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Chris Huhne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to encourage the European Commission (a) to improve budget accountability and (b) to enable the EU Court of Auditors to approve the annual accounts. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The United Kingdom presidency has prepared draft conclusions to be agreed at ECOFIN in November, in response to the Commission's Communication On a Roadmap to an Integrated Internal Control Framework". The conclusions will require the Commission to prepare an action plan to fill gaps in internal control; to assess compliance with regulations; and to assess the effectiveness of present controls. These actions, in addition to those proposed for member states, should improve financial management and control and ultimately achieve the objective of a positive Statement of Assurance from the European Court of Auditors. But this will take time.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of progress in reforming EU budget procedures towards enabling the accounts to be signed off by the EU Court of Auditors. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Many improvements have been made during the past few years, including the revision of the Financial Regulation, the introduction of the Integrated Administration and Control System in Agriculture, the annual certification of payments in agriculture by member states, and the annual activity reports by Commission Directorate-Generals, which include declarations of assurance. But there is still much more to do and that is why the United Kingdom presidency has taken forward the response to the Commission's Communication On a Roadmap to an Integrated Internal Control Framework" by preparing draft conclusions for the November ECOFIN Council, outlining actions which could ultimately achieve the objective of a positive Statement of Assurance from the European Court of Auditors.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of the UK's gross domestic product has been spent on defence in each of the
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past five years; what he forecasts this percentage to be in each of the next three years; and if he will make a statement. 
|Percentage GDP including military operations||Percentage GDP excluding military operations|
The Government's planned defence expenditure over the next three years was set in the 2004 spending review. It represents 1.4 per cent. average annual real terms growth in defence expenditure over the three years to 200708 which taken together with the resources allocated in the 2000 and 2002 spending reviews, represents seven consecutive years of planned real-terms growth, the longest such period for over 20 years. Planned defence expenditure as a percentage of forecast GDP is as follows:
|Forecast percentage GDP excluding military operations|
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list formal consultations being sponsored by his Department and its agencies; and what the (a) commencement date and (b) deadline for responses is in each case. 
Deadline for responses
|HM Treasury||Proposed changes to the eligibility rules for establishing a pension scheme||30 September 2005||23 December 2005|
|HM Treasury||The Reform of Film Tax Incentives: promoting the sustainable production of culturally British films||29 July 2005||21 October 2005|
|HM Revenue and Customs||VAT: A review of the scope of the VAT exemption for medical services||1 September 2005||16 December 2005|
|HM Revenue and Customs||Proposed changes to the eligibility rules for establishing a pension scheme||30 September 2005||23 December 2005|
|Government Actuary's Department||Proposed assumptions for calculating national insurance rebates for contracted-out pension arrangements for the five years from April 2007||19 September 2005||12 December 2005|
|Office of National Statistics||Economic consultation on National Accounts Manuals being updated||7 September 2004||31 December 2005|
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what percentage of business journeys taken by staff in his Department were by (a) private and (b) public transport in each of the last five years for which records are available; 
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(2) how many business journeys taken by staff in his Department were (a) by motorised vehicles, (b) by aircraft, (c) by train or tube, (d) by bicycle and (e) on foot in each of the last five years for which records are available; 
(3) what percentage of business journeys taken by staff in his Department were made using (a) standard and (b) first or business class tickets in each of the last five years for which records are available. 
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what his estimate is of the total revenue cost of introducing enterprise management incentives in the March 2000 Budget to allow smaller high risk companies to issue the tax-advantaged share options to key staff in each year from 200001 to 200910; what assessment has been made of the economic effects of this scheme; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what the total cost of the Enterprise Management Incentive (a) has been in each year since 200102 and (b) is expected to be in each year to 200910; what assessment has been made of the effects of this scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
John Healey: National Statistics giving the estimated income tax relief cost of Enterprise Management Incentives (EMI) have been published on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website for 200001 to 200304. A forecast of the income tax and national insurance contributions relief cost of EMI for 200405 was first published in the Tax Ready Reckoner at pre-Budget report 2004. No longer-term forecasts have been made. Income tax and national insurance relief is given on the gains employees make when they exercise EMI options. The published figures together with national insurance contribution relief estimates for 200001 to 200304 are:
|Income tax||National insurance||Total|
An evaluation programme has begun which aims to assess the economic impact and cost-effectiveness of EMI against its stated policy objectives of helping smaller higher risk companies to recruit and retain the people they need to grow and succeed.
Take-up of EMI has been strong, with 5,944 companies having granted options over £1.3 billion in shares to 75,000 employees by 200405. Some initial
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qualitative research among companies using EMI has also been completed, which suggests that it is working well in helping to meet their business needs. This was commissioned from external research contractors as part of the HMRC research programme. The research report is available on the HMRC website.
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