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Mr. Ivan Lewis:
The terms of membership of the single currency for member states without a derogation are set out in Article 4 and Articles 116 through to 124
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of the treaty establishing the European Community. The Government's policy on UK membership of the single currency was set out by the Chancellor in his statement to the House of Commons in October 1997.
Mr. Walker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much central Government money was spent in the most recent year for which figures are available per head of population in each of the English regions; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Des Browne: Information on central Government and public corporations' identifiable spending per country and region per head is set out in table 8.16 of the HM Treasury and Office of National Statistics publication, Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2005", April 2005 (Cm 6521). This provides outturn data for 200304, the most recent year for which figures are available, and plans for 200405.
"The consensus view is that house prices exceed sustainable levels, though there is a wide range of opinion on the extent of disequilibrium. However, the common method of assessing this by comparing the current ratio of house prices to earnings (or some wider measure of income) with its long-run average can be highly misleading. There is no economic law to dictate that this ratio must revert to some constant level over the long term."
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many laptop computers have been used by (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) officials in his Department in each year since 1995; how many have been (i) lost and (ii) stolen in that period; what the cost of the use of laptops in that period was; and if he will make a statement. 
Current Treasury records simply assign ownership of laptops and other small equipment to Budget centres within the Department, and so a distinction between (a), (b) and (c) is not made.
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The totals above indicate acquisitions and do not reflect the actual number in use, which is affected by occasional stock holding and by old equipment being replaced with newer models. At present the number of laptops supported is about 500.
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the performance of Partnerships UK in developing templates for private finance initiative and public-private partnership agreements. 
John Healey: Partnerships UK (PUK) supports the Government's delivery of value for money PFI projects, including work on developing national procurement vehicles for key programmes such as Partnerships for Schools, and helping the Government standardise the legal documentation involved in PFI procurements.
PUK has worked closely with the Treasury and other Government Departments in the production and enforcement of the standardised contract for PFI agreements and in developing sector specific contracts. Through its help-line, PUK has provided a valuable support function for procuring authorities across the UK in negotiating standardised contracts and PFI project agreements. The work PUK does to support the enforcement of standardised contracts is important in delivering benefits to the public sector in terms of reduced procurement costs and procurement timescales.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government's policies provide over £2 billion every year in tax relief on savings through individual savings accounts (ISAs) and other forms of personal saving incentives. In addition, the Government deliver fiscal support for retirement saving worth more than £11 billion this year.
As well as ISAs, the Government introduced the Child Trust Fund in April to ensure assets for all children, regardless of family background, strengthen financial education and promote positive attitudes to saving. At the same time, the Government introduced a new suite of Stakeholder saving and investment products, which are simple and risk-controlled, with a
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charge cap to protect consumers from high charges. In addition to tax relief, the Government are using the Saving Gateway to explore how matching can help promote saving among those who do not usually save.
For retirement saving, the Government are delivering pension tax simplification which, in April 2006, will sweep away the many separate regimes and replace them with only one. This radical reform which gives greater flexibility to individuals is supported by the Informed Choice programme which will mean that individuals are better able to understand and appreciate the value of their pensions savings.
Adam Price: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the likely effects on tax revenue of the new rules on residential property andpersonal pension plans to be introduced in April 2006. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Pension tax simplification replaces the numerous existing tax regimes with a universal regime for tax-privileged pension savings providing greater flexibility to some 15 million pension savers.
Currently most pension funds may invest in residential property, and many do. Under the new simplified regime small self-administered schemes (SSASs) and self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs) may invest in residential property from 6 April 2006. Around 200,000 people, compared to over 15 million pension scheme members, hold these specialist pension vehicles. Creating a single set of allowable investments across all pension schemes fits the requirement to create a single regime for tax privileged pension saving and corrects an existing distortion by giving investors greater choice.
The regulatory impact assessment (RIA) Simplifying the Taxation of Pensions" published in April 2004, which can be found at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ria/simplifying-pensions.pdf set out an assessment of the potential impact of the whole pensions simplification package, including the changes to the lifetime allowance and ages at which pensions can be taken, together with allowing residential property into SIPPs and SSASs. These elements cannot easily be separated and therefore the RIA estimates the overall cost of the pensions simplification package to the Exchequer at around £¼ billion within four years. Paragraphs 55 and 56 deal specifically with the potential consequences of allowing residential property into SIPPs and SSASs.
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