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The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Alistair Darling): We announced last year that we would conduct a feasibility study into the prospects for an obligation on transport fuel suppliers to ensure that a proportion of their sales were from a renewable source.
In the light of the completed study, the Government will introduce a renewable transport fuel obligation. The level of obligation will be 5 per cent. in 2010.
An obligation will ensure a cost effective transition to a renewably fuelled transport system over the long term, saving around 1 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year by 2010. Carbon savings could increase in future years, depending on how the level of obligation changes. This will help to reduce the impact of transport on climate change, and increase the United Kingdom's fuel security and diversity of supply.
To ensure that biofuels are sourced sustainably, obligated companies will be required to report on the level of carbon savings achieved and on the sustainability of their supplies.
The Government will consult widely on precisely how the obligation will operate.
A copy of the study and accompanying regulatory impact assessment have been placed in the Library of the House.
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The Minister for Pensions Reform (Mr. Stephen Timms): From January 2004, following the Employment Act 2002 which introduced new data sharing provisions, the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study has linked benefit and programme information held by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on its customers, with employment records from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
To promote and facilitate retirement planning, section 234 of the Pensions Act 2004 provides new functions for the Secretary of State. To aid these functions sections 235 and 236 of and schedule 10 to the Act provide for information to be supplied to the Secretary of State for such purposes.
To enable the Secretary of State to carry out his function of promoting and facilitating retirement planning and the development of private pensions policies, DWP has expanded the database through the linking of financial data relating to PEPs, ISAs, TESSAs, private pension pots and savings accounts for all aged 60 and over. At the same time, in order to better support evaluations of welfare-to-work activity DWP has added earnings information for people aged 16 and over who have been a DWP client.
DWP and HMRC have been working together to enable this data sharing to take place and to develop safeguards for the initiative.
It is the Department's intention to link housing benefit/council tax benefit to this database. Initially housing benefit and council tax benefit information will only be linked for present and historic data to DWP benefits data. It is also the intention to link housing benefit and council tax benefit information to HMRC data, however this aspect of linking needs further investigation.
The extension to the scope of the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study will be used to perform a range of new statistical and research analyses, as well as being used for some limited operational purposes, and will give DWP further opportunities to improve and evaluate the effectiveness of its businesses. It will, for example for those aged 60 and over:
enable better understanding and research with regard to people who work beyond state pension age; and
enable DWP to understand the links between savings held and the benefits system in retirement and how people are using or accumulating savings in retirement.
And for those of both working and pension age, it will:
enable DWP to evaluate its policies more effectively and to understand better the links between Housing Benefit and the rest of the welfare system to assist in future policy planning; and
use earnings data to better support evaluations of welfare-to-work programmes and further develop policies.
DWP has a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure that the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study is used appropriately. We have, therefore, developed a set of safeguards around access rights, system monitoring, storage/retention of the information and vetting of new
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uses (these are attached to this statement). Information on this, and a full range of the study's uses, has been placed in the Library and on the Department's website at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/longitudinalstudy/iclongitudinalstudy.asp.