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8 July 2010 : Column 13WS

Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 8 July 2010

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Court of Justice of the European Union

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): At a conference of representatives of Governments of member states on 8 July 2010 the appointment of a Netherlands judge to the General Court is to be considered.

The nomination is in respect of: Marc Van Der Woude.

Having consulted with the Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice and Attorney-General, the Foreign Secretary agrees to the appointment.

Court of Justice of the European Union (Correction)

The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington): A written ministerial statement on 22 June 2010, Official Report, column 13WS made by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs stated that Otto Cz├║cz, a Hungarian judge was to be reappointed to the General Court on 23 June 2010. The reappointment did not take place on that date and is to be considered at a conference of representatives of Governments of member states on 8 July 2010.

The Foreign Secretary agrees to the reappointment having consulted with the Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice and Attorney-General.

International Development

DFID Programme (Zimbabwe)

The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr Andrew Mitchell): Today we are publishing by Command Paper the Government response to the former International Development Committee's report on DFID's programme in Zimbabwe. The report was published on 26 March 2010.

The report gives a sound endorsement of the UK's work in Zimbabwe. I visited Zimbabwe in September 2009 and commend the Committee's understanding of both the challenges Zimbabwe faces and the significant potential to rebuild the country when political progress permits. The UK remains committed to playing a leading role in Zimbabwe, both in helping the poorest and most vulnerable people to meet their basic needs and in supporting the process of reform.


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Northern Ireland

Sentence Review Commissioners

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr Owen Paterson): I have today arranged for the annual report of the Sentence Review Commissioners for Northern Ireland to be laid in the House. Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Transport

Merchant Shipping (Ship-to-Ship Transfers) Regulations

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mike Penning): I wish to inform the House about the Government's intentions concerning the Merchant Shipping (Ship-to-Ship Transfers) Regulations (S.I. 2010/1228).

These regulations were laid before the House on 9 April 2010.

There is no doubt that ship-to-ship transfers require some form of regulation because of their potential for damage to the UK's seas and coasts. The regulations endeavour to address this in two separate and distinct ways:

I am aware that there have been concerns expressed by industry and by some hon. Members about some aspects of these regulations. I am also conscious that there are those who support the regulations in their current form.

The key objective has to be to ensure that the regulations are fit for purpose and do not apply additional, unnecessary burdens to industry.

I am also committed to ensuring that the policy and legislative processes associated with the passage of the regulations are entirely proper and fully consistent with the principles of better regulation.

Accordingly, I am today announcing a review of the regulations. I would like to invite all interested parties-including hon. Members, local authorities, industry and environmental non-governmental organisations-to set out their views on the regulations by 30 September. I also intend to meet some of the interested parties.

To allow the necessary time for this review to be carried out, I am today laying before the House a Statutory Instrument, the Merchant Shipping (Ship-to-Ship Transfers) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010 No.1769), which defers the entry into force of the regulations from 1 October to 1 April 2011.

Work and Pensions

Occupational Pensions

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the Budget statement on 22 June that,
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with some exceptions, consumer prices rather than retail prices will be the basis for uprating most benefits and public sector pensions.

The Government believe the CPI provides a more appropriate measure of pension recipients' inflation experiences and is also consistent with the measure of inflation used by the Bank of England. We believe, therefore, it is right to use the same index in determining increases for all occupational pensions and payments made by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS).

Consequently we intend to use the CPI as the basis for determining the percentage increase in the general level of prices for the 12 months ending 30 September
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2010 when preparing the order required under paragraph 2(1) of schedule 3 to the Pension Schemes Act 1993 in relation to revaluation and indexation of pension rights in defined benefit pension schemes, and the order made under section 109 of that Act in relation to increases in guaranteed minimum pensions paid by contracted-out defined benefit schemes in respect of pensionable service between 1988 and 1997; and to amend legislation to enable CPI to be used for relevant increases in respect of the PPF and FAS.

Using CPI will mean making some small changes to primary legislation to ensure we can apply it fully in every circumstance. We will bring these before Parliament at the earliest opportunity.


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