Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Meat Hygiene Service: Annual Report and Accounts 2002–03

Lord Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The 2002–03 annual report and accounts for the Meat Hygiene Service was laid before Parliament today. Copies will be placed in the Library, but formal printing and publication will not occur for another six to eight weeks, pending preparation of a version in Welsh as required by the Welsh Language Act.

14 Jul 2003 : Column WA85

Wanless Review on Prevention and the Wider Determinants of Health

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the review by Derek Wanless into the prevention and the wider determinants of health will be open to public comment and engagement; and[HL3708]

    Which external organisations have been invited or commissioned to submit evidence to the Derek Wanless review on prevention and the wider determinants of health.[HL3709]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): The review will be open to public comment and engagement and will seek to take views and the submission of evidence from a wide range of experts. An invitation to submit comments and evidence will be available on the review's webpage on the HM Treasury website shortly.

Pensions Protection Fund

Lord Higgins asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Hollis of Heigham on 24 June (WA 13)— (a) for what reason the cost of liabilities for the Pensions Protection Fund was taken as being less than the full insurance buy-out cost; (b) what was the ratio of the full buy-out cost to the MFR for the sample examined; (c) whether the benefits costed included a full allowance for pensions to increase in accordance with the normal rules of the scheme; and (d) whether any allowance was made for there to be a correlation between the size of a pension deficit and the probability of the insolvency of the sponsoring company.[HL3776]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Full insurance buy out costs are based on the yields of government and corporate bonds, and reflect the full costs of the Financial Services Authority's solvency requirements, as well as incorporating profit margins for the insurance company concerned. Not all of these elements will be relevant for the proposed Pension Protection Fund (PPF). We propose that the PPF will take in the assets of eligible pension schemes as well as any necessary levy. We do not intend for the PPF to be constrained by a legislative requirement to invest solely in gilts and corporate bonds, and over the medium to longer term, corporate bonds and equities have generally provided higher returns than conventional and indexed-linked gilts.

The full buy-out costs were estimated by rating up MFR liabilities separately for pensioners, non-pensioners within 10 years of retirement age and

14 Jul 2003 : Column WA86

others, and in aggregate were estimated to be 50 per cent higher than the liabilities measured on the MFR basis.

The benefits costed included increases to pensions consistent with those included in the MFR valuations, and therefore only allow for guaranteed increases.

Allowance was made for there to be a correlation between the size of the pension scheme and the probability of the insolvency of the sponsoring company, but no specific allowance was made for a correlation between the size of a pension deficit and the probability of employer insolvency.

Microchips

Lord Wade of Chorlton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have consulted the Information Age Partnership about the recommendations in the Science and Technology Committee's December 2002 report, Chips for Everything: Britain's opportunities in a key global market, and, if so, when they did so and what practical actions have resulted.[HL3732]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Information Age Partnership (IAP) has not been consulted on the Science and Technology Committee's December 2002 report, Chips for Everything: Britain's opportunities in a key global market.

The IAP identifies the key issues across the IT communications, electronics and content sectors, where partnership between government and industry can make a difference. The IAP is orientated to rapid action, and work is driven forward through industry-led and resourced working groups with government participation.

As regards the whole area of electronics, from design through manufacture, these issues are being addressed by the recently announced Electronics Innovation and Growth Team (EIGT) which has some common membership with the IAP and which will no doubt wish to consider issues raised in Chips for Everything.

Iraq: Oil and Petroleum

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many oil wells, refineries and related facilities are now functioning in Iraq; whether Iraq is now self-sufficient in petroleum products; and when they expect it to be producing for export.[HL3768]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: As at February 2003 there were approximately 1,500 to 1,700 wells in Iraq producing oil and 10 operating refineries. (Source US Dept of Energy, Energy Information Administration). No comparable statistics have been made available since the end of the hostilities.

14 Jul 2003 : Column WA87

Current Iraqi oil production is estimated to be 800,000 to 900,000 barrels per day. This compares to production of 2.5 million barrels per day in February 2003 (Source Platts Analytics Service).

Iraq is still importing some petroleum products to meet domestic demand.

The first tender for Iraq oil produced since the end of hostilities was issued on 3 July 2003 for the sale of 8 million barrels of Basra crude. 9.5 million barrels of Iraqi crude were successfully tendered in June. This was oil produced pre-war and stored during the hostilities.

Broadband

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consideration they are giving to the call from the Broadband Stakeholder Group that more spectrum, specifically frequencies at 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz and above, should be released for the purposes of establishing wireless broadband services.[HL3796]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: It is the intention of Her Majesty's Government that 105 MHz of spectrum at 5.8 GHz (known as band C) will be made available for broadband fixed wireless access services by the end of summer 2003 on a light licensed basis.

The existing licence exempt 2.4 GHz frequency band may already be used for fixed wireless access services.

Broadband services have also been made available at 3.4 GHz and 28 GHz.

We are planning further access to other bands, in particular 3.6–4.2 GHz and 2.010–2.025 GHz, and their use for broadband applications will be considered.

Officials in my department and the Radiocommunications Agency are working with the Broadband Stakeholders Group to explore the need for the release of further spectrum to help to achieve the Government's broadband target.

E-commerce

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they responded to the 2003 IDC/World Times Information Society Index indicating that the United Kingdom has slipped out of the 10 top-performing countries from its seventh place of last year.[HL3797]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: It is disappointing to see that the United Kingdom has fallen from seventh position to eleventh in the 2003 IDC/World Times Information Society Index. However, of the G7 countries only the USA in eighth position and Canada, 10th, rank higher than the UK in the index. In other recent international surveys the UK has performed

14 Jul 2003 : Column WA88

well, ranking second in the world for its environment for e-commerce in the 2002 Booz Allen Hamilton Study on the World's Most Effective Policies for the e-Economy, and joint third in the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2003 e-Readiness rankings, which looks at the extent to which a market is conducive to Internet-based opportunities in the world's sixty largest economies. The Government are continuing to pursue a range of policies with the aim of making the UK a world leader in take up and usage of information and communication technologies and we will look at the findings of the Information Society Index to see what lessons can be learned.

Competition Commission (Penalties) Order 2003

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To which government department are fees imposed under the Competition Commission (Penalties) Order 2003 payable.[HL3852]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Commission is empowered by Section 110 of the Enterprise Act 2002 to impose penalties for failure to comply with notices relating to the exercise of its investigation powers under the Act. The Competition Commission (Penalties) Order 2003 specifies the maximum penalties that may be imposed. By virtue of Section 113 of the Act, such penalties must be paid into the Consolidated Fund.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page