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13 Jan 2005 : Column 591W—continued

Non-proliferation Treaty

Mr. Flook: To ask the Prime Minister whether a senior Cabinet Minister will attend the non-proliferation treaty meeting to be held in London in spring 2005. [208229]

The Prime Minister: There is no non-proliferation treaty meeting in London this spring. However there will be an International Conference on Nuclear Security, which will be held in London between 16 and 18 March.

The Foreign Secretary, who would normally have attended this conference, is unable to do so because of previous engagements. In his absence his Minister of State, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, will represent him.


Credit Unions

Chris Ruane: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether he plans to offer alternative funding assistance to credit unions to replace funding withdrawn due to state aid regulations; [207975]

(2) what recent representations he has received on state aid regulations in relation to credit unions; [207976]
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(3) what assessment he has made of the impact of new state aid regulations on (a) newly-formed and (b) established credit unions. [207994]

Mr. Timms: In late 2003, the Government became aware that the European Commission took the view that Government funding of credit unions potentially constituted state aid. The Government have kept in close contact with the credit union sector on this issue and is currently working to gain approval of a scheme whereby funding of credit unions is permissible under state aid rules.

Free Trade Area

Mr. Brady: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the economic benefits that would arise from the creation of a free trade area including the US and the EU. [208078]

Mr. Timms: The benefits from trade liberalisation are greatest if barriers are reduced on a multilateral basis.

Complementary to pursuing a successful outcome to the Doha Development Round of WTO negotiations, the Government supports strengthened economic cooperation between the EU and the US, focusing particularly on non-tariff barriers such as regulations and standards.

The OECD is currently analysing the economic benefits of closer transatlantic economic integration with initial results due in the spring.

Mr. Brady: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions his Department has had with the EU Trade Commissioner regarding the creation of a free trade area between the EU and the US. [208317]

Mr. Timms: The Treasury and other Government Departments have regular contacts with the Commission on issues related to EU-US economic co-operation.

Income Statistics

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the level of average real personal disposable income was in each year since 1975; and what the percentage change was in each year. [207773]

Mr. Timms: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Michael Meacher, dated January 2005:

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Real households disposable income per head at chained volume measures Ref. Year 2001(2) (£) Percentage change, year on year (%)

(2) The real household disposable income per head series is currently measured in the prices of year 2001. The current prices series for household disposable income is re-valued by the households and NPISH final consumption deflator.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which (a) military facilities and (b) defence contractors he has visited since he took office in 1997, excluding the Dockyards in Rosyth. [203936]

Mr. Gordon Brown: Since 1997 Treasury Ministers have had a number of meetings with defence contractors, visited a number of military facilities and have met the Chiefs of Staff on a number of occasions to discuss defence matters.

However to provide the full detailed information requested would incur disproportionate cost.

State Opening of Parliament

Lynne Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the benefits to the economy of the State Opening of Parliament. [208234]

Mr. Timms: The State Opening of Parliament is not motivated by economic considerations. Any economic effects arising from it are likely to be extremely small.

Tax Credits

Mr. Steen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when a decision will be made on the appeal submitted by Mr. Keith Morris of Paignton on 23 October 2004 against an alleged overpayment of tax credits. [207837]

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Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue replied to the hon. Gentleman about his constituent on 11 January 2005 having written to Mr. Morris on 6 January.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what discussions he has had with the Government of Uzbekistan about the merits of implementing banking sector reforms that (a) increase independence of banks from the State, (b) ensure confidentiality of accounts and (c) remove restrictions on cash transactions; [208133]

(2) what discussions he has had with his counterpart in Uzbekistan about the merits of (a) removing restrictions on convertibility, (b) relaxing restrictions on circulation of the national currency, (c) allowing market mechanisms to determine the exchange rate and (d) permitting gradual devaluation of the Som. [208134]

Mr. Timms: None.


African Union Troops

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he has taken in respect of the UK commitment to train 20,000 African Union troops over the next five years. [207056]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence is organising this training in two different ways. First, by direct action, for example through British military training teams deployed to Africa, conducting specific training for Peace Support Operations (PSO) and training prior to actual PSO deployments, as well as through UK-based regular professional training modules offered to African officers. Second, indirectly through our support to the development of international training centres of excellence. Examples are the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana, the Peace Support Training Centre in Kenya, the Tactical Peace Support Training Centre in Bloemfontein, South Africa and the Jaji Peacekeeping Training Wing in Nigeria. Helping to build such training centres, as well as the training of trainers, has a major multiplier effect and is in line with the UK and wider international policy for the development of African PSO capacity over the longer term.

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