§ Mrs. Liddell
[holding answer 23 May 2000]: Surpluses in the former British Coal pension schemes are split 50/50 between the membership of the schemes and the DTI, in its role as guarantor to the schemes.
In accordance with the Coal Industry Act 1994 (Sch. 5, paragraph 2(10)), all surpluses received by the Secretary of State must be paid into the Consolidated Fund. The DTI has no statutory powers to divert pension surpluses for regeneration.
The Government are already providing substantial funds to meet the commitments made in response to the Coalfields Task Force Report and indeed we announced in December 1998 a comprehensive investment package for coalfield areas worth £354 million over three years. In addition, the Secretary of State announced on 17 April the intention to make substantial sums available to the coal industry in the form of subsidy.