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Departmental officials have been participating in work to examine the cost implications of Nirex's proposed repository. The results of this examination will be considered in the radioactive waste management review being undertaken by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.
Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the number of (a) men and (b) women living in the London borough of Wandsworth who were refused income support during 1993 because they were regarded as not being actively seeking work.
Dr. Wright : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security from what date the Benefits Agency adopted the policy of making special payments if a claim for benefit is delayed six months beyond the management target for dealing with such claims ; and how much has been paid out from that date.
Mr. Burt : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend, the Member for Fulham (Mr. Carrington) on 4 May 1993, at column 10. Details of payments made for the year ending 31 March 1994 have not yet been collated.
Mr. Burt : People attending a part-time course of not more than 21 hours a week may, under certain circumstances, continue to receive income support but only if they are continuing to make a sustained effort each week to find a job and are prepared to leave the course immediately a suitable vacancy becomes available.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he plans to publish his departmental guidance on the implementation of the code of practice on access to Government information, as promised at paragraph 3(ii) of the code issued on 4 April ; and what has been the cause of the delay in publishing the departmental guidance.
This Department's existing arrangements for the provision of information already work well and it is our intention that the code of practice will reinforce and build on them. References to the code will therefore be incorporated in any relevant procedural guidance.
Mr. Burt : The report is a compilation of general statistics on life in the European Community and does not address the issue of poverty in relation to social security payments. However, the report shows that the United Kingdom's expenditure on social protection as a percentage of gross domestic product was above the European Community average in 1992.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security in what circumstances it is his Department's practice, when issuing a public consultation document, to inform those consulted that their responses will be made public unless they explicitly ask for them to be kept confidential, and if he will arrange for his Department to do so in all cases in future.
Mr. Hague : It is already normal practice in this Department for public consultation documents to include the advice that comments received may be made publicly available unless confidentiality is specifically requested.
The results of consultation exercises may be made available in summary form, or responses may be published in full, depending on the nature of the issue and the strength and diversity of opinion.
Mr. Hague : Political activities of civil servants in this Department are determined by chapter 4.4 of the personnel management section of the civil service management code, a copy of which is in the Library.
For the majority of staff below grade 7 level there are no limitations unless they are employed in certain areas of work. Staff at grade 7 level and above, administrative trainees and higher executive officers are barred from national political activities and must seek permission to take part in local political activities.
Column 363Where political activity involves campaigning about issues relating to this Department, staff must have regard to general rules on conduct set out in chapter 4.1 of the personnel management section of the civil service management code.
Mr. Nigel Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what limitations are placed on individuals employed by his Department regarding campaigning to change the workings of the Child Support Act 1991 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hague : Civil servants are bound by the rules set out in chapter 4.1 and annex A of the personnel management section of the civil service management code, a copy of which is in the Library. Campaigning by civil servants employed in this Department to change the workings of the Child Support Act 1991 through political or public activity would not be regarded as acceptable under the rules.
Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many individuals have applied for benefit in respect of chronic bronchitis or emphysema ; how many of those claims have been successful in the period since the inception of the scheme ; how many of these claims were refused on the basis of (a) insufficient lung function loss, (b) insufficient lengths of service and (c) non-diagnosis of class 1 pneumoconiosis ; and if he will give these figures according to standard British Coal regions.
Area |Claims received |Assessed at 14 per|Disallowed on |Disallowed on |disabled<1> |grounds<2> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- South Anglia |23 |3 |4 |4 Chilterns |22 |0 |4 |1 South East |441 |29 |21 |251 West Country |144 |4 |7 |39 Wales and Central England East Midlands |5,175 |406 |88 |3,447 Greater Manchester |308 |27 |11 |194 Lancashire and Cumbria |2,129 |106 |99 |1,254 Merseyside |463 |32 |21 |301 Midlands South West |619 |46 |24 |404 Wales |8,378 |1,103 |514 |5,020 West Mercia |3,478 |294 |147 |1,958 Scotland and North East Scotland |2,331 |80 |70 |1,708 Glasgow |228 |6 |9 |80 North and West Yorkshire |2,456 |287 |78 |1,563 North, Central and West Scotland |1,835 |47 |74 |1,410 South Yorkshire |6,168 |610 |127 |3,900 Tyne Tees |6,807 |490 |126 |5,237 |------- |------- |------- |------- Total |41,005 |3,570 |1,424 |26,771 <1> Claims assessed at 14 per cent. or more result in an award of benefit. <2> Claims are disallowed where the claimant has not worked underground in a coal mine for at least 20 years. <3> Claims disallowed on medical grounds include those where there is insufficient lung function loss; those where category 1 pneumoconiosis has not been diagnosed, and those where chronic bronchitis or emphysema has not been diagnosed. Figures are based on a 100 per cent. count and are subject to amendment. Not all the claims received would have been decided by 22 May.
Mr. Alan Howarth : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many payments were made from the independent living (1993) fund in 1993 -94 ; and what conclusions he has drawn as to the efficiency and effectiveness of the operation of the fund in that period.
Mr. Scott : I am informed by the director of the independent living (1993) fund that, as at 31 March 1994, there were 224 severely disabled clients receiving payments from the fund. In a further 164 cases, an offer of help had been made by the fund but had not yet been accepted by the client.
I am pleased with the progress that the fund has made in establishing partnership arrangement with local authorities and in devising effective joint care packages for
Column 364individual clients. The trustees, director and staff have worked with dedication and with sensitivy to the needs of their clients during this period.
Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many job offers were reported by staff in his Department under the requirements of the rules on the acceptance of outside appointments in each of the last 10 years by (a) staff of grade 3 and above, (b) staff below grade 3, (c) staff in sections concerned with procurement or contract work, under section 15 of the rules of 1 February 1993 and (d) staff in other sections, under section 14 ; and how many of these reports were followed by an application to join the company concerned.
Mr. Hague : Prior to 1985 civil servants were not required to report any job offers from an outside employer. Since then, this Department has required staff below grade 3, whether in procurement or contract work or not, to report any such approaches to a senior manager at least two grades above. Staff grade 3 or above are required to report any such offers to either the head of department or the Minister. Records of these reports are not kept.
Records relate to staff who have made an application to take up an outside business appointment. They do not distinguish between types of outside appointment or specify whether the application was followed up or not.
Some 78 applications were received for the period 1984-94 as shown in the table.
Year |Grade 3/above|Below grade 3|Total |applications ---------------------------------------------------------------------- <1>1984 |1 |8 |9 <1>1985 |8 |15 |23 <1>1986 |- |15 |15 <1>1987 |1 |7 |8 1988 |- |10 |10 1989 |1 |6 |7 1990 |- |3 |3 1991 |- |2 |2 1992 |- |- |0 1993 |- |- |0 1994 |- |1 |1 <1> figures relate to the Department of Health and Social Security.
Mr. Alan Howarth : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to maintain in being his panel of experts, or a subgroup of it, in order to monitor the effectiveness and appropriateness of the new medical test of incapacity for work and to advise on such modifications as may prove necessary.
Mr. Scott : The assessment panel was formed to help us construct incapacity scales to be used in the new medical test. We are still considering the procedures for monitoring and evaluating both the new benefit and the medical test of incapacity.
Mr. Alan Howarth : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make it his policy to apply the Social Security (Sickness and Invalidity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance) Miscellaneous Amendment Regulations 1994 so as not to give discretion to refuse benefits on the grounds that a person is capable of work if he or she has undertaken work as a volunteer for fewer than 16 hours in the week in which it was performed ; and if he will alter the regulations to make this clear.
Mr. Scott : The purpose of the regulations is to allow people who have been accepted as incapable of work for the purposes of sickness benefit, invalidity benefit or severe disablement allowance to do unpaid voluntary work of fewer than 16 hours in a week without losing benefit. We believe that they achieve this. They are not intended to override the usual medical control procedures which apply to all claims. If an adjudication officer decides, for other reasons, that a person is not incapable of work, it is clearly right that benefit can be withdrawn, notwithstanding the fact that a person is doing voluntary work. It is not our intention that people should lose benefit solely because they do such voluntary work, and this has been made clear in the guidance issued by the Benefits Agency.
Mr. Alan Howarth : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security which amendments to the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill made in Standing Committee were taken into account in the compliance cost assessment ; which amendments were not taken into account ; and what were the reasons for the Government's approach in this regard.
Mr. Scott : Amendments which could be readily quantified were taken into account in preparing the compliance cost assessment. Others, for example on phase-in times, which were not specific enough to give a clear indication of timing or impact, made it impossible to identify costs over an unspecified period and therefore could not be taken into account.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received in support of his Department's handling of the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Alan Howarth : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what effects there are on his assessment of the costs of compliance with the requirements of the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill if he takes into account clause 10 as amended in Committee and assumes compliance over a period of (a) 10, (b) 15, (c) 20 and (d) 25 years ;
(2) what estimate he makes of the additional costs of adaptation and/or replacement of (i) aircraft, (ii) trains, (iii) buses, (iv) coaches and (v) other means of carriage used in providing transport services to the public, if compliance with the requirements of the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill is deferred for (a) 10, (b) 15, (c) 20 and (d) 25 years.
Mr. Scott : The costs would depend not only on assumptions made about the rate at which compliance was achieved over the phasing period but also on the particular persons or bodies exempted from immediate compliance. Where it was possible to do so, the compliance cost assessment published on 5 May gave indications of the impact of longer phase-in periods. Further information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Donohoe : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 5 May, Official Report, column 617, how much his Department has spent on private investigation services during the last two years ; if he will list those companies which have been employed by his Department during this period ; what safeguards his Department took to ensure that these agencies were members of the Association of British Investigators ; and what guidelines are currently in operation within his Department as regards this matter.
Column 367arrears of national insurance contributions. The private and commercial investigations company used, which is not named for reasons of commercial confidentiality, is a member of the Association of British Investigators. No departmental guidelines are currently in operation with regard to this matter.
Mr. Alan Howarth : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what response the Government have made to the European Commission's Green Paper on social policy which requested views from member states by 31 March on the best method of achieving progress in the integration of disabled people.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security which of the British welfare benefits are classed as (a) social security and (b) social assistance benefits for European Economic Area purposes.
Mr. Burt : For EEA purposes, social security benefits are those which are designed to meet the specific contingencies listed in article 4(1) of regulation (EEC) No. 1408/71 on social security for migrant workers. The social security benefits for which this Department has responsibility are listed below. The definition also covers benefits in kind--that is, health care--provided by the national health service.
Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
Severe Disablement Allowance
One Parent Benefit
Statutory Sick Pay
Social assistance is not defined in EC legislation but is generally interpreted as covering non-contributory schemes which are often means- tested and based on individual need rather than specific contingencies.
(2) what proposals he has to make access to disability living allowance more equitable for those with a mental illness.
"None. Entitlement to disability living allowance is intended to depend on the care and mobility needs arising from a particular
Column 368condition, rather than on the condition itself. Access to DLA is available to all disabled people through the claiming process. The Benefits Agency provide support services to assist people in making a claim."
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Attorney-General in what circumstances it is his Department's practice, when issuing a public consultation document, to inform those consulted that their responses will be made public unless they explicitly ask for them to be kept confidential ; and if he will arrange for his Department to do so in all cases in future.
The Attorney-General : Should a public consultation document be issued, usual practice would be followed whereby comments are sought on the understanding that they can be made publicly available unless respondents have requested that their responses be treated as confidential.
Mr. Milburn : To ask the Attorney-General how many job offers were reported by staff in his Department under the requirements of the rules on the acceptance of outside appointments in each of the last 10 years by (a) staff of grade 3 and above, (b) staff below grade 3, (c) staff in sections concerned with procurement or contract work, under section 15 of the rules of 1 February 1993 and (d) staff in other sections, under section 14 ; and how many of these reports were followed by an application to join the company concerned.
The Attorney-General : Since the Crown Prosecution Service was formed in 1986, there have been two instances of job offers reported by staff under section 14 of the rules. One came from a former member of staff at grade 3--1990--and the other from a member of staff at grade 5--1992. In each instance, the member of staff applied to join the organisation concerned. Since the Serious Fraud Office was formed in 1988, one approach on behalf of an outside employer has been reported under section 14 by a member of staff at grade 6--1993. This did not result in an application to join the organisation concerned. In none of these three instances did section 15 of the rules apply. There have been no reports in the Treasury Solicitor's Department and the legal secretariat to the Law Officers.
The Attorney-General [pursuant to his reply, 23 March 1994, c. 335- 36] : Certain additional costs have been identified by the CrowProsecution Service for 1992-93 and 1993-94. The revised information is set out in the table.
Department |1989-90 |1990-91 |1991-92 |1992-93 |1993-94 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers -- - - - Crown Prosecution Service |620K(7) |477K(7) |471K(12) |665K(24) |<1>549K(33) Serious Fraud Office |270K(3) |171K(4) |88K(2) |112K(9) |<1>126K(5) Treasury Solicitor's Department <2>5K(2Not known 54K(6) 335K(8) 428K(14) Note: Figures in parentheses represent the number of contracts that year. <1>Figures not yet complete. <2>Approximate figure.
The Prime Minister : The United Kingdom signed protocol 11 to the European convention on human rights on 11 May 1994, the date on which it was opened for signature. We intend to ratify the protocol in due course.
Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Prime Minister if the Departments of Social Security and of Employment and the Department for Education will jointly address funding of students aged over 19 years on full-time courses following the reduction in availability of discretionary awards.
The Prime Minister : Full-time higher education students at undergraduate level are generally eligible for a mandatory award, regardless of their age. The report of the independent survey of discretionary awards provision, published by the Gulbenkian Foundation on 8 April, estimates an increase of 20 per cent. in the total number of discretionary awards made between the 1990-91 and 1993-94 academic years.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education is currently considering his response to the Gulbenkian report. My right hon. Friends and their Departments regularly consult on matters of mutual concern, including student support.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister when he plans to publish his office's guidance on the implementation of the code of practice on access to Government information, as promised at paragraph 3(ii) of the code issued on 4 April ; and what has been the cause of the delay in publishing his office's guidance.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with the Government of Germany about the attitudes of the legal authorities in Scotland and Germany towards those accused of perpetrating the crime against Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.
Mr. Winnick : To ask the Prime Minister whether continuing membership of the European Union is dependent on member Governments being opposed to all forms of authoritarian rule in their own country ; and if he will make a statement.
The Prime Minister : It is a fundamental principle of the European Union, reflected in both the preamble and article F of the treaty on European Union, that its member states have systems of government founded on the principles of democracy.
Mrs. Roche : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 18 May, Official Report, column 470, if his office will seek to obtain a copy of the receipt and letter for the Ritz hotel in Paris referred to in the correspondence between the Prime Minister and Mr. Peter Preston, editor of The Guardian.
Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 24 May, Official Report, column 102, what considerations he is taking into account in determining whether a leak inquiry would be justified.