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Mr. Hague: Three of the war pensions committees for which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is responsible cover parts of the west midlands region, including Shropshire.
Each committee consists of 30 members, appointed for a period of five years. New appointments are due on 1 January 1996. No salary is payable.
Mr. Grocott: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many staff are employed by his Department; and what proportion of them are employed in each of the standard regions.
Mr. Hague: On 1 October 1994, 88,173 full time equivalent staff were employed by the Department of Social Security. The proportions employed in each of the economic planning regions are shown in the table.
|Proportion per |cent. of Total Staff Region |Employed ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Scotland |10 Northern |18 Yorkshire and Humberside |8 North West |21 East Midlands |4 West Midlands |7 Wales |4 East Anglia |2 South East |21 South West |5 Northern Ireland and Overseas |Less than 1
Mrs. Jane Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will give the latest figure for the number of (a) men aged 65 years and over and (b) women aged 60 years and over who are receiving a state pension.
Mr. Arbuthnot: At March 1994, the latest date for which figures are available, a total of 3,561,390 men and 6,690,270 women were in receipt of a state retirement pension . Note "State Retirement Pension" means a contributory retirement pension, a non-contributory retirement pension or graduated retirement benefit.
Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the number of claimants eligible for the new child allowance.
Mr. Burt: We estimate that 150,000 families will benefit from the introduction of the new help with child-care charges in family credit, disability working allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit. This includes 50,000 taking up work as a direct result of the change.
Mr. Denzil Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what would be the total cost in the full year of widening the nil band of the class 1 employee NIC (contracted in) up to earnings of £100 per week.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The loss of income would be some £1.5 billion in a full year. Notes:
Employee contributions--assumes that contributions are deducted at 2 per cent. on first £100 of earnings once they exceed the lower earnings limit.
Employer contribution--assumes that the lower earnings limit becomes £100 and that the existing structure of rates and earnings brackets applies above it.
Assumes that band earnings for the purpose of contracting out also begins at £100.
Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many pensioners are estimated to have no income other than the statutory retirement pension; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Arbuthnot: Information is not available on the number of pensioners whose sole income is retirement pension. An estimated 92 per cent. of pensioner couples and 81 per cent of single pensioners receive income on top of state benefits.* Pensioner couples are those where the husband is over 65. Source : Family Expenditure Survey 1992.
Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will publish the current value of the elderly persons' Christmas bonus if increased to a sum equivalent to the value of £10 in 1977 using the September increase in the RPI to calculate the current value;
(2) if he will publish the cost to the Exchequer of raising the elderly persons' Christmas bonus to 1994 prices and paying the bonus at the new value at Christmas 1994;
(3) whether he will consider increasing the elderly persons' Christmas bonus to a sum equivalent to the value of £10 in 1977 and allowing the annual increases thereafter in line with the increase in the RPI.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The Christmas bonus was first introduced in 1972 at the rate of £10 and is paid to about 13.1 million people. No Government have increased the bonus since. The equivalent value of £10 bonus in December 1977 at September 1994 prices is £30.36. The additional cost of raising the bonus from 1977 to 1994 prices would be approximately £267 million. We have no plans to increase the Christmas bonus. Note : Roundings to nearest 5 pence. Source : The Retail price Index (all items) as published by the Central Statistical Office.
Mr. Corbett: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what would now be the level of the £10
Column 428Christmas bonus paid to retirement pensioners adjusted in line with changes in the RPI since its introduction.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The lump sum £10 Christmas bonus was introduced in December 1972. If it had been increased in line with the movement in the RPI each year since its introduction the rate in December 1994 would be £65.70. Source:
The retail price index (all items) as published by the Central Statistical Office
Note: 1: Calculations for each step rounded to the nearest 5p.2: December 1994 increase based on September 1992 to September 1993 RPI
Mr. Corbett: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the number of retirement pensioners eligible for the £10 Christmas bonus when introduced in 1973 and its cost to public funds; and what were the comparable figures at December 1993.
Mr. Arbuthnot: When it was first introduced in December 1972, the £10 bonus was paid to approximately 7.8 million retirement pensioners at a cost of £78 million. Comparable figures at December 1993 were 9.8 million retirement pensioners at a cost of £98 million. Source: DSS Statistics
Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will publish the current value of the cold weather allowance if increased to a sum equivalent to the value of £5 in 1986 using the September increase in the RPI to calculate the current value;
(2) if he will estimate the cost to the Exchequer of increasing the cold weather allowance to 1994 price levels and paying the allowance at the new level during financial year 1994 95;
(3) whether he will consider increasing the level of payment of cold weather allowance to a sum equivalent to £5 in 1986 and raising the annual increases thereafter in line with the increase in the RPI;
(4) what increases he proposes to the value of the cold weather allowance to compensate for the increases in VAT on fuel costs imposed in the 1993 Budget.
Mr. Roger Evans: Cold weather payments towards the cost of domestic fuel bills will increase to £7 from 1 November 1994 and to £7.50 from 1 November 1995. If the previous payment of £5, originally introduced in December 1986, had been increased using the September value of the fuel and light component of the retail price index the amount would have increased to £6.70 from 1 November 1994 30p less than the actual new payment. Using this alternative payment, the Exchequer would have saved £619,256 this winter, if the same number of cold weather payments were made as last year. As cold weather payments are a contribution towards fuel costs designed to complement day-to-day living expenses met through income support, we have no plans to link these payments with the RPI.
Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 20 June, Official Report , column 18 19 , whether Quarry house, Leeds, has now been issued with a fire safety certificate; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Roger Evans: Following an inspection of Quarry house the Home Office fire inspectorate issued a notice in July 1994 confirming that a fire certificate would be issued a soon as a small number of remedial works had been satisfactorily completed. A limit of six months was set for the completion of the work. It is anticipated that the fire certificate will be issued in January 1995 when the Home Office fire inspector conducts a final inspection of the building.
Ms Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what was the full amount of weekly benefit paid to a constituent of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood, details of whom have been supplied to him, during the period 1989 to 1993 when he was registered as living at the Lady Mary hospitality home; if he will include a breakdown of how those payments were made up and how they changed over the period; what were the exact dates he was registered as living at the home; and what payments would have been made to that person if he had been living in accommodation with no care staff, during those periods;
(2) what was the amount of weekly benefit paid to a constituent of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood, details of whom have been supplied to him, (a) during 1992 and early 1993 and (b) between late 1993 and February 1994 when he was registered as living at the Lady Mary hospitality home; if he will publish a breakdown of how those payments were made up; and what were the exact dates he was living at the above home;
(3) what were the exact dates on which the claims of two constituents of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood, details of whom have been supplied to him, made in 1990 while they were registered as living at the Lady Mary hospitality home (a) started and (b) finished; what account was taken of the circumstances of the accommodation provided when meeting those claims; what was the full amount of weekly benefit over that period to each of those constituents; and how those payments differed from the amount payable in comparable circumstances except that no personal care was provided.
Mr. Roger Evans: It has not been possible to identify the constituent or constituents to whom the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood refers. However, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency, Michael Bichard, will be happy to look into this matter and respond in writing if the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood will provide him with further details of the constituents.
Ms Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many claims were closed down as a result of each raid at the Lady Mary hospitality home since 1989; when the most recent concern was raised about irregular claims being made from the home; and what action was taken;
(2) how many raids were carried out by the Benefits Agency or others on behalf of his Department at the Lady Mary hospitality home, 13 15 Soho road, Handsworth, Birmingham B19 since 1989; and what were the dates of each raid and the name and grade of the DSS officer conducting each raid;
(3) how may claims were being made from the Lady Mary hospitality home on each occasion it was raided since 1989; and what was the amount of each claim; and
Column 430in how many of those cases (a) individuals were signing themselves for books or (b) an agent or appointee was being used.
Mr. Roger Evans: There have been three investigations of the Lady Mary hospitality home conducted by DSS officers since 1989, all by fraud investigators. The records of the first of these investigations, which took place in 1989, have been destroyed in accordance with normal procedures. The second investigation took place in October 1990 and resulted in the closure of six claims. The third investigation in 1992 resulted in the closure of 11 claims to benefit. The most recent concerns arose in March 1994 and the evidence available was thoroughly examined.
The fraud area manager currently responsible for investigations in this area is Frank Ashford. It is not our policy to divulge the names of individual investigators.
Sixteen claims were in payment at the time of the second investigation; full details of the amounts of each claim are not available. Twenty-eight claims were in payment at the time of the investigation in 1992. All customers were being paid £181.40 per week, the appropriate residential care rate of income support, except for one resident who was receiving £105.47 per week.
Information is not available to indicate in how many cases individuals were signing order books themselves or by agent or appointee.
Mr. Corbett: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what would now be the level of the 25p a week age allowance for retirement pensioners adjusted in line with changes in the RPI since its introduction.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The 25p age addition to state retirement pension, paid to people who are aged over 80, was introduced in 1971. No Government have increased the age addition since its introduction. If the age addition had been increased in line with the movement in the retail prices index in each year since its introduction the rate payable from April 1994 would have been £1.55 . Notes The retail price index (all items) as published by the Central Statistical Office has been used. In each step of the calculation the notional payable rate has been rounded to the nearest 5p in line with the normal convention for the up-rating of social security benefits.
Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how much has been spent by his Department in each of the last three years to (a) produce public information in alternative formats for visually impaired people and (b) publicise the availability of accessible information amongst visually impaired people.
Miss Widdecombe: Public information material in alternative formats for visually impaired people is produced for, and on behalf of, the Department from a wide variety of sources within its area of responsibility, including the Employment Service, training and enterprise councils, external contractors providing assessment, rehabilitation and training, and the Department itself. When access to work was launched, many organisations
Column 431of and for disabled people were contacted directly with details of the programme, and offered materials in standard text, Braille and audio tape. Cost information for the production of that material is not available centrally.
Dissemination methods vary according to what is appropriate to the item. For example, ES materials are made available to visually impaired people through jobcentre and placing, assessment and counselling team services, and through periodic disability advertising campaigns. TECs, local enterprise companies and contractors for rehabilitation and training make local arrangements to publicise materials. There is no comprehensive information centrally available on the costs of publicising the availability of accessible information.
Mr. Grocott: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the public appointments for which he is responsible (a) in the west midlands region and (b) in Shropshire, indicating in each case the duration of the appointment, the date when a new appointment is due, and the salary.
Miss Widdecombe: In the west midlands and Shropshire, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, is responsible for the appointment of:
--lay members to the Birmingham regional office of the industrial tribunals, ROITs, which covers the counties of West Midlands, Warwickshire and Hereford and Worcester. There are currently 158 appointments to the Birmingham tribunal. Shropshire is served by the Cardiff ROITs, along with the whole of Wales and part of the county of Cheshire. There are currently 116 appointments of lay members to the Cardiff tribunal;
--and chairmen and members of the following seven committees for the employment of people with disabilities, CEPDs:
Birmingham and Solihull
Coventry and Warwickshire
Dudley and Sandwell
Hereford and Worcester
Wolverhampton and Wallsall.
Each committee has an independent chairman and up to 14 members.
Appointments, and re-appointments to industrial tribunals are initially for three years. The next round of appointments will take effect in October 1995.
The CEPDs are usually reconstituted every three years, when all appointments are considered afresh. The last reconstitution exercise was completed in 1994.
Lay members of industrial tribunals are paid a fee of £119 for a day's sitting. CEPD chairmen and members are unpaid but may reclaim from the Employment Service travelling and subsistence expenses incurred on approved committee business.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people were (a) unemployed and (b) economically inactive in each constituency in the Wirral on average in each year since 1979; and if he will publish a breakdown of rates of (a) unemployment and (b) economic inactivity on average in each year since 1979 in the travel-to-work areas covering the Wirral.
Mr. Oppenheim: The numbers of unemployed claimants in each parliamentary constituency and unemployment rates for travel-to-work areas are available
Column 432monthly from June 1983, on the unadjusted basis. An analysis of economic inactivity by travel-to-work area is available from 1981 census and by parliamentary constituency from the 1981 and 1991 census. All this information can be obtained from the NOMIS database in the Library.
Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what has been the total amount spent on official hospitality by (a) his Department and (b) his agencies for each year since 1990.
Miss. Widdecombe: The total costs of official hospitality in the Department was:
Year |£ pounds --------------------------------------------------------------- 1990-91 |26,483 1991-92 |63,560 1992-93 |48,702 1993-94 |33,972 1994-95 |(to September) 4,952
The expenditure for the agencies was:
Year |£ pounds --------------------------------------------------------------- 1990-91 |29,000 1991-92 |22,760 1992-93 |21,140 1993-94 |35,470 1994-95 |(to September) 4,220
Mr. Pawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what was the total budget of TECs for 1993 94.
Mr. Paice: The total budget of training and enterprise councils in England in 1993 94 for activities funded by the Employment Department was £1,891 million, including the allowance payments for training for work participants. A further £30 million was made available to TECs in pit closure areas.
Mr. Pawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on how TEC courses are supervised and validated.
Mr. Paice: Training and enterprise councils are responsible for the quality and performance of all their suppliers. Employment Department quality assessors audit each TEC regularly to ensure that their arrangements meet the Department's published TEC quality assurance: supplier management requirements.
Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many (a) men and (b) women in each region were employed on temporary contracts in each of the last 10 years (a) in total and (b) as a percentage of employees in employment.
Mr. Oppenheim: The information is available from the labour force survey and can be obtained via the Quantime LFS service available in the Library.
Sir Thomas Arnold: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the offshore financial regulatory arrangements in each of the dependent territories in the Caribbean; what plans he has to change them; what arrangements cover the issue of banking licences; and what EC provisions are applicable.
Mr. Baldry: All the dependent territory Governments are reviewing arrangements for regulation of their offshore financial sectors. We have encouraged this review and are giving it our full support. Its objective is to raise to internationally accepted standards existing levels of regulation across the range of financial services. The effect will be: (a) to prevent criminals and fraudsters from bringing the dependent territories into disrepute, and (b) to increase the attractiveness of dependent territories to legitimate business investors. New offshore bank licensing guidelines have been, or are in the process of being, introduced by each of the dependent territories. These bring dependent territory licensing practice into line with the Basle committee's recommendations on consolidated home state supervision. European Union provisions do not apply.
Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Ministry of Defence regarding the military utility of anti-personnel mines for the armed forces.
Mr. David Davis: We continue to regard landmines as a legitimate defensive weapon when used responsibly in accordance with the laws of war. We are, however, working with like-minded countries to establish a viable and effective international control regime to ensure the responsible use of anti-personnel landmines. My Department is in regular contact with the Ministry of Defence over this.
Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Governments of other countries in the European Union regarding the moratorium on the export of anti-personnel mines, in particular regarding the exclusion of self-destruct and self-neutralising mines from the terms of the moratorium introduced by Her Majesty's Government on 27 July.
Mr. David Davis: We have regular discussions with our European Union partners with the aim of developing a viable and effective international control regime for anti-personnel landmines.
Mr. Pawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action is being taken by his Department to encourage investment in China.
Mr. Goodlad: The British embassy in Peking, the consulate-general in Shanghai and the China trade unit in Hong Kong work closely with the DTI and the China
Column 434Britain trade group to provide advice and information to British companies on the Chinese market. When, for example, the largest trade mission ever organised by the China Britain trade group visited China in September, one component specifically studied industrial investment opportunities with the help and support of our posts there.
Mr. Pawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which British industries by turnover are most active in China.
Mr. Goodlad: Total United Kingdom exports to China in 1993 increased by 72 per cent. over the previous year. The principal United Kingdom exports by industrial sectors were:
|£ million ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Specialised machinery |111 Power generating equipment |106 General industrial machinery and equipment |80 Other transport equipment |74 Telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment |70 Iron and steel |42 Metal working machinery |38 Professional, scientific and controlling equipment |29 Organic chemicals |25 Electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances |25
Sir Trevor Skeet: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now open a legation in Yerevan, Armenia, for the protection of British interests.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: There are at present no plans to establish a resident British mission in Yerevan. The pattern of our overseas representation is kept under review. Her Majesty's ambassador in Moscow is accredited to Armenia. He and his staff visit Yerevan regularly.
Sir Trevor Skeet: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to which location Armenian citizens requiring visas to enter the United Kingdom apply.
Mr. Baldry: Armenian citizens requiring visas to visit the United Kingdom may apply at any post designated to offer a visa service. Those persons wishing to enter the United Kingdom for some other purpose should apply to the British embassy in Moscow. A list of designated posts is available in the Library of the House.
Sir Trevor Skeet: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Armenians live in each state of the EU.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: This information is not centrally recorded and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Sir Trevor Skeet: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many members of the EU have diplomatic representations with Armenia in Yerevan.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: Three--France, Germany and Greece.