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Pension Protection Fund: Valuations

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We are aware of the proposal made by the board of the Pension Protection Fund that a legislative change be made to require all eligible pension schemes to provide valuations on a PPF basis (section 179 valuations) by 31 December 2006.

No decision has yet been made about whether we would be prepared to make this change to the legislation. We are conscious of the additional costs that would be incurred by some schemes if the legislation were changed to require PPF valuations to be provided at a date that was not in line with schemes' existing valuation cycles.

We will await and carefully consider the outcome of the board's consultation on this point before deciding whether or not to make any change to the legislation.

Pensions: Compensation Payments

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We hope to be in a position to make the first assistance payments from the financial assistance scheme before the end of the calendar year.


Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Police precepts on council tax are matters for police authorities to determine. The Government have invested hugely in policing over the past five years. Expenditure on policing in England and Wales supported by Government grant or spent centrally on policing on services for the police increased by 39 per cent. or over £3 billion between 2000-01 and 2005-06. Revenue raised locally through the police precept has contributed to funding expanded service levels and increasing police numbers. All police authorities have set reasonable budgets and precepts this year.

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Prison Officers: Working with Young People

The Earl of Listowel asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Prison Service, in partnership with the Youth Justice Board and other key stakeholders, has developed the juvenile awareness staff programme, which was introduced in April 2004. This seven-day programme forms part of the National Qualifications Framework in Youth Justice and consists of a number of modules, including child protection, understanding and working with young people in custody and vulnerability assessment.

The Youth Justice Board has provided funding to the Prison Service juvenile estate to enable 80 per cent. of staff that work with young people to have started this programme by the end of March 2006. Each establishment has been set agreed targets, and they all have trainers in place to deliver the programme locally.

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Parliament recently approved an amendment to the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002, which will allow respondents in Civil Recovery cases in the High Court to access the frozen assets to pay for their legal expenses in those proceedings. The department is currently consulting on regulations that will control costs in these cases, to prevent the dissipation of the assets on legal fees.

The provisions of POCA currently preclude using frozen assets to meet defence costs in criminal cases.

Questions for Written Answer

Lord Jopling asked the Leader of the House:

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Baroness Amos: Yes.

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked the Leader of the House:

Baroness Amos: The Government have always taken the view that the House should retain the principle of tabling Questions during periods when the House is sitting and Ministers are in attendance to respond to parliamentary scrutiny.

The gap reflects the decision made by the House on its Summer Recess.

Railways: Safety

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Responsibility for the regulation of safety matters in the Channel Tunnel already rests with the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission and Safety Authority. The reorganisation of the UK regulatory system does not affect the agreed bi-national regime.

Railways: Sewage Discharges

Baroness Wilcox asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: No figures are kept for the total volume of discharges on to the track but all trains built since 1988 discharge into retention tanks which are emptied at depots. Approximately
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1,400 older carriages have toilets which discharge on to the track. This represents around 13 per cent. of the total fleet of 11,000 carriages.

Religious Discrimination

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are unaware of what legislation other EU or Commonwealth countries are implementing to tackle religious discrimination and harassment, and are therefore unable to comment on whether the exceptions we have introduced mirror those in other countries.

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