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Column 520paid visits to the Czech Republic within the last 12 months. During the same period, President Havel, Prime Minister Klaus and eight Czech Ministers or deputy Ministers have visited the United Kingdom.
Ms Short : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action the Government plan to take to facilitate the extension to Hong Kong of the United Nations convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
Mr. Goodlad : As extending the convention to Hong Kong involves assuming new international obligations in respect of Hong Kong, we will shortly be consulting the Chinese side in the joint liaison group, so that it can continue to apply to Hong Kong after 30 June 1997. In the meantime, the Hong Kong Government are preparing legislation to prohibit sex discrimination and to set up an equal opportunities commission to promote gender equality.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to his Japanese counterpart following the statement by the Japanese Prime Minister to the Japanese Diet on 17 June that Japan has the capacity to make nuclear weapons.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : We have made no representations to, nor have we communicated with, the Japanese Prime Minister with regard to his comment of 17 June. As a non-nuclear weapon state party to the non-proliferation treaty, Japan has given a legally binding commitment not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. In accordance with the NPT, Japan has also concluded a fullscope safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. We have no reason to doubt the commitment of the Japanese Government to the principles of the treaty.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to (a) raise with his Russian and American counterparts and (b) to instruct the British ambassador to the United Nations to raise with his counterparts as representing the other depositary states for the nuclear non-proliferation treaty the statement by the Japanese Prime Minister to the Japanese Diet on 17 June that Japan has the capacity to build nuclear weapons, in regard to Japan's commitments under the NPT.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : As a non-nuclear weapon state party to the non- proliferation treaty, Japan has given a legally binding commitment not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. Japan has also concluded a fullscope safeguards agreement with the IAEA. We have no reason to doubt the commitment of the Japanese Government to the principles of the treaty.
Column 521detained in Sudan in recent years ; on what grounds he has recently been detained ; and what representations he has made to the Government of Sudan about this matter.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Sadiq Al-Mahdi was detained immediately after the 1989 coup and has subsequently been regularly held for questioning. He was most recently detained on 20 June. Although he has not yet been formally charged, allegations have been made in the officially controlled press of his involvement in a plot to assassinate senior members of the regime and conduct acts of sabotage. Our charge in Khartoum raised his detention with the Sudanese authorities on 21 June. We shall continue to monitor developments closely.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals he plans to put to the European Union Heads of Government summit in Corfu on the control of nuclear proliferation.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The European Council agreed on the adoption of a joint action on preparation for the 1995 non-proliferation treaty extension and review conference, the primary object of which would be to secure the treaty's indefinite and unconditional extension.
Mr. Goodlad : I am not aware of any specific difficulties caused to British commercial interests by corruption in Kenya. However, I am happy to make it clear that elimination of corruption is an important part of our good governance agenda in Kenya, as in other countries. We have made this clear to the Kenyan Government, and welcome their recent efforts to address the issue.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : A number of WEU member states, including the United Kingdom, have indicated their readiness to assist and support the French initiative in Rwanda primarily through the provison of logistic resources, which might be co-ordinated through the WEU, and humanitarian assistance.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what approaches he has had from the French Government for military support in Rwanda ; and what reply he has given.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The French approached the United Kingdom, as well as other European allies, for logistic support for the intervention in Rwanda authorised under Security Council resolution 929. In the event, we understand that the French supported their operation nationally.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action the British Government are now taking through the United Nations to bring about an end to the genocide in Rwanda.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The United Kingdom has supported all Security Council action aimed at bringing the attacks on civilians in Rwanda to an end. We have also offered logistic support to the expanded UNAMIR operation.
The United Kingdom supported the resolution adopted by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 25 May which appointed a special rapporteur for human rights in Rwanda. The special rapporteur is gathering information for the United Nations Secretary General on acts which may constitute breaches of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity, including acts of genocide in Rwanda.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans Her Majesty's Government have to provide logistical support for African countries supplying peacekeeping troops to Rwanda.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given to the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Ms Jackson) by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 15 June, column 615. Since then the United Nations Security Council has authorised a two-month humanitarian intervention by the French Government. We voted in favour and remain ready to assist with emergency aid for those displaced in Rwanda as access improves. We have urged that the UNAMIR force should deploy as quickly as possible and that the French operation should not cut across United Nations action to end the bloodshed.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : We observe mandatory embargoes imposed by the United Nations on Iraq, the former republic of Yugoslavia, Somalia, Liberia, Haiti, Libya, Rwanda and UNITA in Angola. We observe the voluntary embargo imposed by the United Nations on Yemen. We also observe embargoes imposed by the European Union on Syria, China, Burma, Zaire and Sudan.
Column 523We observe a voluntary embargo agreed by the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe on Armenia and Azerbaijan. In addition, as a matter of declared national policy we refuse to supply military equipment to Argentina and Iran.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations Her Majesty's Government have made to Pakistan regarding the release of all detained democratically elected members of the National Assembly, in accordance with the United Nations human rights resolution of 1966.
Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to assist and encourage the Government of Nigeria to move towards the establishment of democracy.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I refer my hon. Friend to the written reply I gave the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) on 31 January at column 485. Moves towards the establishment of democratic civilian rule would send a positive message to the European Union and other countries which have introduced measures against military rule, and to companies which do business with Nigeria. We are funding a number of practical initiatives in Nigeria in support of a democratic transition.
Mr. Rowlands : To ask the Lord President of the Council following the statement made by the Secretary of State for Wales in the Welsh Grand Committee on 8 March 1993 in Cardiff, Official Report, columns 1-13, which new initiatives he has proposed for the debate and scrutiny of Welsh affairs in the House.
I review the need for meetings of the Welsh Grand Committee through the normal channels. The venue for these meetings is also discussed.
Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the latest figures available for women claiming family credit while (a) in employment and (b) unemployed for (i) Burnley, (ii) Lancashire, (iii) the north-west and (iv) England.
Ms Corston : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the average annual disposable income at (a) actual and (b) April 1994 prices of (i) pensioner households, (ii) non-pensioner households without children (iii) non-pensioner households with children and (iv) all households, in (1) the two lowest decile groups and (2) the highest decile group, applying the appropriate equivalence scale used in his Department's recent reports on households below average income for (w) 1979, (x) 1988- 89, (y) 1990-91 and (z) 1991-92, before and after housing costs ; and what was the mean unequivalised disposable income of these groups of households in these equivalised categories.
Mr. Burt : The information requested is not available. This Department does not produce statistics on the distribution of annual equivalised incomes. The households below average income series is based on incomes estimated generally over a much shorter period, which can be expected to produce different results.
Industrial Injuries Benefit
Industrial injuries benefits may be paid in respect of occupational deafness where the claimant :
(a) is assessed as at least 20 per cent. disabled as a result of sensorineural hearing loss of at least 50 decibels in both ears, being due in the case of at least one ear to noise at work ; (
(b) has worked in one or more of the nine occupations prescribed in relation to occupational deafness ;
(c) has done such work for an aggregate period of at least ten years ; and
(d) if no longer doing such work, claims benefit within five years of last doing so.
Where these conditions are satisfied, deafness is presumed to be due to employment.
Under the War Pensions scheme, benefit may be paid for disablement due to hearing loss which is attributable to, or aggrevated by, service in the armed forces. For sensorineural hearing loss, the claimant must be assessed as 20 per cent. disabled as a result of hearing loss of at least 50 decibles in both ears. For conductive hearing loss, the claimant must be assessed as at least 1 per cent. disabled. Doctors determine which type of deafness applies in each case.
There are no time limits for claiming under the War Pensions scheme, and no presumption of cause, but for claims arising within seven years of the termination of service, the onus is on my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the disablement is not due to a service factor. For claims arising more than seven years after the termination of service, the onus is on the claimant to show that disablement is due to service.
Column 525Benefit Rates
Weekly benefit rates are higher under the War Pensions scheme than under the Industrial Injuries scheme. The benefit rates for 1994-95 are :
Degree of |War pension|Industrial disablement |(£) |injuries |disablement |benefit (£) ------------------------------------------------ 100 |98.90 |93.20 90 |89.01 |83.88 80 |79.12 |74.56 70 |69.23 |65.24 60 |59.34 |55.92 50 |49.45 |46.60 40 |39.56 |37.28 30 |29.67 |27.96 20 |19.78 |18.64 Under the War Pensions scheme, benefit in respect of disablement due to conductive hearing loss assessed at less than 20 per cent. is paid as a lump sum gratuity.
1. The use of powered (but not hand powered) grinding tools on cast metal (other than weld metal) or on billets or blooms in the metal producing industry, or work wholly or mainly in the immediate vicinity of those tools whilst they are being so used ;
2. The use of pneumatic percussive tools on metal, or work wholly or mainly in the immediate vicinity of those tools whilst they are being so used ;
3. The use of pneumatic percussive tools for drilling rock in quarries or underground or in mining coal, or work wholly or mainly in the immediate vicinity of those tools whilst they are being so used ;
4. Work wholly or mainly in the immediate vicinity of plant (excluding power press plant) engaged in the forging (including drop stamping) of metal by means of closed or open dies or drop hammers ; 5. Work in textile manufacturing where the work is undertaken wholly or mainly in rooms or sheds in which there are machines engaged in weaving man-made or natural (including mineral) fibres or in the high speed false twisting of fibres ;
6. The use of, or work wholly or mainly in the immediate vicinity of, machines engaged in cutting, shaping or cleaning metal nails ; 7. The use of, or work wholly or mainly in the immediate vicinity of, plasma spray guns engaged in the deposition of metal ; 8. The use of, or work wholly or mainly in the immediate vicinity of, any of the following machines engaged in the working of wood or material composed partly of wood, that is to say ; multi cutter moulding machines, planing machines, automatic or semi- automatic lathes, multiple cross-cut machines, automatic shaping machines, double-end tenoning machines, verticle spindle moulding machines (including high speed routing machines), edge banding machines, bandsawing machines with a blade width of not less than 75 millimetres and circular sawing machines in the operation of which the blade is moved towards the material being cut ;
9. The use of chain saws in forestry.
I refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Erewash (Mrs. Knight) on 24 February, Official Report, column 368 , which sets out the further activities to be added to the list of prescribed occupations from October 1994.
Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he proposes to introduce regulations regarding the £28 disregard under the family credit scheme in relation to child care ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the extent of the benefit reduction imposed in respect of claimants penalised for failing to attend a restart interview.
Mr. Burt : There is no benefit reduction for failing to attend an initial restart interview. But if a person fails, without good cause, to attend a second interview, the only entitlement will be under income support hardship rules. This entails a reduction of 40 per cent. in the single personal allowance--20 per cent if the claimant or a member of the family is pregnant or seriously ill and there is little or no capital. The reduction lasts until the claimant attends a rearranged interview or my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State withdraws the notice of the interview. The effect of these reductions on income support allowances is shown in the table.
Age of claimant |Personal |Allowance |Allowance |allowance |less |less |40 per cent. |20 per cent. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Under 18 |27.50 |16.50 |22.00 18-24 |36.15 |21.70 |28.90 25 and over |45.70 |27.40 |36.55
Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how he will consult on the proposals for member-nominated trustees in occupational pension schemes as set out in his White Paper "Security, Equality, Choice : The Future for Pensions" published on 23 June.
Column 527proposals for the selection of member- nominated trustees and also on the arrangements for schemes to retain or adopt different arrangements where those arrangements have the support of a majority of members. It is being issued automatically to all those organisations that responded to the earlier DSS discussion papers and is available to others on request. I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Library.
Year of death |Notional<1> |maximum |additional |pension (£) ------------------------------------------ 1979-80 |1.54 1980-81 |3.45 1981-82 |5.86 1982-83 |9.59 1983-84 |12.40 1984-85 |16.21 1985-86 |20.87 1986-87 |24.03 1987-88 |29.11 1988-89 |34.75 1989-90 |41.34 1990-91 |49.74 1991-92 |57.10 1992-93 |66.97 1993-94 |76.04 1994-95 |84.61 <1> Based on the amount of additional pension payable where a contributor has paid contributions of 53 X the upper earnings limit in each relevant tax year since 1978.
Ms Hodge : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average household income of householders in (a) the London borough of Barking and Dagenham and (b) the London borough of Redbridge.
Mr. Burt : Information is not available in the form requested. Statistics on patterns of household disposable income are available only for the United Kingdom as a whole and are provided in "Households Below Average Income 1979--1990-91" published in June 1993, a copy of which is in the Library.
Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what consultation there has been in the setting up of the one-stop initiative with (a) the Employment Service and (b) local authority housing benefit offices ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) how the one-stop initiative will affect the running of both the Employment Service and local authority housing benefit offices (a) in dealing with the Benefits Agency on a day-to-day basis, (b) in the co- ordination of information, (c) in the possibilities of adopting the same or similar strategy and (d) estimated costs incurred ; and if he will make a statement.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Peter Pike, dated 27 June 1994 :
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions about the One Stop initiative.
The decision to move towards a One Stop service followed overwhelmingly positive responses from customers, including local authorities and the Employment Service Agency (ESA), to a discussion paper published in September 1992.
The Benefits Agency's (BA) One Stop initiative does not affect the running of the ESA and local authority housing benefit offices, but in continuing our commitment to customer service we work closely to ensure that our distinct responsibilities are performed in as co-ordinated a way as possible.
Each local authority's circumstances are different. BA offices are encouraged to discuss local issues with the local authority concerned. Liaison arrangements have improved and each BA District now has a Service Level Agreement with the local authorities in its area. At a national level, the Local Authorities Association are regularly consulted on developments.
The framework for improved liaison between the ESA and the BA, announced in March 1993, established a series of initiatives to encourage closer working between the two agencies. These included piloting of the co-location of BA staff in ESA outlets to provide general benefit advice and information, and joint
workshops/conferences to discuss common service areas.
We are constantly looking at ways of improving the transfer of information between our offices and the ESA and local authorities. For example, in June this year, the main computer systems supporting Income Support and Unemployment benefit were linked. This allows faster, automatic transmission of information and payment instructions between the agencies.
The introduction of Jobseeker's Allowance in April 1996 will see the BA, in partnership with the ESA, providing, wherever possible, a single point of contact for unemployed customers providing both jobseeking services and a gateway to the benefit and information services of the BA. This will be from a single location, wherever possible.
One Place, which is the first phase of One Stop, has been implemented from within existing allocations and therefore at no extra cost.
It is for each Agency and organisation to decide how best to meet their customers' needs when deciding their future strategies. I hope this reply is helpful.