§ Mr. Howard
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the price of a barrel of Brent Crude oil at the time of each budget since 1997. 
§ John Healey
For the purposes of the public finance projections, the following audited assumption has been adopted since the 1999 pre-Budget reportThe oil price will be based on the average of independent forecasts for one year ahead. If the average of independent forecasts shows a fall in the oil price, that price in real terms will be used for the remainder of the five year forecast period. If the average of independent forecasts for one year ahead shows a rise, then the previous convention that oil prices would be close to their current levels in nominal dollar terms over the coming year, and remain flat in real terms thereafter, will be adopted.
Between Budget 1997 and the 1999 pre-Budget report it was assumed that oil prices remained close to recent levels in the short term and thereafter remained flat in real terms. These assumptions are set out in more detail in Audit of Assumptions for the pre-Budget report November 1997 (HC 361, Session 1997–98), Audit of the Future Oil Price Convention for the November 1999 pre-Budget report (HC 873, Session 1998–99) and Audit of Assumptions for the 2002 pre-Budget report (HC 109, Session 2002–03).
The starting per barrel oil price assumed in each budget since 1997 is listed in the following table.
$ Budget 2003 26.6 Budget 2002 21.5 Budget 2001 24.4 Budget 2000 22.4 Budget 1999 11.0 Budget 1998 14.5 Budget 1997 18.8