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Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what is the current payment per acre for set-aside land; and what is the total amount which he expects to pay to British farmers for this arrangement in the current year;
(2) on what grounds he has proposed to the Commission that recipients of the set-aside scheme should be permitted to grow trees on such land;
(3) if he will make a statement outlining the subsidies, grants and allowances which are available for the growing of trees in the United Kingdom; and if such payments would be available to occupiers of set-aside land in the
Column 1367event of the Commission agreeing to his proposals for the flexible use of set-aside land.
Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his predecessor's answer of 20 April, Official Report , column 564 , if he will provide an amended table to the numbers of workers on
Column 1368agricultural holdings encompassing (a) all agricultural holdings in the less favoured areas, including those beneath eight ESUs and (b) all part-time workers, including those employed on farms beneath eight ESUs; and if he will provide a further breakdown for each district authority which features less favoured area land within its boundaries.
Total labour force and total part-time workers by county in England June 1992 Census (excluding minor holdings) Total Labour Regular part-time force<1> labour force<2> |Holdings wholly or |Holdings wholly or |All holdings |mainly in the LFA |All holdings |mainly in the LFA ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Avon |6,032 |- |1,450 |- Bedfordshire |3,602 |- |815 |- Berkshire |2,372 |- |611 |- Buckinghamshire |4,697 |- |1,370 |- Cleveland |1,102 |306 |213 |61 Cambridgeshire |11,063 |- |2,244 |- Cheshire |11,285 |419 |2,440 |132 Cornwall and Isles of Scilly |15,509 |2,756 |3,786 |739 Cumbria |14,501 |5,942 |2,863 |1,101 Derbyshire |8,711 |3,078 |2,175 |796 Devon |24,836 |5,543 |6,137 |1,355 Dorset |8,305 |- |2,097 |- Durham |5,085 |2,590 |1,056 |531 Essex |12,544 |- |3,256 |- Gloucestershire |8,327 |- |2,201 |- Hampshire |10,548 |- |2,776 |- Humberside |11,475 |- |1,958 |- Hereford and Worcester |19,111 |715 |4,333 |171 Hertfordshire |3,683 |- |912 |- Isle of Wight |1,488 |- |368 |- Kent |20,627 |- |4,652 |- Lancashire |15,476 |3,781 |3,577 |884 Leicestershire |7,095 |- |1,683 |- Lincolnshire |-21,694 |- |-4,410 |- Merseyside |1,533 |- |338 |- Greater London |1,498 |- |394 |- Greater Manchester |3,517 |742 |893 |185 Norfolk |18,407 |- |3,769 |- Northamptonshire |5,165 |- |1,308 |- Northumberland (inc Tyne and Wear) |7,184 |3,867 |1,400 |807 Nottinghamshire |5,997 |- |1,353 |- Oxfordshire |5,956 |- |1,408 |- Shropshire |12,521 |1,650 |2,752 |384 Somerset |14,503 |942 |3,409 |254 Staffordshire |11,258 |1,942 |2,450 |435 Suffolk |12,909 |- |3,032 |- Surrey |5,553 |- |1,670 |- East Sussex |6,385 |- |1,792 |- West Sussex |8,988 |- |2,172 |- Warwickshire |6,385 |- |1,556 |- Wiltshire |8,217 |- |1,913 |- West Midlands |1,246 |- |320 |- South Yorkshire |3,668 |647 |802 |154 North Yorkshire |22,936 |5,456 |4,512 |1,083 West Yorkshire |7,080 |2,589 |2,057 |810 England |420,074 |42,965 |96,683 |9,882 <1> Includes all farmers, partners and directors, spouses, salaried managers and regular whole-time and part-time hired and family workers and seasonal and casual workers. <2> Includes part-time farmers, partners and directors, regular part-time family and hired workers but excludes seasonal and casual workers.
Column 1368a further breakdown for each local government district authority of the number of less favoured area holdings.
Mr. Tyler: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of evidence suggesting a link between exposure to organo-phosphorous pesticides used for delousing during the Gulf war, and Gulf war syndrome; and what plans his Department has to take steps to outlaw the use of organo-phosphorous pesticides.
Mrs. Browning: I have made no assessment of this suggested link and have no plans to ban the use of organo-phosphorous pesticides. Pesticides cannot be marketed or used in the United Kingdom unless shown to be effective, humane and to pose no unacceptable risks to humans, non-target species or the environment. Pesticides are also routinely reviewed and may be reviewed urgently if new evidence emerges.
Sir Ralph Howell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what would be the saving in the whole range of social security benefits, including unemployment benefit and training payments, and exemption from prescription charges and other associated benefits, if everybody who was fit and able to work were deemed to have earned £120 per week between the ages of 18 years of age and state retirement age, and if all young people between 16 and 17 years of age were deemed to have earned £60 per week.
Mr. Burt: The latest available information is given in the table. The data source is the Department of Social Security's households below average income--HBAI-- analysis.A copy of the latest edition is in the Library.
Data are for the combined years 1990 and 1991 (1990 91) and 1991 and 1992 (1991 92) as in the publication. This is in line with HBAIs stocktaking report of November 1991 which recommended that two years' data be combined to improve the accuracy of estimates. However, small changes from period to period are unlikely to be significant.
Percentage change in real income for each decile group, 1990-91 to 1991-92 |Before housing|After housing |costs |costs ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Decile 1 (bottom decile) |(1) |(-4) Decile 2 |1 |0 Decile 3 |(0) |(-1) Decile 4 |(-1) |(0) Decile 5 |(0) |(1) Decile 6 |(0) |(1) Decile 7 |0 |0 Decile 8 |0 |(1) Decile 9 |(0) |(1) Decile 10 |(0) |(0) Small changes from 1990-91 to 1991-92 are unlikely to be significant. Figures in brackets are particularly uncertain; the range in which the true change lies is greater than +/- 2.5 percentage points and greater than 30 per cent. of the estimate. Figures are rounded to the nearest whole per cent.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people (a) below the age of 20 years, (b) aged 20 to 29 years and (c) aged 30 years or over without accommodation were in receipt of income support in Scotland at the latest available date; and how many of them were unemployed at the time.
Mr. Roger Evans: Since publication of income support statistics for May 1991, collation of this information in local benefit offices is no longer undertaken by clerical means but by the income support computer system. However, although all main functions are in place, work is incomplete on some functions less central to everyday operation. This includes the process to retrieve information on claimants without accommodation. Steps have been taken to introduce an appropriate retrieval process from the May 1994 statistical inquiry, information from which is expected to be available in early 1995.
Figures for May 1991 show that there were 1,000 income support recipients in Scotland without accommodation.
Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimates have been made of the take up rate of income support by those potentially able to apply in the 55 to 65 years age group of (a) men and (b) women.
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Rupert Allason, dated 2 November 1994 :
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the response to the appeal for financial assistance from Mr. Arnold Edward Chapman. You may recall that I wrote to you on 19 July 1994 to say that a claim form had been sent to Mr. Chapman so that he could claim a War Disablement Pension. The completed form was not returned by
Column 1371Mr. Chapman until 19 October and then only after follow up action by the Agency.
Mr. Chapman's claim is now being considered and I will keep you informed of progress.
I hope you find my reply helpful.
Ms Gordon: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the estimated administration cost of the habitual residence test from 1 August 1994 to 1 August 1995; and what is the amount of income support the Government estimate will be saved by the application of this test.
Mr. Roger Evans: The estimated annual cost to the Benefits Agency of administering the habitual residence test is £368,000. The estimated income support saving for the same period is in excess of £7 million.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what medical assessment is made of persons whose disability living allowance is now to be determined on the middle rate which was previously determined at a higher rate;
(2) when he introduced a middle rate on disability living allowance; and how many people have been affected by the introduction of such a rate.
Mr. Hague: Disability living allowance was introduced on 1 April 1992 with three rates of the care component and two rates of the mobility component. The higher and middle rates of the care components are the same as the higher and lower rates of the old attendance allowance. The higher rate of the mobility component is the same as
Column 1372the old mobility allowance. On the introduction of the new benefit we took the opportunity to introduce a new lower rate for each component to extend the new arrangements to people who were unable to qualify for help before. The table shows the number of awards of the different rates of each component since February 1992 when claims could first be made.
A key feature of the adjudication system for disability living allowance is self-assessment. However, a claimant can ask to be examined by an examining medical practitioner if he or she wishes. Whether an adjudication officer seeks a medical report depends on the particular circumstances of the case.
Awards of DLA by component 1 February 1992 to 30 September 1994 Component |Number of awards ------------------------------------------------------- Higher rate care |141,221 Middle rate care |147,065 Lower rate care |231,878 Higher rate mobility |375,611 Lower rate mobility |189,584 Note: The figures are the number of components awarded and include top-up claims. Some people may receive both components Source: Analytical Services Division 100 per cent. count.
Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of (a) reviews and (b) appeals were (i) successful and (ii) unsuccessful in each year since 1992 93 and the first quarter of 1994 95 for (1) care and (2) mobility components of (x) disability living allowance and (y) attendance allowance.
Disability Living Attendance Allowance Allowance |Total |Favourable |Success rate|Total |Favourable |Success rate Period |decisions |decisions |per cent. |decisions |decisions |per cent. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Reviews 1992-1993 |46,429 |19,580 |42 |99,709 |79,378 |80 1993-1994 |293,199 |135,187 |46 |118,589 |90,742 |77 April 1994-June 1995 |65,623 |34,595 |53 |24,995 |19,888 |80 Appeals 1992-1993 276 92 33 Statistics not available in the form requested. 1993-1994 |18,459 |9,310 |50 April 1994-June 1995 |7,150 |4,056 |57 Notes: 1. Decisions made in the period shown may not relate to requests for review and appeal made during the same period. 2. Appeals figures for DLA in 1992-93 include a number of mobility allowance appeals. 3. Favourable decisions are those where the rate of the award has been increased, figures include cases where the claimant's condition has deteriorated since the initial decision was made
Column 1372Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody, dated 3 November 1994:
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the disposal of correspondence in the Child Support Agency.
Stories reported in the press stem from the fact that four files were found at the bottom of the lift shaft in the Agency's centre at Dudley earlier this year. No other correspondence has been found in comparable circumstances.
The Agency's regional centres will typically receive some thousands of items of post each week, every one of which is recorded by registration staff before being sent to the appropriate section for action. Any evidence of post being disposed of
Column 1373improperly would be fully investigated, and disciplinary action taken as appropriate in the circumstances.
I hope this reply is helpful, but if you want further information I will be happy to write to you further.
Mr. Mills: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many employees of the Child Support Agency have been sent on outward bound courses since the agency was established; what was the cost per employee; and what was the total cost; and if he will make a statement.
Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Mr. Iain Mills, dated 3 November 1994:
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the number of employees the Child Support Agency has sent on "outward bound" courses. No member of the Agency's staff has been sent on an outward bound course but, like the whole of the Civil Service and any large employer, the Agency does on occasion send suitable management staff on external developmental training courses--including Outward Bound Trust "City Challenge" courses. Such courses may contain an element of outdoor activity.
I hope that this reply is helpful, but if you want further information, I will be happy to write to you further.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many deductions from earnings orders were made by the Child Support Agency in the year 1993 94; and what proportion of these were in relation to interim assessments.
Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Mr. Jonathan Evans, dated 3 November 1994:
On 21 July, John Hughes, the Business Development Director, wrote to you in reply to PQ 2406/1993 94 which concerned the number of Deductions from Earnings Orders made by the Child Support Agency during 1993 94.
Due to a typographical error, you were incorrectly advised that 2,200 such orders were issued. The correct figure is 2,600.
Please accept my apologies for this error.
Mr. Cann: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many interviews have now been carried out by each benefits agency branch office to investigate whether a person should be required to co-operate with the Child Support Agency.
Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Mr. Jamie, Cann dated 2 November 1994 :
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the number of interviews the Child Support Agency has carried out in relation to the requirement to co-operate.
Information is not available in the form you request, but I can tell you that to the end of August 1994, over 82,000 interviews had been undertaken by the Agency concerning the requirement to co-operate.
I hope this reply is helpful.
Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what considerations led to the decision to include a request for information on the time, place and nature of marriage ceremonies undergone on the form of request for a state pension.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. David Winnick, dated 3 November 1994:
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to our Parliamentary Question about information requested on the time, place and nature of marriage ceremonies in the claim to a state pension.
The state pension claim form is form BR1 and this form does request the date of marriage for a spouse or former spouse. If the form BR1 is being completed by a woman we also request the marriage certificate. This form does not ask for the time, place and nature of marriage ceremonies.
We need to verify the date of marriage if the customer is a married woman claiming wholly or partly on her husband's contributions. In these circumstances it is essential to establish that the woman is married to the person on whose contributions her claim is to be based.
For marriages that took place in the UK where the customer does not supply a certificate with the BR1, a form is sent to her requesting the certificate and giving information on how to obtain it if she does not have it. If this does not result in the production of the certificate a reminder is sent out. This reminder should be completed only if the customer is still unable to supply the certificate and it requests details including the date and place of the marriage, but not of the nature of marriage ceremony. This information is required so that the Benefits Agency can obtain verification of the marriage from the General Registrar's Office. In cases where marriage took place in a country which permits polygamy details are requested at the time, place and the law, religion or custom under which the marriage was performed. This information is required in order to enable the adjudication officer, whose responsibility it is to decide claims to benefit, to determine whether the marriage in question is monogamous on the day when all the entitlement conditions are satisfied.
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of whether it would be operationally feasible to base April benefit upratings on the level of prices in a later month than the previous September.
Mr. Hague: The retail prices index information for the previous September is used as the basis for uprating benefits as this is the latest information which can be reasonably taken into account when assessing the Department's future expenditure plans as part of the unified budget process. The use of the September figure also allows the timely award of the new rates from the date of the uprating. We have no plans to change the existing arrangements.
Mr. Devlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will exercise his discretion not to recover an overpayment of sickness benefit and income support from Mr. Steven Heward of 137 Acklam road, Middlesbrough, reference NH398490C.
Mr. Roger Evans: An officer acting on behalf of the Secretary of State has considered the matter carefully and had decided that in the particular circumstances of this case no further action will be taken to recover the overpaid sums from Mr. Heward.
Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many employed (a) women and (b) men are currently earning below the lower earnings limit; and how many of these are covered by the home responsibilities protection scheme.
Mr. Arbuthnot: It is estimated that 2.2 million women and 800,000 men earn less than the lower earnings limit in any week. The number of these covered by the home responsibilities protection scheme is not known, but those who satisfy the normal conditions for caring have potential access to the scheme.
Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the number of holders of appropriate personal pensions who are contributing only their national insurance rebate; and if he will provide this information by relation to the income of the holder.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The information is not available in the form requested. The number of APP holders who made no contribution in addition to the DSS payment in the financial year 1992 93--the latest year for which figures are available--was 3,050,000. The number of individuals contracted out of the state earnings-related pension scheme into APP as at 31 March 1993 was 5,004,000.
Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action he is taking to ensure that those who are holders of appropriate personal pensions but who would be better off rejoining SERPS are advised to do so.
Mr. Arbuthnot: All new appropriate personal pension holders automatically receive a copy of the DSS leaflet "Making the most of your Personal Pension--PP2". The leaflet advises APP holders to monitor continually their pension arrangements in the light of any changes in their circumstances and that they should seek expert financial advice before coming to any decision on whether to alter those arrangements.
Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) women and (b) men applied to his Department requesting a projection of their future state pension entitlement in the last year for which figures are available; and how much it cost to provide.
Information regarding gender breakdown is not available.
Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the number of holders of appropriate personal pensions who have (a) reduced their contribution to the APP and (b) matched
Column 1376their contributions to their APP in each of the past five years.
Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the number of individuals who have opted out of the state earnings-related pension scheme for whom it would be financially beneficial to rejoin.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The information requested is not available. The decision whether to contract out of SERPS depends on an individual's circumstances. Any appropriate personal pension holder who is concerned that he or she may be better off by rejoining SERPS should contact his or her pension provider.