Mr. Andrew Smith: The pay review bodies report to the Prime Minister and to departmental Ministers, and it is primarily for the relevant departmental Ministers to consider any recommendations. The regular annual reports from the Review Body for Nursing Staff, Midwives, Health Visitors and Professions Allied to Medicine (NPRB) and the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB) have already been completed and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health announced on 17 December the Government's acceptance of their recommendations. We are considering a special report on senior civil service pay from the Review Body on Senior Salaries (SSRB) and expect to publish the Report and announce the Government's response shortly. Other reports from the pay review bodies will be considered as they come forward.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of the privatisation of the Paymaster Agency on the Treasury's access to information needed to monitor and control public expenditure. 
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direct and indirect taxation measures on the disposable incomes of (a) the bottom 10 per cent. and (b) the bottom 20 per cent. of income earners. 
Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government publish a range of statistics and analyses showing the impact of their tax and benefit policies across the income distribution in the Budget and pre-Budget report documentation.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions since 1971 the Treasury has exercised its powers under section 4 of the Bank of England Act 1946 to give directions to the Bank of England. 
|Total central government debt
|Debt held by UK banking sector
|Proportion of debt held by UK banks
Financial Statistics, November 2001
Ruth Kelly: The Government do not have a specific policy on the proportion of their debt sold to the banking sector. Government debt is sold via auctions, which are open to all bidders via the gilt-edged market-makers. The Government do not influence the proportion of debt that is sold to a particular type of investor.
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people have claimed tax relief for vocational training in each of the last four years; and what has been the cost to public funds in each year. 
Mr. Andrew Smith: Vocational training tax relief (VTR) was abolished with effect from 31 August 2000. The number of claims received and the estimated cost of tax relief for the last four years of the relief are as follows:
|Cost of tax relief(85) (£ million)
(84) Number of claims received and not the number of trainees as an individual could make more than one claim in a tax year. It was estimated that there were probably about 200,000 people claiming VTR in 199798 and 199899
(85) On an accrued basis
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the number and proportion of incorrect notices of tax coding for 200102 which the Inland Revenue has sent out; and what are the principal reasons for errors. 
Quality monitoring for 200001 showed that around 5 million taxpayers received a revised notice of tax coding during the year of which 889,000 (about 15 per cent.) were incorrect. The main reasons for error were failing to correctly update benefits in kind in accordance with information provided by the employer and failing to restore the coding to a cumulative basis following a change of employment. We are seeking significant improvement in this area this year through our on-going quality assurance and quality control programme.
Ruth Kelly: The Government's latest estimate of the United Kingdom's net contribution to the EC Budget in 200102 together with forecasts of the trended net contribution for 200203 and 200304 can be found at footnote 2 to Table B13 of the pre-Budget report (Cm 5318). Forecasts for years beyond 200304 are not currently available.
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Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin
Futures and Options Week
Futures and Options World
Mr. Hood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the ECOFIN Council held in Brussels on 13 December; what the Government's position was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. 
The Commission reported that important progress had been made on implementation of the financial services action plan under the Belgian presidency. Six new proposals would be tabled by the Commission in 2002, including an update of the Investment Services Directive and the Capital Adequacy Directive. The Commission planned a mid-term review of the action plan before the Barecelona European Council in March 2002.
ECOFIN agreed a general orientation on a directive on combating market abuse. UK secured its negotiating objectives to deliver an effects-based regime with appropriate safeguards for innocent behaviour. Once the
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European Parliament has completed its first reading of the directive, the Council should be able to agree a formal common position.
ECOFIN also agreed a general orientation on the amended collateral directive, which is designed to ensure legal certainty for cross-border and domestic collateral arrangements. This is another step forward in the completion of a single market in financial services.
A general orientation was established on a compromise text for a draft regulation on accounting standards, which provides for the adoption of international accounting standards throughout the EU. The agreement is subject to a final Memorandum of Understanding between the European Commission and the International Accounting Standards Committee Federation on the subject of copyright.
On VAT on e-commerce, a text was agreed providing for the adoption of an electronic portal solution with a time-limited interim arrangement. This meets the UK's objective of introducing a non-burdensome method of applying VAT to products downloaded from the internet, which will be non-discriminatory and apply at the place of consumption.
On the proposed directive for ensuring effective taxation of savings income, ECOFIN reconfirmed the agreement reached at the Feira European Council in June 2000, and agreed a text to form the basis for negotiations with third countries.
ECOFIN also discussed the proposed energy products directive. The Chancellor stressed that any directive must allow the UK to exempt domestic fuel from minimum duty rates. The presidency reported the discussion to the European Council at Laeken.