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13 Jan 2003 : Column 411W—continued

Christmas Expenses

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many departmental Christmas cards he and his Ministers sent in 2002; how much these cards will cost (a) to buy (b) to post and (c) in staff time to sign, address and place in envelopes; and if he will place in the Library a sample copy of the official Christmas card he has sent this year. [88102]

Ruth Kelly [holding answer 19 December 2002]: A total of 2,440 departmental Christmas cards were purchased for Treasury Ministers at a total cost of #1,912.18. All expenditure incurred in the purchase and despatch of official Christmas cards is made in accordance with the departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on the principles set out in Government Accounting. The Treasury Christmas card was produced by Card Aid which donates all profit to charity. A sample copy of the card will be placed in the Library of the House.

Contingent Liabilities

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total Government expenditure on contingent liabilities which came to fruition was in each year since 1992. [89387]

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Mr. Boateng: The information is not held centrally. When a contingent liability becomes an actual liability, the resulting expenditure is scored in both departmental accounts and national accounts.

Correspondence

Mr. Chope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the hon. Member for Christchurch will receive a response to his letter of 6 November to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury concerning correspondence from Mr. Hawksworth. [90720]

Ruth Kelly: I wrote to the hon. Gentleman on 10 January saying that I hope to provide a full response soon and noting the reason for delay.

Departmental Expenditure (Newsprint)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total expenditure of his Department was on newspapers, magazines and periodicals in 2002. [90543]

Ruth Kelly: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 29 January 2002, Official Report, column 228W.

Departmental Research

Adam Price: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list programmes of research being conducted by members of the countries and regions team within his Department. [89852]

Mr. Boateng: The devolved countries and regions team does not have its own internal research programme. The Treasury more generally is involved in some external research on regional issues, partly funded by the evidence based policy fund.

Diversity

Norman Lamb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the programme of activities aimed at raising awareness of diversity in his Department, as set out on page 38 of the HM Treasury Departmental Report 2002; and how much the programme cost. [89261]

Ruth Kelly [holding answer 7 January 2003]: The Treasury initiated a programme to raise awareness of diversity among all staff in 2001. A number of events and seminars have been held. Diversity has also been incorporated into our management training courses, including induction, appraisal, recruitment and selection. Since January 2001, the Department has spent #96,000, partially funded through the Modernising Government Fund, on raising diversity awareness among Treasury staff.

Diversity Objectives

Norman Lamb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the diversity objectives set by members of the Senior Civil Service within his Department, as set out on page 38 of the HM Treasury Departmental Report 2002; to what extent these objectives have been met; and what measures have been put in place to monitor progress towards these objectives. [89262]

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Ruth Kelly [holding answer 7 January 2003]: The Treasury is committed to improving the diversity of its staff and has diversity targets to improve the representations of women, people from a minority ethnic background people with disabilities at all management levels. To help the Department to make further progress in this area, members of the Senior Civil Service have been asked to set themselves a diversity objective. These are monitored through the Department's internal performance management system. Progress against our diversity objectives will be published in the Treasury's 2003 Departmental Report.

Euro

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the five tests will begin being conducted on UK entry to the euro; and who will conduct the five tests. [89386]

Ruth Kelly: The Government have said that they will complete an assessment of the five economic tests within two years of the start of this Parliament. The assessment will be a Government assessment and the work will be undertaken by the Treasury.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the proportion of small and medium sized companies that have made preparations for UK membership of the Euro; and if he will make a statement. [90171]

Ruth Kelly: The Government has made no estimate of the proportion of small and medium sized companies that have made preparations for UK membership of the euro.

Finance Regulation and Industry Section

Norman Lamb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make a statement on the (a) activities and (b) purpose of the Finance Regulation and Industry Section of HM Treasury. [89264]

Ruth Kelly [holding answer 7 January 2003]: The purpose of the Finance Regulation and Industry Directorate is to lead the Treasury's work in:


The Directorate's teams pursue a wide range of activities that contribute to these three key areas.


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Financial Advice Network

Ms Walley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on progress since 6 November 2002 on a strategy for a national financial advice network and the extent to which (a) credit unions and (b) friendly societies can play a part in the process of providing advice to the financially excluded from. [89460]

Ruth Kelly: It is important that everyone should have access to appropriate financial education, information and generic advice to understand his or her options, as well as having access to regulated product specific advice where appropriate.

We have noted the proposals for a new network to provide financial education, information and generic advice, with interest. Many organisations are already involved in the provision of those forms of help.

I welcome the work the Financial Services Authority (the FSA) is undertaking to look at the feasibility of a new tool to help deliver consistent, high quality, interactive generic help for those who need it. We also welcome the work the FSA will be doing to develop a more general strategy for consumer education, information and advice. We understand they plan to consult on this in the summer of 2003.

All financial services firms can support the provision of advice to the financially excluded.

Government Accounts

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) for what reason government accounts have switched from gross domestic product of regions and nations of the UK to gross value added of regions and nations of the UK; [89388]

Ruth Kelly: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter to John Pullinger from Alex Salmond, dated 13 January 2003:




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