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2 Apr 2003 : Column 712W—continued

Firefighters' Strike (Iraq)

Mr. Cash: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement in relation to the Iraq crisis on the basis of his policy on the firefighters' strike and the safety of the public. [104870]

Mr. Raynsford: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister made a written ministerial statement concerning the firefighters' dispute and emergency fire cover on the 25 March 2003. He announced that the armed forces personnel deployed on firefighting duties have been stood down on the grounds that no further strike dates will be announced before the Fire Brigades Union re-called conference on 15 April. The Fire Brigades Union would then be required to give seven days notice of any further strike.

The armed forces role during strike periods has been and will continue to be to provide emergency cover, thus seeking to save lives and ensuring that essential services are maintained. Emergency cover will, as far as possible, be maintained for as long as strikes continue and balanced with other demands on military resources, such as current military action in Iraq.

IND 2000 Review

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he plans to publish his review of the IND 2000; and if he will make a statement. [103029]

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Mrs. Roche: I refer my hon. Friend to the statement given on 24 March 2003, Official Report, column 4 WS.

Local Government Pension Scheme

Kevin Brennan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will issue guidance and advice to local authorities on changes in the rules on part-time employees in the Local Government Pension Scheme; and if he will make a statement. [105224]

Mr. Leslie: Regulatory changes are envisaged to give part-time employees backdated membership where they were unlawfully denied access to the scheme. This follows the House of Lords' judgement and reference to the European Court of Justice and subsequent test case hearings by the Employment Tribunal. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is discussing with representatives of local authority employers and trade unions the form and content of these changes and in due course, will issue advice and guidance to all the interested parties.

Neighbourhood Renewal Fund

Tim Loughton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what projects (a) are being funded and (b) will be funded in the next year in the East Worthing and Shoreham constituency as a result of the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund. [106575]

Mrs. Roche: There are no projects currently being funded in the East Worthing and Shoreham area under the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund as it is not in one of the 88 eligible areas. There will also be no funding available to this area under the Fund for the 2003–04 financial year.

Regional Assemblies

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister under what statutory powers regional assemblies can act in regional matters. [105519]

Mr. Raynsford: The voluntary regional chambers, which all now call themselves regional assemblies, do not have any statutory powers. However, the Government has designated the chamber in each region, under section 8 of the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998, as a representative regional body. They work with the Regional Development Agency, commenting on its Regional Economic Strategy and scrutinising the delivery of that strategy.

Five of eight regional assemblies already act as Regional Planning Bodies, and it is the Government's intention to extend this to the remaining three. The Government also supports the role of the assemblies in promoting the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of their region.

Starter Homes

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many people in the Buckingham constituency have purchased houses under the Starter Home Initiative. [106021]

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Mr. McNulty: As at the end of February 2003, 39 key workers in Buckinghamshire have been helped to purchase houses under the Starter Home Initiative. Figures broken down by local authority are shown in the table.

Local authorityNumber of key workers assisted
Aylesbury Vale13
Milton Keynes1
South Buckinghamshire3

Utility Companies (Pipe Laying)

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) planning and (b) other restrictions apply to utility companies seeking to lay pipes under bridges. [105526]

Mr. McNulty: Statutory undertakers have certain permitted development rights set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (SI 1995/418) ("the GPDO") that enable them to carry out development for the purposes of their undertaking without the need to make a planning application. Parts 15, 16 and 17 of Schedule 2 (development by the Environment Agency, sewerage undertakers and statutory undertakers) are likely to be relevant. These permissions generally do not permit the installation of pipes above ground, and they are subject to exceptions and conditions. Any development that goes beyond what is permitted by the GPDO requires planning permission. The office of the Deputy Prime Minister is not aware of specific restrictions that apply to the laying of pipes under bridges. Under the New Roads and Street Works Act there is a notification procedure between the statutory undertaker and the highways authority that deals with proposed works under the bridges.


Administration Costs

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what criteria HM Treasury used to define administration costs as set out in Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses; and if he will make a statement. [105204]

Mr. Boateng: Table 5.1 of Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses sets out gross spending on administration by those central government departments which are subject to administration cost controls.

Administration cost controls apply to all central government departments except the Ministry of Defence, the Export Credits Guarantee Department and the Forestry Commission. Most Executive Agencies are included in the regime, but trading funds and most non-departmental public bodies are excluded. Administration cost controls cover the costs of all

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central government administration other than the costs of some direct frontline service activities and support activities that are directly associated with these.

Civil Service Pensions

James Purnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will estimate the annual cost of in-service death benefits if they were extended to unmarried partners, in accordance with the definitions for the new Civil Service Pension Scheme, but with those costs borne by the Exchequer rather than by the members of the scheme, for (a) the financial year 2003–04 and (b) each of the 10 subsequent years at 2003–04 prices for (i) the whole of the public sector, (ii) the Teachers' Pensions Scheme, (iii) the NHS Pension Scheme, (iv) the Local Government Pension Scheme, (v) the Firemen's Pension Scheme, (vi) the Police Pension Scheme and (vii) the Armed Forces Pension Scheme; [105361]

Mr. Boateng: The costs to public service pension schemes of making changes to benefits for future service are normally assessed by estimating the percentage points of pay which would need to be added to contribution rates on an on-going basis from the date of the change to cover the long run costs which the change would impose on the scheme. The Government's policy

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is that the introduction of entitlement to survivor pensions for unmarried partners in public service pension schemes should be covered by members of schemes who want the change to be made. But the same estimates of additional percentage points of pay to be made in contributions would apply to employer contributions if the costs were to be met by employers. The figures provided by the Government Actuary are given in the following table. In the schemes where the Exchequer provides the benefits, which are unfunded schemes, the annual net cash cost to the Exchequer would build gradually over a number of years before reaching a steady state. The Government Actuary has not made estimates of the profile of this build-up. In the pension schemes where local authorities provide the benefits (Local Government Pension Scheme, Police Pension Scheme and Fire Pension Scheme in the table below) the costs of benefit improvements financed by employers would fall to Council Tax payers rather than the Exchequer.

No estimates are available for the total public sector, as this would need to include a number of non-statutory pension schemes in the wider public sector on which data is not held centrally. The figures in the following table cover all survivor pensions including those where the death of the scheme member occurred after they had left active service; separate estimates identifying survivor pensions following death-in-service are not available. The table includes costings for making married partner survivor pensions payable for life (instead of ceasing on remarriage of the survivor) as this is conventionally assumed to be a change which should be associated with the introduction of unmarried partner survivor pensions for life, as in the new Civil Service Pension Scheme. The costs of making the benefit changes retrospective to cover the past service of active members at the date of the change are shown as the capitalised one-off additions to scheme liabilities which the Government Actuary estimates that this would create.

SchemeAdditional contribution for future service (percentage pay)Unmarried partners Cash equivalent of additional contribution (2003–04 prices)(£ million)Capitalised cost for past service of current active members(£ million)Lifetime survivor pensions—additional contribution for future service (percentage pay)Lifetime survivor pensions— cash equivalent of additional contribution (2003–04 prices) (£ million)Lifetime survivor pensions— capitalised cost for past service of current active members(£ million)
Local government0.370700(6)(6)(6)
Fire Service0.55500.2220
Armed forces0.4151600.2880

(6) Lifetime spouses' pensions were introduced in the Local Government Pension Scheme with effect from 1998.

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