogue with the Finance Ministers of the 13 candidate countries and the European central bank, which focused on the need for structural reforms in the candidate countries and real convergence with the EU. A joint communiqué was agreed.
No votes were taken at the meeting.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the cost to public funds of the pension tax credit in each of the next three years. 
Dawn Primarolo: The information requested can be found in "Table B4: Estimated costs of the pre-Budget report measures and other measures announced since Budget 2001" in the pre-Budget report, November 2001 (Cm 5318).
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the reference to contingent risks as set out in Treasury guidance document: "Appraisal and evaluation in central Government", paragraph 4.42 includes political risks; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Andrew Smith: The paragraph specified refers to contingent liabilities which are commitments to future expenditure if certain events occur, such as premature termination of contract. A wide range of factors must be taken into account when appraising the likelihood of their occurrence, including where appropriate regulation and legislation risks.
Mr. Beith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason Ulgham was not included in the list of disadvantaged wards in Northumberland eligible for stamp duty relief; and whether it was his policy to include in that list any ward which met the Objective 2 measure of deprivation. 
Mr. Boateng: For England, the exemption is available for the 15 per cent. most deprived wards as identified by the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2000. The ward of Ulgham, in the Castle Morpeth district, does not fall within this category. The qualifying areas were identified by reference to each country's most recent index of deprivation.
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Dr. Kumar: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what structures exist to facilitate communication between his Department and small businesses. 
Mr. Boateng: Treasury Ministers and officials have a wide range of contact with small businesses and the organisations that represent them. HM Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue are also both committed to understanding and fulfilling the expectations of their customers better. Both Departments offer specific support to small businesses to help them understand and comply with their obligations.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the air passenger duty has been since 1997. 
Mr. Boateng: The information is as follows:
|European economic area (EEA) destinations||Other destinations|
|Up to 31 October 1997||(8)5||10|
|From 1 November 1997||(8)10||20|
|From 1 April 2001|
|Lowest class of travel||(9)5||20|
|Other than lowest class||(9)10||40|
(8) Nil on passengers travelling on the return leg of a round trip within the UK.
(9) Nil on passengers travelling on flights leaving airports in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the average proportion of the purchase price of a bottle of whisky that is accounted for by tax and excise duty. 
Mr. Boateng: The information requested is contained in the HM Customs and Excise "Spirits Factsheet", a copy of which can be found in the House of Commons Library.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the average proportion of the purchase price of a litre of unleaded petrol that is accounted for by tax and excise duty. 
Mr. Boateng: The information requested is contained in the HM Customs and Excise "Hydrocarbon Oils Factsheet", a copy of which can be found in the House of Commons Library.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the revenue to the Exchequer was in each of the last four years from tax and excise duty on (a) alcohol, (b) tobacco and (c) fuel. 
Mr. Boateng: Receipts of excise duty on alcohol, tobacco and fuel for the financial years 199798 to 19992000 are published in Table A1 of the tables and Statistics accompanying the Customs and Excise Annual Report for 2000, available on the Customs and Excise website. (Address: www.hmce.gov.uk/general/about/ index.htmscroll down to 'Annual Report 2000', click on 'Tables and Statistics'.)
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Details for the year 200001 can be found in the National Statistics Publication "Financial Statistics" Table 2.1D.
No official figures exist for receipts of VAT on alcohol, tobacco and fuel.
Mr. Howard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what guidance is issued to officers of HM Customs and Excise on the use of bulk X-ray equipment. 
Mr. Boateng: Under the Ionising Radiation Regulations 1999 a risk assessment is required before any X-ray source is used. The Defence Science Technology Laboratories Radiation Protection Service is Customs' Radiation Protection Advisor for the freight X-ray scanner project and they prepare each risk assessment. Each risk assessment is site and machine specific and includes local rules for setting up the scanner, operating practices and safety procedures. The risk assessment is kept with the scanner for production, as required, to any Health and Safety Executive Inspector or any other person.
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