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There will be occasions when it is necessary to refuse to continue correspondence with an individual complainant or enquirer. This could be, for example, where the correspondence is seeking information which the Regulator considers to be exempt from disclosure under the Pensions Act 2004, the Data Protection or Freedom of Information Acts, the
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Environmental Information Regulations, or where in exceptional cases and after numerous responses the Regulator considers the nature of the correspondence vexatious.
Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what level of basic state pension a woman is entitled to if she has national insurance contributions or credits for up to 24 per cent. of the 39 years required for her to accumulate a full basic state pension. 
Mr. Timms: She would not be entitled to any basic state pension based on her own contributions but could become entitled if she pays voluntary contributions for at least another year. A married woman can get a basic state pension of around 60 per cent. of their husband's entitlement when both have reached state pension age and make a claim, regardless of her contributions.
We are seeking consensus on how best we could achieve a fair outcome in terms of state pension entitlement for women and carers which is one of the six key principles that will guide our work in meeting the pensions challenge.
Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the position is with regard to national insurance contributions towards a basic state pension of a person who earns less than the lower earnings limit in part-time work throughout her career while caring for children; 
(2) what the position is with regard to national insurance contributions or credits towards a basic state pension of a person who cares for another for less than 35 hours a week and does a job earning less than the lower earnings limit. 
We recognise that caring responsibility on its own would not entitle a person to a basic state pension. We have embarked on the national debate to achieve consensus on future pension policy. Producing fair outcomes for women and carers is one of the principles guiding reform.
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Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions why an age limit of within three years of normal retirement age on 14 May 2004 was set for those eligible to claim payment from the Financial Assistance Scheme for under funded pension schemes; what provisions have been made for those who fall outside the age limit; what is being done to help small firms who have lost their pension funds; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: Our priority is getting help to those facing the most urgent difficulties being closest to, or already at, retirement age and therefore less able to make provision to replace their lost pensions. As the funding available is limited we need to ensure that any assistance we provide will make a considerable impact. That is why the draft regulations on the Financial Assistance Scheme(FAS), which we issued for consultation on 4 April, provide help to those within three years of their scheme pension age, or above their scheme pension age, on 14 May 2004. Members of pension schemes set up by small firms will be eligible for such help provided the schemes and members also meet the other qualifying criteria. Following the end of the consultation period, draft regulations setting up FAS will be laid in Parliament shortly. We have made a commitment to review FAS, including its funding, in the next Spending Review.
Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the cost of (a) the winter heating allowance and (b) means-tested benefits for pensioners over (i) 65, (ii) 67, (iii) 70 and (iv) 75 years, in (A) 200506, (B) 201011, (C) 202021, (D) 203031, (E) 204041 and (F) 205051 assuming the uprating of such allowances and benefits is continued on the same basis as that announced for the current year and the basic state pension is uprated on the same basis as announced for 200506. 
|Age 65 and over|
|Winter Fuel Payments||1,600||950||900||800||700||550|
|Age 67 and over|
|Winter Fuel Payments||1,450||850||800||750||650||500|
|Age 70 and over|
|Winter Fuel Payments||1,250||700||700||600||550||450|
|Age 75 and over|
|Winter Fuel Payments||900||500||450||450||400||350|
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what options for financial protection of travellers have been the subject of discussion between his Department and the Civil Aviation Authority; and if he will make a statement on the proposed timetable for consultation on the preferred option. 
Ms Buck: The options for the financial protection of air travellers discussed with the Civil Aviation Authority include extension of the scope of financial protection to cover all UK-originating international flights, reducing the scope of protection to the minimum permitted under European legislation and maintaining the status quo. The Government have already received many representations, and the principal stakeholders were involved in the analytical work over the past few months.
If by sector tendering" the hon. Member means the tendering of bus services by a local transport authority over a substantial area, giving the successful tenderer exclusive right to operate in that area, it is
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possible to do this through a quality contracts scheme under the Transport Act 2000. Such a scheme must be approved by the Secretary of State (or in Wales, the National Assembly for Wales), who must be satisfied that it is the only practicable way of implementing the authority's bus policies and will do so in a way that is economic, efficient and effective.
The Future of Transport White Paper (Cm 6234, July 2004) encouraged the development of combined packages of bus enhancement measures, probably through quality contracts, and measures to reduce traffic congestion.
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