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Premium Bonds: Holding Limits

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The holding limit for Premium Bonds is £20,000. It was increased from £10,000 to £20,000 on 13 April 1993.

Using the "all Items RPI", the limit adjusted for inflation would be £23,243.

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There are no current plans to increase the holding limit. Limits on this and other National Savings products are kept under review and adjusted from time to time for reasons such as funding requirements, rather than solely on the grounds that the real value of a limit should be maintained.


Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many £50, £20, £10 and £5 notes, respectively, are currently in circulation, to what face value the £50 note would have to be adjusted to have the same purchasing power as when it was first introduced; whether they will make such an adjustment, and if not, why not.[HL3228]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The number of each denomination of banknote in circulation as at the end of February 1998 was:

50 (Series E)72,717,662

The £50 note was introduced in March 1981 and would have to be adjusted to £190 to have the equivalent purchasing power.

* But see Written Answer, Official Report, 21/10/98, col WA 178.

The Bank of England has no plans to issue notes of alternative denominations to those currently in circulation.

Banknotes: European Union

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the face value of the highest value banknote currently in circulation in each of the countries in the European Union (indicating in each case the sterling equivalent value at current exchange rates); and what face value is planned for the highest value euro note.[HL 3229]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The face value of the highest value banknotes in circulation at May 1998 in each of the European Union countries is set out in the table below. The table also shows, rounded to the nearest £5, the sterling equivalent value at the market exchange rate as at 31 July 1998.

It has been agreed that the highest value euro bank note will be a 500 euro note.

Highest value banknoteSterling value (rounded to the nearest £5)
United KingdomGBP50 50

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Tax Credits on Dividends: Amounts Reclaimed by Non-taxpayers

Baroness Park of Monmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is (a) the smallest, (b) the average and (c) the largest amount reclaimed by non-taxpayers for tax credits on dividends in 1996-97.[HL3242]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information is not yet available for 1996-97.

The latest available information is derived from 1995-96 Survey of Personal Incomes. It is estimated that 630,000 non-taxpayers made claims averaging £75 for payment of the tax credit on dividends paid in 1995-96.

Information is not available about the smallest and largest amounts claimed.

VAT on Hotel Accommodation

Lord Gordon of Strathblane asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they believe that a reduction in VAT on hotel accommodation might boost tourist traffic and so increase Exchequer revenues.[HL3267]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: A reduction in the VAT rate on hotel accommodation would lead to a fall in VAT receipts. Even if the reduction were passed on to customers the fall is not likely to be offset by additional VAT arising from increases in tourist traffic or by other tax receipts. There would be a net loss to the Exchequer.

National Museums and Galleries: Trustees

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are considering a review of the system of appointing the chairman and trustees of the national museums and galleries; and [HL2973]

    What criteria are used for appointing the chairman and trustees of the national museums and galleries; and what criteria are used to determine the balance of a board of such trustees.[HL2941]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Appointments in the gift of Government to the public bodies sponsored by this Department are based on the principles set down by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Procedures are kept under review and may be revised from time to time in light of new guidance from the Commissioner's office.

All appointments are governed by the overriding principle of appointment on merit following scrutiny by an independent panel. Careful consideration is given to the experiences and qualities of successful candidates to ensure that they match the needs of the museum or gallery in question with the aim of ensuring a balanced and representative board.

Kensington Gardens: Memorial Garden

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 7 July (Official Report, col. 1090), whether they will provide monthly (or failing that, quarterly) figures for visitors to Kensington Gardens for the last two years; and[HL2754]

    Which authority would be responsible for providing information to the planning authority in connection with the creation of one or more Princess Diana Memorial Gardens in Kensington Gardens on--(a) traffic implications, within Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster and central London generally, including the implications for public transport (buses and underground trains and stations) for regular (timetabled) coaches and for tour coaches (including loading and unloading and parking facilities); (b) public lavatories; (c) visitors' centres and gift shops; (d) refreshment facilities (fixed and mobile); (e) existing children's playgrounds and areas where skating is allowed; (f) policing; on whom would the costs of providing all of these services fall; and to whom would profits (if any) accrue.[HL2756]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Responsibility for the subject of these questions has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency under its Chief Executive, Mr. David Welch. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Kennet from the Head of Policy of the Royal Parks Agency, Viviane Robertson, dated 31 July 1998:

In the absence of the Chief Executive, Mr. David Welsh, I have been asked by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to reply to your Parliamentary Questions about the numbers of people visiting Kensington Gardens in the last two years and who will provide information relating to different aspects of the proposal for a memorial garden to Diana, Princess of Wales, to the planning authority.

We do not take monthly or quarterly counts of visitors in the Royal Parks in the normal course of events; we could not justify the considerable expense of conducting the surveys that would be necessary. The last annual

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visitor count was carried out in 1995. This estimated that 2.8 million people a year visit Kensington Gardens. We did carry out a visitor count in March as part of a survey to establish people's views on a proposed memorial in Kensington Gardens and we are carrying out a further count this month to find out how many people visit the Gardens in the summer. The total number of visitors for March was estimated to be 340,000.

The Royal Parks Agency will commission an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which will cover the services and facilities to which you refer. The results of the study would be submitted to the local planning authorities as part of any planning notification.

It is likely that a number of different bodies would be involved in providing services which might be required for the proposed memorial garden and thus in benefiting from any potential profits. The Royal Parks Agency would only be responsible for services within Kensington Gardens. The preliminary consultation exercise and the EIA are yet to be completed, but it is not at present envisaged that sales outlets for souvenirs, a visitor centre or additional catering concessions would be established in Kensington Gardens.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    By whom a "full Environmental Impact Assessment" is being carried out regarding a possible Memorial Garden to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, in Kensington Gardens; and why this assessment is being carried out in advance of the result of the public consultation on the desirability or otherwise of such a garden being established in Kensington Gardens.[HL2820]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Royal Parks Agency are commissioning an environmental impact assessment in parallel with the consultation exercise. Expressions of interest have been sought, but the response to the preliminary consultation exercise will be available to the Memorial Committee before the contract is let. Nonetheless, it is clear that many local concerns relate to environmental issues which need to be professionally assessed.

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