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1 Nov 2004 : Column 18W—continued


Stamp Duty

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average amount of stamp duty charged on a Right to Buy council property was in the last year for which figures are available. [194689]

Mr. Timms: The information requested is not available. It is not possible from our survey data to identify Right to Buy council properties.

Betting and Duties Gaming Act

Mr. Byers: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what steps he will take to ensure that advertisements at English Premier League football grounds comply with the Betting and Duties Gaming Act 1981; [195187]
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(2) what action he plans to take to ensure that complies with the provisions of the Betting and Duties Gaming Act 1981. [195188]

John Healey: Enforcement of the provisions of the Betting and Gaming Duties Act is an operational matter for Her Majesty's Customs and Excise. They are pursuing this issue with the relevant parties.

Civil Servants

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average length of continuous service for civil servants within the Department is. [194406]

Mr. Timms: The information requested is shown in the following table:
HM Treasury10.0
HM Customs and Excise16.9
Inland Revenue14.7

Civil Partnership Bill

Mr. Leigh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate the Government have made of the amount in forgone tax liabilities likely to arise from the amendments to the Civil Partnership Bill made by the House of Lords. [194727]

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Dawn Primarolo: The information requested is not available.

Cleethorpes Constituency

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many residents in Cleethorpes constituency, broken down by electoral ward, are aged between (a) 60 to 64, (b) 65 to 69, (c) 70 to 74, (d) 75 to 79 and (e) over 80 years. [194614]

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

Letter from Colin Mowl to Shona McIsaac dated 1 November 2004:

Residents of Cleethorpes constituency aged 60 and over, 29 April 2001

All people aged 60 and over
AreaAll People60 to 6465 to 6970 to 7475 to 7980 or over
Croft Baker3,202633648596621704
Humberston and New Waltham2,902726633560444539
Sidney Sussex1,987555436329245422

Source :
2001 Census Standard Tables for wards for England and Wales

Departmental Policies (South Dorset)

Jim Knight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out, with statistical evidence relating as closely as possible to the South Dorset constituency, the effects of changes to departmental policy since 1997 on the South Dorset constituency. [194964]

Mr. Timms: The Government has put in place a radical programme of both macroeconomic and microeconomic reform since 1997 to improve the economic performance of all parts of the UK. There is significant evidence that these policies have already yielded considerable benefits for the South Dorset constituency. For example, since May 1997, claimant unemployment has fallen by over three quarters, long-term unemployment overall has been almost eradicated and long-term youth unemployment has fallen by over 90 per cent.

The Neighbourhood Statistics Service provides a wide range of statistical information at Parliamentary Constituency level, taken from the 2001 Census and other sources. This service is freely available via the National Statistics website at http://neighbourhood.

Departmental Publications (Access)

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of publications issued by his Department are available in (a) Braille, (b) autoprint, (c) large print and (d) easy read format. [194296]

Mr. Timms: All documents published by HM Treasury, HM Customs and Excise and Inland Revenue are available on request in Braille, large print, audio tape or CD. These Departments have dealt with over 28,000 such requests in the past year.
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The Treasury routinely produces Braille and audio versions of the Budget, Pre-Budget Report and Spending Review Summary Leaflets and Press Notices. Websites for all three Departments enable resizing and printing of documents in large text, are compatible with text-to-speech software, and contain links to pages providing advice for those who need to adapt on-line documents for ease of reading.


Mr. Hood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the ECOFIN Council held on 21 October; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [194071]

Mr. Gordon Brown: The Council reviewed measures the Netherlands has taken following the Recommendation it issued under the EU's excessive deficit procedure. On the basis of a statement by the Commission, the Council took note that, at present, the action taken by the Dutch authorities in response to the Council's Recommendation of 2 June appears adequate to put an end, by 2005, to the present excessive deficit situation in the Netherlands. The Commission and the Council will continue to monitor the action taken.

The Council was briefed by the Commission on last month's fiscal notifications by member states. Six member states—Greece, Germany, Italy, Hungary Slovakia and Cyprus—would record 2004 deficits significantly higher than previously reported.

The Commission detailed that Greece's annual fiscal deficits were at least 2 percentage points higher than those stated in its returns every year starting from 2000. The Council looks forward to a detailed report from the Commission in time for the next ECOFIN, on Greece's deficit and debt data back to 1997.

Poland highlighted the fact that Eurostat's decision on the accounting treatment of pension funds had added up to 2 percentage points to their deficit. Ministers raised concerns that statistical treatment should not result in perverse incentives to undertake necessary pension reforms and will return to the issue.

The Council discussed the potential administrative burden for business of complying with legislation and regulation. The Council supported the development of a common European methodology, based on the recommendations of the EPC, to measure the administrative burden of EU legislation and regulation by, among others setting up pilot projects to determine the technical characteristics of the methodology and its application. The Council adopted Conclusions calling for the Commission to implement an administrative cost assessment for its proposals by 2005. ECOFIN will return to the topic of regulation, in particular the issue of competitiveness testing, later in the year, and regulatory reform will be discussed at 5 November European Council.

The Council took note of the presentation by the Commission on: the 2003 annual report on protection of the EU's financial interests in the fight against fraud; a proposal for an anti-fraud action plan for 2004 and 2005; and a proposal for a Regulation on mutual assistance in the protection of the EU's financial
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interests. The Council was also briefed by the Commission on the conclusion and ratification of the EU's anti-fraud agreement with Switzerland and on a 12-year anti-contraband agreement reached by the Commission and 10 member states with Philip Morris International.

The Council held an exchange of views on flexibility arrangements under the budget and the Commission's proposals for the 2007–13 period. The Council concluded that the current levels of flexibility were adequate, and that any changes to the Inter-Institutional Agreement would need to be taken in the context of the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework (2007–13). The Council received a presentation notifications by the Commission on proposals for modifying the EU's system of own resources.

Over lunch, Ministers were informed of the outcome of the Eurogroup meeting held on 20 October. They discussed the EU's financial framework for the 2007–13 period and met Mr. James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, for a discussion of progress toward the Millennium Development Goals.

Jon Cunliffe, Managing Director Macro-economic Policy and International Finance of the Treasury, represented the UK at ECOFIN.

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