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Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he has taken on the importation of parrots and other rare birds from South America and Senegal, in the light of the meeting between the hon. Member for Linlithgow and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the hon. Member for Calder Valley (Mr. Thompson) at Whitehall court.
Column 538I met representatives of the Refrigeration Industry Board on 13 November 1989. These and many other interested bodies have been consulted on proposals for amendment of the Food Hygiene Regulations to extend temperature control to certain foods for retail sale in order to protect public health.
Mr. Skinner : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what further discussions he has had with consumer groups and others on the subject of food production ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maclean : Ministers of this Department maintain regular contacts with consumer groups, as well as the agriculture and food industries, to discuss topics of mutual concern including food production matters. I recently met with representatives of these interests to hear at first hand their initial reactions to the Food Safety Bill.
Mr. Curry : The recent fall in sterling has caused United Kingdom MCAs to increase from their previous levels. This situation may change with further movement of sterling. I shall watch the position closely during the Community price review which has just begun.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will request an emergency meeting of the International Whaling Commission in order that they may discuss the current slaughter of minke whales in the Antarctic by Japanese hunters.
Mr. Curry : The Japanese Government are well aware of our views on their programme of whaling in the Antarctic for research purposes. We have consistently taken the lead within the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in questioning its validity in the light of the concerns raised by the IWC scientific committee. In response to the IWC resolution Japan has made some changes to the plans including reducing the number of minke whales to be taken. The IWC will discuss this revised programme at its next annual meeting.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is now in a position to make a statement about his Department's inquiries into the deaths of the 79 beagles en route to Sweden referred to in his
Column 539answer of 1 November, Official Report, column 211, and on any other steps that can be taken to ensure that this possibility does not arise again.
Mr. Maclean : My Department's inquiries are now complete. Charges have been laid against three defendants under the Transit of Animals (General) Order 1973 and the Protection of Animals Act 1911. I believe that existing legislation provides sufficient safeguards but vigilance will always be necessary to prevent a recurrence of this kind of incident.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will secure from the United States Environmental Protection Agency the evidence which led the agency to ban the use of the apple spray Alar on the grounds of its health damaging properties.
Mr. Maclean : Daminozide, the active ingredient of the pesticide product Alar is not approved for use in Italy and its approval has been withdrawn in the United States following the voluntary cancellation of its registration for food crop uses by the manufacturer.
Mr. Maclean : No. "Environmental" claims are permitted under current food labelling legislation so long as the claim is true and not misleading to consumers. I am aware of requests for more detailed information on food, particularly on what might broadly be termed "green" issues. I have therefore asked the food advisory committee to carry out a comprehensive review of current labelling legislation and practices and to report back with any recommendations that it thinks appropriate.
Mr. Gareth Wardell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects the pesticide safety unit's review of pesticides that currently hold his Department's approvals but which are banned or restricted in use in other countries will be completed.
Mr. Maclean : The advisory committee carries out reviews of individual products when scientific evidence suggests these are necessary. It has started the routine review of all pesticides which were approved prior to 1981, irrespective of their status in other countries, which will take several years to complete.
Sir Richard Body : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what arrangements he has for consulting representatives of United Kingdom consumers about the agricultural negotiations in the Uruguay round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
Sir Richard Body : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what restrictions exist on the import into the United Kingdom of agricultural products from (a) New Zealand, (b) Australia and (c) Canada ; and what steps he is taking to have them reduced.
Mr. Curry : Imports of agricultural products from these, as from other, countries are subject to the rules of the common agricultural policy. Agricultural policies, including import barriers, are currently under discussion in the Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations. The objectives of the negotiation, which the United Kingdom supports, include substantial, progressive reductions in support and protection, including the lowering of import barriers. The United Kingdom is working with our Community partners and other governments, including those of New Zealand, Canada and Australia, to ensure a successful outcome to these negotiations.
13. Mr. Madel : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to improve the co-ordination between local social security offices and local councils in relation to the payment of housing benefit ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if his Department or the transitional payments unit has maintained league tables of outstanding TP3 forms awaiting return from local authorities.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard [holding answer 14 December 1989] : Inquiry forms TP3 were issued to local authorities in respect of over 484,000 applicants. The return of those forms has been closely monitored by the transitional payments unit. Seven local authorities each have in excess of 100 forms outstanding and in total around 3,000 applications cannot be assessed because inquiry forms have not been returned from over 200 local authorities.
Mr. Fraser : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what information he has about the number of people in the London borough of Lambeth currently entitled to housing benefit, distinguishing between (a) certificated housing benefit, (b) uncertificated benefit, (c) assistance with rates, (d) assistance with rent, (e) council tenants and (f) private tenants and owner occupiers.
Recieving Income Support anRecieving Housing Benefit only Housing Benefit Assistance with; Assistance with; |Rent and|Rent |Rates |Rent and|Rent |Rates |rates |only |only |rates |only |only --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Local Authority Tenants |51,568 |159 |- |4,691 |77 |284 Private Tenants |4,849 |746 |75 |1,728 |556 |58 Owner Occupiers |- |- |614 |- |- |332 Note: Certificated and standard housing benefit ceased to exist when income support replaced supplementary benefit from April 1988.
Mr. Newton : Of those currently in full-time employment, we estimate that over 70 per cent. are members of occupational or personal pension schemes. In addition, some 50 per cent. of all pensioners and 70 per cent. of recently retired pensioners have an occupational pension.
Mr. Newton : In the five years from 1974 to 1979, pensioners' average total net incomes rose by 3 per cent. In the seven years from 1979 to 1986, the latest date for which figures are available, they rose by 23 per cent.
Income from savings is a significant factor in this improvement. Between 1979 and 1986 pensioners' average income from savings rose by 64 per cent., whereas in the previous five years it had fallen by 16 per cent.
20. Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proportion of recently-retired pensioners he estimates has sources of income in addition to the basic state retirement pension.
18. Mr. Jack : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the improvement in the level of service offered by his Department as a result of its computerisation programme.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : Computerisation has improved accuracy of payments and the speed of response to benefit inquiries. It has speeded up the availability of renewed order books. Letters to claimants are clearer and more complete. In addition, computerisation has enabled the relocation of benefit processing from London to areas where it is easier to recruit and retain good staff and this is already showing improvements in all aspects of service.
Mr. Scott : We expect the new £10 premium, being introduced next October, to help 10,000 carers through income support, and a further 20,000 carers through housing benefit or community charge benefit.
Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if owner-occupiers and tenants supported by the independent living fund whose income above income support levels is required to supplement independent living fund contributions are entitled to rate rebates ;
(2) whether adults, all of whose income above income support levels is required by the independent living fund to offset financial help from the independent living fund, will be entitled to community charge rebates.
Mr. Scott : People with incomes at or below income support levels are entitled to the full value of an award from the independent living fund. For people with incomes above income support, the ILF has to determine the amount to be offset against the ILF award. In making this calculation the fund makes allowance for the amount of rent, rates or community charge that the applicant has to pay after any housing or community charge benefit.
Any resulting payments received from the independent living fund are totally disregarded in the calculation of the income-related benefits. Entitlement to housing or community charge benefit is, therefore, calculated in the normal way and depends on the claimant's circumstances (age, family status, disability, number of children), the level of outgoings such as rent and rates or community charge, and the amount of income that is not disregarded.
23. Mr. Hardy : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proposals he has to alter the existing structure and increase the resources provided for the social fund ; and what steps he is taking to ensure that decisions made in regard to grants were equitable in one area of the country against another.
We have no plans to alter the existing structure of the social fund. Its discretionary nature enables social fund officers to look at each application on its merits. This means that decisions on similar cases will, quite properly, differ. We are, however, taking action, for example, by regional monitoring of decisions and by regular seminars for social fund officers, to ensure the highest possible standard of decision-making across the whole country.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the 100 social security offices which are to have their social fund allocations increased as a result of particular pressures, referred to in his written answer of 19 December to the hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart).
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will give consideration to amending directions 10 and 28 of his social fund directions to allow claims for the cost of redecoration in cases where applicants within the social fund manual, paragraphs 6380 and 6505, may only be decorating one room, and the cost of this may be below £30.
Column 544people to budget for small expenses from their regular weekly income without help from the social fund. However, a social fund crisis loan may be considered for an amount below £30 if the applicant has no other resources and there is a serious risk to the health or safety of the applicant or a member of his or her family.
Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many representations he has received concerning the £5 per week increase for Department assisted residents and patients in private nursing homes.
representations about our proposals for next year's uprating. Subject to parliamentary approval, the overwhelming majority of people in nursing homes receiving income support in April 1990 will be entitled to up to an additional £10 for help with fees. The limit for the mentally ill is increasing by £5, meaning an increase of £15 in two years.
Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list, by year, for the past 10 years, the increases in allowance per week for (a) patients in residential private nursing homes and (b) residents in retirement homes ; and if he will make a statement.
National supplementary benefit income support limits, nursing and residential care homes and additions for personal expenses |April 1985 |November |July 1986 |April 1987 |April 1988 |April 1989 |<1>April 1990 |£ |£ |£ |£ |£ |£ |£ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Nursing homes Elderly and others |138.60 |170 |170 |175 |185 |190 |200 Mentally ill |148.60 |180 |180 |180 |185 |195 |200 Drug/Alcohol dependent |148.60 |180 |180 |180 |185 |190 |200 Mentally handicapped |168.60 |200 |200 |200 |200 |205 |215 Physically disabled under pension age |198.60 |230 |230 |230 |230 |235 |245 Terminally ill |198.60 |230 |230 |230 |230 |235 |245 Residential care homes Elderly |110 |120 |125 |130 |130 |140 |150 Very dependent or blind elderly |- |- |140 |145 |155 |155 |165 Mentally ill |120 |130 |130 |130 |130 |140 |150 Drug/Alcohol dependent |120 |130 |130 |130 |130 |140 |150 Mentally Handicapped |140 |150 |150 |150 |160 |165 |175 Physically disabled under pension age |170 |180 |180 |190 |190 |200 |210 Others |110 |120 |125 |130 |130 |140 |150 Greater London extension |- |- |17.50 |17.50 |17.50 |23.00 |23.00 Addition for personal expenses |8.50 |8.95 |9.05 |9.25 |9.55 |10.05 |10.55 <1> Proposed. Notes: 1. Prior to April 1985 each social security office set two maximum amounts that could be paid in respect of fees in homes, one for residential care homes and one for nursing homes. 2. Claimants in addition to the appropriate limit receive an amount payable for personal expenses. 3. Present limits can be increased by up to £23 in London.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The final edition of the low income statistics calculated on a family unit basis was published in May 1988. This covered 1981, 1983 and 1985. We have no plans to publish any further low income statistics on this basis.
Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what will be the estimated cost of uprating social security benefits for disabled people in the United Kingdom ; and what proportion of the social security budget the uprating in benefits for the disabled will take up.
Mr. Scott : The estimated cost of the April 1990 uprating of benefits for the long-term sick and disabled in Great Britain is £599 million in 1990-91. This represents 1.1 per cent. of total planned expenditure.
Information about costs of benefit in Northern Ireland is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Mr. Hannam : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether his review of disability benefits is examining methods within the state system to provide payments to disabled people to enable them to employ their own care attendants.
Mr. Scott : Existing benefits--notably attendance allowance and the disability premiums--make some provision to enable disabled people to pay for care. We are reviewing those benefits, but in the context of the Government's aim in the White Paper "Caring for people" (Cmd 849) to establish the right framework for the delivery of good quality local services for community care.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many organisations and individuals have sent their comments on the report by the Occupational Pensions Board Protecting Pensions to his Department ; if he will name them ; and if he will make copies of the responses available in the Library.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : One hundred and forty two representations were made to the Department during the consultation period last year. Many of these were made in confidence. It is for those who made comments to make them publicly available if they wish to do so.
Column 546receiving maintenance of £20 per week, housing benefit of £271 per calendar month and paying private rent of £385 per calendar month, and earning (a) nothing, (b) £15 per week part time, (c) £30 per week part time, (d) £50 per week part time, (e) £75 per week part time, (f) £75 per week full time, (g) £100 per week full time, and (h) £150 per week full time.
Net income after housing costs at various levels of net earnings ------------------------------ a. Not working |57.76 b. £15 part-time |72.76 c. £30 part-time |72.76 d. £50 part-time |75.40 e. £75 part-time |78.81 f. £75 full-time |81.63 g. £100 full-time |83.60 h. £150 full-time |94.37 <1>Net income after housing costs is based on an eligible rent for housing benefit purposes of £60pw and rates of £9.93pw. Note:-The assumptions and methods are those used in the tax benefit model table, copies of which are available in the Library.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish in the Official Report the timetable for extension of computerisation began on 23 October and name the offices concerned ; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the pilot exercise report.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard [holding answer 15 December 1989] : The timetable for extension of computerisation from October 1989 is a lengthy document and therefore I have placed a copy in the Library rather than publishing it in the Official Report. I have also placed a copy of the pilot exercise report in the Library.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the number of people who have and will become dependent on (a) income support, (b) family credit and (c) housing benefit as a result of the decisions not to uprate child benefit fully in line with inflation in each of the appropriate years.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard [holding answer 15 December 1989] : It is impossible to give any meaningful estimate to the number of people who have or will become dependent on income-related benefits as a direct consequence of not uprating child benefit in April 1988, 1989 and 1990 because the effects cannot be viewed in isolation. It is important to remember that eligible populations and their constituents for all the income-related benefits change constantly as family incomes and circumstances change. Gross earnings have risen, and our policies to reduce tax and national insurance contributions have succeeded in enabling
Column 547families with children to keep more of their earnings. In addition, we have channelled extra help to families with children through the income-related benefits.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Western Isles, of 14 December, Official Report, column 821, what other contractors, apart from British Aerospace, are involved in the assessment of options for the replacement of the WE-177 free fall bomb.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Western Isles, of 14 December, Official Report, column 821, what information he has as to when the current assessment studies of the options for the replacement of the WE-177 free fall bomb, will be completed ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if any information on the implementation of the 1958 Anglo-American mutual defence agreement on atomic energy matters has been withheld under sections 3(4) or 5(1) of the Public Records Act 1958 ; and if he will make a statement on his current policy of withholding archive material.
Mr. Alan Clark : Atomic records are retained in the Department under section 3(4) of the Public Records Acts 1958 and 1967 with the approval of the Lord Chancellor. It has been the practice of successive Governments not to discuss records that are so withheld from public release.
Mr. Clelland : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answers on 14 December, Official Report, columns 821-23, what future purchases from General Dynamics have been discussed with that company as part of the negotiated memorandum of understanding.
(2) what deadlines have been given to each company asked to submit proposals for replacement battle tanks for the British Army.
Mr. Alan Clark : As I told the hon. Member in my answer of 14 December 1989 ( Official Report, Vol. 163, col. 822 ), the details of the invitations to submit proposals are commercial in confidence. No assurances have been given to General Dynamics relating to replacement battle tanks for the British Army other than that its proposals will be considered. It remains our aim to make a decision by the end of 1990.