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(a) equalisation at 60;
(b) equalisation at 63;
(c) averaging SERPs over the best 39 years for women;
(d) averaging SERPs over the best 39 years for women and men;
(e) equalisation at 65.
The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The most recent estimates available for (a) and (b) are contained in the White Paper. Equality in State Pension Age (Cm 24020) and those for (e) in the Government Actuary's report (Cm 2714) which sets out the financial effects of the proposals in the Pensions Bill, copies of which are held in the Library.
The information requested at (c) and (d) is not available. However, there would be no cost until 2017, when the first contributors to have been in SERPS for 39 years would reach pension age. Costs would rise gradually thereafter.
The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): The Minister for the Environment and Countryside has today published a consultation paper continuing the review of British Waterways' and the National Rivers Authority's navigation functions begun in 1991. Copies have been placed in the House Libraries.
The paper seeks views on how we might secure the best possible stewardship of our waterways for future generations. A number of options are identified, including those of transferring all the NRA's existing navigations to BW and vice versa, achieving more effective management through closer co-operation between existing authorities, and the possibility of creating a new single statutory authority for navigation. Our waterways are a unique asset and must serve a wide range of interests and uses. This consultation aims to give all those concerned about the waterways the opportunity to make their views on the best way forward known to Government.
Viscount Ullswater: The Minister for Local Government, Housing and Urban Regeneration has today given his approval for Docklands Light Railway (DLR) Limited to short-list four private consortia to tender for the concession to finance, build, own and maintain the extension of the DLR to Lewisham, under the Government's Private Finance Initiative. The competition is expected to last about nine months, with the concession contract being concluded before the end of this year. Construction should start in 1996, and the extension should then open to passenger services in 1999.
Private sector interest in the project has been strong, with seven consortia, representing a wide range of finance, construction and project management expertise from the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan, competing to prequalify. The four selected by DLR Ltd. to proceed to tendering are, in alphabetical order. Brown & Root, AMEC and Dragados Docklands Link Group Lewisham Extension Company Light Rail Group
In his statement last October, the Secretary of State for the Environment indicated that the project could not be financially viable with Cutty Sark station included and that the station could therefore only be built if its costs were to be met in full by third parties. He said that contributors should agree unconditionally and contractually by the end of January 1995 to meet the actual costs of the station as they arose during the construction period. We have to report that no funding package was submitted by third parties. The tender documents to be issued by DLR Ltd. for the Lewisham project will therefore make clear that bids are being invited on the basis of six stations, without provision for a station at Cutty Sark.
Greenwich Council, local landowners and other interested bodies wish to discuss with the four prequalified bidders for the Lewisham Extension the possibility of their making separate contractual and financial arrangements to provide a station at Cutty Sark. Those discussions must neither delay the Lewisham project nor prejudice its financial arrangements. The decision whether to enter into negotiations or reach an agreement with the council and other local interests will be for the private bidders to make, according to their own commercial judgment. We have asked DLR Ltd. to provide information, as requested, to assist any discussions between third parties.
We are pleased to confirm that the Lewisham line will have a new station at Island Gardens just north of the river, which will be 600 metres from Cutty Sark via the Thames foot tunnel and another alongside the Greenwich BR station, some 700 metres south-west of the Cutty Sark. Further south it will have stations at Deptford Bridge, Elverson Road and Lewisham town centre, all in the Deptford City Challenge area. The extension will therefore dramatically improve access to Greenwich and Lewisham, and provide new cross-river access to and from the City, Docklands and Stratford for local residents, tourists and North Kent commuters. It will be a splendid addition to the capital's public transport network and will reinforce the Government's commitment to promote regeneration in the Thames Gateway.
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