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State Second Pension

Angela Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will announce the outcome of the consultation on the structure of National Insurance Rebates for the State Second Pension. [109171]

Mr. Rooker: Following consultation we have decided that the structure of National Insurance Rebates for the State Second Pension will be as follows:

    rebates will continue to be calculated as they are now for all occupational pension schemes, which will not be required to change their benefits;

    employees in all contracted-out pension arrangements on low pay (up to £9,500) will get a top-up from the State Second Pension; and

    the top-up should be extended to employees on moderate earnings (up to £21,600) in contracted-out occupational pension schemes.

These arrangements achieve the Government's objective of providing extra help for low and moderate earners in private pension schemes. They do so without causing any disruption to employers who provide occupational pension schemes. And the enhanced rebate will give a direct boost to saving in personal stakeholder schemes.

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Winter Fuel Payments

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when Mrs. Anderson (NI Number KP 84 76 11 B) will receive her winter fuel payment for 1999-2000. [108636]

Mr. Bayley: I have written privately to Mrs. Anderson and the matter has now been resolved.


Investors in People

Mr. Geraint Davies: To ask the Solicitor-General what is the total amount paid by the Treasury Solicitor to (a) Investors in People and (b) independent consultants in connection with the Treasury Solicitor's achievement of the Investors in People standard. [108040]

The Solicitor-General: No monies were paid to IiP UK, but £4,891.29 was paid to FOCUS Central London (Training and Enterprise Council) for the final assessment.

A total of £24,115.62 has been paid to independent consultants over the three and a half years that the Agency was working towards IiP. £7,535 of this was reimbursed by the Training and Enterprise Council during 1997 and 1998.

The major contribution to the achievement of IiP was the effort put in by the staff of the Treasury Solicitor's Department.

Paddington Disaster Inquiry

Mr. Salter: To ask the Solicitor-General (1) if evidence presented to Lord Cullen's Inquiry into the Paddington disaster will be submissible as evidence in any subsequent criminal prosecution; [108127]

The Solicitor-General: No person has been given immunity from prosecution in connection with the Paddington disaster. Witnesses to the inquiry have been given an undertaking authorised by the Attorney General,

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to the effect that evidence, written statements and documents produced by them to the inquiry will not be used in evidence against them in any criminal proceedings, except in limited circumstances. This will not, however, prevent a prosecution based on material other than that provided to the Inquiry. The undertaking was provided because it was certain that without it potential witnesses would be inhibited from providing Lord Cullen with full assistance. It was important that everything reasonably possible was done to enable the inquiry to begin its work immediately and to ensure that it would be fully effective, so that it can establish and publish the truth about the circumstances which led to the tragic rail crash.


Rural Development

Mr. Breed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his oral statement to the House of 7 December 1999, Official Report, columns 701-02, whether his plans for expenditure under the EU rural development regulation are subject to the outcome of the current consultation by the Scottish Executive on modulation. [107803]

Mr. Morley: The full England Rural Development Plan, which was submitted to the European Commission on 1 February, describes in detail the expenditure proposals outlined by my right hon. Friend the Minister on 7 December 1999, Official Report, columns 701-02. It includes an explanation of the proposed sources of funding including receipts from modulation and Government match-funding for those receipts. Key sections of the plan are available on the MAFF website and, once printed, a copy will be placed in the Library of the House.


Mr. Pickles: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the registered markets for the collection of over-30-month scheme cattle in East Anglia. [107753]

Ms Quin: Within East Anglia there are two markets at Norwich and Colchester registered with the Intervention Board for the live collection of over-30-month scheme cattle. The number of markets, and indeed abattoirs, in the region reflects the traditional patterns of marketing cull cows from the area and the predominantly arable nature of farming within the region.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer of 24 January 2000, Official Report, column 9W, on BSE, in determining whether a company has a satisfactory and long-standing contractual relationship under the OTMS, what examination is made of the annual published accounts of the company concerned. [107757]

Ms Quin: The Intervention Board closely monitors the performance of the abattoirs with whom it contracts to provide over-30-month scheme services. This includes daily supervision of operations and verification checks of the companies' performance on the specified scheme work including their duties as a payment centre. I can confirm that, where the Board already had an established

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and satisfactory working relationship with an abattoir, no reference was made to those companies' published accounts in evaluating their tenders. For new suppliers, or in any case of doubt, it is the Board's policy to seek information on the financial standing of a company before entering into a contract.

Research Contracts

Dr. Harris: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer of 6 December 1999, Official Report, column 349W, on departmental research contracts, if he will place a copy of the standard research contract in use by his Department in the Library. [107100]

Ms Quin [holding answer 1 February 2000]: A copy of the Department's current standard research contract has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Departmental Expenditure Limit

Mr. Purchase: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what changes are proposed to the departmental expenditure limit and running costs limit for his Department for 1999-2000. [108812]

Mr. Nick Brown: The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL) will be increased by £17,576,000 from £1,225,308,000 to £1,242,884,000. The increase is the net effect of:

Also the Voted element of the DEL will be increased by £3,691,000 to reflect a matching reduction in the non-Voted element. And the Gross Running Costs limit for the Intervention Board will be increased by £747,000, and for MAFF by £6,720,000.

The increase will be offset by transfers or charged to the reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

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