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13 May 2004 : Column 477W—continued

House Prices

19. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what economic instruments are available to him to moderate the rise in house prices. [172730]

Ruth Kelly: In Budget 2003, the Chancellor noted that a reduction in housing market volatility would enhance macro-economic stability. He asked Kate Barker to review housing supply in the UK, and David Miles to review the UK mortgage market.

At the time of Budget 2004, both reviews presented their final reports. The Government have welcomed their analysis and recommendations for action.

As recommended in the Barker Review, the Government are implementing a programme of change to the planning system and to the delivery of development, consulting with stakeholders as necessary. The Government accept the case for releasing more   resources to boost housing supply, improve affordability and lock in macro-economic stability, and will make a start in the forthcoming Spending Review.

The Government endorse David Miles' conclusion that urgent reform is desirable to make the UK mortgage market work better for consumers in a number of areas. The FSA has in train reforms in the mortgage market, which will move to statutory regulation on 31 October. The Chancellor has asked the FSA to consider and report on the further reforms proposed by David Miles.

Fuel Duty

20. Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received concerning his proposed increase in fuel duty. [172731]

John Healey: Treasury Ministers receive a wide range of representations about all areas of taxation policy, both in the run-up to and after the Chancellor's annual Budget statement.

Financial Services Authority

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the (a) consultation papers and (b) other documents issued by the Financial Services Authority in each of the last five years, broken down by number of pages. [172901]


 
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Ruth Kelly: The matters raised in this question are the responsibility of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), whose day-to-day operations are independent from Government control and influence. The Chairman of the FSA has offered to write to the hon. Member shortly, addressing the matters raised. Every FSA consultation paper can be found by year of publication on the FSA's website, together with other FSA documents.

Insurance Mediation Directive

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will make a statement on implementation of the EU Insurance Mediation Directive (a) in this country and (b) elsewhere in the EU; [172839]

(2) what new regulations will be required on insurance brokers in order for them to meet Financial Services Authority guidelines for the introduction of the Insurance Mediation Directive; [172938]

(3) if he will reduce the fee structure for the Insurance Mediation Directive; [172840]

(4) on what date the Financial Services Authority required authorisation of brokers under the Insurance Mediation Directive; and whether this is common to all EU countries; [172937]

(5) what assessment he has made of the impact on the number of insurance brokers of the introduction of the Insurance Mediation Directive. [172939]

Ruth Kelly: The UK has the largest insurance industry in Europe. Implementing the IMD is a key step in completing the single market in financial services, and will enhance consumer protection in an important sector of financial business. The UK market for selling insurance is competitive with many players giving customers wide choice, and this will continue in the new regime. Already thousands of firms have applied to the FSA for authorisation for the new regime.

The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 requires the FSA to publish a cost-benefit analysis of its proposed rules and guidance. The FSA has published cost benefit analysis in each of its consultation papers, which includes analysis of the market impact on firms. These state that regulation might result in some reduction in the number of firms selling insurance. In particular they stated that some businesses for whom selling insurance was a marginal activity may withdraw from the market once subject to statutory regulation. However there will be thousands of firms in the market providing consumers with a wide choice. The FSA have estimated that around 20,000 new firms will come into regulation as a result of mortgage and general insurance regulation and the vast majority of these will be involved in general insurance business.

The Government have consulted widely on the regulatory regime, publishing a public consultation document including draft regulations and a draft regulatory impact assessment in October 2002. Following analysis of the responses to the consultation, Parliament approved legislation on 24 June 2003. The activities to be regulated are: introducing, proposing or carrying out other work preparatory to the conclusion of contracts of insurance; assisting in the administration
 
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and performance of such contracts, in particular in the event of a claim; and concluding contracts of insurance. In drawing up its rules for insurance mediation, the FSA has carried out extensive public consultation on its rules. Further information is available from the FSA's website, www.fsa.gov.uk.

FSA regulation of insurance brokers will commence from 14 January 2005. This date is two years from the publication of the directive in the Official Journal of the European Communities. All member states have to implement the directive by this date.

In implementing the directive the Government and the FSA have worked closely with the industry to design a regulatory regime that takes account of market practice, and does not load the industry and ultimately the consumer with unnecessary costs. Both the Government and the FSA have been concerned to minimise the impact on smaller firms and sole traders.

The fees charged are a matter for the FSA. Application fees for insurance intermediaries have been set following consultation with the industry and are based on the volume of business undertaken. Up to 50 per cent. discount is offered for an early application together with further discount if the application is made   electronically. Smaller intermediaries seeking authorisation could pay a fee of only £500. If a firm is already authorised by the FSA for other regulated activities, the application fee it would pay for IMD activities is halved. The periodic annual fee which will be charged by the FSA for on-going supervision of authorised intermediaries following the commencement of regulation has not yet been set and will be the subject of a forthcoming consultation this summer.

Monitoring the implementation of the IMD across the EU is a matter for the Commission. The UK has focused its efforts on the implementation of the IMD in the UK market. We do however have informal working level contacts with other member states.

Labour Statistics (Bootle)

Mr. Benton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people were employed in tourism-related jobs in Bootle on the latest date for which figures are available. [173145]

Ruth Kelly: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl to Mr. Joe Benton, dated 13 May 2004:


 
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Military Expenditure

Mr. Best: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many taxpayers have sought to divert or withhold the proportion of their contribution going to military expenditure in the last three years. [167871]

Dawn Primarolo: The information requested is not available.

Mr. Best: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many representations entitled 'peace tax returns' have been received by the Treasury. [167872]

Dawn Primarolo: We have no central record of the number of representations received entitled 'peace tax returns'.


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