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With the completion of this restructuring, the next step will be to prepare for the sale of a long-term concession in High Speed 1, the value of which will be used towards offsetting the public investment made in the construction of the railway. It is the Governments intention to proceed with the sale of this concession as soon as the necessary contractual and regulatory structures are put in place in support of the future operation of High Speed 1 independent of government and LCR and as and when market conditions allow.
In parallel, the Government are discussing the future of the Eurostar joint venture with our international partners in order to determine the best future strategy for the business: one that capitalises on past success; offers the best opportunity for sustainable future development; and properly reflects the full value of the UK contribution.
As well as leading these negotiations on the part of the Government, LCR will continue to manage the development of its substantial property interests, the value of which will be realised on a case-by-case basis, at a time which reflects the best balance of value and risk to the taxpayer.
The saving gateway is a cash saving scheme, which aims to kick-start a saving habit among working-age people on lower incomes, and to promote financial inclusion. The Government announced last year that
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The saving gateway has been piloted twice, and both pilots have been independently evaluated. Ipsos MORI was also commissioned to undertake further research on the second pilot, following up participants around two years after their saving gateway had matured, in order to explore longer-term changes in saving behaviour and attitudes. This research is being published today, and has been placed in the Libraries of the House and is available on the HM Treasury website.
The research shows that 60 per cent of participants were still saving regularly two years after the pilot ended, and three in 10 participants were not saving regularly prior to taking part in the pilot, but were doing so at the time of the further research. Participants were also very positive about the saving gateway: 98 per cent said they would open another saving gateway account if offered the chance, and 99 per cent would recommend it to a friend.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): I am delighted to announce that later today the UK will ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York. In addition, we aim to start the parliamentary process for ratification of the optional protocol to the convention shortly.
There are an estimated 650 million disabled people in the world, including over 10 million in the UK. The UN convention is a powerful and explicit statement that they haveand must be able to enjoy on an equal basisthe same human rights as others. The convention is therefore a very significant landmark, both for disabled people and for Government and society as a whole.
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