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Column 772countries concerning oilseeds ; and a regulation providing for the import of a supplementary quantity of high quality beef in 1994. Belgium and Ireland voted against the last two measures and Italy against the one on export controls. The others were adopted unanimously.
Mr. Willetts : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations she has made at the Agriculture Council of 28 and 29 March about British beef exports.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : At the Agriculture Council on 28 March I raised our concerns about the threats from Germany of unilateral action against British beef and confirmed that my colleagues in the Council are standing firm in support of the Commission's position, with which we agree, that trade measures must be based on scientific knowledge of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. This knowledge is already fully reflected in the current trade rules.
I presented Commissioner Steichen with a dossier showing the damage which has already been done to United Kingdom exports by the German position. I made it clear that we cannot tolerate this when there is no justification whatsoever for the safety of our beef exports to be called into question. I pointed out that if member states behaved in this way it created a dangerous precedent and undermined the very foundation of free trade ; there was no knowing which product from which country might next be similarly affected. Whilst Governments had to respond to public concerns they should do so in a responsible and measured way which reflected the known facts of the situation. As the House is aware the Government believe that BSE was caused by the use of contaminated feed, on which action was taken by the ruminant feed ban in 1988. The feed hypothesis, made six years ago on the basis of a thorough epidemiological study, has recently been supported by preliminary findings from collaborative research begun in 1991, and due to run until 1996, which we are conducting with the EC Commission and the European Renderers Association. These early results show that the BSE agent can survive some rendering processes. When a report on this research is available it will be deposited in the Library of the House and I shall consult the Spongiform Encephalopathy advisory committee as the work progresses. My representations in the Council were fully supported by the Commission and 10 other member states, who shared our view that the position taken by Germany was not sustainable.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission, pursuant to his answer of 16 December, Official Report , column 797-98 , what is the proposed time scale for the relocation of staff and work from Sheffield to London ; which private sector firms are being invited to tender ; what is the nature of the tendering process ; and under what legislation the process is taking place.
Sir Peter Hordern : Decisions on the administration and organisation of the National Audit Office are a matter for the Comptroller and Auditor General to take within his budget, which is considered and approved by the Public Accounts Commission on behalf of the House. I have asked the Comptroller and Auditor General to write to the hon. Member.
Mr. Bates : To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee if he has considered an application for an exhibition relating to the Crown Prosecution Service to be displayed in the Upper Waiting Hall.
Mr. Michael J. Martin : I understand that, under procedures agreed by the Administration Committee, arrangements have been made for the exhibition to be held in the Upper Waiting Hall from Monday 18 April to Friday 22 April.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz), of 24 February, Official Report, column 389, if he will now set out the cost of accompanying officials on the 21 official visits made ; and what was the nature of (a) the bilateral discussions, (b) the international conferences and (c) the EC meeting to which he refers.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The cost of officials accompanying my noble Friend, Baroness Chalker of Wallasey, on her visits overseas during 1993 was approximately £116,000. In some instances the officials concerned have also been undertaking official duties in addition to providing support for the specific purposes of my noble Friend's visits ; it is not possible to disaggregate the costings to reflect these occasions.
I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) on 14 July 1993, columns 499-504 for details of my noble Friend's visits from January to July 1993. Details of my noble Friend's visits between August and the end of December 1993 are as follows :
Lady Chalker's overseas travel August 1993-end December 1993 When |Where |Reason ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ August 6-12 |Barbados, |Bilaterals, project visits, visit British |Dominica, |Development Division |Anguilla, |USA (New York) September 4-8 |Cyprus |Commonwealth Parliamentary |Association Conference, Limassol 18-24 |Ethiopia/Eritrea |East Africa Heads of Mission |Conference, bilaterals October 30/9-1/10 |Washington DC/Japan |US Conference on Middle East, Tokyo |Conference on Africa, bilaterals 25-26 |Germany |Bilaterals November 5-10 |Italy/Albania |Albania: bilaterals and project visits |Rome: FAO Conference; talks with |Vatican, WFP 13-15 |Egypt |Bilaterals, project visits 17-19 |USA |Bilaterals |(NY/Washington) December 1-2 |Brussels |EC Development Council 4-11 |South Africa, |Bilaterals |Mozambique, |Project visits |Botswana |Zimbabwe
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what losses he estimates he might be liable for, if the overall contract price for the Pergau dam project were shown to be greater than if it had been awarded by open tender.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : None. Her Majesty's Government are not party to the contract between Tenaga Nasional Berhad--TNB--and the United Kingdom consortium, Kerjaya Balfour Beatty Cementation.
Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 15 March, Official Report, column 586, which
Column 775company or companies are seeking support under the aid and trade provision for the project to improve the quality of drinking water supplies in Thailand.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I regret that this information is commercial and confidential.
Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 15 March, Official Report, column 586, when he expects to reach a decision on whether the project to improve the quality of drinking water supplies in Thailand should receive support under the aid and trade provision.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : A decision will be taken when ODA's appraisal of the project has been completed and we have complied with OECD consultation requirements.
Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 15 March, Official Report, column 586, what is the total cost of the project to improve the quality of drinking water supplies in Thailand ; and what is the likely cost to the aid and trade provision of supporting this project.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The costs of the project cannot be finalised until the appraisal process is complete.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what agreement has been reached, following the Intergovernmental Administration on Drought and
Development--IGADD--meeting on Sudan in Nairobi on 17 March, to allow full access to humanitarian agencies to give relief assistance to people in war affected areas ; and which new areas are now to be accessible to international aid agencies.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : An agreement was reached on 23 March between the Government of Sudan and both factions of the Sudan People's Liberation Army on a number of principles designed to facilitate the delivery of relief assistance to all needy populations regardless of their locations. A copy of the agreement has been placed in both Libraries of the House. If the agreement holds, all war-affected areas should become accessible.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to what extent humanitarian aid is now flowing in Liberia through the Ivory Coast access route and through Kakata.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Humanitarian aid convoys are presently moving freely along these routes.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on problems encountered, and progress made, in the current negotiations for a global convention to combat desertification.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The main problem encountered has been the completion of both a convention text and a
Column 776regional instrument for Africa in the timescale set by the United Nations General Assembly. In the current round of negotiations some progress has been made on agreement of a convention text.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people claiming income support in the Doncaster area offices of the Benefit Agency in 1992 and 1993 were refused benefit by an adjudication officer ; how many appealed ; how many of those who appealed subsequently had their claim for income support allowed ; and how many of those concerned had children.
Mr. Burt : The administration of income support is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available. Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Martin Redmond, dated 29 March 1994 :
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking about the appeals in the Benefits Agency's Doncaster District.
The full range of information you request is not readily available and could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost. This is because statistics relating to the refusal of Income Support and those which would identify families with children are not routinely collected. To obtain all the relevant information would require a physical examination of all income support cases within the Doncaster District.
I am, however, able to provide records which show the number for income support appeals which are for January to December each year and are shown below.
|1992|1993 ----------------------------------------- Appeals received |321 |339 Appeals withdrawn |43 |48 Appeals superseded |79 |96 Appeals allowed |19 |20 Appeals partially allowed |4 |2
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Mr. Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what amount of income support payment is deemed to be designated for personal clothing needs.
Mr. Burt : Income support rates are intended to cover all normal day -to-day living expenses and no particular amounts are designated for specific purposes. Claimants are free to manage their benefit according to their own needs and preferences.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many households in the Doncaster area are having weekly deductions made from their income support for (a) electricity and (b) gas of (i) under £2 per week and (ii) in each £1 band above £2 per week up to £40 per week.
Mr. Burt : The administration of income support is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available.
Column 777Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Martin Redmond, dated 29 March 1994 :
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking how many households in the Doncaster area are having weekly deductions made from their income support for (a) electricity and (b) gas of (i) £2 per week and (ii) in each £1 band above £2 per week up to £40 per week. The full range of information requested is not readily available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. This is because figures are not routinely collected on a local basis and to obtain the full range of information requested would require a physical examination of all cases with deductions for electricity and gas in the Doncaster area.
However, the information which is available for the Doncaster area, is as follows :
|Number ---------------------------------------------------- Cases with deductions for electricity |374 Cases with deductions for gas |876
This information has been collected by the Doncaster District Office whose area boundary coincides with that of the Doncaster area. No further breakdown is available.
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what arrangements are made for repaying moneys to absent parents who have been wrongly assessed by the Child Support Agency.
Mr. Scott : 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. John Spellar, dated 28 March 1994 :
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the Child Support Agency's arrangements for repaying money to absent parents where the maintenance assessment has been revised.
The Agency acts as an intermediary between two parties in the arrangement of child maintenance, and has no powers to recover monies which have been overpaid to the parent with care. However, provisions have been made in the Arrears, Interest and Adjustment of Maintenance Assessment Regulations (regulation 10) to adjust future payments of maintenance in order to correct an under or overpayment, where this can be done.
The parent with care is protected from a period of total loss of income by restricting the amount by which future payments of maintenance may be adjusted in order to correct overpayment. These provisions are normally applied by the Child Support Officer at the maximum rate of 1 times the difference between the old and new assessment. However, where an absent parent makes representations about the level of adjustment a lesser rate can be considered. I hope this reply is helpful.
Ms Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar can expect an answer from the Child Support Agency in reply to her letter to the Minister dated 14 December concerning the case of Mrs. W. A. Rex-Cain.
Mr. Burt : I understand that Ros Hepplewhite, the chief executive of the Child Support Agency, replied to the hon. Member on 25 March 1994.
Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will launch an independent investigation into the handling by the Child Support Agency of Mrs. Terri West's application for child maintenance support.
Mr. Burt : There are no such plans. My hon. Friend will understand that although I am unable to comment on an individual case, I should stress that either party to a child maintenance assessment has the right to seek a review, and following the review to seek leave to appeal to an independent child support appeal tribunal.
Mr. Dewar : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will update his answer of 19 July 1993, Official Report, column 74, in respect of the information contained in the figure from "Options for Equality in State Pension Age".
Mr. Hague : The Government Actuary's Department has revised the information contained in figure 7, page 77, of the "Options for Equality in State Pension Age" document for current pension age, age 60 and age 65. The information is contained in the table. These estimates do not include any national health service allocation. There are obvious difficulties in predicting developments so far into the future, including the need to make hypothetical policy assumptions, for example, concerning the conditions for contracting out. For these reasons figures for age 63 have not been updated and the results given should not be interpreted as precise estimates but as broad indicators of the financial effects.
|Current state|Age 60 |Age 65 |pension age Year |Per cent. |Per cent. |Per cent. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 1994-95 |18.25 |- |- 2025 |20.0 |22.0 |18.5 2035 |19.8 |21.5 |18.7
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will list the organisations and individuals outside his Department who are sent information on, or consulted about, individuals who are, or may be, proposed to the Minister for appointment to posts for which a Minister has to approve the person appointed or the shortlist for the appointment ;
(2) if he will list the organisations and individuals who have been asked, since June 1992, to submit names of individuals to be considered for appointments to paid and unpaid posts for which a Minister has to approve the person or shortlist for the appointment.
Mr. Hague : A number of organisations or individuals may be consulted about, or asked to submit names of, potential candidates for public appointments. Since June 1992 these have included : The Association of British Insurers
The British Epilepsy Association
The Confederation of British Industry
Miss C. H. Dawes (Deputy Chairman of the Occupational
Expert members of the Disability Living Allowance Board The Forum of Private Businesses
The Government Actuary
Column 779The Department of Health
The Department of Health and Social Services Northern Ireland The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council
The Lord Chancellor's Department
The Public Appointments Unit within the Cabinet Office
Sir Jeremy Rowe CBE, (former Chairman of the Occupational Pensions Board)
The Secretary of State for Scotland
The Social Security Advisory Committee
The Department of Trade and Industry
The Trade Union Congress
The Secretary of State for Wales
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what projects his Department instigated in respect of National Continence Week.
Mr. Scott : As the Department of Health has the lead on this matter, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, on 25 March, at column 463. This Department ran no such specific projects.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list each appointment for which a Minister has to approve the appointment or shortlist for the appointment, showing for each appointment (a) which Minister exercises the responsibility, (b) the salary, if any, attached to the post, (c) the term of the appointment and (d) the person currently appointed to the post.
Mr. Hague : The information requested is as follows. All appointments are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. Except where shown, appointments are for a three-year term and non-salaried.
Occupational Pensions Board
Chairman (£26,000) :
Mr. P. Carr CBE
Deputy Chairman (£12,000), 3.5 year appointment :
Miss C. H. Dawes
Mr. R. Amy
Mrs. R. Brown
Mr. R. Ellison
Mr. H. Harris Hughes
Mr. A. Herbert
Mr. D. Lyburn
Mr. A. Pickering
Mr. W. Ramsey
Mr. M. Slack
Mr. K. Thomas
Miss P. Triggs
Central Advisory Committee for War Pensions
Mr. M. B. Day, MBE
Councillor T. S. Deeming, MBE
Mr. P. H. Dixon, OBE MA
Mr. I. Duncan-Smith, MP
Mr. W. Dunn, MBE JP
Mr. C. G. Fox, FRSH FCIArb
Mr. I. Grainger
Mr. D. B. Hilton
Mr. R. R. Holland, MBE
Mr. R. W. E. House, MBE
Mr. J. Hughes, CBE
Mr. E. R. Jobson, OBE
Councillor T. J. Jones, JP BEM KSG
Mr. O. C. S. Light, MBE
Lord Mackie of Benshie, CBE DSO DFC