§ Mr. Webb
To ask the President of the Council, pursuant to his answer of 15 July 2002,Official Report, column 83W, to the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), on parliamentary pensions, if he will estimate the additional cost to the Exchequer of that part of those improved pensions which are not covered by the increase in hon. Members' contributions over the period before the full cost of the accrued rate is borne by hon. Members. 
§ Mr. Robin Cook
The Exchequer contribution to the parliamentary pension scheme is set by the Government Actuary, as part of his triennial valuation of the scheme. The Government Actuary is currently working on his valuation of the scheme as at 1 April 2002. He will take into account, in setting the Exchequer contribution to apply from April 2003, the number of hon. Members and office holders who choose to pay higher contributions to secure a higher pension accrual.
The Government Actuary has estimated the cost of the improved pension as 5.1 per cent. of pay. If all hon. Members arid office holders were to decide to opt to pay increased contributions of 9 per cent. of pay rather than 6 per cent. with effect from 15 July 2002, the additional costs to the Exchequer over the period to 31 March 2003 may be estimated as being in the order of £600,000 in the year 2002–03 and £860,000 for a full year.