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Manufacturing, Science and Engineering

Keith Vaz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the impact on gross domestic product of changes to the (a) manufacturing, (b) science and (c) engineering sectors of the domestic economy over the next 10 years. [23648]

Alun Michael: I have been asked to reply.

The Government do not produce 10-year forecasts for sectors of the economy, but the Government do have a number of policies to assist the manufacturing, science and engineering sectors. These include the Government manufacturing strategy, which is based on applying science and innovation, world-class practice, raising investment, and a high level of skills to create high-value manufacturing and engineering sectors and drive up productivity. By 2007–08 we will have doubled the science budget, from £1.3 billion in 1997–98 to £3.3 billion, with the long-term objective of increasing overall R&D spend to 2.5 per cent. of GDP by 2014 from its current level of around 1.9 per cent.

Oil Companies (Windfall Tax)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the merits of levying a windfall tax on UK oil companies; and if he will make a statement. [24404]

John Healey: All taxes are kept under review as part of the Budget cycle. The Government are committed to delivering a tax regime for the North sea which promotes investment and take a fair share of revenue derived from a national resource.

Oil Prices

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of oil prices on (a) revenues to the Exchequer and (b) the UK economy. [24322]

John Healey: The impact of higher oil prices on the public finances and the economy is discussed in Box 2.5 in the 2004 pre-Budget report.

As the Chancellor said in his statement to the International Monetary and Financial Committee on 24 September, compared to the Budget forecast the increases in oil prices over the last few months are likely to have dampened activity in the UK economy to some extent.
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But the UK's macroeconomic framework today is founded on stability—with inflation expectations well anchored—in contrast to the volatility and high inflation that has dogged the UK economy in the past. The UK is therefore better placed than before to deal with the challenges of the global economy, including those posed by higher oil prices.

The Government will publish an update of the effect of oil prices on the UK's public finances and updated forecasts for the UK and world economies in the 2005 pre-Budget report as usual, taking into account all relevant factors and developments.

Parliamentary Ombudsman

Mark Lazarowicz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make available increased resources to the Parliamentary Ombudsman to allow him to appoint more investigating officers. [25636]

John Healey: A three year settlement from 2005–06 to 2007–08 was recently agreed for the Office of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. This settlement funds the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's three year strategic plan and provides for increased resources. The precise application of those resources is a matter for the Ombudsman. The budget for 2005–06 will be included in the Winter Supplementary Estimate which will be laid before Parliament later this month.

Planning Gain Supplement

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 21 October 2005, Official Report, column 1315W, on planning gain supplement, whether Kate Barker's recommendations to his Department stated whether the planning gain supplement should be (a) revenue-neutral, (b) revenue-raising, (c) kept in full by local councils and (d) transferred in whole or part to central Government. [24689]

John Healey: Kate Barker's recommendations are set out in her March 2004 Review of Housing Supply.

As set out in the March 2005 economic and fiscal strategy report, the Government will respond later this year.

Plastic Carrier Bags

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans the Government have to introduce a tax on plastic carrier bags. [24703]

John Healey: The Chancellor continues to keep all taxes under review. The Government have no plans to introduce a plastic bags tax.


Chris Huhne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the annual change in gross domestic product per hour worked was in each year since 1975; and what assessment he has made of whether productivity trends are improving. [24321]

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John Healey: Official statistics for whole economy output per hour is only available from 1993. The annual change in whole economy output per hour for each year since then is:
Annual growth in whole economy output per hour

Annual growth


The pre-Budget report 2005 will include an updated assessment on productivity performance in the UK. As reported in the HM Treasury Departmental Report 2005, the UK is making progress in boosting its productivity performance: between 1997 and 2001Q3, the UK trend rate of actual productivity growth on an output per worker basis (figures not adjusted for employment growth) is estimated to have grown by 2.5 per cent. a year compared with a growth rate of 2 per cent. a year in the previous economic cycle (1986Q2—1997H1). Adjusting for the effect of employment growth, it is estimated that the underlying trend rate of productivity growth was 2.7 per cent. between 1997H1—2001Q3 compared to 2.2 per cent. over the previous economic cycle (1986Q2—1997H1).

Sustainable Development Strategy

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department has taken to encourage people to live more sustainable lifestyles within the framework of the Government's sustainable development strategy. [24534]

John Healey: Sustainable development must be a thread that runs through all of the Government's policy making. In including sustainable development as a cross cutting theme in the 2004 Spending Review the Treasury has demonstrated how this can be done.

Within the context of the Government's Sustainable Development Strategy each Department agreed to a number of high-level contributions to deliver the strategy. It is within these agreed contributions that HM Treasury seeks to set signals that encourage individuals to live more sustainable lifestyles. HM Treasury's five key contributions to delivering the Sustainable Development Strategy are:

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Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department has taken to implement the guidelines on (a) water usage, (b) travel arrangements and (c) procurement in the Sustainable Development Report and Action Plan 2005. [24553]

John Healey: A delivery action plan related to our most significant impacts is summarised in section 1.6 of the Report and Action Plan In line with that action plan, our PFI partner, Exchequer Partnership, is working with ADSM in an effort to identify measures for further reducing our water usage; we continue to encourage staff to use telephone and video conferencing as a means of reducing business mileage; and we are working with our procurement service provider, HMRC, to develop a sustainable procurement strategy which will form part of our new Sustainable Development Action Plan.

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