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Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Pensions and the Ageing Society (Angela Eagle) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I can confirm that the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority signed the contract for the administration of NEST with Tata Consultancy Services yesterday. This marks another important milestone on the road to delivering a pension scheme for the millions of people currently excluded from low cost pension saving.

As the terms of this contract have been finalised, the Government are now able to set out their plans for financing NEST.

NEST will be paid for by member charges. In the long term, it will be self-financing, and Government expect it to realise the Pensions Commission's ambition of a charge level as low as 0.3 per cent of members' funds under management-an annual management charge (AMC) of 0.3 per cent.

Nevertheless, NEST will need to meet set-up and operational costs incurred in the period before charge revenues are sufficient to meet the full costs of the scheme. Therefore, NEST is expected to make a small additional charge on contributions of around 2 per cent, until set-up costs are extinguished.

This means that the members of NEST, many of whom are expected to have low and moderate earnings will, for the first time, be able to save for a pension while facing charges at levels currently available only to higher earners or those accepted into large pension schemes.

NEST will have a public service duty to accept all employers who want to use the scheme to discharge their duty automatically to enrol workers, irrespective of costs. This means that NEST will be required to bear costs that other pension providers do not face. In recognition of this and in order to preserve the scheme's low cost aims, the Government intend to provide relief to the scheme to limit the overall interest charges scheme members incur on funds borrowed to the Government's cost of borrowing. The Government are currently seeking the European Commission's approval that this approach is consistent with European rules on competition and state aid.

The Government believe that this funding package represents a fair balance between delivering good value to NEST's members, ensuring affordability for the taxpayer and putting NEST on a level playing field with the existing pensions industry.

Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces (Amendment) etc. Regulations 2010

Statement

Lord Brett: On Wednesday 10 March the noble Lord, Lord Howard of Rising, moved a Motion, "this House regrets that Her Majesty's Government have laid before Parliament the draft Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces (Amendment) etc. Regulations

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2010 despite the public objections to the imposition of parking charges in Richmond Park and Bushy Park; and therefore calls on Her Majesty's Government to withdraw the draft regulations and to replace them with regulations that do not contain such parking charges, but which enable the reduction of speed limits and other improvements to public amenity in the Royal Parks". The Motion was carried by 136 votes to 71. Previously that evening an amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, that the draft regulations be not made was rejected by the House.

The Government take seriously the concerns of the House and have considered the next steps for the draft statutory instrument.

The Government believe that the principle of introducing parking charges in the two parks is sound, and that the objective of encouraging visitors to consider means of transport to the parks other than by private car is right. Furthermore, the Government believe that the proposed rates of charge are set at a reasonable level, so as not to be punitive but to introduce a disincentive to using a car to visit what are two environmentally sensitive parks.

The Government have agreed to review the impact of parking charges in Richmond and Bushy Parks within 18 months of their introduction. The review will look at areas of concern to the House, such as the potential for displacement parking. The results of the review will be published.

The noble Lord, Lord Howard of Rising, and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, said that the proposed regulation changes would end free

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access to two great Royal Parks. In my reply I said that the Royal Parks are free to everyone and will remain so. This is manifestly the case. Charges will apply only to use of the parking facilities.

Parking charges are already in place in the three other Royal Parks with public parking provision, and are also in place in comparable sites across the country.

The noble Lord, Lord Howard, said that the policy would lead to railway style car parks with bright spotlights. This is not, and has never been, the intention. Bright spotlights would be wholly inappropriate for such sensitive sites, and unnecessary in parks which are closed at night. They will not be installed. Moneys raised from parking charges will be offset against necessary investment to bring the car parks up to an acceptable general standard and make important environmental improvements. This investment will enhance and not detract from the landscape and fabric of the parks.

There is an estimated works maintenance liability of around £58 million across the Royal Parks. Approximately £2.7 million needs to be spent on the car parks and roads in Richmond and Bushy Parks irrespective of the introduction of car parking charges.

During the debate there were calls for road tolls as an alternative to car parking. There is no evidence that road tolls would be popular with visitors. As I stated in the House, when the public was last consulted on this issue there was little support. The Government have not ruled out road tolls indefinitely, but there are no immediate plans to reconsider the issue.


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