Previous Section Home Page

Rent Arrears (London)

Mr. Dunn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the rent arrears, in cash and percentage terms, for each of the London boroughs as at the date for which figures are kept.


Column 873

Sir George Young [holding answer Monday 28 February 1994] : The latest available information is as follows :


Cumulative rent arrears at 31 March 1993-London boroughs                        

Local Authority        |Arrears as per    |Total Rent Arrears                   

                       |cent. of Rent Roll|(£000's)                             

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

Barking                |2.4               |873                                  

Barnet                 |4.2               |1,286                                

Bexley                 |2.6               |429                                  

Brent                  |31.8              |15,500                               

Bromley                |27.7              |399                                  

Camden                 |19.4              |14,170                               

City of London         |4.7               |244                                  

Croydon                |3.1               |1,329                                

Ealing                 |29.5              |21,184                               

Enfield                |8.5               |3,320                                

Greenwich              |23.0              |15,218                               

Hackney                |32.6              |33,718                               

Hammersmith            |16.4              |6,944                                

Haringey               |21.6              |12,681                               

Harrow                 |4.1               |746                                  

Havering               |2.0               |465                                  

Hillingdon             |3.1               |1,224                                

Hounslow               |9.7               |3,055                                

Islington              |20.4              |18,630                               

Kensington and Chelsea |8.1               |1,786                                

Kingston upon Thames   |4.1               |712                                  

Lambeth                |25.0              |21,121                               

Lewisham               |13.2              |9,627                                

Merton                 |5.3               |1,317                                

Newham                 |25.0              |12,368                               

Redbridge              |6.1               |1,719                                

Richmond upon Thames   |5.6               |1,104                                

Southwark              |24.7              |29,900                               

Sutton                 |4.3               |938                                  

Tower Hamlets          |6.4               |4,324                                

Waltham Forest         |6.2               |2,119                                

Wandsworth             |6.7               |4,144                                

Westminster            |6.9               |3,450                                

Source: HIP1 Forms                                                              

DUCHY OF LANCASTER

Air Miles

Mr. Milburn : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, pursuant to his answer of 15 March, c. 645, (1) how many free air miles were accrued by civil servants on official business prior to new guidance being issued ;

(2) when it was decided that the benefits of frequent flyer schemes should be used only for official travel or forgone ;

(3) how many civil servants accrued free air miles in each Government Department on official business prior to new guidance being issued.

Mr. David Davis : Departments were asked on 24 February to issue guidance to their staff. The other information sought is not available.

Civil Service (Disabled Employees)

Mr. Luff : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the employment of disabled people in the civil service.

Mr. David Davis : The annual report on the progress in the employment of disabled people in the civil service is presented in the magazine "Independent" published today.

The report shows that during 1993 8,384--1.5 per cent.--registered disabled people were employed in the civil


Column 874

service departments and agencies, a small increase over 1992. In addition to this, the civil service employs many more disabled people who choose not to register as disabled.

I am arranging for copies of "Independent" to be placed in the Library of the House.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Unemployment Benefit

Sir Ralph Howell : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will state in pounds sterling what is the total annual payment in unemployment benefit and related measures in (a) the European Union and (b) the United Kingdom.

Mr. Burt : Details of the total benefit expenditure on benefits paid to unemployed people is given in table 5, page 81, of the 1994 "Social Security Departmental Report", a copy of which is in the Library. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has responsibility for expenditure in respect of Northern Ireland.

There are also payments of training allowances under several schemes including : youth training bridging allowance, training for work, learning for work and TEC challenge. For 1993-94 the total for Great Britain is estimated to be in the region of £525 million. In addition to these amounts there are a number of miscellaneous payments made to unemployed people by the Employment Department. Many of these are payments for travel or subsistence when attending interview or certain training courses, but there are also other payments such as those made under the visually impaired, personal reader services. These payments are estimated to total approximately £20 million for the year April 1993-94.

Comparable information for the European Union is not available in the form requested. The Eurostat publication "Social Protection Expenditure and Receipts 1980-1991" gives the latest information available about expenditure on unemployment for EC member states. A copy of this publication is also in the Library.

Child Support Agency

Ms Corston : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 9 March, Official Report, column 214, what factors are taken into account by the Child Support Agency when deciding not to implement a reduced benefit deduction to protect single mothers who have disabilities or children with disabilities ; how many decisions of this kind have been made ; and how many cases of this kind have been considered.

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 Ms Jean Corston, dated 17 March : I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the imposition of reduced benefit directions in cases where the parent with care or a child had disabilities.


Column 875

As I explained in my reply to Ms Gordon, the Child Support Manual contains no specific instructions on this matter, although child support officers will consider the impact of such a deduction on the welfare of the children.

No information is collected on whether the parent with care or any children are disabled. National figures show, however, that from 5 April 1993 to 31 January 1994, 44,600 parents with care were considered in relation to the requirement to cooperate. Of the cases so far completed, good cause was accepted in nearly 25,000 ; the absent parent was named in 8,900 ; and 330 were referred to the Benefits Agency to consider the implementation of a Reduced Benefit Direction.

I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful.

Crisis Loans

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many applications for crisis loans made in the Doncaster area, have been refused in each of the last 24 months.

Mr. Scott : The administration of the social fund is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency, He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Martin Redmond, dated 17 March 1994 :

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the number of Crisis Loan (CL) applications which have been refused in the Doncaster area in each of the last 24 months.

The Doncaster area is served by the Benefits Agency's Doncaster District, Details broken down on a monthly basis, of the number of CL applications refused by the District for the period 1 March 1992 to 28 February 1994 (latest available figures) are shown at Annex A. I hope you find this reply helpful.


Annex A                                      

Number of crisis loans refused by month      

March 1992 to February 1994                  

(latest available figures) for the benefit   

agency's Doncaster district                  

Month and year |Number of                    

               |crisis loans                 

               |refused                      

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

March 1992     |31                           

April 1992     |35                           

May 1992       |53                           

June 1992      |92                           

July 1992      |114                          

August 1992    |58                           

September 1992 |91                           

October 1992   |123                          

November 1992  |127                          

December 1992  |114                          

January 1993   |95                           

February 1993  |81                           

March 1993     |79                           

April 1993     |89                           

May 1993       |77                           

June 1993      |64                           

July 1993      |78                           

August 1993    |107                          

September 1993 |108                          

October 1993   |76                           

November 1993  |82                           

December 1993  |74                           

January 1994   |53                           

February 1994  |58                           

Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many inquiries are currently waiting to be dealt with in his Department's Stoke on Trent, North office relating to the Child Support Agency ;


Column 876

(2) how many staff, and at what grade, are employed and deal with inquiries in his Department's Stoke on Trent, North office in respect of the Child Suport Agency ; and how many posts are vacant.

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 Ms Joan Walley, dated 17 March 1994 :

I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the number of enquiries outstanding and the number of staff at the Child Support Agency's Stoke on Trent North office.

At 10 March 1994, there were no outstanding written enquiries from members of the public, but nine telephone enquiries required further information before replies could be given.

Current staffing levels at the office are :

1 full-time Local Officer Grade I (LOI)--Executive Officer equivalent

2 part-time LOIs

2 full-time Local Officers Grade II (LOII)--Administrative Officer equivalent

3 part-time LOIIs

There are no current vacancies.

I hope this information is helpful.

Social Fund

Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many Benefits Agency managers have requested a supplementary allocation to their social fund budget ; what is his Department's response ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) what percentage of applicants were turned down for a grant from the social fund on a monthly basis, campaign commencing April 1992 and concluding in March 1993 both for the west midlands and nationally ; what reasons were given ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Scott : The administration of the social fund is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Jim Cunningham, dated 17 March 1994 :

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions about whether Benefit Agency (BA) District Managers have asked for additional funds for their Social Fund (SF) budget, and the number of Social Fund grant refusals and the reasons for refusal in the West Midlands and nationally. I can confirm that one request was made in 1993-94 for additional funds for the SF discretionary budget. As a result of severe flooding in the Llandudno area during June 1993, an additional allocation of £155,000 for grants and £10,000 for loans was made to the North Wales Coast District.

You also asked for the percentage of applicants refused a grant in 1992-93 in the West Midlands and nationally. I am unable to supply details specifically for the West Midlands area. Statistics are available by BA Territory, Area and District. I have, therefore, provided information for the BA's Area of Midlands South West which consists of the Districts of Birmingham Chamberlain, Birmingham Heartlands, Birmingham North West, Birmingham South East, Birmingham South West, Coventry, Hereford and Worcester and finally Warwickshire.

Information on the SF is not kept by applicant but by application. The percentage of grant applications refused monthly for Midlands South West and nationally for the period 1 April 1922 to 31 March 1993 is given at Annex A. I must point out that the majority of Community Care Grant applications are refused


Column 877

because the basic eligibility criteria are not met. The reasons for refusal for Midlands South West and Nationally for the same period are given at Annex B and Annex C respectively.


Annex A                                         

Percentage of community care grants (CCGs)      

refused                                         

in Midlands South West and nationally by month  

in the financial year 1992-93                   

Month/Year     |Midlands  |Nationally           

               |South West                      

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

April 1992     |76.87     |70.50                

May 1992       |70.43     |71.17                

June 1992      |78.12     |74.22                

July 1992      |76.91     |73.52                

August 1992    |78.56     |73.73                

September 1992 |75.14     |73.59                

October 1992   |73.44     |73.97                

November 1992  |75.96     |73.43                

December 1992  |86.09     |79.73                

January 1993   |69.58     |70.58                

February 1993  |83.17     |72.23                

March 1993     |71.96     |70.16                


Column 877


Annex B                                                                                                                                                   

Reasons for refusal of community care grants (CCGs) by month for BA Midlands South West                                                                   

in the Financial year 1992-93                                                                                                                             

           |Reference:                                                                                                                                    

Month      |A         |B         |C         |D         |E         |F         |G         |H         |I         |J         |K         |L                    

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

April      |254       |2,790     |4         |26        |149       |126       |5         |12        |12        |4         |205       |57                   

May        |258       |2,423     |6         |10        |146       |95        |5         |10        |6         |3         |183       |51                   

June       |335       |3,140     |3         |27        |163       |139       |4         |13        |15        |9         |242       |68                   

July       |282       |3,151     |3         |20        |165       |134       |6         |12        |13        |10        |226       |68                   

August     |267       |2,880     |4         |18        |126       |194       |5         |12        |10        |7         |210       |71                   

September  |283       |2,982     |4         |19        |142       |164       |3         |17        |13        |4         |255       |65                   

October    |254       |3,206     |6         |12        |145       |101       |6         |22        |7         |11        |258       |57                   

November   |267       |3,223     |5         |8         |148       |83        |5         |15        |5         |5         |263       |74                   

December   |239       |2,745     |9         |14        |125       |68        |6         |14        |6         |3         |232       |49                   

January    |279       |2,674     |4         |17        |145       |81        |3         |25        |9         |4         |207       |49                   

February   |324       |3,328     |2         |17        |168       |115       |4         |19        |4         |10        |201       |44                   

March      |327       |3,343     |3         |10        |167       |110       |4         |10        |17        |4         |154       |48                   

Codes                                                                                                                                                     

A. Not in receipt of Income Support (IS)                                                                                                                  

B. Direction 4 not satisfied                                                                                                                              

C. Applicant excluded by Direction                                                                                                                        

D. Requested amount below minimum allowable                                                                                                               

E. Repeat application                                                                                                                                     

F. Item excluded by Direction                                                                                                                             

G. Alternative item available                                                                                                                             

H. Help available from another source                                                                                                                     

I. Savings over 500 meet cost                                                                                                                            

J. Savings over 1,000 meet cost (customer or partner over 60)                                                                                            

K. Insufficient priority                                                                                                                                  

L. Other reasons                                                                                                                                          

Note: Total reasons for refusal may not equal total refusals as applications may be refused for more than one reason.                                     


Column 877


Annex C                                                                                                                                                   

Reasons for refusal of community care grants (CCGs) by month nationally                                                                                   

for the Financial year 1992-93                                                                                                                            

           |Reference:                                                                                                                                    

Month      |A         |B         |C         |D         |E         |F         |G         |H         |I         |J         |K         |L                    

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

April      |5,209     |50,989    |475       |327       |2,599     |1,898     |106       |207       |129       |70        |5,965     |1,278                

May        |4,711     |47,647    |393       |270       |2,326     |1,815     |90        |230       |107       |92        |5,679     |1,178                

June       |5,707     |56,177    |403       |311       |2,547     |2,230     |147       |244       |150       |102       |7,356     |1,501                

July       |5,692     |55,782    |435       |317       |2,820     |2,312     |136       |260       |147       |118       |7,770     |1,501                

August     |4,862     |48,593    |371       |231       |2,550     |2,257     |125       |254       |140       |96        |6,873     |1,309                

September  |5,331     |55,299    |370       |306       |2,735     |2,536     |120       |286       |134       |99        |7,818     |1,367                

October    |5,616     |58,831    |530       |286       |2,876     |2,146     |135       |277       |140       |120       |8,498     |1,348                

November   |5,793     |62,268    |526       |311       |3,036     |2,058     |150       |279       |116       |129       |8,524     |1,436                

December   |4,755     |48,288    |376       |249       |2,345     |1,595     |99        |219       |112       |82        |6,433     |1,136                

January    |5,022     |51,165    |351       |273       |2,596     |1,960     |109       |258       |144       |104       |6,193     |1,246                

February   |5,560     |60,086    |496       |295       |2,603     |2,189     |131       |280       |126       |106       |6,157     |1,324                

March      |6,416     |67,053    |506       |274       |3,038     |2,385     |123       |308       |141       |101       |7,127     |1,640                

Codes                                                                                                                                                     

A. Not in receipt of Income Support (IS)                                                                                                                  

B. Direction 4 not satisfied                                                                                                                              

C. Applicant excluded by Direction                                                                                                                        

D. Requested amount below minimum allowable                                                                                                               

E. Repeat application                                                                                                                                     

F. Item excluded by Direction                                                                                                                             

G. Alternative item available                                                                                                                             

H. Help available from another source                                                                                                                     

I. Savings over 500 meet cost                                                                                                                            

J. Savings over 1,000 meet cost (customer or partner over 60)                                                                                            

K. Insufficient priority                                                                                                                                  

L. Other reasons                                                                                                                                          

Note: Total reasons for refusal may not equal total refusals as applications may be refused for more than one reason.                                     


Column 879

Open Government

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what will be the implications for the operation of his Department of the code of practice on open government.

Mr. Hague : The code of practice will reinforce and build on this Department's existing arrangements for the provision of information. Requests will be handled as part of the normal business process, keeping procedures as simple as possible. Decisions on the release of information will be taken by the unit with primary responsibility for the policy, action or decision. Internal reviews where an applicant complains that information has been unreasonably withheld will be carried out by someone of senior rank within the same area but who had no involvement in the original decision.

In recent months the Department has published a number of papers including "The growth of social security"--July 1993 ; "Containing the cost of social security"--October 1993--and "Equality in State Pension Age"--December 1993. Customer charters have been published by the Benefits Agency-- December 1993 ; the Contributions Agency--January 1994--and the Child Support Agency--April 1993. Statements on standards of service are displayed in local offices and each agency reports publicly on performance against targets. A customer charter will be published by the War Pensions Agency after its launch in April 1994.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many claimants living in (a) local authority and (b) private sector rented accommodation were found to have made fraudulent claims for housing benefit in each year since 1989 ; and what was the total amount paid out by local authorities to claimants later found to have made fraudulent claims for housing benefit in each year recovered by local authorities from claimants in each year.

Mr. Burt : The information is not available.

Family Benefit

Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his current estimate of eligible households in the Huddersfield and Dewsbury areas who do not claim family benefit.

Mr. Burt : Take-up figures for family credit are not available on a regional basis. The latest estimates for take-up of family credit for Great Britain for 1991 are that 64 per cent. of eligible families were claiming it, and that 71 per cent. of available benefit was being claimed .

As at 18 February 1994, 2,283 families in Huddersfield, and 2,868 families in Dewsbury were receiving family credit.

"Families, Work and Benefits"--Policy Studies Institute, June 1993.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list for the last 12 months how many parliamentary questions he has referred to one of his Department's agencies for answer ; and what percentage of parliamentary questions to his Department this represents.


Column 880

Mr. Hague : In the period 1 March 1993 to 28 February 1994, 2,775 parliamentary questions were received by the Department. Of these, 463, which is 17 per cent. of the total, were referred to and answered by the chief executive of one of the Department's agencies.

DEFENCE

Disabled Employees

Mrs. Roche : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many registered disabled people are employed in his Department ; and what percentage this is of the total.

Mr. Hanley : The information requested can be found in the 18 March 1994 issue of the magazine "Independent", copies of which are in the Library of the House.

Public Bodies

Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who are the members currently appointed to the board of the Royal Naval museum, Portsmouth.

Mr. Hanley [holding answer 28 January 1994] : The information requested is as follows :

Admiral Morton (Chair)

Dr. Knight, NMM

Captain Pack, SOF

Rear Admiral Morris, SNR

Councillor Emery-Wallis

S. Thomas, PCC

O. Aisher

M. Drummond

T. Ferrers-Walker

Lord Strathcona

A. Jaffray

P. Trumper

Mr. and Mrs. J. McCarthy

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Mine Clearance Equipment

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his policy on the export of mine clearance equipment.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Mine clearance equipment is covered by the Export of Goods (Control) Order of 1992 and as such requires a licence before export. All applications for such exports are considered on a case by case basis.

Multilateral Trade Organisation

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made as to the effect on sovereignty of article 16, paragraph 4, of the agreement establishing the multilateral trade organisation.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Article XVI, paragraph 4 of the agreement establishing the World Trade Organisation, as it is now to be known, has no effect on national sovereignty. Under this paragraph, the parties to the agreement undertake to ensure the conformity of their laws and regulations with the obligations under the WTO agreement and its annexed agreements. The purpose of this is to ensure full implementation of the GATT agreement by the


Column 881

parties to it. Parties to a treaty always need to ensure the conformity of their domestic legislation with their obligations under the treaty in order to avoid any breach of those obligations.

Middle East Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will urge upon the European Union and United Nations the need for an international observer force to be established in the occupied territories.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : European Foreign Ministers issued a statement on 7 March supporting the establishment in the occupied territories of an international presence and declaring the willingness of their states to participate. With our support, the United Nations is considering a resolution which would call for an international presence.

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what approaches he has had about his willingness for the United Kingdom to play a role in an international observer force in the occupied territories ; by whom ; and what was his response.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs told Nabil Sha'ath, political adviser to Chairman Arafat, when he called on him on 3 March, that if an international civilian observer presence is agreed upon for the occupied territories, Britain will not be absent.

Indonesia

Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Indonesian Government on their human rights record.

Mr. Goodlad : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs raised this issue with the Indonesian Government when he visited Indonesia in April 1993. We regularly discuss human rights issues with Indonesia in other bilateral contacts and in international bodies.

Intelligence Services

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will set out the official functions of the Secret Intelligence Service and GCHQ.

Mr. Hurd : I refer the hon. Member to clauses 1 and 3 of the Intelligence Services Bill, which is before Parliament.

Public Interest Immunity

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 3 March, Official Report, column 828, if the documents which were the subject of claims by his Department for non-disclosure on public interest immunity grounds were disclosed to Lord Justice Woolf and Mr. Justice Pill in the High Court during proceedings concerning Mr. Lorrain Osman ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Goodlad [holding answer 15 March 1994] : Nine documents, for which public interest immunity had been


Column 882

asserted and upheld in earlier proceedings, were examined by Lord Justice Woolf and Mr. Justice Pill in the course of Mr. Lorrain Osman's seventh application for habeas corpus.

North-West Kurdistan

Mr. Austin-Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's policy towards the proposals for a ceasefire in north-west Kurdistan, south-east Turkey, put forward by Abdullah Ocalan.

Mr. Douglas Hogg [holding answer 17 March 1994] : The resolution of their Kurdish problem is a matter for the Turkish Government, provided it encompasses full respect for human rights. We understand their reluctance to enter into negotiations with terrorists.

General Pinochet

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who authorised an entry visa to the United Kingdom for General Augusto Pinochet ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd [holding answer 17 March 1994] : Chilean nationals do not require visas to visit the United Kingdom. General Pinochet did not apply for prior entry clearance at the British embassy in Santiago before making his recent private visit.

EDUCATION

Secondary Schools

Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will name four or more secondary schools within the residential sector occupied new, extended, or modified buildings for which he has recently approved significant capital expenditure and which are over 90 per cent. full.

Mr. Forth : Such information on LEA-maintained boarding schools is not centrally available.

Since the financial year 1989-90 the Secretary of State has made capital grants to the following non-maintained special schools which meet the criteria in question :


Next Section

  Home Page