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Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why new shoulder weapons pylons were not procured for the upgrade of Tornado GR1 aircraft to GR4 standard; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: The shoulder weapon pylons on the Tornado GR1 were upgraded to Tornado GR4 standard as part of the Tornado GR1 mid-life upgrade programme. There was therefore no requirement to procure new shoulder weapon pylons.
Mr. Ingram: There have been no accidents on RFA Argus in the last six months. However, the ship is currently undergoing a refit and on 2 December a small fire occurred during work on her boiler. Damage was limited to the boiler and Argus is expected to return to service, as planned, early next year.
Mr. McWalter: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what help he can offer pensioners who have lost money because the occupational schemes of their insolvent employers have been administered under the Pensions Act 1995 since 6 April 1997. 
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the Government's policy is on establishing a compensation fund for payments backdated to 1997 to pension scheme members who would be entitled to final salary pensions where the scheme (a) has been wound up and (b) is being wound up where there are insufficient assets fully to meet the scheme pension liabilities; 
Malcolm Wicks: The Government have great sympathy for the pension scheme members who have suffered pension losses due to their insolvent company's scheme winding up underfunded. These cases have highlighted the need for urgent action so that their situation can be avoided in the future. This is why we are amending the priority order, introducing the Pension Protection Fund and strengthening the employer debt by introducing the full buy out provision.
When the introduction of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) was announced on 11 June 2003, Official Report, column 683, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State stated that it would be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows, and that it would apply to the future, not retrospectively.
Ministers have been meeting those affected by pension losses in order to understand their plight and to listen to suggestions regarding assistance ahead of the PPF's introduction. However, to provide help for those
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who have already lost out would raise a number of complex and difficult issues, and, as a result, Ministers have emphasised that they do not want to raise false hope in this area.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the Government's policy is in relation to the protection of pension rights on employer insolvency under Article 8 of the EU Insolvency Directive of 1980; 
We meet our obligations under Article 8 of the Insolvency Directive, as successive Governments have done since it was adopted in 1980. Under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Pensions Scheme Act 1993, the Redundancy Payments Directorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, makes insolvency payments from the National Insurance Fund (NIF) to qualifying former employees. The amounts payable from the NIF are subject to statutory upper limits. In addition, the Pensions Act 1995 requires salary-related schemes to meet the Minimum Funding Requirement (MFR), and provides for a statutory priority order for the distribution of a scheme's assets if a scheme, that is required to meet the MFR, winds up.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the Government's estimate is of the number of final salary pension funds that (a) have been wound up and (b) are being wound up since the introduction of the Pensions Act 1995; and how many of those employers were (i) solvent and (ii) insolvent at the time of winding-up; 
(3) if he will list by (a) region and (b) constituency final salary pension schemes which (i) have been wound up and (ii) are being wound up by (A) a solvent and (B) an insolvent employer in each year since 1997. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Pensions Schemes Registry (PSR), administered by the Occupational Pension Schemes Regulatory Authority (OPRA), holds information on the number of final salary schemes which are currently in the winding-up process and the number of schemes which have entered and completed winding-up. The registry database is, however, limited in a number of ways as described in the footnote. Consequently, it does not provide all the information requested, though it nevertheless remains the most comprehensive source of information available on the aggregate number of pension schemes in the UK.
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around 4,800 private sector final salary schemes have completed winding-up. The data does not permit any further analysis on whether these schemes have commenced/completed winding-up prior to 1997 or 1995.
It is not possible to split the above by whether they are connected to a solvent or insolvent employer. No alternative data source exists to provide this information. Also, the information collected does not facilitate analysis by region or constituency. As regards estimating the value of pensions lost (due to winding-up), this is also fraught with numerous difficulties. The extent of loss depends on many different factorssuch as the maturity of the scheme (that is, the age profile and retirement status of members), and the funding position before starting winding-up. The latter in turn is highly sensitive to investment decisions and conditions in the financial markets. With no information to draw on at an aggregate level, we are unable to comment on the extent of scheme under-funding and losses arising from wind-up. The PSR, as mentioned, was not designed originally for the purposes of such analysis, and therefore does not provide information on scheme funding positions and costs.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate the Government has made of the cost of paying compensation backdated to 1997 for pension scheme members who would be entitled to final salary pensions where the scheme is (a) wound up and (b) being wound up and where there were insufficient assets to fully meet the scheme pension liabilities. 
Malcolm Wicks: It is not possible to provide an estimate of the cost of a compensation arrangement without a range of assumptions, including assumptions about the nature and level of compensation to be provided, the number of people covered and the degree of underfunding in their pension schemes.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the Government's policy is on the guarantee of members' future pension benefits of existing final salary pension schemes in the period before the introduction of the proposed Pension Protection Fund. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Pensions Act 1995 makes provision for the payment of compensation to trust-based occupational pension schemes in cases of dishonesty. The compensation scheme should provide some help where the sponsoring employer is insolvent and the value of the scheme assets has been reduced as a result of dishonesty.
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becomes a debt on the employer. The Government have issued draft regulations designed to strengthen this protection. They state that where a scheme is wound up and the sponsoring employer is solvent, the employer should ensure that there are sufficient funds in the scheme to meet the full costs of the rights accrued by scheme members, unless doing so would put the company itself at risk.
The current legislation provides a statutory priority order for distribution of assets on wind-up. We have issued draft regulations on a revised statutory priority order that will ensure that the degree of protection offered will reflect the length of time a member has been contributing to the scheme.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the Government's policy is on protecting the accrued pension rights inherent in the value of money transferred into employer defined benefit occupational pension schemes from other schemes, to prevent loss of these sums as a consequence of employer insolvency. 
Malcolm Wicks: The current legislation which applies when a defined benefit occupational pension scheme winds up does not differentiate between accrued pension rights that have been transferred into a scheme, and other accrued rights that are already in the scheme. We have no plans to alter this position.
We have announced a package of measures to protect all members of defined benefit occupational pension schemes when their employer becomes insolvent. These include the introduction of the Pension Protection Fund and refinements to the priority order.
Malcolm Wicks: In April 2002, we introduced legislation to speed up the time taken to wind up pension schemes. Trustees are required to make regular progress reports to the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra). Opra can direct that action is taken by those responsible if it considers that the winding up is being unreasonably delayed. Other people involved in running the scheme are required to tell Opra if there are no trustees so that consideration can be given to appointing a trustee. And trustees can apply to Opra for an order to modify the scheme so that it can be wound up.
In addition, there will be proposals in the recently announced Pensions Bill for the introduction of a more hands-on role for the new Pensions Regulator which will be based on risk analysis. This approach will further facilitate the winding up of schemes and will provide welcome support for trustees.
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has carried out to establish how the cost of providing annuities to employer final salary schemes in wind-up can be of best value to scheme members. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Government have not carried out studies into the use of annuities when a final-salary scheme is in wind-up. When a pension scheme is in wind-up, its trustees seek to discharge the scheme's liabilities, using annuities to secure pensioners' incomes.
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