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Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many persons aged 16 and 17 years are disqualified from benefit (a) for not taking a YTS place, (b) because they are homeless, and (c) by any other category in (i) 1988, (ii) 1989 and (iii) at the latest available date.

Miss Widdecombe : Information in the form requested is not available. However, in 1988 there were 3,881 disqualifications from unemployment benefit in Great Britain because a person either voluntarily left a YTS place without good cause, lost a place through misconduct, refused without good cause to apply for or to accept a place or neglected to avail himself of a reasonable opportunity of a place. In 1989, there were 863 such disqualifications. In 1990, up to September 1990, there have been 585 such disqualifications. Placements on YTS or YT schemes are not limited to 16 and 17-year-olds.

Homelessness is not a ground for refusal of benefit.

The number of applications for income support refused under the "severe hardship" provisions applying to 16 and 17-year-olds since September 1988 are :


        |Number       

----------------------

1988    |773          

1989    |6,164        

<1>1990 |7,377        

<1> To end of         

November.             

Concessionary Travel

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what response he made to recommendations from the European Commission concerning travel concession cards for over-60s ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jack : The proposed European Commission over-60s card is intended to establish that a person over 60


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has the opportunity to take advantage of a wide range of existing concessions throughout the Community, including transport. We are continuing to study the implications for the United Kingdom and will respond to the Commission in due course.

Benefit Values

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, North- East on 21 November, Official Report , column 132 , if he will give the current monetary value or range of monetary values of each


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benefit, together with the date of the last adjustment in each such level of benefit and the previous monetary value or range of monetary values of each such benefit.

Miss Widdecombe : I refer the hon. Member to the table at columns 849-58 , on 25 October 1989 which gives, in most cases, the present rate of each benefit and its value immediately prior to the last adjustment, which for the majority of benefits was 9 April 1990. Information on those benefits which were not increased on this date, or where the value has changed subsequently, is given in the table.


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Benefit                                                       

                                                              

--------------------------------------------------------------

Child benefit                                                 

                                                              

Christmas bonus                                               

                                                              

Income support                                                

  Maximum amounts for accommodation and meals in              

                                                              

                                                              

    Old age                                                   

    very dependent elderly                                    

    mental disorder (not handicap)                            

    drug/alcohol dependence                                   

    mental handicap                                           

    physical disablement                                      

     (a) (under pension age)                                  

     (b) (over pension age)                                   

    others                                                    

    maximum Greater London increase                           

                                                              

  Nursing homes                                               

    mental disorder (not handicap)                            

    drug/alcohol dependence                                   

    mental handicap                                           

    terminal illness                                          

    physical disablement                                      

     (a) (under pension age)                                  

     (b) (over pension age)                                   

  others (including elderly)                                  

  maximum Greater London increase                             

                                                              

Amounts for meals where these cannot be purchased             

  within the accommodation (daily rate)                       

    breakfast 1.10                                            

    midday meal                                               

    evening meal                                              

                                                              

The Polish home Ilford Park maximum amount for                

  accommodation and meals                                     

                                                              

Retirement pension                                            

  Age addition                                                

                                                              

Widow's payment                                               

Invalidity Benefit

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the monetary level, or range of monetary levels, for invalidity benefit when it was introduced in September 1971, together with equivalent details and dates for each subsequent change in benefit levels, showing the average number of people in receipt of such benefit levels at each of its stages.


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Mr. Scott : The information requested is as follows. Information on standard weekly rates of invalidity pension, invalidity allowance and average numbers receiving benefit is in table A. The maximum amounts of earnings-related additional pension payable with invalidity pension are in table B.


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Table A                                                                                                                    

Standard weekly rates of invalidity pension                     Standard weekly rates of                Estimated average  

              invalidity allowance<2>                                     numbers receiving                                

                        benefit                                                                                            

                                  Increase for dependent                                                                   

Date         |Year     |Personal |Adult    |Only,    |Second   |Each     |Higher   |Middle   |Lower    |Thousands          

                       |benefit  |£        |elder    |child    |Other    |rate     |rate     |rate     |(000)              

                       |£        |or eldest|£        |£        |£        |£        |£                                      

                                           |£                                                                              

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

23 September |1971     |6.00     |3.70     |2.95     |2.05     |1.95     |1.00     |0.60     |0.30     |n.a.               

 5 October   |1972     |6.75     |4.15     |3.30     |2.40     |2.30     |1.15     |0.70     |0.35     |430                

 4 October   |1973     |7.75     |4.75     |3.80     |2.90     |2.80     |1.60     |1.00     |0.50     |440                

25 July      |1974     |10.00    |6.00     |4.90     |4.00     |3.90     |2.05     |1.30     |0.65     |450                

10 April     |1975     |11.60    |6.90     |5.65     |4.15     |4.15     |2.40     |1.50     |0.75     |470                

20 November  |1975     |13.30    |7.90     |6.50     |5.00     |5.00     |2.80     |1.70     |0.85     |470                

18 November  |1976     |15.30    |9.20     |7.45     |5.95     |5.95     |3.20     |2.00     |1.00     |510                

 4 April     |1977     |15.30    |9.20     |<1>6.45  |5.95     |5.95     |3.20     |2.00     |1.00     |550                

17 November  |1977     |17.50    |10.50    |7.40     |6.90     |6.90     |3.70     |2.30     |1.15     |550                

 3 April     |1978     |17.50    |10.50    |6.10     |6.10     |6.10     |3.70     |2.30     |1.15     |600                

16 November  |1978     |19.50    |11.70    |6.35     |6.35     |6.35     |4.15     |2.60     |1.30     |600                

 2 April     |1979     |19.50    |11.70    |<1>5.35  |<1>5.35  |<1>5.35  |4.15     |2.60     |1.30     |620                

15 November  |1979     |23.30    |14.00    |7.10     |7.10     |7.10     |4.90     |3.10     |1.55     |620                

27 November  |1980     |26.00    |15.60    |7.50     |7.50     |7.50     |5.45     |3.45     |1.75     |620                

26 November  |1981     |28.35    |17.00    |7.70     |7.70     |7.70     |6.20     |4.00     |2.00     |660                

25 November  |1982     |31.45    |18.85    |7.95     |7.95     |7.95     |6.90     |4.40     |2.20     |700                

24 November  |1983     |32.60    |19.55    |7.60     |7.60     |7.60     |7.15     |4.80     |2.30     |760                

29 November  |1984     |34.25    |20.55    |7.65     |7.65     |7.65     |7.50     |4.80     |2.40     |825                

28 November  |1985     |38.30    |23.00    |8.05     |8.05     |8.05     |8.05     |5.10     |2.55     |865                

31 July      |1986     |38.70    |23.25    |8.05     |8.05     |8.05     |8.15     |5.20     |2.60     |935                

 9 April     |1987     |39.50    |23.75    |8.05     |8.05     |8.05     |8.30     |5.30     |2.65     |1,010              

14 April     |1988     |41.15    |24.75    |8.40     |8.40     |8.40     |8.65     |5.50     |2.75     |1,100              

13 April     |1989     |43.60    |26.20    |8.95     |8.95     |8.95     |9.20     |5.80     |2.90     |1,185              

 9 April     |1990     |46.90    |28.20    |9.65     |9.65     |9.65     |10.00    |6.20     |3.10     |1,265              

<1> Adjusted to take account of child benefit.                                                                             

<2> Invalidity allowance is payable with invalidity pension and the rates depend on age when incapacity began.             


Table B                      

Maximum amount of additional 

invalidity pension           

Date             |£          

-----------------------------

6 April 1979     |1.31       

12 November 1979 |1.54       

6 April 1980     |2.96       

24 November 1980 |3.45       

6 April 1981     |5.37       

23 November 1981 |5.86       

6 April 1982     |8.64       

22 November 1982 |9.59       

6 April 1983     |11.96      

21 November 1983 |12.40      

6 April 1984     |15.42      

26 November 1984 |16.21      

6 April 1985     |19.50      

25 November 1985 |20.87      

6 April 1986     |23.77      

28 July 1986     |24.03      

6 April 1987     |29.11      

6 April 1988     |34.75      

6 April 1989     |41.34      

Mobility Allowance

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people have claimed mobility allowance on the grounds that they are both deaf and blind at the last date for which figures are available ; how many of these claims were (a) successful, (b) refused and (c) awaiting adjudication ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Scott : I refer the right hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) of 11 December at column 424.


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Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the cost of enabling people who qualify only for a care component of the disability living allowance before the age of 65 years to receive a mobility component if their mobility needs increase after that age ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Scott [holding answer 6 December 1990] : The extent to which people qualifying for a care component before age 65 would be likely to become entitled to a mobility component after reaching age 65 cannot be predicted with any certainty. It is estimated, however, that the eventual cost could be in the order of £100 million a year.

DEFENCE

Fire Fighting

Mr. Beith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the Royal Air Force practice with regard to charging local authorities for airlifting fire crews to fight fires on islands ; and whether any standing arrangements exist with individual fire authorities to make helicopters available for this purpose.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Where military search and rescue SAR helicopters fly to islands to rescue people from life-threatening fires, local authorities are not charged for airlifting fire crews at the same time. Where life is not in danger, however, and SAR helicopters would not otherwise have attended the incident, appropriate charges


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are raised. There are currently standing arrangements with the local authorities of Devon, Cornwall and the Highlands and Islands covering such assistance.

Nuclear Submarines

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions his Department has had or is having with (a) the United States of America and (b) the French Governments regarding the loan of a ballistic missile submarine.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : There have been no such discussions.

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) for how long he intends that HMS Dreadnought should remain at Rosyth naval dockyard ;

(2) what is his present policy in respect of the disposal of the hulks of the reactor components of retired nuclear-powered submarines ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Alan Clark : The question of the disposal of decommissioned nuclear submarines is under active consideration but no final decision has yet been taken. Meanwhile HMS Dreadnought will continue safely to be stored afloat at Rosyth royal dockyard.

Sexual Orientation

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Royal Navy makes any payments to those giving information about service men's sexual orientation.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : No.

Fishing Boats (Accidents)

Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will detail the arrangements he has agreed with the Clyde Fishermen's Association to avoid further accidents between fishing boats and submarines in the firth of Clyde ; whether such arrangements will extend to the Irish sea and its approaches ; and if he will make a statement.

Sir Hector Monro : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will extend the submarine notification procedure between the Royal Navy and the fishing industry for the firth of Clyde to the Irish sea.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Information on the times and areas in which submarine activity is planned will be broadcast to fishermen by the coastguard every four hours using VHF radio. Similar information will also be available through the operations room at Faslane. The scheme will be introduced in the Clyde area on 17 December. Any extension of this scheme to other sea areas would have to take account both of its working in the Clyde area and of its practicability elsewhere.

Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the trials of the Seametrix system of transponders on fishing nets ; when he expects them to conclude ; if the cost of such systems will be funded by the Government ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Trials of a static electronic net-avoidance device have already been carried out. It is


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planned to hold a series of further trials, involving a towed prototype. These will begin on 13 December and will include the participation of Royal Navy vessels. No decision has been taken on the funding of such devices if and when a product becomes commercially available.

Tornado (Power Line Incident)

Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received regarding an incident involving a Tornado cutting a power line near Carsphairn on 26 November ; what information he now has about the incident ; what action he is taking as a result ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : In addition to the hon. Member's letter of 29 November, we have received one other. A unit inquiry was held immediately after the incident, and confirmed that a Tornado GR1 aircraft struck a wire near Dalmellington at approximately 11.50 am on 26 November, while undertaking a properly authorised sortie in the Borders tactical training area. The aircrew were authorised to fly at a minimum separation distance of 100 ft above the ground or obstacles. The inquiry judged that the aircraft was 100 ft or more above the ground when it struck the wire. Following the inquiry, the aircrew were formally interviewed by higher authority before departing for operational duties in the Gulf.

Antares

Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to receive the report of the naval inquiry into the sinking of the Antares.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : The board of inquiry should complete its work later this week. The report will be forwarded to Ministers after it has been considered by the Commander-in-Chief.

Nuclear Tests

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen), Official Report, 28 November, column 442, he will set out for each of the nuclear tests listed the proportion of the cost of each test charged to the United Kingdom and the cost in 1990 in sterling of each test conducted ; and which of the tests resulted in the venting of radioactive gases to the atmosphere.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : It is not the practice to reveal financial information associated with United Kingdom participation in nuclear tests. Of the 14 tests listed in my answer to the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) on 28 November at column 442, there were operational releases of radioactive gases from three, namely Gibne, Armada and Barnwell. In none of these was any radioactivity detected at locations beyond the boundary of the Nevada test site.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department has received any information from the French Defence Ministry concerning the nuclear test conducted by France at Muroroa on 21 November.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : The Ministry of Defence has received no information direct from the French Ministry of Defence on this subject. However, I understand that the French Ministry of Defence issued a statement via Agence France Presse immediately after the test on 21 November.


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WALES

Drugs

Mr. Gareth Wardell : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if his Department will take steps to ascertain whether any consultants employed in regional specialty units funded by his Department are prevented from presenting the drugs of their choice to patients because of financial constraints.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : Except where central guidance may be issued, this is a matter for the appropriate managing health authorities.

Mr. Gareth Wardell : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if regional specialty renal units in Wales may prescribe the drug Erythropoietin to any patient that the consultant considers appropriate without financial constraint.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : Under the new management and financial arrangements which will come into effect from 1 April 1991 it will be for individual health authorities to determine appropriate arrangements relating to the prescription of drugs. In the meantime, funds have been made available to those health authorities responsible for main renal units in Wales to assist with the additional cost of providing Erythropoietin where this is considered clinically necessary.

Ministerial Duties

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what are the proposed ministerial duties of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State.

Mr. David Hunt : I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply given to the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) on 6 December 1990.

Council Housing

Mr. Gareth Wardell : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will review the systems used by local authorities in Wales in allocating council-owned properties to prospective tenants in respect of their even- handedness.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : Advice to local housing authorities concerning the allocation of council houses was produced by the housing management advisory panel for Wales in February 1988, and issued from the Department with the endorsement of the then Committee of Welsh District Councils. If the hon. Gentleman has any suggestions for further advice I should be happy to consider them.

River Pollution

Mr. Gareth Wardell : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the confirmed pollution incidents in Wales since the establishment of the Welsh region of the National Rivers Authority, specifying the nature and extent of the pollution, and indicating (i) whether a prosecution is pending, (ii) the number of prosecutions that have occurred, and (iii) the number of prosecutions that have been successful together with the penalties.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : This is a matter for the National Rivers Authority.


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Alcohol Abuse Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will express the amount of money allocated to each county in Wales to tackle alcohol abuse (a) as a figure per head in each county and (b) as a figure per head of those estimated as having alcohol problems in each county.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : It is not intended to allocate money from the central fund on a proportional basis to counties.

NHS Employees (Guidance)

Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether he has completed consideration of the case for further guidance to be issued to national health service employees on the private practice interests in potential competition with their work in

income-generating departments in the national health service.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : In conjunction with the Department of Health, work is proceeding on the preparation of guidance dealing with staff- employer relationships in the NHS, including conflicts of interests.

Crown Buildings

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what changes there have been in the place of work of sub-divisions of his Department as between different Crown buildings (a) in the present financial year and (b) in 1988-89.

Mr. David Hunt : The only significant changes took place in 1989-90 when the agriculture department's office in Aberystwyth was moved and the staff transferred to offices at Trawsgoed, and in 1990-91 when the Welsh Office education department moved from Cathays Park to Llanishen, Cardiff.

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what proposals he has for changing the place of work of sub-divisions of his Department between different Crown buildings (a) in the current financial year, (b) in the coming financial year and (c) subsequent to the departure of the Exports Credits Guarantee Department Insurance Services Group from Crown building, Cathays Park.

Mr. David Hunt : There are currently no firm plans to change the location of Welsh Office divisions. My Department's accommodation needs are however kept under constant review ; if additional accommodation becomes available in the New Crown building, Cathays Park, that will be taken into account.

NHS Information Systems

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer of 10 December, what is the additional (a) capital cost, (b) staffing revenue costs and (c) non-staff revenue costs associated with the establishment of improved information systems and detailed costing of services in the current and next financial year.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : Developments to improve information systems generally, including the costing of services, are being undertaken as part of the all-Wales information and information technology strategy for the


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NHS in Wales. The total available funds provided by the Department in 1990-91 to support the strategy are £12.2 million capital, and an additional £3.36 million revenue. A precise division between staffing and non-staff revenue costs is not readily available. The funding for 1991-92 will be announced in the new year.

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer of 10 December, what is his best estimate of the present degree of accuracy of the costing of different treatments by the national health service service providers in Wales ; and what he expects it to be after the improved information systems are in place.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : National health service service providers do not at present have the computerised information systems to cost services at sub-speciality level as a matter of routine. The implementation of improved information systems over the next two to three years, and in particular the case mix management and new financial ledger systems, will give NHS providers increasingly detailed information at patient level which will enable them to utilise their resources with increased efficiency to provide a better quality service to patients.

Building Works

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer of 5 December to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher), what factors led to the increase from £299,405 in 1988- 89 to £686,144 in his Department's expenditure on building repairs, maintenance and improvements.

Mr. David Hunt : My Department's normal programme of repairs, maintenance and improvements was augmented by three major schemes : the refurbishment of offices at Llanishen, Cardiff, for staff who were moved to release space in Cathays Park for extra staff working on the implementation of the NHS review ;

the rationalisation of accommodation at Gabalfa, Cardiff for veterinary advisers and ADAS ; and

the conversion of premises to workshops and storage space at the Colchester Avenue industrial estate, Cardiff.

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer of 5 December to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher), what is the


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breakdown between (a) Crown building, Cathays Park, (b) Gwydyr house, Whitehall, (c) Ty Glas road, Llanishen and (d) other in the 1988-89 and 1989-90 total of departmental expenditure on building repairs, maintenance and improvements.

Mr. David Hunt : Expenditure incurred by my Department on building repairs, maintenance and improvements was as follows :


             |1988-89|1989-90        

             |£      |£              

-------------------------------------

Cathays Park |77,542 |115,312        

Gwydyr House |5,077  |11,734         

Llanishen    |3,219  |272,024        

Other        |213,567|287,074        

             |-------|-------        

             |299,405|686,144        

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer of 5 December to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher), Official Report, column 151, what is his estimate of expenditure on building repairs, maintenance and improvements in (a) 1990- 91 and (b) 1991-92 ; and if he will list the major jobs being carried out or proposed to be carried out in that period.

Mr. David Hunt : The forecast outturn of my Department's expenditure on building repairs, maintenance and improvements in 1990-91 is £510,000. Plans for 1991-92 are not yet firm, but expenditure is likely to be of the same order. Major works have been or will be completed in the following buildings in 1990-91 : Agriculture Department, Caernarfon ;

Education Department, Bangor ;

Medical Examination Centre, Port Talbot ;

Agriculture Department, Trawsgoed ;

Transport and Highways Department, Llanishen ;

Old Crown Building, Cathays Park. It is hoped to undertake major works at the following buildings in 1991-92 :

Medical Examination Centre, Pontypridd ;

Agriculture Department, Caernarfon ;

Agriculture Department, Haverfordwest ;

Agriculture Department, Gabalfa ;

Staff Training Unit, Cardiff.


 

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