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Mental Health: Northern Ireland

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Rooker): Studies have shown the need for an increase in psychological services in Northern Ireland to
 
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address the psychological impact of inter-communal violence, but it is not possible to quantify.

Northern Ireland: Festivals

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Rooker): The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure noted that the 2005 business case duplicated the 2004 business case to a large extent, but that it differed in a number of aspects including the costings and elements of the programme. The department identified deficiencies in the application and requested additional information which was provided to the department's satisfaction.

The scrutiny process is ongoing as this grant is paid out only on the basis of original invoices. A post event evaluation report has been requested.

Northern Ireland: Peace Funding

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Rooker): Peace II intermediary funding bodies were selected following a competitive tendering process in line with Northern Ireland and EU guidance. Selection was made by a selection steering group, chaired by the Special EU Programmes Body and including representatives from the government departments with interests in the area of activity relevant to the tender. Under these arrangements, the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (then known as the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust) was appointed as an intermediary funding body for the PEACE II programme on 1 October 2001, and for the Peace II extension on 2 June 2005.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: There is no requirement that security vetting be applied to those in Northern Ireland responsible for the allocation of Peace II funding.
 
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Parliamentary Counsel

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Bach): The Written Statement by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 14 February (HC Deb, col. 80WS) unfortunately contained an error, incorrectly showing the transfer from the Cabinet Office as £311,000,000 when it should have been shown as only £311,000, which was the actual amount of the transfer as correctly shown in the spring supplementary supply estimates (HC col. 827). This is a reduction of £73,000 on the transfer in 2005.

Parliamentary Ombudsman

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Individual departments are responsible for taking forward the Parliamentary Ombudsman's recommendations. The Parliamentary Ombudsman highlights particular cases in her annual reports to Parliament, and is also able to publish special reports to Parliament under Section 10(3) of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967.

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

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: I refer the noble Lord to the response I gave to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, today.

Pensions: Women

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The current system allows women who care for children or dependants to build up state pension entitlement through home responsibilities protection (HRP) which reduces the number of years needed for a full basic state pension. Combined with women's improved labour market position, since its introduction in 1978 HRP has improved women's basic state pension records.

However, we know that the current system can produce unequal outcomes for women and carers and women have done less well than men in building entitlement to state pension. The report Women and Pensions: The Evidence provides a useful compendium of evidence that highlights the key influences on the level of women's retirement income, including consideration of the impact of parenthood and family caring responsibilities on pension entitlement.

The report—along with the Pensions Commission's final report—has informed the national pensions debate as the Government look to build as broad a consensus as possible on pension reform and works towards publication of a White Paper later in the spring. In taking forward any proposals for reform, we will be guided by five key tests: any changes must promote personal responsibility, be fair to women and carers in particular, and be affordable, simpler to understand and sustainable.

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

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We have embarked on a national pensions debate to explore all options for improving future pension provision within the UK. That includes considering the recommendations in the Pensions Commission's second report. One of the commission's recommendations is to change the way the basic state pension builds up so that from 2010 future accrual will be based on residence. We are considering and evaluating this proposal among
 
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others with a view to improving the pension position of women.

Any proposals for reform will be measured against our five key tests: reform must promote personal responsibility, be fair to women and carers in particular, and be affordable, simpler to understand and sustainable.

These considerations, together with feedback from the national pensions debate, will help us work towards building national consensus and the publication of a White Paper on pension reform later in the spring.


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