HC Deb 25 March 2002 vol 382 cc743-4W
Roger Casale

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the ECOFIN Council held in Barcelona on 14 March; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [45951]

Mr. Gordon Brown

I attended ECOFIN on 14 March.

Following previous discussions at the March ECOFIN and at the General Affairs Council, ECOFIN discussed further the draft EU position for the UN Financing for Development Conference in Monterrey. This was subsequently endorsed by heads of government at the Barcelona European Council. This position commits EU member states to increasing overseas development assistance as a proportion of Gross National Product to an EU average of 0.39 per cent. by 2006. This is a significant step forward for global social justice, that will provide around $7 billion a year in additional aid.

ECOFIN also considered proposals for strengthening EU development assistance to the Mediterranean region. It was agreed that a European Investment Bank Facility should be set up, and that this would be evaluated after a year and a decision then taken on whether it should be developed into a subsidiary involving other shareholders. This agreement was endorsed by the Barcelona European Council.

New Deal
1998–99 1999–2000 2000–01
Young People Other Young People Other Young People Other
Inland Revenue1 0 0 46 10 30 10
Office for National Statistics 0 0 4 0 1 1
Royal Mint 3 0 0 0 0 0
1Including Valuation Office Agency

HM Treasury specially recruited three people under the New Deal in 1999, four in 2000 and four in 2001, but does not differentiate between individual New Deal schemes. (None of these recruits was subsidised).

Customs and Excise have employed a total of 129 people under the New Deal for Young People since its inception, but by year figures are not available. They have employed no-one under the New Deal for Over 50s or Lone Parents.

No further classification of New Deal recruits is available.These recruits took up existing vacancies so extra costs are limited to the subsidy, where appropriate, and any additional training and development which may have been needed.

The implications of the Enron affair for corporate governance were discussed. It was agreed that ECOFIN would look again at this issue in light of work being undertaken by the Finance Stability Forum.

ECOFIN discussed whether Government-backed airline insurance schemes for covering third party war and terrorism risks should be extended beyond the end of March. It was agreed that further analysis should be provided before the discussion at the Transport Council on 26 March.

No votes were taken at the meeting.