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(2) if he will list for each of the last five years the number of substantive traffic examiners employed by the Vehicle Inspectorate ; (3) if he will list for each of the last five years the number of substantive vehicle examiners employed by the Vehicle Inspectorate.
Letter from Ron Oliver to Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody, dated 18 July 1994 :
VEHICLE INSPECTORATE : PAY BARGAINING AND STAFFING
1. The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions about staffing and pay bargaining at the Vehicle Inspectorate (VI). 2. On the matter of pay bargaining VI management intends entering into negotiations with the trade unions within the next two weeks. 3. In answer to your questions on vehicle and traffic examiners, the figures below give a breakdown, by grade, of the number of staff in post over the past 5 years. Until recently our figures did not draw a distinction between substantive staff and those on temporary promotion. For the sake of consistency the figures for 1994 do not make this distinction either.
i. Vehicle Examiners Grade |30 November 1990|31 May 1991 |31 July 1992 |31 July 1993 |16 June 1994 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- SPTO |42 |41 |39 |38 |36 HPTO |104 |108 |103 |100 |82 PTO |470 |461 |465 |432 |409 AVE |49 |65 |89 |89 |83 |--- |--- |--- |--- |--- Total |665 |675 |696 |659 |610
ii. Traffic Examiners Grade |30 November 1990|18 July 1991 |31 July 1992 |31 July 1993 |16 June 1994 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enforcement Coordinator |10 |8 |7 |7 |5 Supervising Traffic Examiner |1 |1 |0 |0 |0 Senior Traffic Examiner |43 |32 |32 |31 |25 Traffic Examiner |162 |163 |174 |167 |168 |--- |--- |--- |--- |--- Total |216 |204 |213 |205 |198
4. If you have any further questions about the Inspectorate please contact me.
Mr. Norris : The chief executive of the Coastguard Agency has put forward a series of efficiency measures in response to the challenging target I set the Department. I have accepted his proposals which will lead to efficiency savings of nearly £1.5 million being achieved over the next two years. The measures will include rationalising the administrative services of the agency's Southampton headquarters and introducing more flexible manning arrangments at rescue centres. They will not involve the closure of any rescue centres ; the agency's coastal response capability will be maintained. These measures are consistent with those set out in agency's current business and corporate plans. They will lead to greater value for money from the Coastguard Agency without compromising safety at sea and along the shoreline.
Mr. Key : The vehicle record maintained by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency plays a key role in the fight against crime. It identifies vehicle excise duty--VED--evaders and thus helps in the fight against vehicle and traffic offences but is also an important source of data for the police in tackling serious crimes. Defects in the record are, however, hindering these efforts, and give rise to significant shortfalls in VED revenue. I intend, therefore, to introduce changes that will tackle the theft of vehicles in particular as well as crime more generally. These changes will be directed against crime and against dishonest car owners and not law-abiding motorists.
Evasion of vehicle excise duty amounts to £145 million a year. It costs the taxpayer a further £25 million in enforcement costs in my own Department, and in addition there are costs to the police and the courts in tracking down and prosecuting evaders. We continue to make improvements in the numbers of evaders brought to book but although the level of evasion seems to have been contained, we have been unable actually to reduce it.
A major factor that frustrates our endeavours is that vehicles without a tax disc in the windscreen cannot be
Column 253tracked to their owners if they have not notified DVLA that they have acquired the vehicle. This is because, under the present procedures, a person who parts with a car is obliged to notify DVLA--but many do not ; and the person who acquires it is also obliged to notify DVLA that he is now the keeper, and although most do, they often wait until the tax expires, which may be up to a year later. I am therefore proposing some fundamental changes to the present registration procedures to require those who part with a vehicle to notify DVLA, at the same time and on the same form, as those who acquire it. This would mean that the vehicle record could be brought up to date immediately. It would also allow us to replace existing vehicle registration documents with log books containing a number of improvements, in particular the inclusion of features such as a list of previous keepers and a record of mileage which I know motorists are keen to have, along with new security features.
While a more accurate vehicle record would have many benefits, it could not eliminate VED evasion completely. This is because there are other ways in which VED can be evaded which are not picked up in the records. Because the present system allows for breaks in licensing when the keeper claims the vehicle is not in use, evasion of VED for short periods is difficult to detect. I therefore propose to introduce a system of continuous licensing based on possession, rather than use, for all cars and motorcycles.
Naturally there are many details to be settled and the needs and wishes of those that will be affected must be taken into account. I will be issuing a consultation document shortly.
Mr. Milburn : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) how many special advisers who left his Department in each of the last five years became (a) management consultants and (b) joined a firm of consultants ;
(2) if he will publish the names of the employers joined by special advisers who left his Department in each of the last five years.
|Number ---------------------------- (a) 1992 |2 1993 |0 1994 to date |1 (b) 1992 |0 1993 |1 1994 to date |0
My Department did not exist in any comparable form before 1992. Figures for earlier years are therefore not available.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how the Government's proposals for the future of the civil service are compatible with their commitment as announced at the TUC conference on full employment on 5 July to policies in support of reducing the current high levels of unemployment ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Waldegrave : My right hon. Friend made it clear in his speech at the TUC conference that increasing employment depends on our competitiveness as a nation. That requires an efficient and effective public sector. The Government's proposals on the future of the civil service, set out in the White Paper published last week, Cm 2627, provide the framework for a further improvement in the performance of the civil service.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how his statement on 13 July concerning the future of the civil service will affect the completion and occupation of the new Inland Revenue offices in Nottingham ; and if he will make a statement.
Year |Number --------------------- 1986 |534 1987 |514 1988 |517 1989 |463 1990 |425 1991 |308 1992 |338 1993 |335 1994 |303
Mr. Waldegrave : The Duchy benevolent fund has been operating as a registered charity for the past nine months. As Chancellor of the Duchy I appoint the trustees of the fund. Because of this I have felt that I should not be a
Column 255trustee. I will continue to appoint trustees and have invited the Lords Lieutenant of Greater Manchester and Merseyside to become trustees of the fund.
Mr. Dewar : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the cost of extending family credit to (a) childless couples and (b) single persons assuming the present rules otherwise remain the same ; and how many additional recipients there would be in each case.
Mr. Burt : The estimated cost of extending family credit to childless couples is £65 million with 70,000 additional recipients. The cost for single people is £1.5 billion with 1.5 million additional recipients.
Note : Estimates are drawn from the 1989,90 and 91 family expenditure surveys and uprated to 1994-95 prices and benefit levels. The basis of the award is assumed to be the existing adult credit rate, without child credits, to people of 18 years of age and over. Estimates of the two costs are rounded to the nearest £5 million and £100 million respectively, and numbers of gainers are rounded to the nearest 10,000 and 100,000 respectively. These estimates do not include the financial effects of any behavioural response.
Mr. Steinberg : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what sums were distributed in family credit and income support in the 12 months immediately (a) preceding and (b) following the abolition of the wages councils.
Information is available only for financial years. Figures for the last two years are as follows :
|Income support|Family credit |£M |£M ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1992-93 |14,790 |929 1993-94 (estimated) |15,773 |1,091 Note: Figures from Departmental Report March 1994
Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to introduce a maximum period for claiming benefits in areas outside the area of residence ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Burt : We have no such plans. Every effort is made to ensure that benefit is paid only where the conditions of entitlement are satisfied. In particular, benefits for unemployed people are paid only to those who are available for, and actively seeking, work. Housing benefit is paid only to people who have a genuine rent liability on their home. The Government are not persuaded that it is desirable or practicable to time- limit benefit entitlement of people living outside their normal area of residence as the free movement of people is essential for the efficient operation of the labour market.
Column 256helping small businesses over the last 12 months as against the previous 12 months ; if he will publish the performance indicators by which his Department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring ; and if he will set out his targets to help small businesses in the next year.
Mr. Hague : The Government recognise the crucial role played by small firms in the United Kingdom economy. The Government help small firms by keeping inflation and interest rates low and by reducing legislation and administrative burdens. They also provide direct assistance where appropriate and are currently establishing a network of Business Links to provide high-quality business support across the country.
Measures introduced by the Department specifically to assist small businesses include :
The Department has increased, from April 1994, the qualifying threshold for small employers' relief for statutory sick pay from £16,000 to £20,000.
From April 1994, the Department improved and simplified the procedures for self-employed people claiming family credit, by including a new form in the claim pack on which self-employed people can provide earnings details straight away and by extending the fast-track service to the newly self- employed.
Reductions in employers' national insurance contributions from April 1994 were substantially greater for lower-paid
employees--earning under £200 a week. This is likely to help small businesses.
From April 1994 changes have been made to the national insurance treatment of people, such as sub-postmasters, who have a salary from a main occupation as well as income from a subsidiary business. Where the income from the small business is low, they may now claim exception from self- employed national insurance even though, for income tax purposes, they chose to have all their earnings taxed together. Previously such people were liable for contributions as both employed and self-employed persons.
Other measures aimed at business in general, which should help small businesses, include :
Administration of the Statutory Sick Pay scheme will be simplified by abolition of the lower rate of SSP from April 1995.
The three tests for entitlement to statutory maternity pay have been replaced by a single test for women expecting a baby on or after 16 October 1994.
The Contributions Agency has completed the redesigning of all forms it sends out to businesses, with the aim of making them simpler to understand.
The Department has a system to monitor proposals which have an impact on small business, to ensure that the needs and costs to small businesses are taken into account, but there are no performance indicators specifically for monitoring achievements in this area. However, we attach particular importance to action taken to help small businesses and will continue to explore further ways of doing so.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many employees of the Information Technology Services Agency there were (a) at its formation and (b) at the latest available date at each separate location and in total ; and in how many cases staff have (i) been transferred to outsource contractors, (ii) accepted early retirement or (iii) accepted redundancy.
Mr. Hague : The available information is in the table. As at 18 July 1994 no staff have been transferred to outsource contractors, 130 have accepted voluntary early retirement/severance and there have been no redundancies.
Number of staff Location |1990 |1994 |(launch of ITSA)|(as at 18 July |1994) -------------------------------------------------------------------- Livingston |206 |210 Longbenton |1,147 |1,120 Washington |293 |782 North West<1> |1,438 |2,294 Swindon |<2>0 |6 Reading |196 |100 London |62 |96 Sheffield |0 |141 Leeds |0 |17 Total |3,342 |4,766 <1> North West includes Lytham and the surrounding area. <2> Swindon operational from late November 1990.
Sir David Knox : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 6 July, Official Report, columns 227-32, if he will now include figures showing for April and October the effects of the new child care disregard for a lone mother with two children aged four and six years working part time for 24 hours earning £80 a week.
Mr. Burt : The information is in the table. The child care disregard will be introduced in October and will apply to the calculation of housing benefit, council tax benefit and disability working allowance as well as family credit. Up to £40 of child care costs for children under 11 will be disregarded against earnings, provided that care is arranged with a registered childminder or nursery.
It should be noted that the child care costs, specified in accordance with the reply I gave to my hon. Friend on 6 July at column 227-32, are significantly higher than those typically encountered at the level of earnings specified. Recent research shows that the average weekly child care costs of working lone parents are £24.60 per week.
"Families, work, and Benefit" (Policy Studies Institute, June 1993).
1. The family is assumed to live in council property appropriate to their size and pay estimated average rent and council tax. 2. The family is assumed to have no capital and take up entitlement to One Parent Benefit and all income-related benefits.
Lone Mother with 2 children aged 4 and 6 working part-time for 24 hours earning £80 per week with child care costs of £40 Child Care allowance=£40 |Position at |Position at |April 1994 |October 1994 |£ |£ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Gross earnings |80.00 |80.00 Tax |0.00 |0.00 National Insurance |3.44 |3.44 Take home pay |76.56 |76.56 Family credit |63.30 |66.70 Child benefit |24.60 |24.60 Rent |36.42 |36.42 Rent rebate |9.67 |33.46 Council tax |8.30 |8.30 Council tax benefit |0.07 |7.39 Child care costs |40.00 |40.00 |--- |--- Total net income |174.20 |208.71 |--- |--- Net income after rent and council tax |129.48 |163.99 |--- |--- Net income after rent, Council tax and child care costs |89.48 |123.99
Mr. French : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the Government will respond to the fourth report of the Social Security Select Committee on the report of the Pension Law Review Committee.
Mr. Hague : The Government's response to the Select Committee's report is published today. Copies have been placed in the Library. We welcome the Committee's examination and recommendations on the Pension Law Review Committee report. We share its aim of safeguarding pension funds by effective regulation.
The Government have outlined their proposals for pension reform in the recent White Paper, "Security, Equality, Choice : The Future for Pensions", Cm. 2594-I and Cm. 2594-II. In it we propose a range of practical solutions to assist pension provision and improve scheme security.
Mr. Nigel Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will make available the annual reports and accounts for each of his next steps agencies, and the revised framework document for the Information Technology Services Agency.
Mr. Lilley : The annual report for the Child Support Agency was published on 4 July. The accounts will be published in October. The 1993-94 annual reports and accounts for the other four executive agencies operating last year will be made available as follows : today for the Benefits Agency, Information Technology Services Agency and Resettlement Agency and tomorrow for the Contributions Agency. Copies of each report will be placed in the Library.
The revised framework document for the Information Technology Services Agency for 1994-95 will also be published today and a copy placed in the Library.
Mr. Lilley : Under the terms of the original Benefits Agency framework document, provision was made for the review of the framework document by the Secretary of State. The status and organisation of all the next steps agencies are required to be periodically reviewed to establish whether further improvements in customer service and value for money can be made. I am accordingly authorising a review of the functions of the Benefits Agency to establish what future way of organising it will best support the cost-effective delivery of the social security benefits ; serve the needs of those who use the benefits system ; and improve value for money and security, in terms of both improved accuracy and fraud. The review will cover the evaluation of the agency's performance ; the reconsideration of the way in which its functions are organised ; and the revision of the framework document as appropriate. The current organisational structure has worked well over the past three years and there have been significant improvements in performance and value for taxpayers' money since agency status was achieved. Our aim is to build on this success.
We shall be consulting customer representative groups to establish their views on the kind of service delivery they would like in the future. We shall also be asking business interests whether there is potential for private sector involvement in the Benefits Agency's work.
Comments and contributions from those with an interest in the Benefits Agency and its work will be welcome by 28 October 1994. Anyone who would like to comment is asked, in the first instance, to contact :
Department of Social Security
286 Euston Road
I expect to announce my decisions on the review early next year.
Dr. Godman : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what percentage of carers receive the carers' invalidity benefit in (a) the parliamentary constituency of Greenock and Port Glasgow, (b) Strathclyde and (c) Scotland as a whole ;
(2) how many carers (a) receive and (b) do not receive the invalid care allowance in (i) the parliamentary constituency of Greenock and Port Glasgow, (ii) Strathclyde and (iii) Scotland as a whole.
Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many special advisers who left his Department in each of the last five years became (a) management consultants and (b) joined a firm of consultants ;
Column 260(2) if he will publish the names of the employers joined by special advisers who left his Department in each of the last five years.
1994 -- none
1993 -- one special adviser joined the Department and one left 1992 -- one special adviser joined and one left
1991 -- none
1990 -- one special adviser joined.