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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 24 June 2010

Business, Innovation and Skills

Postal Services

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Mr Edward Davey): The Government believe that unless we take the right steps Royal Mail risks being laid low by falling mail volumes, low investment and its huge pension deficit.

To address these challenges, we propose to introduce a Bill in the first Session of this Parliament that will help modernise the Royal Mail, in partnership with employees, and ensure that the company benefits from private sector capital and disciplines.

We believe that the recommendations and analysis in Richard Hooper's report on the maintenance of the universal postal service in the UK published in December 2008 are still broadly valid today, but as our policy develops we want to be able to test it against current market conditions. I have, therefore, asked Richard Hooper to update his report.

The terms of reference for Richard Hooper's update are:

I have asked him to let the Government have his initial views in the summer and he will publish a fuller update by early autumn.


Police and Guarding Agency

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Andrew Robathan): Priorities for 2010-11 have been set for the chief constable/chief executive of the Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency (MDPGA). These priorities are linked to the delivery of the agency's key outputs of providing an effective policing and guarding service. In brief the eight priorities are:

Priority 1-By 31 March 2011 to have ensured that the customer requirement for Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) and Ministry of Defence Guard Service (MGS) services are matched with available resources, through proactive engagement with TLBs.

Priority 2a-By 31 March 2011 to have delivered at least 95% of MDP agreed UK customer tasks.

Priority 2b-By 31 March 2011 to have delivered at least 95% of MGS agreed UK customer tasks.

Priority 3a-By 31 March 2011 to have improved MDP customer satisfaction using the 2009 survey results as a baseline.

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Priority 3b-By 31 March 2011 to have improved MGS customer satisfaction using the 2009 survey results as a baseline.

Priority 4-By 31 March 2011 to have achieved a detection rate of at least 55% of recorded crime that significantly impact on defence capability.

Priority 5-By 31 March 2011 to have achieved all agreed international tasks.

Priority 6a-By 31 March 2011 to have met and maintained external MDP accreditation and compliance for:

Priority 6b-By 31 March 2011 to have met and maintained external MGS accreditations for:

Priority 7-By 31 March 2011 to have maintained or raised the Diversity Excellence Model score for the agency using the results of the 2009-10 assessment as the baseline.

Priority 8-By 31 March 2011 to have delivered specified outputs within resource control totals.

Home Department

Identity and Passport Service

The Minister for Immigration (Damian Green): The "Identity and Passport Service Annual Report and Accounts 2009-10" has been laid before the House and published today. Copies are available in the Vote Office.

Pre-charge Detention

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): I am announcing today our intention to renew the current maximum period for pre-charge detention of terrorist suspects for a period of six months, and I have laid a draft order to that effect.

Section 23 of the Terrorism Act 2006 extended the maximum period of detention of terrorist suspects before charge from 14 days to 28 days. Section 25 of that Act says that the 28-day period of detention must be renewed by order if it is to remain in place.

It is vital that we support the police and other agencies in their work to keep us safe from terrorism. We face a serious threat, and the nature of modern international terrorism means that police investigations can be longer and more complex than they have been in the past. At the same time, as a Government we are also committed to safeguarding the rights and liberties of the public.

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To ensure this balance is appropriately set, the Government have made clear their commitment to review counter-terrorism legislation, and pre-charge detention will form part of that review. That review is due to report to Parliament in the autumn, but in the meantime the current, and exceptional, 28-day maximum period of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects will expire on 24 July.

However, while we would not wish to pre-judge the outcome of the review, both parties in the coalition are clear that the 28-day maximum period should be a temporary measure and one that we will be looking to reduce over time.

Work and Pensions

Reinvigorating Retirement

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): The Government are announcing today two key reviews as part of their strategy to reinvigorate retirement.

As set out in the coalition agreement, we have established a review into the timing of the increase in state pension age to 66.

Ensuring an equitable state pension is a key priority for this Government. We are protecting the future value of the basic state pension through the triple guarantee. However life expectancy at age 65 is increasing at a faster rate than was previously projected and we must make sure our pensions system is sustainable. The current fiscal position means it is right to consider the timing of the rise in state pension age to 66.

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To support this review I have published today a call for evidence to inform an internal review. This provides an opportunity for people and organisations to submit evidence to help us reach our decision. This call for evidence will close on 6 August and we will publish our response in the autumn. This is to ensure that we are in a position to give as much notice as possible to those who might be affected by an earlier rise in the state pension age than expected.

To help ensure sustainability of the system over the long term the Government will also consider future increases to the state pension age and how best to manage the ongoing challenges of longevity.

As part of our strategy to encourage greater private pension saving we are also reviewing how best we can support the implementation of automatic enrolment into workplace pensions.

The coalition agreement confirms our intention to introduce automatic enrolment, which evidence shows is an effective means of increasing pension saving. However, circumstances have changed since the Pensions Commission published its recommendations in 2005. It is right that we consider whether the approach inherited from the previous Administration strikes the right balance between cost and benefits to individuals, employers and for the taxpayer, particularly in the light of current economic and fiscal conditions.

The review will be conducted by an independent team, led by Paul Johnson, Frontier Economics, David Yeandle OBE, Engineering Employers Federation and Adrian Boulding, Legal and General Group plc.

The terms of reference for the review and the call for evidence are available on the Department's website at: www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/pensions-reform/latest-news. They are also available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

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