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Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what undertakings have been given to local Department of Social Security staff affected by outstationing about their future employment by the Department of Social Security in the same geographical area.
(i) there is no question of compulsory transfer to the social security centres in Glasgow, Belfast and Wigan but any member of staff who wishes to transfer may apply to do so ;
(ii) when transfers are necessary, staff will be expected to transfer to local, regional or headquarters offices within daily travelling distance of their home. All such transfers will be to other offices within the London pay zone, unless an individual prefers to go somewhere else ;
(iii) each individual member of staff will be treated on an individual basis. Cases of immobility will be dealt with first ; (
(iv) all staff will be invited individually to nominate the offices they would wish to transfer to. Management will do everything they can to match transfers to individual preferences. Where an individual cannot be posted to an office of his or her choice in the first instance, he or she will be given top priority when vacancies occur within one of the preferred offices ;
(v) we do not envisage any need for compulsory transfers involving a move of home. There should be no need for redundancies.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether facilities such as a nappy-changing area and tea and coffee machine will be provided in the new Department of Social Security branch offices.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The provision of such facilities will be considered when the new branch offices are being developed. The improved service to the public they will provide is expected to reduce significantly the time customers spend in our offices. The need for such facilities will be determined in the light of experience.
Current Expenditure on Social Protection as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (Eurostat) |1983|1984 ------------------------------ Netherlands |33.7|- Belgium |30.8|29.4 Denmark |30.2|28.7 West Germany |29.1|28.7 France |28.5|- Luxembourg |26.5|- United Kingdom |24.1|24.1 Ireland |23.9|23.3 Italy |23.7|23.3 No figures available yet for Greece, Spain or Portugal.
Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the latest available figures for the cumulative amounts, since 1979, of (a) unclaimed benefits, (b) benefit fraud and (c) expenditure savings, expressed in real terms, at 1989 prices.
Mr. Scott : It is not possible to ascertain precisely the total amounts of Social Security benefits fraudulently claimed or left unclaimed. Details of the latest available information on the take up of benefits is contained in paragraphs 27 to 29 on pages 15-16 of Cm 615. Similarly it is not possible to show the cumulative effects of expenditure savings since 1979. Calculations for the income-related benefits would be impossible in the light of major changes over the past decade. An analysis of the national insurance benefits could be carried out only at disproportionate cost using a range of artificial assumptions, rendering any answer speculative.
Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many single parents in receipt of one-parent benefit have been sent green forms instructing them to send their benefit books to local social security offices.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Postal review is a normal part of benefit procedure. A postal review of one-parent benefit claimants began in February. So far 300,000 postal review forms have been issued. Claimants should return their order books to the social security office only if they have changes to report.
Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he has issued any instructions to local social security offices laying down a maximum period for which one-parent benefit books sent in as directed by green forms may be held before being returned to the parent.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people are currently having their claim for family credit reviewed as not being consistently engaged in remunerative work for over 24 hours a week while unable to claim income support because they regularly work over 24 hours a week ; and when he expects to make a decision over eligibility for family credit in these cases.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish the medical evidence that £21.70 a week paid for food is sufficient for a healthy diet for a person living in bed and breakfast accommodation ; and what similar medical evidence is used to calculate other income support applicable amounts.
Mr. Matthew Taylor To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what would be the cost of ceasing to treat (a) child benefit and (b) one-parent benefit as a resource for housing benefit, assuming case-load take-up levels of family credit of (a) 40 per cent., (b) 50 per cent., (c) 60 per cent. (d) 70 per cent., (e) 80 per cent., (f) 90 per cent. and (g) 100 per cent.
Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 9 June 1989] : I regret that the precise information requested cannot be provided. Housing benefit currently comprises four distinct elements--rent rebates, rent allowances (all of Great Britain), rate rebates (in England and Wales) and community charge rebate (in Scotland).
The estimated costs in 1989-90 of ceasing to treat child benefit and one- parent benefit as a resource for housing benefit would be as follows :
|£ million ------------------------------------------- (i) Rent rebate and rent allowance: (a) Child benefit |80 (b) One parent benefit |7 (ii) Projected cost assuming rate rebates w throughout Great Britain: (a) Child benefit |40 (b) One parent benefit |3 (iii) Project cost assuming community charg place throughout GB: (a) Child benefit |60 (b) One parent benefit |2 Notes 1. Where a person with at least one child in his family and working 24 hours or more a week claims housing benefit and has not also claimed family credit, calculation of potential family credit is included in the assessment of housing benefit. (The notional amount so arrived at is not counted as part of the housing benefit income for 25 working days following the despatch of the notice of housing benefit entitlement to the claimant to allow reasonable time for him to claim family credit.) Differential take-up of family credit would not, therefore, affect the estimated costs set out above. 2. Some lone parents, such as widows and those on invalidity benefit or retirement pension, do not get one-parent benefit. They would, therefore, be excluded from the increase in housing benefit that other lone parents would get from the disregard of one-parent benefit.
Mr. Churchill : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what has been the cumulative total of his Department's expenditure since May 1979 to date over and above the expenditure level prevailing in May 1979.
Mr. Scott [holding answer 29 June 1989] : The total programme of public expenditure on social security in 1979-80 and each of the following years, including the forecast for 1989-90, is as follows. The size of the programme had the level of spending remained exactly as it was in 1979-80 in real terms is also indicated :
£ billion |Actual/planned |Expenditure at level of |expenditure |1979-80 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1979-80 |19.4 |19.4 1980-81 |23.5 |23.0 1981-82 |28.6 |25.2 1982-83 |32.5 |27.0 1983-84 |35.2 |28.3 1984-85 |38.1 |29.7 1985-86 |41.5 |31.2 1986-87 |44.4 |32.3 1987-88 |46.3 |34.0 1988-89 |47.6 |36.6 <1>1989-90 |51.1 |38.4 <1>Planned.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received calling for the payment of attendance allowance automatically as of right to blind people living alone : what his reponse has been ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Scott [holding answer 3 July 1989] : We have occasionally received representations on this subject in the course of correspondence with hon. Members on behalf of individual constituents. In reply we have explained that entitlement to an attendance allowance is not geared to specific disabling conditions or illnesses. People with a severe disability qualify for the allowance if they require from someone else either frequent attention in connection with bodily functions or continual supervision or watching over to avoid substantial danger to themselves or others.
Q10. Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Prime Minister when she expects to meet representatives of MIND todiscuss the relevance for discharged long- stay psychiatric patients of section 7 of the Disabled Persons (Services, Representation and Consultation) Act 1986.
The Prime Minister : I have received a number of representations, many of them in support of the Government's inner cities policies. Under the comprehensive range of measures, costing £3.5 billion this year which makes up the action for cities initiative, good progress continues to be made in the regeneration of our inner cities. In the 57 inner city target areas, unemployment fell by almost 24 per cent. in the 12 months to May 1989. Recorded crime in the Metropolitan police force areas fell by 6 per cent. in 1988. Involvement of private companies continues to grow--over the last six months the number of companies working with the Government's inner city task forces has increased from 450 to 500.
Column 252outlined in the Human Rights Bill which is set down for Second Reading on 7 July ; and if she will make a statement.
The Prime Minister : No. We are committed to, and support, the principles of human rights in the European Convention on Human Rights but we believe that is is for Parliament rather than the judiciary to determine how these principles are best secured.
The Prime Minister : I have received a large number of letters from people concerned about litter. They demonstrate wide support for tougher measures to control litter. The Government intend soon to announce a range of proposals for improving legislation in this area.
Q49. Sir David Price : To ask the Prime Minister what is the Government's policy towards the equalisation of pension age for men and women as proposed in the draft directive of the European Community entitled "Equal Treatment for Men and Women in Pensions and other Benefits" ; and what attitude towards the proposal she will adopt in the Council of Ministers.
The Prime Minister : At the meeting of the Labour and Social Affairs Council of Ministers in Luxembourg on 12 June neither France nor the United Kingdom were able to lift their reserves on this draft directive. Consequently the draft directive will not be discussed at the Council of Ministers but will be referred back for further work by officials. The House of Lords Select Committee on the European Community published its report on this draft directive earlier this month and the Government will respond to that report in due course.
The Prime Minister : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has received a number of representations recently supporting the proposals announced in the White Paper "Roads for Prosperity" for a greatly expanded trunk road building programme.
Q51. Mr. Cox : To ask the Prime Minister if Her Majesty's Government will refer the actions of the Chinese Government in their present policy of violence and reprisals against Chinese students to the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations ; and if she will make a statement.
The Prime Minister : We intend to raise our concerns about the recent deplorable events in China at the next session of the United Nations Committee on Human Rights and at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) which meets this month in Geneva.
The Prime Minister : I have received regular representations about our relations with Iran, both from hon. Members and from members of the public. We have consistently made clear that we can have normal relations only if Iran clearly renounces the use or threat of terrorism and violence in all forms.
Q109. Dr. Godman : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow, 20 June, Official Report, column 77, where funds are provided to United Kingdom shipyards for construction under the shipbuilding intervention fund, what proportion of those funds is required to be spent within the United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister : Under European Community rules we cannot discriminate against other EC content. However, in administering intervention fund and intervention aid, officials in the Department of Trade and Industry and the Northern Ireland Department of Economic Development encourage United Kingdom shipyards to procure as much EC content as possible.
Column 254At the end of March this year, police strength in England and Wales stood at 125,631. This is a record and represents some 14,100 more officers than when the Government first took office. Expenditure on the police is up by almost 55 per cent. in real terms. We shall continue to regard the police as a priority.
The United Kingdom agricultural industry is widely respected for its efficiency and competitiveness. It is well placed to benefit from the opportunities for fair competition which completion of the EC's single internal market will bring. And I was pleased at the royal show to pay tribute to the enormous contribution the agriculture industry and the thousands of individual farmers make to our national life.
The Prime Minister : The Government have received large numbers of representations on the National Health Service from members of the public, the professions, and various interest groups. Many share the Government's desire for a Health Service that gives patients more choice and rights as consumers, that is more responsive to the needs of local communities, and that builds on its existing successes and efficiency to give better value for money.
Mr. Winnick : To ask the Prime Minister if she will state the last occasion she travelled on a train in order to carry out official engagements ; and how many times in all she has done so since May 1979.
The Prime Minister : This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today.
Mr. Portillo : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met representatives of NUR, ASLEF and TSSA after the Nera report was published last year. Since then we have received about 700 representations from hon. Members and members of the public.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : We attach high importance to road-friendly suspensions on all vehicles. We are encouraging the use of air suspensions particularly on the heaviest articulated lorries. I am sending to my hon. Friend and placing in the Library copies of the two most recent reports published by the Transport and Road
Column 256Research Laboratory about relevant research on suspensions and the dynamic relationship between axles and the road. This forms part of the case Britain is arguing internationally to secure vehicles that are more road-friendly.