§ Mr. McNulty
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment he has made of responses to the further consultation exercise on proposals for changes to the early retirement provisions of the teachers' pension scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Byers
After considering the responses to the consultation exercise, my right hon. Friend has decided to introduce with effect from 1 September 1997 two improvements to the existing provisions of the teachers' scheme. The first will improve the arrangements for teachers who step down to posts of lower responsibility to preserve the level of their retirement benefits. A particularly useful feature of the new provisions is that they will apply where an individual changes employer.
The second improvement is to the calculation of pension benefits for regular part-time teachers. These arrangements will mean that the average salary on which the pension is based is the same as it would have been if the teacher had been employed in a full-time capacity.
In the autumn, we shall invite representatives of teachers and their employers to join us in an examination of the teachers' pension scheme for the longer term, looking at a range of issues suggested by teachers' unions, teachers' employers and others.
We have decided not to introduce at this time the option of actuarially reduced pensions for teachers as a new form of retirement. This proposal will be looked at again in the longer-term examination.