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Mr. Redwood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his Department's estimate is of the cost of means-tested benefits based upon the retirement ages proposed in the Pension White Paper for each from 2006 to 2052 for those (a) aged 65 to 69 years, (b) aged 70 to 74 years and (c) aged 75 years and over; and what his estimate is of the cost of administering these benefits in 2006. 
The cost of means-tested benefits for each year from 2006 to 2050 is set out in the following table. The level of administration subsidy paid by the Department for Work and Pensions to local authorities in 2006-07 is £555 million. The cost of administering pension credit claims in 2006 is not available. The cost of administering pension credit claims during the year to March 2005 has been estimated as £237 million. This figure is an approximate assessment only. The Pension Service continues to develop its unit cost information and a modern resource management system which will support improved costing analysis is being developed. The timescales of when this will be rolled out across the Department are not currently known.
|Projected expenditure by age band for means-tested benefits, 2006-07 to 2050-51|
|Aged 65-69||Aged 70-74||Aged 75 years and over|
1. Estimates are given in £ millions, 2006-07 prices.
2. Figures refer to financial years. For example 2006 refers to 2006-07. Estimates for 2051-52 and 2052-53 are not available. 3. All expenditure projections apply to the whole of the United Kingdom. 4. Expenditure is projected under the reforms presented in the Pensions Bill Regulatory Impact Assessment. 5. Expenditure on means-tested benefits included pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit. 6. Housing benefit costs reflect the total amounts paid to beneficiaries, irrespective of the source of funding, and include benefit spending reimbursed by DWP, spending on rent rebates financed within local authorities housing revenue accounts, and benefit spending financed from local authorities general funds.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the extent to which companies based in other European countries have received (a) financial and (b) other assistance from their respective Governments to mount bids for the takeover of UK-based companies. 
Ed Balls: European Community law enshrines the right of free and open competition between member states, which has enabled the UK to take advantage of increasing global trade, and benefit from new ideas and management techniques. The European Commission monitors and is responsible for tackling measures and Government support that distort or threaten to distort European competition. The UK actively supports the Commissions work in eliminating inefficient state subsidies.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Last week I met the director-general and senior officials at the World Health Organisation in Geneva to discuss the very serious effects that climate change is having on public health, and on the growth of the worlds big cities.
In September, I attended the ASEM leaders conference in Helsinki on behalf of the Prime Minister last September, and also a major European conference in Portugal, where I discussed progress on the post-Kyoto agenda and climate change.
The Deputy Prime Minister: The Government are supporting and facilitating events being staged by grassroots, community and faith groups across the country throughout 2007. They are also supporting museums, heritage organisations and local councils that are staging their own commemorative exhibitions and events.
18. John Robertson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had on trade and investment with China in his capacity as chair of the China Task Force; and if he will make a statement. 
The Deputy Prime Minister: I discuss trade and investment as a matter of course during my bilateral meetings with members of the Chinese leadership, including recent meetings with Premier Wen in September 2006 and State Councillor Tang in October.
Senior members of the Chinese Government have made clear that the Task Force continues to enjoy a very high status in China. This has created a favourable context for the promotion of UK business and other interests.
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