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Company Tax Reliefs and Subsidies

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the level of tax reliefs and public subsidies in grants or loans received by each of the top 20 UK companies has been in each year since 1990; and if he will list the main tax reliefs and public subsidies concerned. [16360]

John Healey: Disclosure of the tax reliefs and support for particular companies would breach taxpayer confidentiality.

However, details of the costs of the main tax reliefs can be found in table A3.1 in the Financial Statement and Budget Report 2005, and details on business support can be found in departmental reports.


Sarah Teather: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment has been made of the effects of Crossrail on London's economy; and if he will make a statement. [15415]

Derek Twigg: I have been asked to reply.

Information on the economic assessment of Crossrail is available on the Crossrail website at

Debt Relief

Ann McKechin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) to how many countries he proposes to extend the Government's debt relief programme; [15416]

(2) to which poor countries the Government's current debt relief programmes apply; and how they are structured. [15323]

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Andrew George: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral (i) aid and (ii) debt relief for developing countries he has committed from UK Treasury resources since the G8 summit at Gleneagles. [15561]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The annual departmental report for the Department for International Development (DFID) sets out DFID's current spending plans and reports on outturn expenditure for previous years. Each departmental report's analysis of DFID expenditure covers: bilateral aid expenditure, including all forms of direct assistance; expenditure through multilateral institutions; DFID expenditure in support of the HIPC initiative and the multilateral debt relief initiative, for those years in which these initiatives have been in place.

Reports outline DFID's expenditure plans and do not distinguish between pledges and commitments.

DFID's departmental report was first published in 1999. The Secretary of State for International Development has arranged for copies of the report from 1999 to 2005 to be placed in the Library of the House. Information on DFID expenditure is to be found in: Annex 1, Table 5 of the 1999 and 2000 reports; Annex 2, Table 10 of the 2001 report; Annex 1, Table 4 of the 2002 to 2005 reports.

In the 2004 Spending Review, the Chancellor announced that DFID's budget would increase from £4.5 billion in 2005–06 to £5.0 billion in 2006–07 and to £5.3 billion in 2007–08. The Department has set out its expenditure plans within this framework in its departmental report 2005. For ease of reference, the Department's total planned expenditure on bilateral aid programmes and through multilateral institutions for the period 2005–06 to 2007–08 is set out in Table 1. This excludes the UK's share of the EC aid budget which is set against DFID's budget. It also excludes most UK expenditure on debt relief, although DFID's contribution to the HIPC Trust Fund is included. This is because most of our internationally agreed debt relief is provided on debts held by the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD). Debt relief that goes beyond what is required by international agreements is funded by DFID. DFID's bilateral and multilateral aid expenditure plans were not changed in light of the G8 Finance Ministers summit in June.
Table 1
£ million

Bilateral expenditure

Debt relief

The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative provides qualifying countries with relief and cancellation of debts owed to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, as well as debts to bilateral governments. To date, debt relief worth $56 billion (in nominal terms) has been agreed for 28 countries, other countries are likely to enter the Initiative next year. The World Bank and IMF estimate that the HIPC Initiative has been freeing up around $1
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billion a year from debt service payments for the 28 countries that have qualified under HIPC. The UK is the second largest contributor to the HIPC Trust Fund, which assists multilateral institutions with the costs of providing debt relief under HIPC. We pledged a total of $436 million to the Trust Fund ($221 million, plus $88 million of the European Commission contribution in 2000, and a further $95 million, plus $32 million of an EC contribution in 2002). In addition, the UK also contributed US$43 million to assist the International Monetary Fund with its costs of delivering HIPC debt relief. 18 countries have qualified for Completion Point of HIPC (Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guyana, Ghana, Honduras, Mali, Mauritania, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia). Another 10 have reached Decision Point (Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Sao Tome and Principe). A further 10 are eligible for debt relief under HIPC once they meet Decision Point criterion (Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Cote D'Ivoire, Lao Pdr, Liberia, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan and Togo). A final list of countries eligible for HIPC under the Sunset Clause will be released early next year.

On bilateral debt, the Government have cancelled the aid debts owed by the poorest countries (not just the HIPCs), worth some £1.2 billion since 1978.

In 1999, the Government agreed to cancel 100 per cent. of bilateral debts owed by HIPC countries to the UK when these countries completed the HIPC process. Since most aid debts had already been cancelled, these were export credit guarantee debts. For HIPC countries, total UK debt written off so far (to August 2005) is around £1.2 billion; this includes traditional Paris Club debt treatment, as well as the application of our 100 per cent. bilateral cancellation policy under the HIPC Initiative.

In 2000, the Government agreed that they would not benefit from debt service payments from HIPC countries, and that any payments received from December 2000 would be held in trust and reimbursed to the country once it had successfully completed the HIPC process.

In 2004, recognising the poorest countries were still having to curtail spending on poverty reduction in order to service their debts, the Government proposed greater relief on debts owed by countries to international institutions. The Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) began on 1 January 2005, under which we committed to pay our share, 10 per cent., of qualifying countries' debt service payments to International Development Association of the World Bank and the African Development Fund. We expect to spend about $46 million on qualifying countries this financial year.

In June 2005, the Finance Ministers of the G8 countries endorsed a proposal to cancel all the remaining debts of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank and African Development Fund (AfDF). Details are still under discussion, but when agreed by the international community, the deal will be
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worth approximately $55 billion in debt stock cancellations for the current 38 HIPCs. Donors will provide approximately $49 billion of this over the next 40 years to IDA and AfDF to compensate for foregone reflows. The cost of debt relief at the IMF ($6.1 billion) will be financed from internal resources, although the donors have committed to provide additional resources if needed to ensure that the IMF's ability to assist poor countries is not diminished. It is estimated that the annual resources freed up by the proposal will be around $1 billion in 2007, rising to around $1.7 billion in 2010—resources that will enable countries to tackle poverty.

The G8's proposal, when agreed, will supersede the MDRI for HIPCs. The precise costs to the UK are yet to finalised, but are likely to be in the region of $6 billion over the whole period of implementation. In addition, the UK will continue to meet its obligations under the MDRI to qualifying non-HIPC countries. This will cover IDA-only, low-income countries with a sufficiently robust public financial management system, the current proxy for this being budget support from the World Bank through a Poverty Reduction Support Credit. The value of this assistance will be $184 million until 2015 for currently eligible countries (Armenia, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam), potentially rising to $463 million until 2015 for all potentially eligible countries.

G8 Finance Ministers also reiterated in June their continued commitment to the full implementation and financing of HIPC. The UK already meets and exceeds its commitments under HIPC. Our commitment to HIPC and other bilateral debt cancellation policies continue and were not altered by the G8 Finance Ministers' decisions in June.

Ann McKechin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures he will be taking to ensure the implementation of the debt relief agreement concluded at the G8 Gleneagles meeting for the completion point heavily indebted poor countries without further conditionality demands from international financial institutions. [15419]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK welcomes the agreement at the recent annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF to the multilateral debt relief proposal. Up to 18 countries that have reached completion point of the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative could benefit immediately, with a further 10 countries benefiting over the next year or two, and an additional 10 countries as they reach completion point. The proposal covers debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank and the African Development Fund (AfDF).

All countries receiving relief will have demonstrated their commitment to poverty reduction through completion of the HIPC process. Debt cancellation will be irrevocable—there will be no ongoing conditionality on support. Allocation of additional resources from IDA and the AfDF through their performance based allocation systems will maintain a performance incentive.
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