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Working Family/Children's Tax Credit

12. Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people are benefiting from the (a) working family tax credit and (b) children's tax credit in the Mitcham and Morden constituency. [68409]

Dawn Primarolo: At February this year 1,697 families in the Mitcham and Morden constituency were benefiting from the working families tax credit.

It is estimated that 475,000 families in the London area are eligible for children's tax credit. I regret information is not available at constituency level.

Child Poverty

13. Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact of his Department's measures to tackle child poverty in Worcester. [68411]

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Dawn Primarolo: All 12,000 families with children in Worcester will have benefited from the increases in child benefit since 1997; increases of 25 per cent. in real terms for the first child. Around 90 per cent. of families will be eligible for the child tax credit, which together with child benefit, for those earning £50,000 or less, will deliver a minimum of £26.50 and up to £54.25 a week in support for the first child from April 2003.

Inheritance Tax

14. Mr. Wray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to amend inheritance tax. [68412]

Mr. Boateng: My right hon. Friend's plans for this year are reflected in the Finance Bill.

Mr. John Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will review the threshold of inheritance tax to recognise the increased proportion of most personal estates represented by the family home. [70832]

Dawn Primarolo: My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer reviews the threshold every year, and has increased it this year by more than required by statutory indexation.

Public Sector Housing

15. Mr. Rammell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on planned public sector housing investment levels for the next three years. [68413]

Mr. Boateng: By 2005–06, investment in housing will have more than doubled in real terms from the levels we inherited in 1997.


16. Mr. Tom Harris: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures the Government are taking to improve productivity in British industry. [68415]

Mr. Boateng: The Government have set out a comprehensive strategy for raising productivity across the economy. The Government's approach centres around maintaining macroeconomic stability to allow businesses and individuals to invest for the future and implementing microeconomic reforms to address the barriers that prevent markets from functioning efficiently. The Government's reforms target five key areas that can affect the rate of productivity growth—competition, enterprise and innovation, skills, investment and the productivity of public services.

Budget 2002 and the 2002 Spending Review take forward a wide range of measures to address historic weaknesses in each of these areas.

Charitable Organisations (VAT)

17. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on the rates of VAT applicable to charitable organisations. [68416]

John Healey: While charities already benefit from a range of special VAT reliefs, we remain alive to opportunities to modernise and update the VAT system for charities.

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Health Outputs

18. Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on what targets he has set for health outputs from the Spending Review. [68417]

Mr. Boateng: Targets for health outputs were published in the new Department of Health Public Service Agreement on Monday 15 July.

International Debt Arbitration

19. Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made on his proposed international debt arbitration procedure for the resolution of current and future sovereign debt crises. [68419]

John Healey: The Government have been at the forefront in calling for a more effective mechanism for sovereign debt restructuring to be established, to ensure that the burden of adjustment during a crisis is not placed unfairly on the poor and most vulnerable. At the Spring Meetings of the IMFC and G7, the international community agreed to take forward work to develop a new approach to sovereign debt restructuring, to facilitate greater private sector involvement and to improve the framework for crisis resolution. The IMF is currently assessing the various options that may be available for achieving this and the G7 is implementing an Action Plan, which was agreed at the Spring Meeting, towards this objective. The Government welcomes these efforts and continues to take an active role in the developments.

Global Poverty

20. Mr. Edwards: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to meet G8 Finance Ministers to discuss the reduction of poverty in developing countries. [68421]

John Healey: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths) earlier today.

29. Ross Cranston: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress is being made through World bank/IMF action in tackling global poverty. [68430]

John Healey: Tackling global poverty is central to the activities of the World bank and the IMF, and both institutions are committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Macroeconomic stability is a pre-condition of poverty reduction, and the IMF plays a lead role in creating the conditions for stability and growth in the global economy, and the prevention and resolution of financial crisis. In recent years the World bank and the IMF have adopted a new country-led approach to poverty reduction, where developing countries prepare Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers in consultation with civil society. As part of this, the UK is seeking to ensure that the institutions collaborate to include poverty and social impact assessments of the policy choices available to developing country authorities.

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Poverty rates have declined in most parts of the world, and recent projections by the World bank show that it is possible to achieve the poverty reduction goal in most regions if growth in per capita income accelerates to an average of 3.6 per cent. a year.

30. Mr. Joyce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the progress made by the G7/G8 countries in respect of tackling debt in the developing world. [68431]

John Healey: The UK continues to be at the forefront of the international debate on debt relief issues, and continues to press for the rapid and full implementation of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. We were pleased to have achieved the recent announcement of an extra US$1 billion for the HIPC initiative at the G8 summit in Kananaskis and the agreement of leaders to take action to secure the participation of all creditors, to complete the financing of the initiative and to address the issue of debt sustainability at completion point.

Full details of the commitments on HIPC agreed to at the summit can be found in the document, "Statement by G7 Leaders: Delivering on the Promise of the Enhanced HIPC Initiative", which is available at

Public Sector Capital Investment

22. Andrew Selous: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what effect a 1 per cent. change in the growth forecast for the United Kingdom economy for 2002–03 would have on public sector capital investment. [68423]

Mr. Boateng: A change in the growth forecast for 2002–03 would have no direct effect on public sector capital investment. The majority of capital expenditure is covered by departmental expenditure limits (DEL). Firm limits for DEL for 2002–03 were set in the 2000 Spending Review.

Pension Funds

23. Mr. Brazier: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the assessment he has made of the effects of his policies on pensions funds. [68424]

Ruth Kelly: The Government have introduced reforms that have delivered and will continue to deliver a stable economic environment based on low levels of inflation and sustainable growth. This environment is designed to benefit all investors, including pension providers, because it supports longer-term investment and planning.

House Prices

24. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what economic instruments he has to moderate the rise in house prices, with specific reference to the south-east of England. [68425]

Ruth Kelly: The Government are designing planning, housing and transport reforms to promote economic growth in every region and balanced growth across the UK.

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Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Governor of the Bank of England on the level of house prices. [68422]

Ruth Kelly: The Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England have regular discussions on a range of economic issues.

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