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Pension Credit

Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners in West Derbyshire (a) are receiving Pension Credit, (b) are entitled to Pension Credit but are not yet claiming it, (c) are receiving Pension Savings Credit, (d) are entitled to Pension Savings Credit but are not yet claiming it, (e) received free eye tests in the last year for which figures are available, (f) received free TV licences in the last year for which figures are available and (g) will be entitled to winter fuel payment (i) at the standard rate and (ii) at the higher rate for older pensioners in 2003–04; and if he will make a statement. [141437]

Malcolm Wicks: Information is not available in the format requested. Such information we can give is as follows.

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As at 17 October, 2003 the number of pensioner households receiving Pension Credit in West Derbyshire constituency was 2,185 of whom 1,640 were in receipt of the savings element. Around 300,000 pensioner households in the East Midlands region are entitled to Pension Credit.

For the year ending 31 March, 2003, there were 27,800 free eye tests in the North Derbyshire Health Authority and 40,700 in South Derbyshire Health Authority for people aged 60 and over.

As at 31 May 2003, the number of people in the West Derbyshire constituency aged 75 and over eligible for a free TV licence was 8,600. However, as only one TV licence is required per household, the number of free TV licences issued will be lower than this figure.

The number of people in West Derbyshire parliamentary constituency who received a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2002–03 was 20,620. We expect the number to be around the same for 2003–04. Of that figure 4,225 were aged 80 and over and we therefore expect a similar number would become eligible to receive a higher amount of Winter Fuel payment.

Pensioners (St. Helens)

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average pensioner income in St. Helens was in each year since 1992. [141300]

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Malcolm Wicks: Statistically reliable information on average pensioner incomes in St. Helens is not available due to insufficient sample size. St. Helens is in the Government Office Region of North West England. The following table gives average pensioner incomes in North West England between 1994–95 and 2001–02 1 .

Pensioner incomes in the North West in 2001–02 prices:

Pensioner units North West England



Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans the Government have to review the policy of unlimited pension contribution holidays in final salary pension schemes. [142381]

Malcolm Wicks: Since pension provision by employers is voluntary, the levels of contributions are a matter for agreement between pension scheme trustees and sponsoring employers.

Under the new scheme-specific funding regime, which is intended to replace the Minimum Funding Requirement, trustees and sponsoring employers will be required to develop and agree, with the scheme actuary's advice, the funding principles for their scheme—including a determination of whether the level of contributions is sufficient to meet a scheme's long-term pension commitments.

The new proposed, simpler tax regime for approved pension schemes (set out in the document "Simplifying the taxation of pensions: increasing choice and flexibility for all" (December 2002)) would abolish the rules requiring approved occupational pension schemes to run off their surplus funds (for example by agreeing contributions holidays) or lose their full tax-exempt status. In addition, the document "Action on Occupational Pensions" announced that pension funds will be able to make payments to employers from an actuarial surplus only where the scheme is funded above a level sufficient to secure full buy-out of scheme liabilities".

Post Office Card Account

Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will reply to the letter to him of 13 November from the Communication Workers Union on Post Office card accounts. [142214]

Mr. Pond: I wrote to Andy Furey, of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), on 26 November on behalf of myself and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. My reply covered a

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number of matters relating to Direct Payment, including those raised in CWU's letter of 13 November to all MPs. A copy of this letter has been placed in the Library.

State Pension (Payment Abroad)

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what rules apply to the payment of state pensions to pensioners who retire to Commonwealth countries; and whether they differ according to country. [141841]

Malcolm Wicks: State Pension, which is payable abroad, is uprated in the normal way for pensioners living in some Commonwealth countries and certain other countries abroad where there is a legal requirement or a reciprocal social security agreement to do so.

The Commonwealth countries with which the UK has reciprocal agreements allowing State Pension upratings to be paid are: Barbados, Cyprus, Jamaica, Malta and Mauritius. Pensions are not uprated in any other Commonwealth country.



Mr. Woodward: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate the Government has made of the market for index-linked annuities in relation to the supply of index-linked gilts. [142388]

Ruth Kelly: No specific assessment has been made. Index-linked gilts make uppart of gross gilt sales and contribute to the Government's overall financing requirement. There are a range of factors affecting the market for annuities of all kinds, including index-linked annuities.

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the Government's policy is on the expansion of the number of companies from which trustees of employer final salary schemes in wind-up can purchase bulk annuities. [142392]

Ruth Kelly: The purchase of bulk annuities is a commercial matter for the companies concerned and the pension scheme trustees.

Cervical Cancer

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people aged (a) 30–39, (b) 40–49, (c) 50–59 and (d) 60–69 were diagnosed with cervical cancer per 100,000 population in each year since 1986. [141996]

Ruth Kelly: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mrs. Patsy Calton, dated 8 December 2003:

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Rates per 100,000 women of newly diagnosed cases for cervical(44) cancer in England, selected age groups, 1986–2000.



(44) For the years 1986 to 1994, International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision Code (ICD-9), code 180. For the years 1995 to 2000, International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10), code C53.

Source:Office for National Statistics.

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