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14. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the total equity in domestic homes in aggregate market values (a) now, (b) five years ago and (c) ten years ago. 
(b) £860 billion in 1996Q3;
(c) £935 billion in 1991Q3.
Mr. Boateng: The Government have received representations from a variety of businesses, trade bodies, environmental organisations and other interested parties. They are being considered as part of the Budget process.
Dawn Primarolo: The Chancellor receives many representations from businesses and others on a range of issues, including administrative burdens. He receives a number of representations leading up to each Budget and in response to consultation documents and draft legislation that we publish to ensure that all those affected can have their say. Business leaders are represented on a number of consultative committees that discuss the implementation of new policies.
Mr. Boateng: Vehicle seizure is proving an effective weapon in tackling smuggling as evidenced by real reductions in levels of cross-channel passenger smuggling and its use has been recommended by two major, independent evaluations in the last three years. Customs have, in response to these recommendations, put in place
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Dawn Primarolo: This Government are committed to abolishing child poverty within a generation and halving it by 2010. As part of this commitment, we recently published a strategy document entitled "Tackling child poverty: giving every child the best possible start in life", which will inform the Budget and Spending Review 2002. As a result of tax and benefit changes announced in the last Parliament, there are now 1.2 million fewer children in poverty than there would otherwise have been.
During this Parliament, the Government will continue to make progress towards their goals with the introduction of two new tax creditsthe child tax credit and the working tax credit. The Government are also making substantial new investments in services for children. Over the four years to 2004, average real-terms annual growth in spending on education and training in England will be over 5½ per cent. In addition, extra funds have been made available for SureStart, Neighbourhood Renewal and the Children's Fund.
As a result of personal tax and benefit measures this Government have introduced since 1997, there are now 1.2 million fewer children in poverty than there otherwise would have been, while the poorest third of all pensioners will receive an extra £2.5 billion this year.
The working families tax credit and disabled person's tax credit, along with the first ever national minimum wage, are helping to make work pay, while prudent management of the economy is helping to achieve high levels of employment.
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To further stimulate business investment in England the Government have committed £20 million in match funding to a £40 million Community Development Venture Fund. This fund will provide finance for firms operating in disadvantaged areas and the Government hope to see it up and running by the end of this financial year.
The National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal, meanwhile, sets out how the Government will go about narrowing the gap between the most deprived areas and the rest. Key to the strategy is harnessing the mainstream resources of Government Departments, but a £900 million Neighbourhood Renewal Fund is also in place to kick start the renewal process in the 88 most deprived local authority areas.
22. Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee's interest rate decision of 10 January on manufacturing industry. 
Ruth Kelly: Decisions on interest rates are a matter for the Monetary Policy Committee. When forming its judgment, the MPC takes into account sectoral and regional information, as required by the Bank of England Act.
Ruth Kelly: The impact of the euro-zone economies on the UK economy is monitored as part of the Treasury's regular forecast rounds. Further information can be found in the Treasury's pre-Budget and Budget reports.
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Ruth Kelly: While the Government do not have an exchange rate target, a stable and competitive pound is sought over the medium-term. The key to a stable and competitive pound is low and stable inflation, backed up by sound public finances.
Ruth Kelly: UK businesses that have trading links with the euro area, not just those who export or import, will be affected. The Government are therefore committed to working with business to secure the right level of euro preparations in the UK for working with the euro now.
Mr. Boateng: The Government remain fully committed to the UN 0.7 per cent. ODA/GNP target. We have set out our plans for the next three years to 200304 and, as these show, development assistance as a proportion of GNP will rise to 0.33 per cent. in 200304, up from 0.26 per cent. in 1997. In his speech in New York and in his pre-Budget report speech, the chancellor emphasised his commitment to ensuring further substantial increases in development assistance. The forthcoming Spending Review is an opportunity to consider plans for development spending beyond 200304, alongside other priorities and pressures.
Aid effectiveness is also important as well as aid volumes. The Government are committed to redirecting their development assistance budget to the poorest countries, particularly those with effective Governments pursuing high growth and pro-poor economic and social policies. In addition, the Government have untied all their aid as from 1 April last year.
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