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Ruth Kelly: The consultation document, Modernising Annuities, published jointly with the Department for Work and Pensions in February, provoked considerable interest and strong feedback. I am today placing in the Library a summary of the responses.
The feedback confirmed that individuals need to be better informed about their annuity purchase. It is clear that many people could improve their retirement income if, at retirement, they were able to select the right annuity for their personal circumstances. It would be in their best interest to look for the best rate in the marketplace, which is not necessarily from the same financial institution that helped them save for retirement. The Government are working with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and providers to ensure that people are able to make the right choices at the right time. One specific idea under consideration is encouraging the provision of information and advice through the work place.
As the consultation document explains, there is no case for abandoning the requirement that people should buy a lifetime annuity by age 75. This rule ensures that they can take advantage of insurance pooling to make efficient use of their pension savings.
Without prejudicing this rule and consistent with the principles outlined in the consultation document, the Government plan to bring forward powers to make it possible to offer people buying annuities more choice and flexibility. The aim will be to empower people approaching retirement to make the right choices for their circumstances by encouraging competition and transparency in the market for annuities. It will be important that this liberalisation dovetails with simplification and other reforms being considered in the pensions Green Paper this autumn.
Mr. Boateng: For those bodies classified by the Office for National Statistics to the appropriate sector in national accounts, the net cash requirement represents the sums borrowed by those bodies, in cash, from outside that sector, plus interest capitalising on certain of those borrowings. Full details of how the net cash requirement is measured and its relation to other measures of borrowing and debt are given in "Monthly statistics on public sector finances: a methodological guide" (No. 12 in the Government Statistical Service Methodology Series).
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Dawn Primarolo: The Government's aim is to make Britain one of the most competitive environments for business in the worldsince 1997 the Government have cut the corporate tax bills of small companies by around 30 per cent., rewarding the entrepreneurial spirit and promoting growth. The Government have introduced numerous measures to help small enterprises since 1997, including:
cutting the small companies rate of corporation tax from 23 per cent. to 19 per cent. and introducing a starting rate which we are now cutting from 10 per cent. to zero;
introducing a 10p starting rate of income tax;
making 40 per cent. first year capital allowances permanent; and
introducing measures to ease the impact of VAT on small business.
Ruth Kelly: No such assessment has been made. The abolition of payable tax credits was part of a wider reform of corporate taxation, including lower rates of corporation tax, designed to foster economic growth and in time generate better rates of return for savers and investors generally.
31. Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what analysis his Department has undertaken on the impact of the slowdown in the world economy on the (a) manufacturing, (b) service and (c) tourism economies of the south-west of England. 
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duty incentives for alternative fuels to the tax credit for general research and development. These measures include:
alternative fuelled cars first registered from March 2001 attract up to a £10 discount per year on their rate of vehicle excise duty;
Budget 2002 announced a 20p per litre duty differential between biodiesel and ultra low sulphur diesel;
the duty on road fuel gases is set at 9p per kilogramme;
the Government has granted fuel duty exemptions to pilot projects for research into hydrogen, biogas and methanol under the Green Fuel Challenge and has also invited bids for more duty exemptions or reductions in more pilot projects;
R and D tax credits have been introduced for small companies in 2000 and extended to all companies in 2002. These credits reduce the after-tax cost of R and D, including R and D directed towards new alternative fuel technologies; and
the Department for Transport has allocated £10 million this year to each of the Powershift and CleanUp programmes it administers. The Powershift programme offers grants for the conversion of existing vehicles to road fuel gases and electricity and the CleanUp programme offers grants to purchase new vehicles fuelled by road fuel gases and electricity.
33. Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate his Department has made of the proportion of income paid in council tax by (a) the poorest quintile of households and (b) the richest quintile of households. 
Mr. Boateng: The information requested can be found in table 3 of the analysis "The effects of taxes and benefits on household income 200001" in the May issue of Economic Trends. The information is based on the Family Expenditure Survey.
34. Mr. Butterfill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the research he commissioned in connection with performance targets to inform his decisions on the Spending Review. 
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Ruth Kelly: The Financial Services Compensation Scheme acquired its powers and responsibilities under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 on 1 December 2001. Since then it has been an important part of the overall framework of consumer protection provided under the Act.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received about the role of the Crown Estates Commissioners in Scotland; and if he will make a statement. 
Ruth Kelly: Details of the estimated outturn for the United Kingdom's net contribution to the EC Budget in 200102 were set out in the answer which my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage (Barbara Follett) on 10 June 2002, Official Report, columns 83537W. Estimates of the trend in the United Kingdom's net contribution to the EC Budget for the period 200203 to 200506 are shown at footnote 4 to Table A.2 (page 165) of the Spending Review 2002 (Cm 5570) published on 15 July.
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