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Local Initiatives

There are also many local initiatives such as the fund my hon. Friend the Member for Workington has established in his own constituency where he has raised over £50,000. This is quite separate to the national fund and is supported by smaller local businesses and members of the community.

Perhaps the most memorable idea came from a group of Some victims of the Farepak collapse have got together and made a nude calendar to raise funds in their area and there are many other local initiatives.

I gratefully acknowledge all the efforts of so many people to provide help in these difficult circumstances.

The Goodwill gesture

The Farepak response fund will now put in hand the distribution of the goodwill gesture, in the form of vouchers. As Farepak worked through agents, it did not hold any reliable or comprehensive information on its customers. As a result, the fund will necessarily send the vouchers to the agents. They will send each agent a package of vouchers, broadly speaking in proportion to the total paid this will be in the region of 15 per cent. of the amount they lost. To be clear this is in addition to any money they may receive from the administration. We are asking agents to distribute the vouchers in broad proportion to the payments that the agent knows to have been made by each customer. So far as the fund is able to establish which agents have been fortunate enough to receive a refund for a credit or debit card payment, they will of course not include them in the distribution of vouchers.

The fund will be putting its instruction file in the hands of the distributors, Park Group, within the next few days. Park Group will start to post the vouchers to the agents early next week. It is of course their intention that the distribution should be completed as soon as possible, and in any case by 18 December. There is no need for agents or customers to contact the fund. However, agents should be aware that the administrators have written this week to all agents recorded in Farepak's database, asking for information on their customers. Anyone who had acted as an agent of Farepak and had sent them any payment in 2006, but has not received this letter by Monday 4 December, should contact the administrators as soon as possible, via the website,

fax (01793 606057) or phone (0870 066 9826).

Administration of Farepak

On the process of the administration, the administrators have, as I have noted, recently written to all those appearing in Farepak's database as agents. The reason for this is that they believe that not all customers have yet registered a claim, and they are accordingly asking all agents to confirm who their customers are, to fill in the gaps in their information. It is of course important that all those who were customers, and the extent of their claim, should be registered with the administrators. I would encourage all agents to respond promptly to this letter; and I would encourage all customers who have not yet registered a claim to do so.

The administrators have confirmed that they will seek to recover as much as they can, and will conduct the administration as efficiently and economically as
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possible, so that as much as possible can be returned to creditors. But as I indicated on 7 November, this can at best be only a small return. The administrators' current estimate is that customers could expect to receive just four pence in the pound.

In the circumstances of an administration where there are an unusually large number of creditors, the court has agreed that the administrators should put their proposals for the administration to the creditors by post. This is to be done by 19 January 2007, arid the creditors will have until 16 February 2007 to respond. I repeat that all customers who have not yet registered a claim with the administrators should do so as soon as possible so that they can be included in this process.

I will come back to the House with further details surrounding the review by the OFT and of the administration as and when appropriate.

Finally, I should like once more to express my thanks to all those who have done so much to make this gesture of goodwill possible, and to help it happen in time. While it would be impractical to name them all, I would particularly like to thank the hon. Member for South Swindon for doing so much to put the issue in the public eye. I would like to thank the media, which has helpfully brought out the personal dimension by showing how this collapse is impacting on individuals and particular families; and for publicising the response fund and contact information to help their readers, listeners and viewers to make donations. Above all I should like to thank all those who have contributed so generously to the fund; I should like to thank my private office for all their hard work, the Administrators, Shagun Dubey and Martha Thomson of BDO Stoy Haywood for their invaluable help . The Park Group and Findel Plc both for contributing to the fund and for providing their facilities to support the distribution of vouchers; and of course I should like to thank the family fund for organising it all and ensuring that the Farepak families who a few weeks ago looked to have lost everything will now at least have a little something.


Transport Strategy

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Douglas Alexander): Sir Rod Eddington will tomorrow publish the conclusions of his study into the effects of transport on economic growth, competition and productivity. Copies of his final report and advice will be made available in the Vote Office.

The study, which was commissioned last year by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and my predecessor as Secretary of State for Transport, has carried out a rigorous and independent review of the effect of transport policy on economic growth in the UK.

A key challenge for Government over the coming decades will be to deliver sustainable development. Sir Rod Eddington’s work has been informed by the recently published report by Sir Nicholas Stern on climate change which made a major contribution by demonstrating, on the basis of the most robust and
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comprehensive evidence available, that economic growth and the environment cannot be considered in isolation.

Indeed Sir Rod Eddington’s work, which was supported by Sir Nicholas Stern and a group of leading academics, provides another extremely significant addition to the evidence base, and to the delivery of sustainable economic growth.

The Government will outline shortly its initial reactions to his advice, taking account of my Department’s environmental and social objectives. I will then publish next year, alongside the comprehensive spending review,
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a more detailed response, which will take forward the 2004 White Paper and set out new plans to minimise carbon emissions and sustain economic growth, by delivering improvements to transport at the national, regional and local levels. And it will reflect the conclusions of ongoing work on the long-term development of rail, as well as the conclusions of the ports policy review and the further steps on road pricing mechanisms.

I am extremely grateful for the immense hard work of Sir Rod and his team in producing this valuable and well-evidenced study.

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