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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (the right honourable John Hutton) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The Ministry of Defence Votes A Annual Estimate 2009-10, will be laid before the House on 12 February as HC 117. This outlines the maximum numbers of personnel to be maintained for service in the Armed Forces during financial year 2009-10.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): This Statement explains two supplementary
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The uprating statement on 11 December 2008 announced new rates of invalidity allowance for customers under pensionable age to support the alignment of the rates of incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance.
The department subsequently wrote to pensioners eligible for an invalidity allowance informing them of their entitlements. However, due to a technical error, a small number were sent an entitlement notice which was incorrect.
The Pensions Disability and Carers Service will ensure that the vast majority of customers who receive an invalidity allowance will receive accurate payments from April 2009 and we will notify those customers who receive an inaccurate notification that this correction has been made.
There will be a small number for whom corrections cannot be made before April and those will be corrected as soon as possible. If an underpayment has occurred, we will ensure the payment is corrected by June, and any arrears are paid to the pensioner. If an overpayment has occurred, we will not seek recovery though we will correct the overpayment as soon as possible.
Of the 500,000 pensioners with entitlement to an invalidity allowance we estimate that around 45,000 people may be overpaid and around 25,000 may be underpaid, depending on their individual circumstances. We estimate that the amount of weekly overpayment will range from a minimum of 5p to a maximum of £3. The maximum underpayment will be £1.80 a week.
Any arrears will be calculated and paid to customers, and we will not take any action to seek recovery of these overpayments. As the department works through the affected cases it will write to all customers who are affected to explain their position.
As people become pensioners from April 2009, they should automatically move on to the higher rate of invalidity allowance. Because the uprating order for this year does not provide the statutory basis ordinarily needed to make these higher payments, we shall be making them on an extra-statutory basis in the coming tax year. Around 7,000 customers are affected with payments worth in total around £350,000.
The Attorney-General (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Following the ministerial statement on 13 January 2009 and discussions in the House on 15 January 2009, this subsequent statement provides further
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The Serious Fraud Office is funded in a different way from most other departments. There are four elements to its funding: its core operations; its large, so-called blockbuster cases; modernisation and transformation programmes; and asset recovery receipts. In addition, like many departments, the Serious Fraud Office is able, subject to the Treasury's approval, to use the end year flexibility scheme whereby previously unspent amounts are brought forward into a current financial year.
At the start of each year, the Serious Fraud Offices Main Estimate covers expenditure for its core operations. Additional funding for the other four funding elements, as above, are then authorised through the normal Supplementary Estimates processes and can fluctuate depending on activity.
Parliamentary approval for this years additional resources of £14.1 million will be sought in a Spring Supplementary Estimate for the Serious Fraud Office. This includes blockbuster funding, modernisation funding and moneys from end year flexibility net of asset recovery receipts This figure has recently reduced from the £15.45 million set out in the statement of 13 January 2009 as blockbuster case costs have been reduced this year.
Pending that approval, urgent cash expenditure estimated at £10.1 million, of the £14.1 million above, being balances in respect of blockbuster cases (£5.9 million) and the transformation programme (£5.4 million), less asset recovery receipts of £1.2 million, will be met by a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:
In his Statement to the House of 6 February 2008 my right honourable friend the Prime Minister affirmed his commitment to the principle of using intercept as evidence and the case for doing so provided that national security could also be protected. He also agreed that the programme of work recommended by the report be taken forward, with the objective of legislation. At the same time, the Privy Council Review itself acknowledged that before legislation could be brought forward, further extensive work was required.
I am pleased to be able to report on progress. I am also having placed in the House Libraries copies of a progress report to my right honourable friend the
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The Privy Council Review rightly recognised that interception is of vital importance to public protection and national security. It also recognised that the issues raised by the potential use of intercept product in evidence are complex. This has proved to be the case, as the advisory groups report makes clear. However, we have now reached the end of the programmes first phase, with work to design in detail the model recommended by the Privy Council Review now largely complete. Work is now in hand to flesh out the detailed guidance required in advance of testing the practicalities of the model.
However, it is clear that a number of key issues remain to be resolved if the objective of facilitating the prosecution of terrorist and other serious crime with the assistance of intercept as evidence is to be achieved. As the advisory group observes, there is an intrinsic tension between meeting legal needs and the operational requirements identified by the Privy Council Review. It is also not yet clear whether the key safeguard of our being able to revert to the current regime should implementation fail would itself be legally sustainable.
The Government agree with the advisory group that securing the intended increase in successful
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The Governments intention remains to be in a position to bring forward legislation for use of intercept as evidence as soon as possible. However, they believe, given the importance of interception for national security, including the ability to prevent and disrupt serious crime and terrorism, that if the results indicate that there is no practical solution, they should be accepted. Equally, if it is necessary to take further time to iron out the detail of an apparently workable solution, we should do so rather than be driven by the legislative timetable.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Kevin Brennan) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Subject to parliamentary approval of any necessary supplementary estimate, the UK Statistics Authoritys total departmental expenditure limit (DEL) will be increased by £200,000 from £216,865,000 to £217,065,000, and the programme budget will be increased by £200,000.
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