HC Deb 03 February 1998 vol 305 c611W
Mr. Loughton

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the performance of the Trustees of the Astra Group Pension Scheme; if he will make a statement on the timetable for producing the accounts of the Astra Group Pension Scheme for the years ended April(a) 1994, (b) 1995, (c) 1996 and (d) 1997; if he will review the actuarial valuation of the pension fund (i) before and (ii) after privatisation; and if he will make a statement on the privatisation. [27139]

Dr. Howells

The current pension fund trustees of the former Astra Group were appointed by Receivers following the collapse of the Company in 1993. Questions about the performance of the trustees should be addressed to the Liquidators. Production of the Company's accounts and any produced separately for the Pension fund following receivership are not matters for the Department for Education and Employment. The Secretary of State is unable to review any actuarial valuation of the former Company pension fund.

The sale of a large element of the Skills Training Agency and its former Skillcentres to the former Astra Group was part of the previous Government's privatisation programme. No such set programme exists under the present Government, though privatisations continue where appropriate, subject to rigorous handling and detailed consideration by Departments. The Secretary of State is doing everything possible to assist former Department staff who lost their jobs with the Astra collapse and are still experiencing major problems with this and their Pensions values.