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30 Jan 2003 : Column 991W—continued

Climate Change Levy

Sue Doughty: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what receipts he received during the fiscal year 2001–02 from companies subject to negotiated agreements under the Climate Change Levy. [94144]

John Healey: Information is not available on the levy receipts the Exchequer received during 2001–02 from those companies covered by negotiated climate change agreements.

Construction Industry

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimates the Inland Revenue has made of the costs of administering the Construction Industry Scheme (a) for the construction industry and (b) for the Inland Revenue in the last financial year. [91953]

Dawn Primarolo: The information is as follows:

(a) Construction businesses are not required to report the costs they incur in administering CIS and consequently information on compliance costs is limited. Any estimates are therefore tentative but for the year 2001–02 the Inland Revenue estimate that they could have been in the region of £75 million.

(b) The annual cost to the Inland Revenue of administering the IT system that supports CIS is in the order of £8 million. This figure does not include the costs of people working in our Network Offices and who support the system through processing work, customer support, and tax compliance activity. Generally speaking, these people carry out a wider range of activities and it would not be

practical to apportion their costs between the time spent on CIS and on other activities.

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when a decision will be taken on the future of the Construction Industry Scheme. [94849]

Dawn Primarolo: A decision on the future of the Scheme will be taken following analysis of the responses to the consultation document, "The Inland Revenue and the Construction Industry: Working Together for a New Scheme".

Contingent Liabilities

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will list the Government's contingent liabilities; [94342]

30 Jan 2003 : Column 992W

Mr. Boateng: Under UK accounting standards, a liability is treated as contingent if it is dependent on uncertain future events, cannot be estimated with sufficient reliability, or is not likely to be called. By definition, contingent liabilities may never result in actual expenditure. Therefore they are not included in estimates of public expenditure or borrowing unless or until there is a reasonable expectation that expenditure will be incurred.

The Government does not need to publish separate details of contingent liabilities in the forthcoming Budget statement because these are published in the Supplementary Statement to the Consolidated Fund and National Loans Fund Accounts. This lists all outstanding contingent liabilities during the financial year where they are reportable to Parliament using the criteria set out in Government Accounting. The Supplementary Statement for 2001–02 was published on 19 December 2002 (HC 381). In addition, departments must follow accounting standards when disclosing contingent liabilities by way of notes to their accounts.

Cooking Oil Fuels

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on paying duty on fuels made from cooking oil. [93474]

John Healey: Any substance, whether or not it is a mineral oil, is subject to excise duty where it is used as a road fuel. This duty is normally charged at the rate of the fuel for which that substance is substituting. Where cooking oil is used in diesel-engined cars, it will normally be liable at the rate set for ultra-low sulphur diesel, which is 45.82p per litre. Some cooking oil, however, may meet the specification for biodiesel for duty purposes. The duty rate for biodiesel used as a road fuel is 25.82p per litre.

Currency Instability

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on the UK economy of the current relative instability of major international currencies. [94851]

Ruth Kelly: The Paper for the Treasury Committee on the Treasury's approach to the preliminary and technical work, published on 6 September 2002, set out a number of supporting studies that will be published alongside the assessment of the five economic tests. Further detail can be found in the 6 September Paper. Analysis of international currency movements and their effects will form part of this work.

30 Jan 2003 : Column 993W


Andrew George: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the house price to earnings ratio was for each year since 1978 in (a) England, (b) local authorities defined as rural and (c) by region. [90830]

Mr. McNulty: I have been asked to reply.

30 Jan 2003 : Column 994W

Only some of the data requested are available because earnings data at local authority level cannot easily be obtained within a reasonable time period.

The house price to earnings ratio has been determined from 1990 to 2001 (a) for England and (b) for each of the Government office regions. It is important to note that the average earnings used to produce this table are based on the region where the individual worked—which is not necessarily the region in which they lived. Comparisons with house prices within the same region may therefore be inappropriate.

North eastNorth westYorkshire & HumberEast MidlandsWest MidlandsEastLondonSouth eastSouth westEngland


New Earnings Survey, ONS

Survey of Mortgage Lenders, ODPM

EU (Economic Reform)

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 23 January 2003, Official Report, column 428W, on EU (economic reform), what discussions his Department has had with its European counterparts regarding (a) the steps for economic reform in the EU, detailed in the Government's White Paper on European economic reform, "Realising Europe's Potential: Economic Reform in Europe", February 2002 and (b) general economic reform in the EU. [94429]

Ruth Kelly: The Department has had numerous discussions with its European counterparts on the economic reform issues detailed in the Government's White Paper, and on European economic reform in general, within ECOFIN (and its associated committees), and in the context of the annual spring European Council on economic reform.

EU Financial Market Liberalisation

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his Department's plans for liberalisation of financial markets in the European Union, as set out in the Government's White Paper on European economic reform, "Realising Europe's Potential: Economic Reform in Europe", February 2002, depend on (a) wider membership of European economic and monetary union among all EU states and (b) British membership of EMU. [94394]

Ruth Kelly: Liberalisation of financial markets does not depend on membership of European economic and monetary union.

Exempt Transfers

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of (a) the number and (b) the value of potentially exempt transfers in the last year for which data is available; and if he will make a statement. [93710]

Dawn Primarolo: Insufficient data is available on which to base such estimates.

HIPC Initiative

John Barrett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 20 January 2003, Official Report, columns 54–55W, on the HIPC initiative, for what reasons figures for 2001 and 2002 on external debt outstanding for countries between decision point and completion point are not available. [93912]

John Healey: There are various sources of data for the external debt of developing countries. However, the most authoritative and complete source is "Global Development Finance" published by the World Bank. The last edition published in March 2002 provides figures on external debt for all these countries up until 2000, figures for 2001 will be published in the 2003 edition.

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