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RAF Feltwell Deep Space Tracking Facility

Lord Hill-Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Gilbert: RAF Feltwell is responsible for searching for man-made objects in deep space and as such does have a role in searching for and tracking satellites, space debris, and space probes. However, it has no role in ballistic missile detection and tracking.

Greece and Turkey: Defence Expenditure

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the level of defence expenditure by Greece and Turkey for the next five years and the number of tanks already possessed by each of these two countries; what they perceive as the implications for NATO and stability in Europe; and what action they are taking to deal with those implications.[HL3351]

Lord Gilbert: The defence expenditure and military forces of Greece and Turkey are the responsibilities of the countries concerned. We support both countries in their commitment to resolve any bilateral disagreements through dialogue, and welcome the NATO Secretary- General's announcement on 4 June 1998 that the 1988 Memorandum of Understanding on Confidence Building Measures in the Aegean is to be implemented in full.

Interest Liabilities

Lord Sudeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What further measures they are taking to protect consumers and firms from having to pay not only interest on national debt but also interest on corporate and private credits.[HL3405]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: None. Individuals and firms are responsible for paying the interest on debts they take out, but interest on the national debt is borne by the taxpayer.

Housing Renovation and Conversion: VAT

Viscount Brentford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are considering reducing the 17.5 per cent. VAT currently placed upon the refurbishment or conversion of homes which have been empty for long periods.[HL3372]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government's aim is that within 10 years 60 per cent. of new housing, including conversions, will be built on previously developed sites. Although land use planning is, and will remain, the main instrument of achieving this objective, the Government will also be considering a wide range of economic instruments which could play a complementary part in achieving housing policy aims.

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Electronic Publishing: VAT

Lord Walton of Detchant asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why it is that, while printed published books and journals are zero-rated for VAT, electronically published material is subject to VAT at the standard rate; and whether they have any intention of correcting this situation by zero-rating electronically published material.[HL3453]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Under EU agreements, while the UK may retain those zero rates it already has, it is not possible to extend their scope nor to create new ones.

Taxation of Savings and Tax Evasion

Lord Higgins asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answers by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 5 October regarding the taxation of savings (H.L. Deb., cols. 162-164), to what extent they consider the draft European Union directive on that subject will deal with the problem of tax evasion rather than tax avoidance.[HL3434]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The draft directive is intended to help prevent illegal tax evasion--that is, failure by individuals to declare interest income received from a foreign source. It is not aimed at legal tax avoidance. My remarks during the debate on 5 October were entirely concerned with tax evasion, not avoidance.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer given by Lord McIntosh of Haringey to Lord Higgins on 5 October (H.L. Deb., col. 163), whether they consider that the European Commission consulted adequately with interested bodies in the City of London and elsewhere before proposing its draft directive on the taxation of savings.[HL3438]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The precise extent of prior consultation undertaken by the Commission is not clear. However, it is our view that adequate consultation of the financial sector is essential and we have urged the Commission to extend the range and scope of their external discussions. As I said in the debate on 5 October, the Government have already undertaken extensive consultation with the City on the draft directive.


Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will take steps to replace measurements of gross domestic product and gross national product, both within the United Kingdom and in international bodies, with measurements that are being developed by the Office for National Statistics which are able to take into account

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    economically significant unpaid and unrecorded work and the reduction through consumption or otherwise of irreplaceable natural resources.[HL3412]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: GDP and GNP are internationally agreed and widely used measures of national output. The Office for National Statistics is developing accounts in areas which are conceptually related to GDP and GNP. The ONS work is further advanced than that of many other statistical bodies: a report on UK Environmental Accounts was published in May 1998, although household accounts are still at a developmental stage. In addition, the Government will shortly publish their proposals for Indicators of Sustainable Development. It is intended that these will be used alongside conventional measures of GDP and GNP, as defined by the new European System of National Accounts.

Income Tax Self Assessment: Penalties

Lord Russell-Johnston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people to date have been fined £100 for failure to comply with the income tax self assessment legislation since its introduction; how many have been fined £200; and how many £300.[HL3385]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information is not available in this form. However, the Inland Revenue has issued 802,000 First Fixed Penalty notices, 345,000 Second Fixed Penalty notices and 266 Daily Penalty notices for late filed 1996-97 returns in the period to 25 September 1998. The legislation allows for two fixed penalty notices of £100 to be issued when returns are not filed. However, these may be reduced because a fixed penalty cannot exceed the tax liability.

EU Research Council, 13 October

Lord Murray of Epping Forest asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the European Union Research Council on 13 October.[HL3484]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): I represented the UK at the meeting of the EU Research Council on 13 October. The Council made further useful progress in the legislative process for the Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP5), maintaining momentum in the tight timetable for introducing FP5 at the beginning of 1999. Though formal agreement was not possible at this stage, informal agreement was reached on the scientific and technological content of three of the specific programmes which set out FP5's research priorities in detail. The Council also agreed Decisions on the mandate for negotiating terms of association with FP5 with the countries seeking accession to the EU, on the conclusion of an agreement for scientific and technological co-operation between

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the European Community and the United States, and on amendments to the statutes of the Joint European Torus Joint Undertaking (JET), through which the EU pursues nuclear fusion research.


Baroness Gould asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were Remploy's achievements against the targets set in its 1997-98 annual performance agreement.[HL3464]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Now that Remploy has published its report and accounts for 1998 and audited figures are available, I am delighted to confirm that Remploy has exceeded its 1997-98 APA targets. The targets and achievements were:

The average number of disabled people employed by Remployat least 9,80010,021
Average number of disabled people employed under the Interwork Schemeat least 3,0003,123
The number of disabled employees to move from Remploy factories to Interwork having been employed there for at least one year, or from Interwork or factories to open employmentat least 200225
Remploy will keep within a unit cost target (operating deficit per disabled worker) of:£10,000£9,726
The unit cost of Interwork to be no more than:£4,400£4,226
Remploy to keep within an operating deficit (including reorganisation costs) of:£99 million£99 million

Copies of Remploy's 1998 Annual Report and Accounts have been placed in the Library.

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