Q: What measures are the government bringing in to boost e-commerce?
A: E-commerce is absolutely essential to the growth of our economy and that is very strongly recognised by the government and very strongly recognised by both the Treasury and by the Department of Trade and Industry.

The DTI published a competitiveness White Paper which was full of measures as far as e-commerce was concerned.

We do take the point that e-commerce is going to change the way we do business which is why the chancellor devoted quite a considerable part of his Budget to information technology.

Government can also help by giving advice to business - and some of the key things that we need to do are to encourage businesses to file their tax returns electronically and the chancellor outlined an incentive for them to do that.

But more than that what we also want to avoid is a society which is divided between the information haves and the information have nots.

Which is why the chancellor also announced yesterday initiatives to encourage companies to loan computers to their employees and measures to encourage teachers to have computers at home.

So all in all there's a really robust package of measures there.


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Q: It is said that car tax for 1100cc cars is to be reduced, however many cars in this bracket are just above this level, i.e. 1108.

Will you be taking this into account when enacting the Budget proposals?

Brian Wilkinson

A: What the chancellor was trying to do there was put together a comprehensive package of proposals on cars.

Clearly the limit has got to be set somewhere but what's interesting about that is that the chancellor's moves have been warmly welcomed by the public transport bodies and the environmental lobby.

Clearly the ?100 reduction in vehicle excise duty for the small car is being regarded as a tremendous step forward and has been welcomed as such.

What the chancellor was trying to do was give a well-rounded package as far as the environment was concerned.



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Q: What benefit to the country is there in raising stamp duty? Home owners are obviously an easy target for you, but I would like to know if you have any justification for it?

Preventing people from moving is a restriction of labour mobility and is frankly a real demotivator. It is beginning to feel like it's not worth working hard in this country if we are going to get penalised for trying to improve our standard of living.

I was hoping to move at the end of April. I may pull out of the deal now. I simply can't afford to pay the government the extra money.

Andrew Whiteman


A: As far as stamp duty is concerned, 96% of properties in this country will be unaffected and, of course, this government has really delivered to home owners by having low rates of interest on mortgages and, of course, that is the key thing as far as home owners are concerned.



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Q: What is the government doing to help pensioners?

A: Basically, there is a package for pensioners which helps them. First there is the five-fold increase in the winter allowance to ?100 for every pensioner household and of the course the minimum incomes guarantee and that is going to be upgraded by earnings so that will make a real difference from April 2000.

There is also the minimum tax guarantee for pensioners so that really is going to take numbers of people out of paying tax.

So taken altogether with all the measures we are bringing in, there is a great deal for pensioners in this Budget.



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Q: Hello there, I am a disabled person and was watching this afternoon's Budget with close interest.

There were no mentions of any benefit adjustments to help the disabled and I wondered if details had been left in the small print?

Stephen Ralph

A: Everybody is going to benefit from this Budget. Clearly from the measures we have made in cutting the basic rate income tax, but also having the new 10p starting rate is going to help people, particularly those who work on low incomes.

Working families tax credit and the measures there for the people with