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8 Mar 2007 : Column 2122W—continued


Letter from Tim Moss, dated 8 March 2007:

Cost (£) Description

1999

795,000

Compulsory early retirement/early severance

2003

250,000

Compulsory early retirement/early severance

2006

955,447

Voluntary early retirement—flexible

2007-08

(1)

(1 )Budgeted cost of £2.2 million for flexible voluntary early retirement/severance

Smith Institute

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much money from the public purse (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have given to (i) the Smith Institute and (ii) its subsidiary SI Events Ltd. in each year since 1997; and for what purpose each payment was made. [123102]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Data are not held centrally at this level of detail for the Department’s agencies. Data before 1999 are kept on microfiche and cannot be retrieved without disproportionate cost.

FY Amount to Smith Institute Amount to SI Events Ltd. Purpose

1999-2000

8,000

Contribution to project study

2000-01

60

Publications

2001-02

0

2002-03

6,800

Economic Summit

2003-04

3,200

Economic Summit

2004-05

0

2005-06

(1)10,438

(2)7,050

(1,2)

2006-07

50

Membership fee

(1) Debate on procmt policy and round table event
(2) Debate on procmt policy

Insolvency: East Sussex

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people were declared insolvent in (a) Eastbourne and (b) East Sussex in each of the last five years. [125488]


8 Mar 2007 : Column 2123W

Jim Fitzpatrick: Regional insolvency statistics are only available on the basis of the locations of official receivers offices, each of which cover a group of county courts where the cases are heard and the courts having jurisdiction over these. It is not possible to provide bankruptcy statistics by constituency, county or Government office region. The following table provides the bankruptcy order statistics considered to be closest to those of interest, but they should not be treated as reliable estimates for the administrative geographies requested.

Eastbourne county court Brighton OR’s office( 1) South East region (OR based)

2002

84

797

3,052

2003

148

958

4,618

2004

190

1,086

5,616

2005

263

1,653

7,328

2006

307

1,808

9,536

(1) Brighton OR’s office covers the following county courts: Bognor Regis, Brighton, Chichester, Eastbourne, Hastings, Haywards Heath, Horsham, Lewes and Worthing.

Mining: Pensions

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many members of the Mineworkers Pension Scheme are receiving a pension of less than £10 a week. [125570]

Malcolm Wicks: I understand that, as at 5 March 2007, of the pensions in payment by the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme 24,444 were for less than £10 a week.

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage increase in payments has been made to (a) the chairman and trustees and (b) the members of the Mineworkers Pension Scheme and the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme since 1994. [125571]

Malcolm Wicks: I understand that the Chairmen of the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme (MPS) Trustees and British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme (BCSSS) Trustees were not remunerated by the schemes until 1995 in the case of the BCSSS and 1996 in the case of the MPS. The current rate of remuneration for chairing the Committee of Management for each scheme is £30,000 a year, an increase of 100 per cent. since inception. In addition, the current Chairman of the BCSSS receives an additional £5,000 for also chairing the Investment Sub-Committee. Other Trustees were not remunerated by the schemes until 1997 in the case of the BCSSS and 1999 in the case of the MPS. The current rate of remuneration for Trustees is £13,000 a year, an increase since inception of 73 per cent. in the case of the BCSSS and 53 per cent. in the case of the MPS. Additional remuneration is also payable to other Trustees for chairing sub-committees. This amounts to £7,000 a year for the Chairman of the Investment Sub-Committee and £2,000 a year for the Chairmen of other sub-committees.

I understand that, including the new bonuses payable from April 2007, BCSSS pensions in payment will have increased by 82 per cent. since 1994 and deferred
8 Mar 2007 : Column 2124W
pensions by 89 per cent. For MPS the increases, effective from September 2006, are just under 78 per cent. for pensions in payment and 83 per cent. for deferred pensions.

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the Government will contribute to the £68 million set aside for deferred members by the Mineworkers Pension Scheme in 2006. [125572]

Malcolm Wicks: No. It is not our intention to do so.

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been received by the Government from the Mineworkers Pension Scheme and the Bristol Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme since 1994; and what estimate was made by the National Audit Office of what this sum would be. [125573]

Malcolm Wicks: As part of the guarantee arrangements for these schemes the Government receives 50 per cent. of any surplus declared in the triennial actuarial valuations undertaken by the Government Actuary. The Government’s share of each surplus, if any, is paid out over 10 years. The other 50 per cent. is used to enhance members’ benefits. Between October 1994 and December 2006 the Government received £1,785 million in respect of such payments from the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (MPS) and £1,470 million from the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme (BCSSS). A further receipt of £242 million is expected from the BCSSS this month. In addition, the Government have used just over £68 million from the MPS Investment Reserve to fund lump-sum payments to members of the MPS on low pensions, and received £154 million from the BCSSS Investment Reserve, of which over £90 million has been used to fund pension liabilities inherited from British Coal. A further payment of 10 million from the BCSSS Investment Reserve is expected this month.

All payments to the Government as scheme Guarantor are reported in each scheme’s published Annual Report and Accounts. Copies of the latest reports are available on each scheme’s website

and

I understand that a report for the National Audit Office by Binder Hamlyn in 1995 suggested total gross payments to the Treasury from both schemes over 25 years of £8 billion.

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether it is still the intention that the investment reserve within the miners’ pension schemes will be repaid to the Government in 2019; and what assessment has been made of the impact on the investment strategy of the funds and the future protection of scheme members. [125574]

Malcolm Wicks: The Investment Reserves are British Coal’s share of pre-privatisation surpluses that the Government agreed to leave in the schemes’ funds as part of the guarantee arrangements. Under the
8 Mar 2007 : Column 2125W
schemes’ provisions, and subject to the need to make good any deficits in the funds, they are due to be paid to the Government as guarantor over a period of 25 years from the Guarantee Date of 31 October 1994, or such longer period as the Government may from time to time determine. The Government have not extended this period. I understand that the trustees of each scheme will be looking at the potential effect of this on their investment strategies later this year as part of their regular review process.

The Government have guaranteed that the pensions to which scheme members were entitled at privatisation, increased each year in line with the retail prices index, will always be paid and that their total pension entitlement, including bonuses funded from the members’ share of surpluses, will never fall in cash terms. This guarantee applies, and will be honoured by the Government, regardless of the value of the investment reserves or the solvency of the schemes at any time.

Natural Gas: Wales

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had on the Felindre to Tirley pipeline. [125881]

Malcolm Wicks: Since the Department of Trade and Industry consented to this pipeline on 7 February, officials have continued to have discussions about related issues with a range of stakeholders, including the Environment Agency, the Countryside Commission for Wales, the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority and Natural England, as well as National Grid. The discussions have covered various issues, including method working statements and the effective discharge of the consent conditions.

Petrol: Lancashire

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average price of petrol was in Lancashire in each of the last five years. [126158]

Malcolm Wicks: The average pence per litre price of petrol and diesel in the UK over the last five years has been as follows:

Unleaded Diesel

2002

73.2

75.5

2003

76.0

77.9

2004

80.2

81.9

2005

86.8

90.9

2006

91.3

95.2


Data on petrol prices are not collected regionally.

Post Office Card Account

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post office card accounts (a) were closed and (b) expired in each of the last three years. [125865]

Jim Fitzpatrick: This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. Alan Cook the managing director has been asked to reply direct to the hon. Member.


8 Mar 2007 : Column 2126W

Defence

Afghanistan: Peace Keeping Operations

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Apache helicopters in Afghanistan have been taken out of operation due to problems with the Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor system; and what the average time to repair the malfunction has been. [123035]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 28 February 2007]: Data for faults arising from Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor system (TADS/PNVS) on Apache helicopters in Afghanistan are only available for the period 1 May 2006 to 31 January 2007. During this time there were 60 cases with maintenance recorded against them; these may have led to restrictions on aircraft availability. It is not possible to give a definitive answer because we are unable to determine if rectification took place concurrent with routine servicing or other fault rectification.

It is not possible to give the average repair time, as this information is not held centrally.

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the delivery of the M270 tracked multiple launch rocket system to British forces in Afghanistan. [125032]

Mr. Ingram: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Defence, announced the deployment of a troop of guided multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), which are based on the M270 platform, to Afghanistan on 26 February 2007, Official Report, column 620. They will operate alongside other units of the Royal Artillery in support of UK and ISAF troops in response to NATO’s request for additional forces in the South and East of Afghanistan.


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