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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I would like to thank the chair of the commission, Paul Myners, for the important role he has played in what is the first report under his chairmanship. I would also like to thank all the commissioners for their hard work. It is particularly appropriate to acknowledge the hard work and contributions made over the years by those commissioners who are stepping down from office this year.
The main recommendations put forward by the commission concern the rates of the minimum wage. The commission has recommended the adult hourly rate of the minimum wage should be increased from £5.35 to £5.52 in October 2007. The commission has recommended increasing the development rate, which covers workers aged 18 to 21 years old, from the present £4.45 to £4.60 in October 2007, and the 16 to 17 year-old rate from £3.30 to £3.40, again from October 2007.
The Government reject the recommendation that 21 year-old workers should be paid the adult rate. The most recent data on employment continue to show the employment rate of 21 year-olds is more closely aligned to 20 year-olds than to those aged 22 years and above. We believe moving 21 year-olds on to the adult rate would risk damaging their employment prospects.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Pensions Reform (James Purnell) has made the following Statement.
On 16 January, the Government appointed Paul Thornton to undertake an independent external review of pensions institutions. The purpose of the reviewannounced in the May 2006 pensions White Paperis to look at how the responsibilities of bodies involved in workplace pensions are arranged to ensure they support existing government policy, fit with their reform proposals, and wider developments.
I am pleased to advise the House that Paul Thornton today published a consultation paper with an invitation for contributions by 31 March. A copy is in the House Library. The document sets out the emerging issues and evidence presented so far, with the aim of encouraging further discussion and building consensus on the way forward. I encourage stakeholders to contribute: it is vital that institutional functions are arranged in the most efficient and effective way in order to support work-based saving and to complement our pension reforms. The consultation paper will be available on the department's pensions reform internet site later today. Paul Thornton will report to Ministers with recommendations by spring 2007.
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