Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

27 Feb 2001 : Column WA119

Written Answers

Tuesday, 27th February 2001.

Annuities and Long-term Care Benefits

Lord Lipsey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why pension funds are not allowed to offer long-term care benefits in lieu of part of their annuity payments to policyholders.[HL838]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Successive governments have not thought it appropriate to include long-term care benefits in a tax regime which aims to encourage people to save for an income in retirement. The Royal Commission under the chairmanship of Professor Sir Stuart Sutherland also came to this conclusion.

Single Currency: Economic and Monetary Affairs Framework

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What additional requirements have the 11 (now 12) member states of the single currency agreed to impose on themselves in the conduct of their economic and monetary affairs since their agreement to launch the single currency on 1 January 1999.[HL886]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Since 1 January 1996 there have been no amendments to the framework governing the conduct of economic and monetary affairs of the member states participating in the single currency.

Pension Fund Annuity Purchase Requirement

Lord Bowness asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any proposals to change the rules requiring the compulsory purchase of annuities from pension funds.[HL705]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Various proposals have been put forward as alternatives to the annuity purchase requirement for defined contribution pension schemes. An announcement will be made in due course if it is decided that any changes are required.

Employment Statistics

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the latest estimate of the total number of:

    (a) full-time equivalent jobs in the United Kingdom economy; and

27 Feb 2001 : Column WA120

    (b) full-time equivalent jobs in the United Kingdom economy which are linked to activities directly contributing to credits in the United Kingdom balance of payments current account.[HL808]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply. Letter to Lord Pearson of Rannoch from the National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics, Mr Len Cook, dated 26 February 2001.

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent question on the total number of full-time equivalent jobs (a) in the United Kingdom economy and (b) those which are linked to activities directly contributing to credits on the United Kingdom balance of payment current account (HL808).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) does not calculate the number of full-time equivalent jobs. The table below shows the number of full-time, part-time and total employee jobs in the UK plus the other workforce jobs components (not seasonally adjusted), for the latest period for which data are available, September 2000. Workforce jobs are the sum of employee jobs, self-employed jobs, HM Forces and government-supported trainees.

These estimates are based on the results of regular sample surveys of employers which count the number of employee jobs, the Labour Force Survey, and administrative sources. The data are published in Table B.11 of Labour Market Trends, copies of which are held in the House of Lords Library and in Statbase on the ONS website

Number in thousands for September 2000 (not seasonally adjusted)
Full-time employee jobs17,430
Part-time employee jobs6,950
Self-employed jobs3,397
HM Forces205
Government-supported trainees101

No information is available linking workforce jobs with activities directly contributing to credits on the United Kingdom balance of payment current account.

DCMS Expenditure Limits

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans there are to amend the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's departmental expenditure limit and running costs limit for 2001-01.[HL951]

27 Feb 2001 : Column WA121

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate for Class XI, Vote 1, the DCMS Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL) for 2000-01 will be reduced by £9,839,000 from £1,030,565,000 to £1,020,726,000 and the running costs limit will be reduced by £4,400,000 from £35,256,000 to £30,856,000.

The changes are to provide for the use of £5,700,000 of the proceeds from the sale by the British Library of 25 Southampton Buildings for meeting the costs of a new conservation and digitisation studio, a further amount of £9,840,000 from the sale proceeds is being surrendered to the Consolidated Fund as Extra Receipts; to provide for the use of £3,000,000 of the proceeds from the sale of 6 Burlington Gardens to assist English Heritage with the purchase of land for the construction of a new visitor centre at Stonehenge, and for use of by the department of £2,000,000 of the sale proceeds for capital works at its headquarters buildings; to provide for a reduction of £4,400,000 in the gross running costs of the Royal Parks offset by an increase of the same amount in their other current expenditure to reflect the reclassification of the expenditure of the Royal Parks Constabulary out of running costs; and to provide for increased expenditure of £630,000 on DCMS gross running costs offset by an increase in recoveries of eligible deductable input VAT.

Inland Revenue On-line Tax Filing System: Security

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they will respond to allegations that the Inland Revenue's on-line tax filing system, particularly with respect to password authentication, is insecure.[HL875]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Inland Revenue's on-line tax filing system has security features in line with best commercial practice, which protects passwords against interception.

Financial Services Single Market: Lamfalussy Report

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they respond to the recently published proposals of the European Commission for an integrated European market in financial services by 2005.[HL802]

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they will respond to the interim and final response of Baron Alexandre Lamfalussy and his committee of wise persons concerning the promotion of a single market in financial services.[HL830]

27 Feb 2001 : Column WA122

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government agree with the Lamfalussy committee's analysis of the problems caused by absence of a single market in securities. We share the committee's desire to speed up and prioritise completion of a single market in financial services. The committee's proposals for reforming European work on securities markets are encouraging and the Government are studying the details very carefully. The proposals are due to be considered at Ecofin, and subsequently the Stockholm European Council.

Depleted Uranium

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to investigate the operational significance of all existing types of depleted uranium-based munitions; and whether all such types are required.[HL752]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Ministry of Defence has for many years conducted research into weapon and armour materials and designs. Research and consultation with allies continues to include the search for potential alternatives to depleted uranium and to identify and characterise their cost effectiveness and environmental impact. Depleted uranium still has a significant margin of operational effectiveness over alternative materials when employed in anti-armour weapon systems. In recent years, a new tungsten round has been developed for the Royal Navy's Phalanx close-in weapons system that offers superior performance (anti-armour qualities are not important for this weapon system). Since 1996, all replacement ammunition for the Phalanx system has been of the tungsten variety.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they are making to ensure that whenever depleted uranium is used in firing tests or training, the health and wellbeing of adjacent civilian communities are protected.[HL754]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The DU firing test programme in the United Kingdom is subject to regulation under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993, which the Ministry of Defence follows voluntarily, and the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999, which is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive. The Environment Agency in England and and Wales and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency in Scotland also are provided with details of monitoring surveys including annual reports of the firing programme.

In 1993, the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) commissioned the consultants W S Atkins to conduct an independent environmental impact assessment of the firing of DU at the firing ranges at Eskmeals and Kirkcudbright.

27 Feb 2001 : Column WA123

The consultants' report concluded that the radiation doses to members of the public, and the associated risks from exposure to DU released into the environment, were extremely low. A copy of the report was placed in the Library of the House in 1995.

The report also made certain recommendations which were subsequently adopted for the ongoing environmental programme, now overseen by the Defence Radiological Protection Service (part of DERA). This monitoring programme has confirmed that there are only low levels of DU contamination, which are well below anything that could be considered a health hazard either to those who work at the sites or those living nearby. The results of this monitoring are published annually and local authorities at both sites, together with the Environment Agency and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, receive copies.

DU is also used by the Royal Navy in their Phalanx close-in weapons system. All live firings are undertaken in dedicated Exercise areas or on the high seas but in the latter case only after issuing a Notice to Airmen and a Notice of Intent. Given that the Naval DU ammunition will be submerged after firings over deep water there is no likelihood of the public coming into direct contact with fired penetrators.

In addition, the Ministry of Defence Explosive Storage and Transport Committee lays down the policy and standards for the storage and transportation of all conventional military explosives held by the UK MoD and this includes DU munitions. These standards are then enshrined as necessary in Single Service regulations and working practices.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page