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Written Ministerial Statements

Wednesday 28 June 2006



The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown): On 7 June 2006, I represented the UK at the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).

The Council held a debate on reports by the Commission and the European Central Bank on fulfilment by Slovenia and Lithuania of the Maastricht Treaty convergence criteria and their obligations regarding Economic and Monetary Union membership.

ECOFIN was briefed by the Commission on the EU's dialogue and co-operation with the United States on economic issues, in the run-up to the EU-US summit to be held in Vienna on 21 June. The Commission's briefing covered economic co-operation majoring on the financial markets regulatory dialogue. The UK welcomed the Commission's progress and pressed for greater detail on priority areas for progress next year, including moving into new sectors.

The Council agreed on renewal of value-added tax arrangements for e-commerce from 1 July until 31 December 2006 and to continue work on the other elements of the package of VAT measures with a view to reaching global agreement by the end of the year. The UK supported both these measures.

ECOFIN welcomed unanimously the production of the communication of the Commission to the Council on combating tax fraud.

The Commission presented its communication on work undertaken by a technical working group examining company tax obstacles inhibiting the functioning of the internal market. ECOFIN held an exchange of views. No conclusions were drawn.

ECOFIN also took note of a report from the Code of Conduct Group for Business Taxation and adopted conclusions welcoming the progress made by the group during the Austrian presidency.

Communities and Local Government

Home Loss Payments

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper): Following the annual review, the Secretary of State will today lay regulations to update the home loss payment thresholds in section 30 of the Land Compensation Act 1973 (as amended). Home loss payments are paid at a rate of 10 per cent. of the market value to owner-occupiers who are displaced from their homes as a result of compulsory purchase or certain housing orders. These are subject to maximum and minimum payments. Tenants receive a flat rate equal to the minimum payment to owner-occupiers.

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With effect from 1 September 2006 the maximum payment to owner-occupiers displaced from their home will be increased from £38,000 to £40,000 and the minimum payment will be increased from £3,800 to £4,000. The flat-rate will be increased from £3,800 to £4,000.

The period of two months between laying the regulations and commencement will give acquiring authorities reasonable notice to revise their budgets for compensation. This is similar to the notice period given in previous years for revisions to the home loss payments thresholds.

Constitutional Affairs

Local Land Changes Fees

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Vera Baird): My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor has made the following written ministerial statement:

Freedom of Information Act

The Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harriet Harman): My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State has made the following written ministerial statement.

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Departmental Key Targets 2006-07

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Tom Watson): Key targets for the financial year 2006-07 for the following Ministry of Defence agencies and trading funds have been placed in the Library of the House.


Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

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Ministry of Defence Police and Guardian Agency

Veterans Agency

(1) ABRO was formerly known as the Army Base Repair Organisation

Home Department

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): Today I am delighted to announce that the appointment of Anne Owers CBE as HM chief inspector of prisons has been extended until 31 March 2008. Ms Owers' expertise and knowledge will continue to play a key role in enabling the Prisons Inspectorate to deliver a credible and effective inspection programme for prisons, immigration removal centres and other establishments.

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