|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Why the Valuation Office was instructed to value the Employment Service Estate on a vacant possession basis when the Department for Work and Pensions is committed to occupy and pay an annual charge on the majority of the Estate for the next 15 years; and[HL5261]
Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Hollis of Heigham on 29 October (WA 4546), in respect of the Former Employment Service Estate to be outsourced by the Department for Work and Pensions to Land Securities Trillium, whether they will place in the Library of the House full details of the "transparent and demonstrable calculations" necessary to ensure that value for money is obtained; and[HL5287]
In respect of the former Employment Service Estate to be outsourced by the Department for Work and Pensions to Land Securities Trillium, who has undertaken ongoing independent scrutiny to ensure the robustness of the outcome; how the results of that scrutiny have been reported; when; and to whom; and[HL5288]
Why the freehold properties in the former Employment Service Estate are to be transferred to Land Securities Trillium at a price of £100 million compared with the agreed valuation of £128.4 million.[HL5289]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The arrangement negotiated with Land Securities Trillium as part of the expanded PRIME contract allows the department a flexible approach to the way it can vacate its surplus property without additional cost. In total 228,000m 2 can be vacated on this basis. This has been profiled in the medium term to reflect the requirements of the department's Estate Strategy and it is not possible therefore to provide an estimate for each year up to 2018.
It is not possible to publish information in relation to the value for money calculations, as this remains commercial in confidence at the current time. The National Audit Office is carrying out an independent scrutiny and its report is due to be published in spring 2004.
The department has sought to obtain the best value from the way it received payment for its properties. It was found that a capital receipt of £100 million from Land Securities Trillium, with the balance of the property values used to reduce the ongoing unitary charge payments, provided us with the optimum value for money solution.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The Labour Force Survey (Summer 2003) indicates that there are 580,000 people of working age (16 to State Pension Age), who report that they are DDA disabled and have a mental health condition as their main health problem, in Great Britain.
We have a wide range of programmes, including Work Based Learning for Adults, which offer support in helping disabled people secure work where they are ready and able to do so. Jobcentre Plus advisory services and the specialist programmes are available irrespective of benefit (if any) claimed.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Director General of Telecommunications at Oftel has now written to Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, and I have arranged for his letter to be published in the Official Report with this Answer.
You asked a question in the House of Lords on 29 October 2003 on the subject of mobile telephone numbers and their presence in a universal database. Lord Sainsbury has asked me to respond directly to you as your question is in relation to an issue that falls under my responsibilities as Director General of Telecommunications.
At present there is one "universal" database of UK telephone numbers. The universal database is maintained by a stand-alone unit of BT and is known as OSIS (the Operator Services Information System). OSIS contains the details of fixed as well as mobile numbers, and is available to directory enquiry service providers on a cost-orientated basis.
Some mobile telephone numbers are currently available via OSIS and there is a manual process to allow those consumers who wish to have a listing to be added. (Consumers can of course choose to be ex-directory, whether they have a mobile or a fixed telephone.)
I understand that, at present, BT and the mobile operators are working on the automated process necessary to ensure that mobile telephone numbers can be easily transferred to OSIS. Once these discussions are complete, it is likely that general mobile data will be available in early 2004 although, as I mentioned above, a consumer can have their data inputted on to OSIS at present via a manual system.
However, I should stress that, whilst the industry negotiations thus far have proceeded positively, they do involve complex issues, including the consideration of key matters such as cost recovery, therefore there is a possibility of a dispute being brought to my attention.
Under the General Conditions of Entitlement, Communications Providers (including mobile providers) must provide their subscribers directory data on terms that are fair and cost-orientated and in a format agreed between the two parties. If BT and any of the mobile operators fail to reach agreement on, for example, the cost of this data or the format in which it is supplied, then Oftel or (after 29 December 2003) Ofcom will be called on to formally resolve their dispute. As you are aware, Ofcom will take on its responsibilities on 29 December and will aim to resolve any dispute submitted to it within 4 months.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government are working closely with the Office of Fair Trading and the Association for Payment Clearing Services, which represents the credit card industry, to agree a set of assumptions that can be used for the calculation of annual percentage rates on credit cards. This will enable consumers to make a better comparison of different credit card offers.
At present card issuers make different assumptions and all parties are agreed that the current situation is unsatisfactory and needs to be resolved. It is the Government's intention to publish draft regulations later this year as part of their White Paper on the reform of the Consumer Credit Act which will provide a single method of calculating an annual percentage rate for a credit card.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|