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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 11 November 2004


Economic Growth Projections

14. Mr. David: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the most recent growth projections for the British economy are. [197397]

Mr. Boateng: The Government last published forecasts for the UK and world economy in the Budget on 10 March 2004, with UK GDP projected to grow by 3 to 3.5 per cent. both this year and next. We will update our forecasts, as usual, in the forthcoming 2004 pre-Budget report.

Business Link

15. Ms Keeble: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on plans to change the tax status of Business Link organisations. [197398]

Dawn Primarolo: Changes to the way Business Link organisations deliver their services mean that an increased part of their service is being provided free of charge. This has implications for VAT. It is a basic principle of VAT that when an activity is provided free of charge there is no supply for VAT purposes and the supplier therefore cannot recover the VAT incurred on purchases.

Customs are currently working with the Small Business Service, Regional Development Agencies and Business Link organisations to put in place simplified arrangements to enable Business Link organisations to calculate their tax liabilities.

Start-up Companies

16. Chris Grayling: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact on start-up companies of section 22 of the Finance Act 2003. [197399]

John Healey: We are aware, from sector representations, that reform of the taxation of employee shares through schedule 22 of Finance Act 2003 has resulted in uncertainty of tax treatment for researchers in universities starting up spinout companies.

Officials are working closely with the sector to identify solutions that provide certainty of tax treatment. the Government are committed to creating a clear fiscal environment that enables public sector research establishments to grow companies based on their research.
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Growth Forecasts (North-West)

17. Mr. Hendrick: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes he has made to his forecasts for growth in the North West since this year's Budget. [197400]

Mr. Timms: HM Treasury does not produce economic forecasts for individual regions of the United Kingdom. However, I can report that the regional policies this Government has put in place to level up the performance of all regions to that of the best has seen the North West enjoying above UK average growth of GVA per capita in recent years and the highest employment and lowest unemployment since records began.


18. Mrs. Humble: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to achieve progress towards full employment. [197401]

Mr. Timms: The Government's long-term goal is employment opportunity for all—the modern definition of full employment. Its aim is to ensure a higher proportion of people in work than ever before by 2010. The Government's strategy is set out in "Full Employment in Every Region", published alongside the 2003 pre-Budget report, and is based on maintaining macroeconomic stability and ensuring a dynamic and flexible labour market that equips people to adapt to change.

Indirect Taxation

19. Mr. Peter Atkinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the change in the level of indirect taxation between 1997 and 2004. [197402]

Dawn Primarolo: In 1996–97, revenues from taxes collected by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise totalled £89.8 billion, equivalent to 10.7 per cent. of Gross Domestic Product. In 2003–04, the corresponding figures were £115.7 billion, or 10.4 per cent. of GDP.

The change reflects a combination of factors including strong economic growth and consumer spending, policy changes—including real-terms cuts in the duties on fuel and alcohol, and increases in tobacco duties—and successful efforts by Customs and Excise to measure and tackle losses from fraud, avoidance and non-compliance.

Workforce Skills

20. Jon Trickett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has held with the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on the effects on the economy of developing workforce skills. [197403]

Mr. Timms: Treasury Ministers have regular dialogue with their colleagues in the Department for Education and Skills about a range of issues, including the importance of developing the skills of the workforce.

Third World Debt

21. Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met G8 leaders to discuss progress towards reducing Third World Debt. [197405]

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Mr. Timms: At the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington, donors agreed to work together to extend the HIPC initiative for a further two years. This will enable another 10 countries to benefit from over $30 billion of debt relief, freeing up resources which can be spent on health and education and the eradication of poverty.

G8 Finance Ministers have been asked to report back by the end of the year on additional measures that can further help developing countries address the sustainability of their debt, including the UK's decision to provide our share of up to 100 per cent. cancellation of multilateral debt for the poorest countries.

Climate Change

22. Miss McIntosh: To ask The Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the role of economic instruments in tackling climate change and global warming. [197406]

John Healey: The Government have introduced a number of economic instruments to help tackle the challenge of climate change—including the climate change levy, enhanced capital allowances, and the reform of company car taxation. The role of economic instruments in tackling environmental challenges was set out in "Tax and the Environment: using economic instruments", published alongside PBR2002. The Government continues to explore options for using cost-effective economic instruments, alongside other policies, to tackle climate change and global warming, taking into account all social, economic and environmental objectives.

Millennium Goals

23. Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been achieved in meeting the millennium goals. [197407]

Mr. Timms: The world is on track to meet the poverty reduction goal. Progress towards the other seven goals varies. On current rates of progress, Sub-Saharan Africa will not meet any of the goals by 2015. For this reason, the Prime Minister set up the Commission for Africa to generate further international action on Africa. The Government are also seeking to raise the finance needed to meet the Millennium Development Goals, through the International Finance Facility.

G7 Presidency

24. Clive Efford: To ask The Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the economic objectives of the UK's presidency of the G7. [197408]

Mr. Timms: The Government sees the UK's Presidencies of the G7 and the EU in 2005 as an opportunity to develop consensus for, and action towards, the appropriate responses to the challenges and opportunities of today's global economy.

This includes: a greater focus on development to ensure that the world's poorest can share in rising prosperity; structural economic reform in the developed world to increase flexibility; and ensuring that we have the correct structures and institutions in place to deal with these challenges and opportunities.
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Drug-related Deaths

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many drug-related deaths were recorded in England in the last five years. [196443]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 9 November 2004]: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Jim Cunningham, dated 11 November 2004:

Number of deaths from drug-related poisoning(1), England,1998 to 2002 2


(1) Cause of death was defined using the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) codes 292, 304, 305.2–305.9, E850-E858, E950.0-E950.5, E962.0 and E980.0-E980.5 for 1999 and 2000, and the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-IO) codes FII-F16, FI8-F19, X40-X44, X60-X64, X85 and YJO-Y14 from 2001 onwards.
(2) Data are for deaths occurring in each calendar year.

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