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Personal Pensions

Mr. Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the general and compensation levies payable under the Pension Schemes Act 1993 by occupational and personal pension schemes. [151891]

Mr. Rooker: I am pleased to announce that the General Levy rates for 2001-02 will be frozen at the 2000-01 level as set out in the table. We have been able to do this as a result of good housekeeping by Opra and buoyant levy receipts. Opra's costs will increase due to new responsibilities for Stakeholder and Personal pensions but will be met from existing levy rates.

Furthermore I am pleased to announce that it will not be necessary to raise a Compensation Levy in 2001-02.

The General Levy covers the costs of the bodies that safeguard the rights of pension scheme members or provide them with help, advice and information. These bodies are the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra), the Pensions Ombudsman, the Pensions Advisory Service and the Pension Schemes Registry.

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The Compensation Levy covers the cost of expenditure by the Pensions Compensation Board.

Compensation can be paid up to a limit set out in legislation to occupational schemes of insolvent employers who have suffered a reduction in their assets through dishonesty such as theft or fraud.

Scheme rates

Scheme sizeBasis2000-01 (£)2001-02(18) (£)Minimum payment per scheme (£)
Occupational pensions
2 to 11Scheme12.0012.00--
12 to 99Member1.251.25--
100 to 999Member0.900.90125
1,000 to 4,999Member0.700.70900
5,000 to 9,999Member0.530.533,500
Personal pensions
2 to 11Scheme5.205.20--
12 to 99Member0.500.50--
100 to 999Member0.350.3550
1,000 to 4,999Member0.300.30350
5,000 to 9,999Member0.200.201,500

(18) No change


Minimum payments ensure that schemes in the lower bands do not pay more overall than those in the higher bands



Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what future levels of development assistance her Department intends to provide to Montserrat. [151895]

Clare Short: We have informed the Government of Montserrat (GoM) that approximate future levels of assistance will be as follows:

£ million

These amounts include both budgetary aid and development assistance. The 2001-02 figure is firm, subject to parliamentary approval. Figures for subsequent years are for planning purposes and are subject to the normal processes of resource allocation and review in the light of changing circumstances.

By the end of March 2001, DFID will have provided over £135 million to Montserrat since the onset of volcanic activity in 1995. A substantial amount of work has been completed during this period, with much of the essential economic and social infrastructure now in place in the previously under-developed north of the island.

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DFID's assistance to Montserrat in the next five years will focus on building the capacity of GoM to deliver effective and efficient public services, with a reduced requirement for significant external budgetary assistance.



Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 2 February 2001, Official Report, column 351W, on mercenaries, what the target date is for the completion and publication of a Green Paper on options for regulation of mercenaries. [150385]

Mr. Battle: As I said in my written answer on 2 February 2001, Official Report, column 351W, work is continuing on the preparation of the Green Paper outlining options for the regulation of mercenaries and private military companies. This is a complex issue and it is important to work carefully through the details.

UK Citizens (Overseas Prisons)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of (a) men and (b) women from the United Kingdom who are detained in prisons overseas. [151014]

Mr. Wilson: At the end of January 2001 we were aware of 2,827 British men and 423 British women detained in prisons overseas.


Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to his Brazilian counterpart concerning the issue of bonded labour. [151182]

Mr. Battle: Bonded labour is a serious problem in some parts of Brazil, particularly remote rural areas where there are many poor and unemployed people who are easily exploited by unscrupulous employers.

The British Embassy in Brasilia monitors closely the human rights situation in Brazil and is in regular contact with the Brazilian authorities on all aspects of human rights, including bonded labour. Officials last raised our concerns about bonded labour in Brazil at the human rights talks held between the FCO and the Brazilian Government in December 2000.

Serco Contracts

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the contracts that exist between Serco and the Department, its executive agencies and associated public bodies; and if he will list those which have existed in the last three years. [151344]

Mr. Wilson: Neither the FCO, nor its executive agency or associated public bodies have existing contracts with Serco. Within the last three years, the BBC World Service has contracted with Serco for internet consultancy services at a total cost of £25,971.03 plus VAT.

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Council for the Central Laboratory of the

Research Councils

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the outcome of the First Stage of the Quinquennial Review of the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils will be announced; and what the principal recommendations are for the future governance and organisation of CCLRC. [151890]

Mr. Byers: I am today able to announce the outcome of the First Stage of the Quinquennial Review of the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Resarch Councils.

Reviews of Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) are a key part of our programme to modernise Government. The Government are committed to achieving better public services that are of higher quality and are more responsive to the needs of the people who use them. Regular NDPB reviews are an important element in ensuring that we have in place the right structures to deliver the Government's agenda effectively and to provide a strong focus on improving future performance.

The Terms of Reference for the Review required the First Stage to examine the role, composition and funding mechanisms for CCLRC, by reference to its Charter and mission, its past performance, recent CCLRC instigated studies on future vision and funding, current best practice for NDPBs and its contribution to the work of other Research Councils. The Review was further required to consider all relevant options for the future of the Council, including abolition, continued NDPB status, rationalisation, privatisation or strategic contracting out.

The Review has been conducted in accordance with the lastest Cabinet Office guidance (published on 31 January 2000) and has included consultation with members of Council, the Executive and CCLRC's customers and key stakeholders. The Review Boad, chaired by Sir Peter Williams, met on six occasions, including visits to the Rutherford Appleton and Daresbury laboratories.

The principal recommendation is that the relationship of the Research Councils and CCLRC as customer and supplier has proved to be sub-optimal and should be changed to a Strategic Ownership model, in which CCLRC is brought under the joint ownership of the grant awarding Research Councils. To facilite this change, CCLRC should be reconstituted, as soon as practicable, as a Limited Company, to provide a similar governance structure to existing Research Council Institutes.

This model ensures a clear commitment by the Research Councils to meet the planned funding needs of CCLRC based on scrutiny of strategic and operating plans, and should provide efficiency savings. Within this framework, CCLRC should seek to fulfil a more strategic role in the provision of access to leading edge, large-scale facilities for UK researchers. Investment in new facilities should be based on long-term requirements agreed by all the different research communities.

Stage Two of the Review will now examine the issues associated with the implementation of the Strategic Ownership model, addressing in particular the implications

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for the status of CCLRC and its accountability to Ministers and Parliament. Stage Two will also examine how the strategic role can be implemented, such that it is not compromised by CCLRC's role as a facilities operator.

I warmly welcome these recommendations and offer my thanks to Sir Peter Williams and the rest of the Review Board.

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