Previous Section Home Page

Deregulation

Mr. Heppell : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security which organisations were consulted by his Department, on each of the recommendations of the business deregulation task forces before they were agreed and action proposed in the DTI document "Deregulation : Cutting the Red Tape".

Mr. Hague : Each of the task force recommendations agreed or agreed in principle by the Government have been or will be the subject of appropriate consultation with interested parties.

Unemployment Benefit

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was, in each year since 1991, (a) the number and (b) the percentage of claimants of sickness and invalidity benefit in (i) the north of England and (ii) in the United Kingdom who had transferred from unemployment benefit ; and what was the numbers of claimants of unemployment benefit in each standard region who in each year since 1991, ceased claiming unemployment benefit and were not returned to either work, income support or other benefits.

Mr. Scott : The information requested is not available.

Executive Agencies

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the subjects on which his Department or its predecessors formerly answered parliamentary questions but which are now referred by him to an executive agency.

Mr. Scott : Next steps agency chief executives are usually asked to reply to parliamentary questions about the


Column 34

day-to-day operational matters of their agency and on subjects for which they have delegated responsibility, as set out in their agency's framework document.

Benefits Agency

Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will set out (a) the list of tendering organisations, (b) the successful organisation, (c) the value of the contract and (d) the criteria used for determining the successful organisation, in relation to the provision of health screening for Benefits Agency staff at their headquarters at Quarry house, Leeds.

Mr. Burt : The health screening exercise currently being carried out at Quarry house, Leeds, is part of a three-year DSS nationwide health screening programme due to be completed by March 1994. For reasons of commercial confidentiality, it is not possible to provide a list of the tendering organisations, but they comprised four private sector health care providers and one national health service regional health authority .

The successful tenderer was the British United Provident Association--BUPA.

The Department is contractually obliged to pay for each screening carried out on volunteer personnel, aged 35 and over. BUPA's success in encouraging take-up therefore dictated the final cost, which will total almost £3 million.

The criteria used to determine the successful tenderer were : (

(i) financial stability ;

(ii) overall approach to quality to ensure integrity of service ; (

(iii) logistical planning ;

(iv) quality of mobile units ;

(v) previous experience of similar programmes ;

(vi) capacity to meet the Department's specification ;

(vii) overall value for money within a predetermined budget. The NHS regional health authority withdrew its bid as it could not provide fully equipped and self-contained mobile screening units.

Child Benefits

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the combined value of child dependency addition and child benefit for the child of a widow or invalidity pensioner at current and April 1993 prices and as a percentage of average earnings in November 1979 and at each subsequent uprating date.

Mr. Burt : The information is in the tables :


Column 33


Table 1                                                                                               

Uprating date    |Rate of Child   |Gross adult     |As a            |Equivalent                       

                 |Benefit plus    |weekly          |percentage of   |value of                         

                 |Child           |average         |gross adult     |benefit at April                 

                 |Dependency      |earnings<2>     |weekly          |1993 prices                      

                 |Increase for                     |average                                           

                 |first child<1>                   |earnings                                          

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

                 |£               |£                                |£                                

November 1979    |11.10           |100.60          |11.0            |25.90                            

November 1980    |12.25           |120.20          |10.2            |24.79                            

November 1981    |12.95           |132.40          |9.8             |23.40                            

November 1982    |13.80           |142.40          |9.7             |23.47                            

November 1983    |14.10           |156.70          |9.0             |22.87                            

November 1984    |14.50           |167.00          |8.7             |22.42                            

November 1985    |15.05           |178.70          |8.4             |22.06                            

July 1986        |15.15           |189.10          |8.0             |21.84                            

April 1987       |15.30           |198.90          |7.7             |21.13                            

April 1988       |15.65           |218.40          |7.2             |20.80                            

April 1989       |16.20           |239.70          |6.8             |19.93                            

April 1990       |16.90           |263.10          |6.4             |18.99                            

April 1991       |17.95           |284.70          |6.3             |18.96                            

April 1992<3>    |19.40           |304.60          |6.4             |19.65                            

April 1993       |19.80           |316.70          |6.3             |19.80                            


Table 2                                                                                               

Uprating date    |Rate of Child   |Gross adult     |As a            |Equivalent                       

                 |Benefit plus    |weekly          |percentage of   |value of                         

                 |Child           |average         |gross adult     |benefit at April                 

                 |Dependency      |earnings<2>     |weekly          |1993 prices                      

                 |Increase for                     |average                                           

                 |subsequent                       |earnings                                          

                 |children<1>                                                                         

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

                 |£               |£                                |£                                

April 1992<3>    |18.65           |304.60          |6.1             |18.89                            

April 1993       |19.05           |316.70          |6.0             |19.05                            

Source: The abstract of social security statistics 1993                                               

<1> The figures apply to both widows and invalidity pensioners.                                       

<2> Rounded to the nearest 10p.                                                                       

<3> From April 1992, the combined rate of child benefit and child dependency increases for the first  

child and subsequent children diverged. Table 2 reflects the rate in payment for subsequent children  

from that point.                                                                                      

Private Pensions

Mr. Denham : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action he is taking to ensure that employers take back into occupational schemes staff who have been wrongly advised to transfer to a private pension.

Mr. Hague : Whether employees who have transferred out of an occupational pension scheme are allowed to rejoin the scheme is for the trustees of individual schemes to decide in the light of their scheme's rules.

Paper Shredders

Mr. Rooney : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many paper shredding machines there are (a) in his private office and (b) in his Department.

Mr. Hague : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has no paper shredding machines in his private office. The information for his Department is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Maternity Pay

Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he intends to announce the changes to statutory maternity pay required by the EC pregnancy directive.

Mr. Hague : We have analysed the responses to the consultation document and will be making an announcement shortly.

Child Support Agency

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what has been the cost of the various leaflets produced by the Child Support Agency explaining the child maintenance scheme.


Column 36

Mr. Burt : The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Ros Hepplewhite, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Ros Hepplewhite to Mr. Peter L. Pike, dated 31 January 1994 :

Dear Mr. Pike

I am replying to your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security asking for details about the cost of the leaflets produced by the Child Support Agency.

To date, the total cost of the first editions and, if appropriate, reprints of the leaflets published by the Agency has been £769, 716.23. I have provided a breakdown of the figures on the attached Annex.

I hope that you find this information useful.

Yours sincerely.


Leaflets and                                  |Cost £                   

brochures                                                               

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

Parents who live apart                        |356,239.00               

Advice for employers                          |23,114.00                

Reviews and Appeals                           |39,450.00                

Guides to Child Support                       |82,696.00                

Notes for advisors                            |84,669.00                

Feedback                                      |14,758,87                

Maintenance assessment information            |72,914.10                

Framework document                            |14,633.88                

Business Plan                                 |16,491.38                

CSA Charter                                   |30,644.00                

Paying child maintenance direct from earnings |8,595.00                 

Proposed changes to legislation               |25,511.00                

                                              |-----                    

Total                                         |769,716.23               

NATIONAL HERITAGE

National Lottery

6. Mr. Dunnachie : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what consultations he has held with the Sports Council with regard to the effective distribution of national lottery moneys.


Column 37

Mr. Sproat : My Department is in regular contact with the Sports Council to discuss matters relating to the distribution of national lottery funds. I shall soon be formally consulting the chairman of the Sports Council on directions under section 26 of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 regarding matters to be taken into account when distributing lottery proceeds.

Sir Anthony Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how many organisations have expressed an interest in running the national lottery.

Mr. Sproat : I understand that the director general has received seven letters of intent. Although I cannot give details of these, I can confirm that six organisations have made public their intention to bid for the main licence to run the lottery. These are : Camelot Group plc

Games for Good Causes plc

The Great British Lottery Company

N. M. Rothschild

Rainbow UK Ltd.

The UK Lottery Foundation

I understand that the director general will make public the list of those who have bid after tenders have been returned on 14 February.

25. Mr. Bryan Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will meet representatives of the Sports Council to discuss distribution of national lottery moneys.

Mr. Sproat : In accordance with my statutory obligations, I will be consulting all the distributing bodies, including the Sports Council, on the directions I intend to issue to them under section 26 of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993. I will consider whether to meet the Sports Council as part of that process.

News Accuracy

22. Mr. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what representations he has received about the accuracy of news film reports on television and pictures in newspapers.

Mr. Brooke : I am not aware of any recent representations about the accuracy of news or film reports on television, but I do receive representations from time to time about pictures in newspapers.

Tourism

21. Mr. Harvey : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to bring public funding of tourism promotion in England up to the levels per tourist head awarded to other parts of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Sproat : We have no such plans. My right hon. Friend will continue to set the level of tourism funding in England according to his judgment of relative spending needs and priorities in England. The levels of spending in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are matters for the respective Secretaries of State.

23. Mr. Simon Coombs : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to reduce the current deficit on tourism.

Mr. Sproat : The long-term growth in the number of United Kingdom residents going abroad for their holidays


Column 38

is a consequence of increasing affluence and improved travel services. My Department will continue to support the work of the British Tourist Authority and the English tourist board in ensuring that both overseas residents and our own citizens are aware of what this country has to offer.

26. Mr. Booth : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to promote tourism in London and the south-east.

Mr. Sproat : The south-east, especially London, is one of the country's most important destinations for both domestic and overseas visitors. It is the role of the tourism industry, with support from the English tourist board and the regional tourist boards, to maximise the visitor potential. The British Tourist Authority features the south-east, and particularly London, strongly in its overseas promotion activities.

The London tourist board has created a London visitors council to strengthen the input of its commercial members to the work of London First.

On 14 January we launched a royal parks competition asking for ideas and designs for refurbishing the Marble arch area including Speakers' corner. This area has international importance with hundreds of thousands of people visiting it each year.

On 28 January, I announced plans to encourage more public events within the royal parks. The royal parks will soon be unveiling its largest ever programme of summer entertainment. To complement this, I intend to encourage medium to large-scale events that would add to the public's enjoyment of the royal parks, while not detracting from their unique character.

D-Day (50th Anniversary)

24. Mr. Willetts : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what discussions he has had with the Southern tourist board about celebrating the 50th anniversary of D-day ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sproat : My officials and I have been in regular contact with the Southern tourist board about the organisation and promotion of D-day commemoration events in the south of England, and will continue to do so.

Arts Council

27. Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will make a statement on the progress of his monitoring of the Arts Council's efficiency.

Mr. Brooke : I refer to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Waterside (Mr. Colvin) on 26 November 1993, Official Report, columns 211-12.

Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what further representations he has had about the level of Government grant to the Arts Council.

Mr. Brooke : My Department continues to receive a number of representations about the level of Government support for the arts.

Grant Write-offs

Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what criteria his Department uses in deciding whether to write off a particular grant.


Column 39

Mr. Sproat : In accordance with the criteria set out in "Government Accounting", a grant is written off by my Department only after a most careful appraisal of the facts, if there is no feasible alternative and once all reasonable action has been taken to effect recovery.

Royal Palaces

Mr. Ainger : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what was the total cost of maintenance and running costs of the royal palaces in each of the last five years ; and how much his Department has received for each of those years from the royal household to assist with those costs.

Mr. Brooke : The cost of maintaining the occupied royal palaces has been as follows :


          |£ million          

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

1988-89   |19.7               

1989-90   |17.2               

1990-91   |22.5               

1991-92   |24.0               

1992-93   |21.9               

As part of the bargain struck with successive sovereigns, all surplus revenue from the Crown estates is surrendered to the Exchequer. This income is around £70 million a year.

ITV Company Mergers

Mr. Grocott : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what assessment he has made of the consequences for viewers and for employees of the recent merger of ITV companies.

Mr. Brooke : Changes in ownership do not alter the provisions of the Broadcasting Act 1990 and the terms of the Indepedent Television Commission licences. These should ensure original programmes nationally as well as regional programmes and production.

News At Ten"

Mr. Khabra : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what recent discussions he has had with the chairman of the Independent Television Commission over proposals to alter the timing of "News at Ten".

Mr. Brooke : None. The chairman of the Independent Television Commission is well aware of the views of Parliament on this issue.

Sports Council

Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage when he next intends to meet the chairman of the Sports Council to discuss the public funding for athletics.

Mr. Brooke : I have no plans to meet the chairman of the Sports Council to discuss the funding of athletics. Financial support for individual sports is a matter for the Sports Council to determine in accordance with its own policies and priorities.


Column 40

British Library

Ms Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will publish the report of his Department's consultants Kennedy and Donkin into the British Library project ; if he expects the completion date for the project set to be adhered to ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Brooke : Construction of the first phase of the project is substantially complete. A start has been made on the final phase of construction, and its structural frame is 75 per cent. complete. This completion phase is on schedule and I do expect the building to be completed in 1996 as planned.

The handover of the first phase of the building to the library has been delayed, first by problems with the bookshelving and more recently by problems with the electrical wiring. The bookshelving problem has been overcome, at the contractors' expense, and the installation is now complete. The essence of the wiring problem is that inspections have revealed installed low voltage wiring with damaged insulation. Plans for rectifying the faults in the installation of the wiring are being agreed with the contractor concerned.

I do not propose to publish the Department's report commissioned from the consultants Kennedy and Donkin. It is a contractually sensitive document.

English Heritage

Ms Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage for how many of English Heritage's properties there have so far been negotiations concerning the transfer of their management to local authorities.

Mr. Brooke : Since the publication of its forward strategy in October 1992, English Heritage has held negotiations for the alternative management of 102 sites, of which 46 would involve the transfer of management to local authorities. Of these, 40 are currently the subject of active discussion with 28 local authorities and one agreement has been completed. For the remaining five, interest has either been withdrawn or negotiations are in abeyance. Prior to October 1992, English Heritage had reached agreement with local authorities over some form of local management for 11 properties.

Elstree Film Studios

Ms Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what action he proposes to safeguard the future of Elstree film studios in Hertfordshire.

Mr. Brooke : There is nothing I can usefully add to the answer I gave on 6 December to a question on the same subject by my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), Official Report , column 2 .

HEALTH

Consultancies

Ms Abbott : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the (a) accountancy firms and (b) merchant banks to which her Department awarded private consultancy work in 1992 and 1993, together with a list of the consultancies concerned and the amount paid.


Column 41

Mr. Sackville : The Department has employed the following accountancy firms in 1992 or 1993 for consultancy work :

Coopers Lybrand Deloit

Ernst and Young

KPMG

Price Waterhouse

Robson Rhodes

Touche Ross

We are unable to list the consultancies concerned and the amounts paid as this would breach contractual agreements and jeopardise future value for money.

Dr. Wright : To ask the Secretary of State for Health on which occasions since 1979 her Department has employed the services of external consultants ; and if she will give details of the purposes for which they were employed and the cost of employing them.

Mr. Sackville : It is not possible to list the use of external consultants back to 1979 and to list them giving details of purpose and cost would require commercial in confidence information to be made public in a way that would breach contractual agreements and jeopardise future value for money. We can however state that the use of external consultants in the Department must be justified under one of the following headings :


Next Section

  Home Page