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State Pension

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the merits of a specific old-age pensioner cost of living index for generating annual increases in state retirement pension. [211178]

Malcolm Wicks: Pensioner Indices, covering pensioners who receive over three-quarters of their income from state pensions and benefits, are produced as part of the Consumer Price Indices in the Retail Prices Index.

Over the period 1997 to 2004, the Pensioners Indices for a single pensioner have increased by 10.6 per cent., whereas the Retail Prices Index has increased by 18.5 per cent. and the Retail Prices Index excluding housing costs by 17.6 per cent. over the same period.

Pensioner Indices are not used to calculate State Pension increases because the Retail Prices Index is a clearer and understandable index that is well trusted and an accepted measure of price increases.

However, in the recent past this Government has increased the basic State Pension by more than the Retail Prices Index.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many pensioners do not receive the full basic state pension because of their contribution records; and by what aggregate amount their pensions fall short of the basic level; [211828]

(2) how many pensioners receive some form of a state pension. [211829]

Malcolm Wicks: As at 31 March 2004 there were 10.35 million pensioners in receipt of a basic State Pension of whom 6.65 million received a full rate basic State Pension with 3.7 million receiving less than the full amount.

The aggregated difference for this group is estimated to be £5.3 billion for 2003–04.

There are some 10.42 million pensioners who receive some form of state pension.
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2.State pension means Category A, B, C or D state pension or graduated retirement benefit. 3.The estimated aggregated difference figure is a cash estimate for 2003–04. 4.Numbers of state pensioners are based on a 5 per cent. sample and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling variation. 5.Numbers of state pensioners, which are for GB only, are rounded to the nearest 10 thousand, while the estimated aggregated difference is rounded to the nearest 100 million.

IAD Information Centre 5 per cent. sample

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the cost in each of the 10 financial years from 2006–07, net of savings in means- tested benefits and additional income tax revenues, of paying from April 2006 a basic state pension to all single people aged 75 years or above at the rate of the guarantee credit for single people regardless of contribution record, and a basic state pension to all couples where one or both partners is aged 75 years or above at the rate of the guarantee credit for couples, with that pension being indexed to earnings in subsequent years, and assuming that the savings credit is abolished for those aged 75 years or above, on the basis of the assumption that additional payments will be made to any groups who would otherwise lose out in order to ensure that there are no cash losers; and if he will make a statement. [212019]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is not available in the form requested.

For the main part of the costs I refer the hon. Member for Northavon to the reply I gave to him on 22 June 2004, Official Report, column 1310W.

It is estimated that in 2006–07 some 300,000 single people or couples may lose net income of around £10 per week.

Tax Credits

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate the Department has made of the number of people in (a) the UK, (b) Scotland and (c) the Moray local authority area seeking (i) financial and (ii) other assistance in JobCentre Plus outlets as a result of Inland Revenue tax credit overpayment recovery procedures since April 2004; and if he will make a statement. [209876]

Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is not available.
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Winter Fuel Payments

Mr. John Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will amend qualifying arrangements for winter fuel payments so that those whose 60th birthday falls shortly after the qualifying week but before the onset of winter qualify for the payment. [211644]

Malcolm Wicks: We have no current plans to amend the qualifying arrangements for winter fuel payments.

Mr. Fisher: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people claimed winter fuel allowance in each of the past seven years. [211714]

Malcolm Wicks: Information on the number of winter fuel payments made in each year for which figures are available is in the Library.


Carbon Monoxide

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made in implementing the Health and Safety Commission and Executive's recommendations of 2000 relating to carbon monoxide and the gas supply industry; and if she will make a statement. [211695]

Jane Kennedy: I have been asked to reply.

The HSC's fundamental review of the gas safety regime 1999–2000 addressed a wide range of issues, including carbon monoxide poisoning. Of the 49 recommendations made, almost half have been implemented. Action has been taken on the remainder, with the exception of four that are either not yet due or rely on other work being completed. Some of the recommendations were drafted with a continuing obligation and so cannot be deemed as completed.

In the light of HSC's subsequent strategy Workplace Health and Safety in Great Britain to 2010 and Beyond", published in February 2004 and endorsed by the Government, HSE is seeking to develop new ways of partnering with the relevant stakeholders to secure continuing consumer gas safety through a sensible approach to risk. The Government have decided that HSE should retain its responsibilities for the regulatory regime.

Carbon Sequestration

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the potential for oil-related infrastructure in the North Sea to be used for carbon sequestration purposes; what steps she is taking to encourage such use; and if she will make a statement. [210851]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 25 January 2005]: A DTI study, completed in May 2004, looked at the feasibility of CO 2 enhanced oil recovery in the North Sea and published its findings in Implementing a Demonstration of Enhanced Oil Recovery using Carbon Dioxide" (DTI Pub URN 04/1028). This study evaluated the potential for CO 2 injection into our North Sea oil fields for the purposes of carbon sequestration
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together with Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). Our studies show that there are several operating fields where this can be technically feasible. However the cost of CO 2 captured and delivered to these sites and the capital costs involved are high, and none of these schemes have been shown to be commercially feasible under the current economic conditions.

We plan to publish a Carbon Abatement Technology Strategy to address the future requirements for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from large-scale sources in the UK and storage in geological structures such as those in the North Sea. This strategy will reconsider the potential for using CO 2 for EOR and eventual sequestration in the North Sea. The strategy is due to be published within the next few weeks.

Companies Entering Administration

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations her Department has received about companies and directors that intentionally make their companies go into administration and start trading again under a similar name. [211593]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The changes to administration introduced by the Enterprise Act 2002 have been generally welcomed. The primary objectives of an administration are to seek to rescue the company as a going concern, or to achieve a better result for the creditors as a whole than would be likely if the company were wound up.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures are in place to prevent companies and directors running a company in such a way that it is forced to go into administration. [211702]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Administration is not necessarily a bad thing; it can result in the survival of a company when it gets into financial difficulty. An administrator is under a duty to report to the Secretary of State on the conduct of directors of companies which enter administration. A director can be disqualified from acting in the management of a company for between two and 15 years if there is evidence to prove that they are unfit to run a company.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps her Department takes to ensure that consumers are aware that a company they are dealing with has recently gone into administration. [211703]

Mr. Sutcliffe: When a company enters administration the administrator has to advertise his appointment in the Gazette and once in a newspaper that he thinks is most appropriate for ensuring that the appointment comes to the notice of the company's creditors. Details of the appointment are also placed on the company's file at Companies House, which is publicly available information.

Every invoice, order for goods or services and business letters issued by or on behalf of the company or the administrator must state the name of the administrator and that the affairs, business and property of the company are being managed by him.
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