§ Mr. Dawson
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, pursuant to his answer of 1 December 1997,Official Report, column 10, on Astra pensioners, what further steps he has taken to press the liquidators and pension fund trustees to resolve the outstanding issues. 
§ Dr. Howells
Following a thorough review of the issues surrounding Astra pensions, the Department has now obtained special approval for HM Treasury to offer ex-gratia payments to a small number of former members of the Department who transferred their accrued Civil Service pensions values into the Astra pension fund.
The Government Actuary's Department is engaged in calculating the individual entitlements and until these are resolved, and until the offers and payments are made, detailed figures cannot be provided to the Astra liquidators or their pension fund trustees to take into account in resolving their outstanding work.
The Department continues to work towards the earliest possible resolution to the ex-Astra issues and is also taking a number of other—non-financial—steps aimed at assisting the former Astra employees.