Previous Section Index Home Page

13 May 2004 : Column 480W—continued

National Insurance

Paul Flynn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the current unneeded surplus is in the national insurance fund. [172728]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to table two on page six of the report by the Government Actuary on the drafts of the Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2004 and the Social Security (Contributions) (Re-rating and National Insurance Funds Payments) Order 2004 (CM6117).

Any surplus contributions are used to buy gilts on behalf of the fund.

Norwich Union

Jim Dowd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Association of British Insurers in the last 12 months in relation to the service provided by Norwich Union to its policy holders. [173223]

Ruth Kelly: Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals as part of the process of policy development and analysis. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings, as provided for under Exemption 7(b) of the "Code of Practice on Access to Government Information". Treasury meetings are conducted in accordance with the Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Code, as appropriate.

Pensions

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he estimates the cost would be to the Exchequer under its proposed reform of pension taxation of imposing no annual limit on pension savings in the year 2006–07 and each of the subsequent three years. [172126]

Ruth Kelly: The annual allowance protects against large payments being made into a tax privileged pension scheme that might then be removed from the scheme without the imposition of tax. So there would therefore
 
13 May 2004 : Column 481W
 
be a cost attached to having no annual allowance under the proposed simplified pension regime—even if the lifetime allowance were retained.

The size of this cost depends upon behavioural effects and any estimate of cost would inevitably be very broad-brush. However, given the potential additional pension savings from those in the top 1 per cent. of the earnings distribution, plus the possibility of the additional scope for tax avoidance or evasion, the cost to the Exchequer could be up to several hundred million pounds over this period.

Stability and Growth Pact

Mr. David: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress is being made in discussions at a European level about the stability and growth pact. [172729]

Ruth Kelly: The Government continue to emphasise the need for a prudent interpretation of the stability and growth pact, taking into account the economic cycle, sustainability and the important role of public investment.

The Government published alongside Budget 2004 a   discussion paper comparing our British fiscal framework with the rules of the European Union's stability and growth pact, examining the principles, based on our experience, which should guide the evolution of fiscal policy.

Statistics (Stockton, South)

Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many businesses in Stockton South have benefited from the 100 per cent. tax exemption for the purchase of computer and internet equipment. [171467]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the answer which was given to the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Djanogly) on 5 May 2004, Official Report, column 1505W.

VAT

Claire Ward: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to reduce VAT on devices which improve safety in the home. [171886]

John Healey: Member states are permitted only to introduce reduced rates of VAT from the prescribed list of goods and services as set out in Annex H of the EC Sixth VAT Directive. There is no general provision in Annex H for devices which improve safety in the home.

But Annex H does allow a reduced rate for certain works to housing and the Government have used this to introduce a reduced rate of VAT for the grant-funded installation of certain security measures (for example window and door-locks and smoke alarms), when installed at the same time as energy saving materials or central heating systems also paid for by a qualifying grant. Qualifying grants are targeted at people aged 60 or over and those receiving specified benefits, so the related reduced rate is similarly well targeted at those who need help most.
 
13 May 2004 : Column 482W
 

The UK's existing zero rates also cover a number of measures that contribute to safety in the home, such as burglar alarms and security lights, but only if they are installed in new homes at the time of construction.

A review of the reduced rate provisions is currently under way in Europe and the Government have made clear in these negotiations that we will not agree to the removal of any of our zero and reduced rate VAT derogations.

CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

Historical Papers

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether all the documents relating to the murder of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson MP in 1922 are now in the public domain; and if he will make a statement. [170548]

Mr. Leslie: Records kept by several Government Departments relating to the murder of Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson in London in June 1922 are available for public inspection in the National Archives. A search of the National Archives' electronic catalogue did not reveal any documents unavailable for public inspection.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether all official documents relating to Rudolf Hess are now in the public domain; and if he will make a statement. [170549]

Mr. Leslie: A search of the National Archives' electronic catalogue provides details of records relating to the career of Rudolf Hess originating from several Government Departments and now kept at Kew. All of this material appears to be available for public consultation. Since Mr. Hess did not die until 1987, it is quite possible that more material relating to him is still held in Government Departments, in accordance with the 30-year rule and other provisions of the Public Records Acts.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs which documents relating to the late Duke of Windsor are withheld from public inspection in the Public Records Office, broken down by category; and if he will make a statement. [170541]

Mr. Leslie: Many public records relating to the Duke of Windsor, including some concerning his career after the Abdication in December 1936, were made available to the public for the first time on 30 January 2003. Further information about these and other records relating to the Duke kept at the National Archives can be obtained from its electronic catalogue on the internet at http://catalogue.pro.gov.uk. A search of the catalogue has not revealed any reference to the Duke's career which is not available for public consultation.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether all the documents relating to the death of the late Duke of Kent in 1942, with particular reference to
 
13 May 2004 : Column 483W
 
the itinerary of his final projected journey, are now in the public domain and available for inspection; and if he will make a statement. [170544]

Mr. Leslie: The National Archives holds some correspondence and papers relating to the Duke of Kent's fatal air crash in Caithness in August 1942, mainly among the Air Ministry records. It is not aware of any significant body of material concerning this matter in other public archives.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs which documents referring to personalities and events relating to the conflict in Ireland between 1919 and 1923 are withheld from inspection at the Public Records Office; and if he will make a statement. [170545]

Mr. Leslie: There is a considerable amount of material relating to the conflict in Ireland during this period, mainly but not exclusively among the historical records of the Cabinet Office, the War Office, the Colonial Office and the Home Office, now kept at the National Archives. It is not possible to supply a definitive answer concerning the availability of all this material without incurring disproportionate cost, but initial searches in the National Archives' electronic catalogue indicate that only a very few of the relevant files are not now open to public inspection.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs which documents relating to the Irish plenipotentiaries who negotiated the Treaty of 1921 with the United Kingdom Government are withheld from pubic inspection in the    Public Records Office; and if he will make a statement. [170546]

Mr. Leslie: There is a full official record of the negotiations between the British Government and the Irish plenipotentiaries, which resulted in the Treaty of 6 December 1921, among the Cabinet Office records now kept at the National Archives, in particular series CAB 21, CAB 24, CAB 27 and CAB 43. These records are open for public consultation.

The Royal Irish Constabulary's file on Michael Collins, one of the leading plenipotentiaries, covering the period 1916–1920, is also publicly available (reference: CO 904/196).

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs which documents that relate to Anthony Blunt are withheld from public inspection in the Public Record Office, broken down by category; and if he will make a statement. [170547]

Mr. Leslie: An initial search of the electronic catalogue relating to public records kept by the National Archives does not reveal any records relating to Anthony Blunt which are not open to public inspection. However, since he remained a prominent public figure until his death in 1983, it is quite possible that some material relating to him held by Government Departments has yet to be transferred to the National Archives, in accordance with the 30-year rule and other provisions of the Public Records Acts.
 
13 May 2004 : Column 484W
 


Next Section Index Home Page