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25 Apr 2008 : Column 2297W—continued

Departmental Legislation

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criminal offences have been abolished by primary legislation sponsored by his Department since May 1997. [198291]

Derek Twigg: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criminal offences have been created by primary legislation sponsored by his Department since July 2007. [198311]

Derek Twigg: None.

European Fighter Aircraft: Costs

Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to the public purse of the Typhoon Eurofighter (a) has been to date and (b) is estimated to be in total. [200537]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As recorded in the Major Projects Report 2007 (MPR07), expenditure to 31 March 2007 on the Eurofighter Typhoon is £11.8 billion. I am withholding the estimated total cost of the programme as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests.


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Nuclear Disarmament

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) financial and (b) in kind contributions the Atomic Weapons Establishment has made to the (i) International Atomic Energy Agency and (ii) Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the field of verification techniques in the last five years. [200305]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: AWE is a member of the IAEA's Network of Analytical Laboratories that analyse environmental samples collected by the IAEA's Department of Safeguards. Over the past five years, analytical work to the value of £417,000 has been carried out at AWE. This work is performed under the UK Support Programme for IAEA safeguards, funded by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

AWE has not provided any support to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contribution Atomic Weapons Establishment verification researchers made to the Royal Society's report on Detecting Nuclear and Radiological Materials; and if he will make a statement. [200306]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Personnel from the Atomic Weapons Establishment participated in a two-day workshop run by the Royal Society in December 2007. The findings from this workshop formed the basis for the Royal Society's report on Detecting Nuclear and Radiological Materials.

Television

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many plasma television screens have been purchased by his Department and its agencies, and at what cost, in the last 24 months. [191085]

Derek Twigg: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Expenditure on plasma televisions must comply with the principles of propriety set out in Managing Public Money and in the Treasury’s handbook on Regularity, Propriety and Value for Money.

Scotland

Departmental Legislation

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what criminal offences have been abolished by primary legislation sponsored by his Department since May 1997. [198322]

David Cairns: The Scotland Office has not taken forward primary legislation to abolish any criminal offences.


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Departmental Pay

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the total cost was of (a) salaries for permanent civil service posts, (b) salaries for permanent non-civil service posts and (c) payments to temporary or agency workers in his Department in each month since May 2005. [200171]

David Cairns: The staff in the Scotland Office are seconded from other Departments who submit invoices to the Office on a regular basis. The Office does not maintain financial records in the form requested; the total cost for each year was:

£
2005-06 2006-07 2007-08( 1)

Permanent civil servants

1,888,383

1,888,861

2,250,243

Permanent non-civil servants

0

0

0

Temporary staff

539

20,067

7,394

(1) Estimate.

Departmental Public Participation

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many public consultations were held by his Department in each of the last three years; and how many respondents took part in each consultation. [198641]

David Cairns: The Scotland Office undertook two targeted and time-limited public consultations; one entitled “Scottish Parliament Elections May 2007: Ballot Paper Design”; there were 32 responses, and a further 100 people took part in focus groups. The other, “Sorting the Ballot”, received 39 responses. Responses to both consultations were received from councils, political parties and a range of other organisations presenting the opinions of all their members.

In addition, the Office participated in a joint consultation with the Ministry of Justice and the Wales Office on “Fees for the Marked Register of Electors produced at UK Elections”.

Devolution

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the Advocate-General on devolution arrangements. [201220]

Des Browne: I meet regularly with the Advocate-General to discuss a broad range of issues.

Public Expenditure

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what allocation of funding Scotland will receive under the Barnett formula for 2008-09; and if he will make a statement. [201245]

David Cairns: As a result of Barnett consequential from the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007, the funding allocation for Scotland for 2008-09 will be £27,244 million.


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Leader of the House

Members: Pensions

Danny Alexander: To ask the Leader of the House (1) what forecasts she has made of spending on the parliamentary contributory Pension Fund in each year between 2008-09 and 2050-51; and how many members of the scheme there are; [200802]

(2) what the (a) rate and (b) cost of Exchequer contributions to the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund was in each year since 2005-06; [200803]

(3) what estimate she has made of the unfunded liability in present value terms of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund; and what assumptions for (a) discount rate and (b) longevity the estimate is based on. [200804]

Helen Goodman: The Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) is a fully-funded pension scheme whose costs are met from Members' contributions, investment returns and an Exchequer contribution. The Government Actuary undertakes a triennial valuation in which he makes recommendations as to the necessary Exchequer contribution to the PCPF. This can rise or fall depending on factors such as predicted investment returns and longevity assumptions.

In the triennial valuation report laid before the House in March 2006, the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) calculated that the Exchequer contribution should be 26.8 per cent. of pensionable pay from 2006-07 until 2020-21 and then 18.1 per cent. of pensionable pay thereafter. The estimated cost of contributions payable by the Exchequer for the financial year 2008-09 and the next triennial valuation is £12.1 million.

As at 31 March 2007 the membership of the PCPF was as follows:

Number

Current Members

666

Deferred Members (former MPs, Ministers and Office Holders not yet in receipt of a pension)

208

Pensioners

931


The value of the Exchequer contributions since 2005-06 is as follows:

Financial year PCP F exchequer contribution rate (percentage of salaries) PCPF exchequer contribution (£ million)

2005-06

24.0

10.17

2006-07

26.8

11.5

2007-08

26.8

12.0


The aforementioned costs include contributions payable in respect of pensions provided for MPs, Ministers and Office Holders.

The deficit (unfunded liability) calculated as at 1 April 2005 (the date of the last valuation) was £49.5 million. This is the approximate value of the Exchequer ‘contribution holiday’ between 1989 and 2003.

The main financial assumptions used by GAD were:


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Percentage

Gross rate of return

6.5

Real rate of return, net of earnings increases

2.0

Real rate of return, net of price/pension increases

3.5


The liabilities were valued by discounting back to the valuation date the expected future expenditure on pension benefits, using the discount rates given in this table. The investments were brought into account in the assessment by discounting back to the valuation date the expected income from them, using the discount rates given in this table.

GAD also assumed that male pensioners aged 65, would live on average for a further 19.5 years, and that female pensioners aged 65 would live on average for a further 22.6 years.

Communities and Local Government

Council Tax

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable is for capping decisions and implementation for 2008-09. [198920]

John Healey: On 27 March I announced that eight authorities had been designated for exceeding the principles set for 2008-09. The authorities have the right to challenge their designation and all eight have done so.

We will now carefully consider these challenges and, if our decision is to proceed with the designation of one or more of the authorities, I will seek the approval of the House.

Eco-Towns: Community Development

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what account will be taken of community cohesion in the development of eco-towns. [200780]

Caroline Flint: Community cohesion and empowerment is one of the seven criteria that eco-towns must address and will be vital to the success of an eco-town, which should provide a vibrant and sustainable community. The outcomes that we want to see are set out in “Eco-towns—Living a greener future” and supported through the work that the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) are doing with us on the practical application of the criteria. This includes the recent publication of a community worksheet to provide practical help to all those involved with taking forward eco-town proposals, which is available on the TCPA website.

Eco-Towns: Employment

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what account is being taken of the provision of employment opportunities in each of the locations shortlisted to become eco-towns. [200779]


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Caroline Flint: One of the criteria that we have assessed eco-town proposals against relates to jobs and the outcomes we expect to see. This includes developing a clear strategy to maximise employment opportunities and enabling links to existing clusters of employment. In the consultation document “Eco-towns—Living a greener future” we have set out some of the potential employment opportunities and issues for the shortlisted locations. We are currently consulting on these locations and final decisions on the locations are still to be determined. Copies of the consultation document are available in the Library of the House.


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