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Hotels and Restaurants: Better Regulation Task Force Report

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government propose to publish their response to the report by the end of September. Copies of the response will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

Supermarkets: Inquiry

Lord McNally asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Competition Commission inquiry into supermarkets has taken into account the effect on small publishing houses and independent newsagents of Tesco's recent action in delisting certain titles that have not complied with suggested new distribution arrangements; and when the report of the inquiry will be published.[HL3722]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The scope of the inquiry into supermarkets is a matter for the Competition Commission. The Commission is due to deliver its report to the Secretary of State on 31 July. The department has an administrative target to publish monopoly reports within 10 weeks of receipt of the report. Publication may take place sooner or later depending on a number of factors.

Incomes and Taxation

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current rate of tax on personal incomes in each country of the European Union, and whether they will indicate in respect of each threshold of income (expressed in pounds sterling and euros) at which this rate applies.[HL3797]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested for 1998, the most recent year for which comparative data is currently available, is as follows:

The information requested for 1998, the most recent year for which comparative data is currently available

Top Income Tax RateTop Income Tax Threshold (£'s)1Top Income Tax Threshold (Euros)1

1 Using currency exchange rates as at 3 August 2000.

2 Belgium: Government levies a crisis surcharge of 3%, plus municipalities levy a local income tax by way of a surcharge on national tax. Average rate around 7%.

3 Denmark: In addition, municipal income tax is levied at flat rates ranging from 27% to 35%. Average 32.4%. There is a proviso that maximum combined rate of municipal and national tax (but excluding church tax) cannot exceed 58%.

4 Finland: In addition, municipal income tax is levied at flat rates ranging from 15% to 19.75%. Average rate is 17.55%.

5 Sweden: In addition, local income tax is levied. Rates determined by municipality. Average rate is 30.76%.

Source: OECD publication Taxing Wages: Taxes and Wages and Salaries, Social Security Contributions for Employees and their Employers, Child Benefits.

Sudan: Exports

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What items appear in, and the exact nature of, the six Standard Individual Export Licences given for exports to Sudan as reported in the 1999 Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls, other than the military truck as stated in HC162W, 30 November 1999.[HL3794]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The 1999 Annual Report sets out details of seven Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) issued for the export of goods to Sudan. Three of these SIELs covered the export of goods listed in Part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order, 1994, commonly known as the Military List. All three Military List SIELs covered the export of military cargo vehicles for humanitarian aid purposes. HC162W details one SIEL; the other two SIELs were notified by letter to the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on 11 August 1999. A copy of the letter was placed in the Library of the House.

Four SIELs covered the export of dual-use goods: three covered the export of toxic chemical precursors, and one covered the export of commercial explosives firing sets.

Queen Mother's 100th Birthday

Baroness Strange asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will declare 4 August a public holiday to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen Mother's 100th birthday.[HL3700]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: I refer the noble Baroness to the answer I gave to the right honourable Baroness Trumpington on 25 May 2000, col. 105.

Exports Promotion

Viscount Waverley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of the global market for environmental technology and services, whether

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    they will appoint a dedicated Export Promoter for Environmental Technology and Services to support British exports, in addition to the recent appointment of an Export Promoter focused purely on Energy and Environment.[HL3642]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Trade Partners UK has five Export Promoters supporting exports of environmental technology and services in specific markets, as well as the recently appointed EP dedicated to Energy and Environment. Trade Partners UK also works closely with JEMU, the Joint (DTI/DETR) Environmental Markets Unit, dedicated to promoting the UK environment sector in overseas markets.

Iraq: Medical Equipment Supplies

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 29 June (WA 100), whether they accept that delays in the processing of applications for the export of essential medical equipment to Iraq by recognised charities have occurred, and are still occurring, regardless of United Nations sanctions. [HL3535]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: This Government recognise the problems that delays in the processing of export licence applications can cause. We aim to give applicants a decision as quickly as is consistent with the need for careful assessment.

The export of medical equipment to Iraq must be either authorised by, or notified to (depending on the nature of the goods involved), the United Nations Sanctions Committee.

In the case of medical equipment there may be lengthy lists of medicines that need to be checked. If these medicines take the form of vaccines they may also be covered by the Import and Export (ImpEx) mechanism established under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1051. This mechanism requires certain goods, as specified in an agreed list, to be subject to special controls, including the monitoring of their end use in Iraq, because they are capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction programmes.

Eurosceptic Beliefs: EC Booklet

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their view that Euroscepticism, as detailed in the European Commission's recent publication A Glossary of Eurosceptic Beliefs, discourages British business and industry, and especially small and medium-sized enterprises, from fully and enthusiastically participating in the Single European Market. [HL3648]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: I believe the European Commission's booklet performs a useful function in

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dispelling some of the myths about our membership of the EU. The fact is that the Single Market is a success and has brought substantial benefits to British business. Countries in the EU now account for 53 per cent of our exports in goods and services, worth around £120 billion last year; eight of our top ten trading partners are in Europe; and the Treasury estimates that over 3 million jobs are linked to trade with the EU. The UK has the largest number of inward investors in Europe and is seen by US and Japanese investors as a springboard into Europe. Our membership of the Single Market is a key part of the reason.

Despite this, it is possible that misinformation about the EU might make small businesses wary of seizing the opportunities presented by their access to the world's largest single market. That is why my department has on hand a comprehensive range of support services, available through the Small Business Service, Trade Partners UK and the Action Single Market team, to help businesses find their feet in Europe. My department is also actively targeting, through constructive engagement with colleagues in other member states, the weaknesses which do remain in the Single Market so that British businesses can compete on equal terms with their European colleagues.

To underpin the importance of creating a friendly environment for small firms within the EU, this Government played a leading role in securing agreement at the Feira European Council on a Small Firms Charter. The charter commits the EU to a range of actions to allow enterprise and small firms to flourish within the EU.

Sudan: Trade

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which British Companies are currently doing business in Sudan. [HL3744]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Names of companies operating in overseas markets are not normally divulged as sensitive information of this kind is a matter of commercial confidentiality. In the case of Sudan, as we do not actively promote trade in that market, there have been no departmentally led events through which we might build such a picture. This means that our knowledge of companies operating in that market is, in any case, very patchy.

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