HC Deb 26 April 2004 vol 420 cc734-6W
Malcolm Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will publish research carried out or commissioned by her Department which compares the level of(a) secured and (b) unsecured debt in the UK with other countries. [167267]

Mr. Sutcliffe

The DTI has not carried out or commissioned research which compares the level of secured and unsecured debt in the UK with other countries.

Comparisons of amounts spent on unsecured debt by the bottom two income deciles in UK, France, Germany and the USA are included in research commissioned by the DTI to look at the way interest rate controls have worked in other countries. This work was announced in the Consumer Credit White Paper (December 2003), and will be published later this spring.

The DTI commissioned and published research into levels of household debt in the UK from the Personal Finance Research Centre (Kempson, Elaine, "Over-indebtedness in Britain", September 2002, available at http://www.dti.gov. uk/ccp/topicsl/pdfl/moricontents.pdf). In the Consumer Credit White Paper, we committed to monitoring the extent and profile of over-indebtedness in the UK, and will be reporting on our approach in the forthcoming Strategy on Over-indebtedness.

DTI draws on research carried out by others in its assessment of the level of debt in the UK compared with other countries. For example:

The Treasury published a comparison of outstanding residential mortgage debt across EU countries in the EMU study 'Housing, consumption and EMU' with the five tests assessment (available at http://www.hmtreasury.gov.uk/documents/the_euro/assessment/studies/ euro_assess03_studdorset.cfm).

Sir Andrew Large, Deputy Governor of the BoE, recently gave a speech entitled 'Major puzzles in today's economy: the build-up in household debt' in which he placed the UK experience in the international context and compared household debt levels in the UK with other major industrial countries (March 2004, available at http://www.bankofengland.co.ul/speeches/speech217.pdf).

Malcolm Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya's debts to the Export Credits Guarantee Department, broken down by sector, are; if she will list the top five contracts, by value, on which these debts are based; and if she will make a statement on the Government's intention to recover this debt. [167829]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

Libya made a payment of £20 million to ECGD on 29 December 2003 in negotiated settlement of its outstanding debt obligations towards ECGD-insured debt.

To avoid prejudicing ongoing negotiations with other similar debtors, it is not ECGD's policy to reveal details of the amounts outstanding in respect of which this settlement was made. However, the settlement reached represented a good outcome to negotiations between HMG and the Libyan Government.

The debt related to business dating back to the early/mid-1980s. The majority of the business was covered under short-term guarantees, with the balance mainly construction projects and services. We do not have a comprehensive breakdown of the debt on the basis requested.