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Volume 403: debated on Monday 14 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is on the means testing of pensions. [108723]

Pension Credit will for the first time reward, not penalise savings ensuring that those who have worked hard to save modest amounts will gain from having done so.

We want all pensioners to have a decent and secure income in retirement and are committed to ensuring that all pensioners receive their entitlement. As a result of our policies no pensioner need now live on less than £102.10 a week (£155.80 for couples).

The Pension Service will deliver help to pensioners in their local communities as well as providing dedicated national service to meet their needs.


To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects the European Court of Human Rights ruling on the treatment of transsexuals in the UK to be implemented by his Department in respect of pension age. [108727]

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department announced on 13 December 2002 that it is the Government's intention to publish a draft outline Bill to give legal recognition in their acquired gender to transsexual people who can demonstrate that they have taken decisive steps towards living fully and permanently in that gender.This Bill will enable transsexual people to acquire the rights and responsibilities of their new gender, including the right to claim state pension from the state pension age appropriate to their new gender or, if later, the date they are recognised legally in that gender.The Government hope it will be possible to publish the draft Bill during this Parliamentary session and is committed to legislating as soon as the parliamentary timetable allows.


To ask the Secretary of State if he will make a statement on pension provision for women. [108728]

We recognise that it is sometimes harder for women to build up state and private pension rights than it is for men. We also recognise that the current generation of female pensioners are over represented in those groups of pensioners with low incomes.We have already taken action that will improve the pensions position of women, both current pensioners and those women not yet in retirement through the introduction of the pension credit, the state second pension and through our actions to enable some low paid workers to gain national insurance benefits without paying contributions.We would like to build on this progress, and in the Green Paper, "Simplicity, security and choice: Working and Saving for Retirement, Cm 5677", we are seeking views on how to improve women's awareness of their pension position.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs of 17 March 2003, Official Report, column 606W, on pensions, what the reasons were for the fall in the percentage of men aged 65 receiving both basic and additional State Pension. [107934]

The fall in the percentage of men aged 65 receiving both the basic State Pension and additional State Pension between September 1995 and September 2002 is due to the reduction in the number of men aged 65 in receipt of net additional State Pension over that period.Gross additional State Pension entitlement for men aged 65 has been steady in recent years. 92 per cent. of men aged 65 who were receiving a State Pension, received gross additional State Pension in September 1999, compared with 91 per cent. in September 2002.However, the percentage of men aged 65 in receipt of net additional State Pension is falling because of the increase in excess Contracted Out Deduction cases due to the interaction between the gross additional State Pension and Contracted Out Deduction calculations. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that there are more early leavers with fixed revaluations coming into retirement. These revaluations were in the past far higher than the current revaluations meaning that more people have excess Contracted Out Deductions than in the past and these excess Contracted Out Deductions themselves are larger. The second reason is that there are relatively low post award upratings experienced in the last few years, which means that it takes longer to reduce the excess Contracted Out Deductions and for the gross additional State Pension to exceed the Contracted Out Deductions.


1. Gross additional State Pension figures on a consistent basis are not available before September 1999.

2. 5 per cent. sample from the Pension Strategy Computer System (PSCS) as at the date of extraction.


The source data used to extract the figures are subject to change if further relevant earnings are posted to the National Insurance account.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the advice his Department is giving to pensioners through the Payment Modernisation Programme, with regard to those who rely upon multiple carers in order to collect their pensions. [108109]

Customers will be supplied with information that clearly sets out their account options and will enable them to choose the account that best meet their needs and circumstances. Card/PIN based accounts may not be suitable for people who rely on multiple carers, accounts that offer cheque books/building society passbooks provide more flexibility.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether units of graduated pension have been price-indexed in every year since they were earned. [108220]

The amount of Graduated Retirement Benefit a person receives is based upon units derived from contributions paid between 1961 and 1975.From 1961 until 1978 each unit had a value of 2.5 pence. In November 1978 the value of each unit was increased to 2.59 pence, and since then the value has been increased in line with prices.