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14 Jun 2005 : Column 340W—continued


Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what contingency plans his Department has put in place in the event that countries in the euro zone decide to leave the currency. [4255]

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.

Government Spending

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. [3216]

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 2003–04, the most recent year for which figures are available, and plans for 2004–05.

House prices

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the long-run equilibrium, or sustainable, house price to earnings ratio; and if he will make a statement. [4534]

John Healey: A discussion regarding the long-run house price to earnings ratio can be found in paragraph A76 of the 2004 pre-Budget report (Cm 6408). This included the statement that,

Inheritance Tax/Stamp Duty

Mr. Hands: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was raised through (a) inheritance tax and (b) stamp duty in Hammersmith and Fulham in (i) 1997, (ii) 2001 and (iii) 2004. [3421]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: No information is available at the local authority level for inheritance tax.

It is not possible to give stamp duty on land and property at this level for either 1997–98 or 2001–02. Estimates of UK stamp duty land tax for 2004–05 will be published in September.

Laptop Computers

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. [4115]

John Healey: 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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LaptopsCost (£)Stolen
2005 (part)6461,9311

Details for 1995–02 can be found in the answer given on 3 March 2003, Official Report, column 838W by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to the hon. Member for Twickenham.

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.

All recorded losses of laptops have been due to theft.

Partnerships UK

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. [3747]

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.

The PUK Advisory Council reports annually on how PUK is fulfilling its public sector mission. A copy of the latest report is available on the Treasury website.

Personal Saving

Mr. Walker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to increase levels of personal saving in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [3204]

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.

Property and Pensions

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. [3089]

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 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.

The Government will keep this aspect of the tax system, as with all others, under review.

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