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Column 192Letter from Ros Hepplewhite to Mr. David Hinchliffe, dated 25 May 1994 :
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the time limit for an interim award of maintenance to a parent with care.
When Maintenance Enquiry Forms (MEFs) are issued, absent parents are advised that they must be completed and returned within 14 days of issue. If, after 14 days the absent parent fails to return the MEF, a letter is issued to advise him or her than an Interim Maintenance Assessment (IMA) will be considered if the information required is not received within 14 days.
If a MEF has still not been return 28 days after it has been issued, the child support officer will consider whether an IMA is appropriate. Once the child support officer decides an IMA is appropriate, it will be imposed within 9 days. If an IMA is considered not to be appropriate at this stage, the case may be referred for an interview locally with the absent parent to resolve the matter. All cases will be followed up subsequently and a decision made in the light of all the circumstances.
In all cases, our aim is to make a decision as soon as the information is available.
I hope this reply is helpful.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what evidence is available to identify any transfer of care from one parent to the other resulting from assessment by the Child Support Agency ; and what studies have been undertaken on this.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to link the pay of the chief executive of the Child Support Agency to the time taken to send replies to letters and to the extent to which those replies answer the questions asked ; and if he will give reasons for his decision.
Mr. Burt : The Child Support Agency chief executive's entitlement to a performance bonus is largely determined by the achievement of the published key performance targets for the agency taken as a package. Details of the key targets for 1994-95 have not yet been decided. They will be published in the agency's business plan, a copy of which will be available in the Library.
Ms Janet Anderson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish details of those boundaries between areas linked to different weather stations for the purposes of the cold weather payments scheme which follow the line of a road in a built-up area ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Scott : There are currently 49 cases of serving or ex-officers of the Department who are pursuing legal action against the Department for alleged injury arising out of work-related upper limb disorders.
Mr. Denham : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the total sum of benefits deducted from pensioners as a result of periods in hospitals as in-patients in each year since 1979.
Dr. Spink : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the Government will respond to the second report of the Social Security Committee on the work of the Maxwell Pension Fund trustees ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hague : The Government's response to the Select Committee's report is published today. We welcome the Committee's continued interest in the process for recovering assets missing from the Maxwell pension funds.
The Government strongly support the initiative taken by the Maxwell Pensioners Trust to promote an overall settlement to disputes relating to missing pension fund assets. We share the Committee's view that the initiative offers the best chance for resolution of the schemes' problems with minimum cost and delay.
The Government are currently considering the detailed recommendations of the Pension Law Review Committee, and will take the Select Committee's views into account when finalising its response.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how the evaluation will be made as to whether a claimant is in the latter stages of multiple sclerosis in respect of eligibility for the incapacity benefit to be introduced in 1995 ;
(2) what role will be played by Benefits Agency adjudication officers in evaluating the claims made by sufferers of multiple sclerosis for invalidity benefit under the provisions he announced on 30 November ;
(3) what representations she has received from the Multiple Sclerosis Society in regard to the effects on the eligibility of claimants for incapacity benefit of the legislation that comes into force in 1995.
All claims to incapacity benefit will be decided by Benefits Agency adjudication officers. The adjudication officer will have before him evidence provided by the claimant in the form of a questionnaire, a GP's diagnosis and statement of main disabling conditions, and a report from a departmental doctor providing advice on the level of functional limitation and any other evidence that the claimant and/or representative has provided.
We have developed a list of conditions which will exempt certain groups of claimants from the new test of incapacity. The list includes those claimants suffering with severe and progressive neurological or muscle- wasting diseases such as the latter stages of multiple sclerosis. In such claims no further inquiries will be made and the adjudication officer will determine that the person is incapable of work.
As part of the consultative process on the proposals for the new medical test, we have received representations
Column 194from the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We will take account of their comments in the further development of the test.
Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he has received concerning the establishment of an independent staff commission to review and monitor personnel procedures of the health and social services trusts in Northern Ireland ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ancram : Health and social services trusts are bound by the same employment legislation as other Northern Ireland employers. My noble Friend Baroness Denton has not received any representations concerning the establishment of a commission to monitor and review the personnel procedures of such trusts.
Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on liaison between the new health and social services trusts in Northern Ireland and (a) universities in Northern Ireland and (b) the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work, on the training of personnel ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ancram : My noble Friend Baroness Denton is quite content that the existing liaison arrangements will continue to operate satisfactorily. Health and social services trusts are empowered to make facilities and staff available in connection with training by a university or any other body providing training in connection with the health and personal social services.
Trusts which provide a significant level of personal social services must appoint one executive director who holds a recognised qualification in social work.
Additionally, where a trust has a significant medical teaching commitment, the Department of Health and Social Services must appoint a non-executive director from the university with a medical or dental school specified in its establishment order.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when application was made for planning permission for temporary accommodation at Cairnshill primary school ; what was the closing date for objections to this application ; how many objections there were ; whether this scheme for temporary accommodation has been approved by the Department of Education ; what proposals there are to replace this temporary accommodation with permanent buildings ; what is the estimated cost of this temporary accommodation ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ancram : The Department of the Environment received the application for planning permission on 21 April 1994 ; the closing date for representations was 13 May 1994 and six objections were received. The approval of the Department of Education is not required as this is a matter for the South-East education and library board ; there are no plans at present to replace the proposed accommodation with permanent buildings ; the estimated cost of the work is £160, 000.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the enrolment for each of the past five years at Cairnshill primary school ; and what is the projected enrolment for each of the next five years.
Year |Number ---------------------- 1989-90 |353 1990-91 |351 1991-92 |383 1992-93 |414 1993-94 |430 1994-95 |<1>454 <1> Estimated.
Projections of future enrolments are not available, but it is understood that the South-Eastern education and library board is currently carrying out a review of primary and secondary school provision in the area.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the effect of the European Commission's de-seasonalisation scheme on the Northern Ireland beef industry ; what effect this scheme will have on employment at dead meat plants ; what proposals he intends to make to the European Commission ; and if he will make a statement on the
Mr. Ancram : The objective of the scheme was to reduce the concentration of cattle slaughterings in the autumn. The premium was paid in Northern Ireland in 1993 and 1994 resulting in a significant switch of slaughterings from the autumn to late winter/early spring. Northern Ireland will not be a qualifying region for the premium in 1995. If, as a result, slaughterings return to the traditional pattern in autumn 1994, employment at meat plants is likely to alter accordingly with a return to greater use of seasonal staff to handle the increased throughput in the autumn. The European Commission is scheduled to review the operation of the scheme next year. It would not be appropriate to make any proposals to the Commission at this stage.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the estimated number of cattle killed at meat plants in each of the past two years ; how many cattle from Northern Ireland went to the Republic last year to be killed ; what assessment he has made of the reasons for a movement of beef cattle, stores and calves from Northern Ireland to the Republic ; what assessment he has made of the implications of such movement for the viability of Northern Ireland dead meat plants and employment ; and if he will make a statement on his proposals to bring this movement of animals to an end.
Because of BSE restrictions, the movement of cattle out of the United Kingdom is prohibited unless they are under six months of age or originated outside the United Kingdom. About 3,000 cattle are recorded as having been moved from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland for slaughter last year as well as around 20,000 calves for onward shipment to other member states. There is no record of the movement of store cattle to the Republic of Ireland.
I am not aware that the movement of stock to the Republic of Ireland has had any serious effects on employment or the viability of meat plants in Northern Ireland and am not proposing any action to stop such cattle movements.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the police have investigated cases of (a) joy riding, (b) vandalism, (c) attacks on persons and (d) illegal drugs in Carryduff during the past six months ; whether any persons were prosecuted for matters relating to these problems in Carryduff ; whether the police had such matters directed to their attention ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir John Wheeler : These are operational matters which are the responsibility of the Chief Constable. However, I have been advised that there have been investigations into incidents involving stolen vehicles, vandalism and assault in the Carryduff area during the last six months. No persons have yet been charged and investigations are on-going.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many homes at Carryduff, Castlereagh, were let or re-let by the Housing Executive during the most recent 12 months for which figures are available ; and how many of these homes were allocated to families from west Belfast.
Mr. Tim Smith : This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive ; however, I am advised by its chief executive that from 1 May 1993 to 30 April 1994, there were 24 lettings/re-lettings of Housing Executive dwellings in the Carryduff area of Castlereagh. One of these was allocated to a family originally from West Belfast, but living in Lisburn in the five months immediately prior to the allocation.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to what extent there has been an increase in incidents requiring police attention at Church road, Carryduff in the borough of Castlereagh ; what proposals he has to increase police presence at Church road ; and if he will make a statement.
The deployment of police is an operational matter for the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. However, the Chief Constable has advised me that additional constables have been appointed to the local neighbourhood unit at Carryduff.
Column 197in incidents requiring police attention at the Killynure Housing Executive estate in Carryduff in the borough of Castlereagh ; what proposals he has to increase policing at this estate ; and if he will make a statement.
The deployment of police is an operational matter for the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary who has advised me that additional constables have been appointed to the local neighbourhood unit at Carryduff.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the non-departmental bodies in the Province the conduct of which can be referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.
Sir John Wheeler : The offices of the Northern Ireland Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints, commonly referred to as "the Ombudsman", are held by the same person. The function of the Northern Ireland Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration is to investigate complaints of alleged injustice as a consequence of maladministration by Northern Ireland Departments, including their agencies, while the function of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints is to investigate similar complaints against local and public bodies. The list of non-departmental bodies which are subject to the jurisdiction of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints is as follows :--
Local Authorities (ie District Councils)
Any new town commission established under the New Towns Acts (Northern Ireland) 1965 to 1968 and any committee or sub-committee thereof.
Column 198Public Bodies
Agricultural Marketing Boards
Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland
Arts Council for Northern Ireland
Council for Catholic Maintained Schools
Education and Library Boards
Fire Authority for Northern Ireland
Fisheries Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland
Health and Social Services Boards
Health and Social Services Trusts
Industrial Training Boards
Labour Relations Agency
Livestock Marketing Commission for Northern Ireland
Local Enterprise Development Unit
Mental Health Commission for Northern Ireland
National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting for Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Central Services Agency for the Health and Social Services
Northern Ireland Housing Executive
Northern Ireland Local Government Officers' Superannuation Committee
Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment
Northern Ireland Sports Council
Northern Ireland Tourist Board
Special Health and Social Services Agencies
Trustees of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum
Trustees of the Ulster Museum
Youth Council for Northern Ireland
Office of the Northern Ireland Commission for the Rights of Trade Union Members
Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the members of the advisory group, including their occupations, established to undertake a review of Government housing policy in Northern Ireland ; and if he will make a statement.