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Works of Art

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much his Department has spent on the acquisition of works of art in each year since 1997, broken down by amounts spent on (a) paintings and (b) sculpture; what the single most expensive piece of art purchased by his Department since 1997 was; how much it cost; and what the total revenue raised by his Department through sales of its works of art has been since 1997. [142366]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department does not own any works of art, nor has it purchased or sold any since 1997.


European Council of Finance Ministers

Mr. Hood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the ECOFIN meeting held on 25 November; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [142978]

Mr. Gordon Brown: I attended ECOFIN on 25 November.

The Council discussed the Excessive Deficit Procedure for France and Germany (recommended under Article 104(8)). Council did not vote in favour of the Commission proposals under both Article 104(8) and 104(9) to enforce the excessive deficit procedures against both countries, therefore the decision was not adopted. It agreed non-binding Council conclusions and a separate declaration.

The UK did not support the Commission's proposal under Article 104(8). The Council reached an agreement on a general approach on the Transparency Directive. A compromise was reached on the important issue of mandatory quantitative quarterly reporting, whereby companies with shares on regulated EU markets will be required to disclose qualitative information, similar to trading statements, about the company's performance at least once in the six-months periods following the date of their annual and half-yearly reports. This was a

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success for the UK and followed our intervention at the 4 November ECOFIN when I expressed strong concerns about the regulatory burden of introducing mandatory quarterly reporting across the EU.

The Council noted a Commission presentation on its implementation report on the Risk Capital Action Plan and Conclusions were adopted inviting the Commission and the Financial Services Committee to undertake further work.

The Council took note of a report from the Code of Conduct group on the implementation of rollback and standstill. The group was asked to report back on rollback and standstill before summer 2004.

On VAT Reduced Rates, Council agreed to extend the VAT labour intensive services experiment for two years and produced a declaration to this effect, inviting the Commission to make the appropriate proposals.


The Commission presented its company tax communication, which was discussed further at the conference on EU corporate tax reform in Ostia on 5–6 December.

On the structural indicators to be used in the Commission's Spring Report for the European Council, the Commission welcomed a Joint Committee text. The Council invited the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER) to finalise the issues for approval at the next General Affairs (GAERC) meeting.

The Council adopted a report on European Action for Growth to be forwarded to the European Council in 12–13 December. The Council reached political agreement on an increased rate of Trans-European Networks co-financing of 20 per cent. for certain projects.

The Council adopted two reports concerning the European Investment Bank (EIB): on the mid-term review of EIB lending mandates and on the review of the EIB facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP).

The Council agreed to an additional allocation of EUR 500 million for lending to Russia and the Western Newly Independent States by the EIB until January 2007. In a unilateral declaration the UK noted

On the Investment Services Directive, a UK-drafted Declaration was agreed, that will accompany the formal adoption of a Council Common Position on 8 December. This Declaration helpfully indicates Council's desire to reach an agreement with the European Parliament on this Directive by April 2004.

Inland Revenue

Mr. Gray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what annual efficiency savings targets were set for Inland Revenue in 2002 to 2003; what Inland Revenue's performance against these targets was in each year; and

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what the total sum paid in performance related pay as a consequence of Inland Revenue's achievement was in each year. [143674]

Dawn Primarolo: In 2001–02, 2002–03 and 2003–04 the Inland Revenue had a target to

The need to make efficiency savings is only one of several objectives that any individual could have in their Performance Agreement. It is therefore impossible to quantify the amount of individual performance related pay that has arisen from the achievement of such targets. However, it is the case that performance related pay is only paid to individuals who have met or exceeded their Performance Agreement in total.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 2 December 2003, Official Report, column 345W, on Inland Revenue (IT Systems), who the prospective suppliers who engaged in the Inland Revenue's market-making exercise for the EAGLE project prior to the placement by Inland Revenue of the Procurement Notice in the Official Journal of the European Communities were. [143604]

Dawn Primarolo: The initial Market-making exercise for the EAGLE contract prompted six responses prior to the placement of the Procurement Notice in the OJEC. The suppliers involved were:

    CSC Europe/IBM UK;

    EDS Ltd.;

    Hoskyns Group Plc;

    ICL/Anderson Consulting;

    Digital Alliance (Digital Equipment Co., Logica and Barclays);

    Sema Group UK.

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Of these suppliers, two were invited to tender—EDS Ltd. and CSC Europe/ IBM UK. The preferred supplier was announced in December 1993, and the contract awarded in May 1994.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the EAGLE Invitation to Tender (ITT) contained a provision that the Inland Revenue might undertake a review of the tax affairs of the companies responding to the ITT and that such reports might be used as a factor in the evaluation of tenders. [143671]

Dawn Primarolo: The EAGLE Invitation to Tender (ITT) did not contain any provision that the Inland Revenue might undertake a review of the tax affairs of the companies responding to the ITT or that such reports might be used as a factor in the evaluation of tenders.

Tax Credits

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures are being taken to ease the financial burden on firms whose research and development tax credit claims are under retrospective investigation by the Inland Revenue. [143353]

Dawn Primarolo: Companies claim R&D tax credits by entering figures on their Corporation Tax Self Assessment return at the end of the accounting period in which the R&D is undertaken. Companies self assess the amount of R&D tax credits due to them and receive payment of any R&D tax credit in line with their self-assessment.

Only a proportion of returns which contain an R&D tax credit claim will be inquired into. Where a return is inquired into, payments of the tax credit may be withheld during the inquiry but interim payments can be agreed.


Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many cigarettes have been consumed in the United Kingdom in each year since 1997; what the total revenue generated from duties was; what percentage of cigarettes were (a) smuggled and (b) crossborder sales of cigarettes in each year since 1997; and how much was lost in revenue from duty in each case. [143143]

John Healey: All figures relating to 2000–01 to 2002–03, and the smuggled cigarette share estimates for earlier years are published in "Measuring and Tackling Indirect Tax Losses (December 2003)".

The same figures for 1999–00 are contained in Measuring Indirect Tax Losses (November 2002).

Comparable figures for earlier years are not available.

Information on the total revenue generated from UK cigarettes duties can be found in the HM Customs and Excise 'Tobacco Bulletin'.

Copies of all these documents are available in the Library of the House.

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