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Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the estimated benefit saving of the new test, including disability premium recipients in (a) Scotland, and (b) Strathclyde and the Benefits Agency districts contained within Benefits Agency area directorates 4 and 5.


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Mr. Hague: Estimates of benefit savings of the new test by region are not available.

Estimated benefit savings in Great Britain from applying the new medical test to existing recipients of invalidity benefit, new recipients of incapacity benefit and both new and existing recipients of a disability premium in the income-related benefits are shown in the table:


                                      |1995-96|1996-97|1997-98        

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Savings from medical test (£ million) |210    |700    |1,000          

Note:                                                                 

Estimates rounded to the nearest £10 million, expressed at constant   

1993-94 prices. Estimates include income-related benefits offsetting  

costs.                                                                

Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many of current invalidity benefit recipients are to be exempt from the new test for incapacity benefit by virtue of being aged 58 years or over, by virtue of being in receipt of disability living allowance higher care component; and what is the estimate of the number of exemptions being deemed under the prescribed conditions listed in the report, "Incapacity for Work".

Mr. Hague: We estimate that at April 1995, the number of invalidity benefit recipients aged 58 or over and in receipt of invalidity benefit continuously since 1 December 1993 will be around 738,000.

It is not possible to make an estimate of the number of existing invalidity benefit claimants who are in receipt of


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the highest rate of care component of disability living allowance. We estimate that around 293,000 existing claimants will be treated as incapable of work by reason of the exempt conditions listed in the report, "The Medical Assessment for Incapacity Benefit". Some of them will be aged 58 or over, but it is not possible to identify how many.

Cold Weather Payments

Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security on how many occasions in each of the last five years cold weather payments have been made in the counties of (a) Dorset, (b) Hampshire, (c) east Sussex, (d) west Sussex, (e) Kent and (f) Berkshire.

Mr. Roger Evans: The administration of the cold weather payments scheme is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. John Denham, dated 8 December 1994:

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your parliamentary question about the number of occasions in each of the last five years when cold weather payments have been made in six counties of southern England.

I have provided a list of the counties for which you requested, giving the number of times the weather stations returned temperature information which resulted in cold weather payments being issued. The information is based on the meteorological weather station that the Meteorological Office have advised broadly covers each county. I hope you find this reply helpful.


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County          |Weather Station|1989-90        |1990-91        |1991-92        |1992-93        |1993-94                        

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dorset          |Bournemouth    |-              |-              |1              |-              |-                              

Hampshire       |Southampton    |-              |-              |-              |-              |-                              

East Sussex     |Herstmonceux   |-              |-              |1              |-              |-                              

West Sussex     |Gatwick Airport|1              |-              |2              |1              |1                              

Kent            |Manston        |-              |-              |-              |1              |-                              

Berkshire       |Easthampstead  |1              |-              |3              |1              |1                              

In addition, cold weather payments were made on a national basis irrespective of recorded temperatures for the two weeks 1      

February 1991 to 14 February 1991.                                                                                              

Automated Benefit Payment Scheme

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security which suppliers have been invited to make proposals for the automated benefit payment system; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Arbuthnot: As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 30 November, the automation of post offices and benefit payment will make a major contribution to our top priority fight against fraud. It will also act as a springboard for Post Office Counters Ltd. to gain new business. Nine companies, some of whom lead consortia, submitted formal procedures to act as prime contractors in the development of payment cards to replace girocheques and order books. The following five have been selected, by Post Office Counters Ltd. and my Department, to develop their solutions further: BT; Cardlink UK; EDS; IBM; ICL.

Domestic Fuel

Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average amount spent weekly by (a) single pensioners and (b) married pensioners on domestic


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fuel between and including the months from November to March.

Mr. Roger Evans: The information requested is not available.

Back-to-work Scheme

Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether, under the back-to-work bonus scheme, the bonus payment will be treated as income or capital for the purpose of calculating family credit or housing benefit entitlement.

Mr. Roger Evans: No decision has yet been made about the effect of a back-to-work bonus on a claim for family credit or housing benefit.

Income Support

Mr. Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his assessment of the average loss per home owner who starts claiming income support with mortgage interest payments, arising from the changes introduced in the Budget after (a) April 1995 and


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(b) October 1995 compared with the arrangements prior to April 1995.

Mr. Roger Evans: The average loss per home owner who starts claiming income support with mortgage interest payments, arising from the changes introduced in the budget between April and October 1995 is estimated at around 25p. This estimate is based on the 1993 ASE, uprated to 1995 96 levels, and is rounded to the nearest 5p. The proposed changes to be introduced from October 1995 will be subject to wide consultation. The financial effect will depend on the outcome of the consultation and the final detail of the scheme.

Invalidity Benefit

Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the number of current recipients of invalidity benefit in Scotland, Strathclyde and the Benefits Agency district contained within Benefits Agency area directorates 4 and 5.

Mr. Hague: This is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available.

Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Donald Dewar, dated 8 December 1994:

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about Invalidity Benefit (IVB) recipients in Scotland.

The following figures were obtained from a 100% clerical count of cases in the Benefits Agency's (BA) District offices on 31 October 1994 and are the latest available.

The total number of IVB customers in Scotland at that date was 232,890.

The numbers of IVB customers dealt with by each Benefits Agency (BA) District in Area Directorates (ADs) 4 and 5 of the Scotland and Northern Territory are provided at Appendix 1 and total 171,287. IVB customers in Strathclyde are those dealt with by the BA Districts of ADs 4 and 5, with the exception of the Forth Valley and Highlands and Islands Districts. Consequently, there were 150,730 IVB customers within Strathclyde at 31 October 1994.

The figures provided include some customers who have claimed but are not actually receiving IVB. This is because there are circumstances in which, although there is underlying entitlement to IVB, because a higher overlapping benefit is in payment no IVB is actually paid.

I hope you find this reply helpful.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Patient Complaints

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many patient complaints were received per 1,000 patients treated in each year since 1989 90 by region.

Mr. Moss: There were 4.3 hospital-related patient complaints received per 1,000 patients treated in Northern Ireland during the period 1 April 1993 to 31 March 1994. Information relating to patient complaints is not available for years prior to 1993 94.

Information relating to patient complaints in the family health services is not available in the form requested.


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Health Care Purchases

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much was spent by (a) district health authorities, (b) family health service authorities, (c) regional health authorities, (d) trusts and (e) general practitioner fundholders on health care purchases from non-NHS providers in each of the last three years.

Mr. Moss: In Northern Ireland integrated health and personal social services are supplied by health boards, trusts, general practitioner fundholders and the Central Services Agency for the Health and Personal Social Services.

Health and social services boards' expenditure on the purchase of health and personal social services from non-NHS/HPSS providers was £5,777,349 in 1992 93 and £4,448,722 in 1993 94.

The accounts of the health and social services boards were revised in 1992 93 to take account of the separation of the

purchaser/provider functions and the information is accordingly not readily available prior to this date.

The first health and social services trusts were established in Northern Ireland on 1 April 1993. Their accounts for 1993 94 indicated nil expenditure on purchases from non-NHS/HPSS providers. The accounts of general practitioner fundholders do not currently separately record expenditure on purchases from non-NHS/HPSS providers.

Family practitioner services which are delivered by the CSA on a regional basis indicated nil expenditure on purchases from non-NHS/HPSS providers.

Mr. Ingram: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the estimated cost per annum of the Child Support Agency proposals to provide DNA testing for fathers in cases of disputed paternity.

Mr. Burt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Miss Ann Chant, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Mr. Adam Ingram, dated 9 December 1994:

I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the estimated cost to the Child Support Agency of DNA testing.

The contract for providing the DNA testing service has not yet been awarded, but it is being tendered on the basis that there will be no additional administrative costs for the Agency.

Where paternity is established, the resulting payment of child maintenance will provide a continuing nett weekly gain to either the parent with care, or in certain benefit cases, the taxpayer. In the expectedly small number of cases where the alleged absent parent proves not to be the father and benefit is involved, the Agency will refund the test fees from within existing operating costs.

I hope this reply is helpful.

Mrs. Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how much has been paid out by the Child Support Agency over the last 12 months in compensation for errors or inefficiency; and in how many cases;

(2) how many compensation claims for inefficiency are under consideration in the Child Support Agency.

Mr. Burt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Miss Ann Chant, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member.


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Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Ms Helen Jackson, dated 9 December 1994:

I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Social Security about claims for compensation from the Child Support Agency.

Over the 12 months to the end of September 1994, payments totalling £900 were authorized in respect of four claims. A further 102 were under active consideration.

I hope that this reply is helpful.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Nuclear Liabilities

Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what liabilities exist, what contractual arrangements exist to express those liabilities, in respect of Government programmes carried out prior to April 1971 on sites now in the ownership of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. or the Atomic Energy Authority; which agencies of Government took part in settling those contractual arrangements; and on what dates such arrangements were concluded.

Mr. Charles Wardle: In correspondence between the Secretary of State for Energy and the chairman of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority in 1986 the Government confirmed that they were prepared to continue to accept responsibility in principle for the costs which the UKAEA incurred in treating and disposing of nuclear wastes and in decommissioning plant arising from programmes carried out by the UKAEA and its predecessors prior to 1 April 1986.

In correspondence between the Secretary of State for Energy and the Chairman of BNFL in 1983 and 1988 the Government agreed in principle to accept responsibility for the costs which BNFL incurred in treating and disposing of nuclear wastes and in decommissioning plant, arising from programmes carried out prior to 1 April 1971, to the extent that Government Departments were responsible for those programmes.

All of the work for which DTI has accepted financial responsibility, including that on BNFL sites, is funded by means of a conditional grant from DTI to the UKAEA and therefore is not subject to contractual arrangements between DTI and the UKAEA.

The UKAEA has estimated that the total value of waste management and decommissioning liabilities for which DTI has accepted financial responsibility is £8 billion, within a range of £6 to £12 billion, undiscounted at present price levels. These figures include liabilities for which DTI has accepted financial responsibility that have arisen from programmes carried out by the UKAEA or BNFL on behalf of DEn/DTI since 1986 and 1971 respectively. £1 billion of this estimate relates to waste management and decommissioning at BNFL sites.

The Ministry of Defence has also accepted responsibility in principle for some liabilities in respect of Government programmes carried out prior to April 1971 on sites now in the ownership of BNFL and the UKAEA.

The principal Government Departments which took part in settling these arrangements were the Department of Energy, the Treasury and the Ministry of Defence.


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Insurance Company Act Notices

Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many times notices were issued under sections 32 and 33 of the Insurance Companies Act 1982 in each subsequent complete calendar year.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: Eighteen notices were issued under sections 32 and 33 in 1993; and 13 notices in 1994 to date. Figures for earlier years could not be obtained except at disproportionate cost.

Company Remuneration Committees

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what analysis he has carried out of the composition of remuneration committees of United Kingdom plcs and the background of their members.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: None. However, research has been commissioned by the Cadbury Committee as part of its monitoring of its code of best practice. The code recommends that remuneration committees should be made up wholly or mainly of non-executive directors who should be independent of management and free from any business or other relationship which could materially interfere with the exercise of their independent judgment, apart from their fees and shareholding.

Brewing Industry

Mr. Cox: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he last met members of the brewing industry which also included publicans to discuss the 1995 review by the European Union of the tied house system; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: I have responsibility for competition issues in the brewing industry. Since taking up post in October I have held no such meetings. However, my predecessor last met a group of publicans to discuss issues relating to the tied house system in June this year. The European Commission regulation 1984 83 under which the tie is permitted expires in 1997; the Commission has made it clear that it does not expect to begin its review of the regulation until early 1996.

Mortgage Insurance

Mr. Cohen: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his latest estimate of the additional cost per month to a house buyer of the requirement to take out insurance on a mortgage of £50,000.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: The current average cost of mortgage protection insurance policies is about £7 for every £100 of mortgage payment per month up to a general maximum of £1,000 per month. The cost of insurance against a £50,000 mortgage would depend on the level of interest rates.

Mr. Dewar: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how much he estimates an average householder will have to pay in monthly insurance premiums on a new mortgage when plans to limit income support help with mortgage interest payments come into effect.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: The current average cost of mortgage protection insurance policies is about £7 for every £100 of mortgage payment per month up to a general maximum of £1,000 per month. Costs to householders will vary according to the prevailing rate of interest and how much they choose to insure.


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Future Large Aircraft

Dr. David Clark: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what recent representations he has received concerning the future large aircraft.

Mr. Eggar: I have received many representations from interested parties including several United Kingdom aerospace companies and from hon. Members.

Dr. David Clark: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State of Defence concerning the future large aircraft; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Eggar: My Department keeps in close contact with the Ministry of Defence on the future large aircraft and other projects with significant implications for United Kingdom industry.

Dr. David Clark: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment his Department has made of the impact on the aerospace industry if the future large aircraft is not procured by the Government.

Mr. Eggar: My Department is considering the industrial implications of the future large aircraft with the Ministry of Defence and other interested Departments.

Deregulation Task Force

Mr. Milburn: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the members of the deregulation task force and their payments.

Mr. Jonathan Evans: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Ainsworth) on 6 July 1994, Official Report , column 224, which listed the members of the deregulation task force. In addition, David Band of Barclays de Zoete Wedd has since been appointed. Individuals do not receive payment for their work as members of the deregulation task force, but the Department has agreed to reimburse their travel expenses.

Soft Commissions

Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to co-ordinate action by regulatory bodies in the United Kingdom, in United Kingdom dependencies and elsewhere to end the offering of soft commissions by brokers; and what steps he will take to ensure that insurance companies declare soft commissions offered to, or by, brokers and fund managers acting on their behalf.

Mr. Nelson: I have been asked to reply.

Under the Financial Services Act 1986 "soft commissions" are closely controlled. They must be subject to formal soft commission agreements in each case and the range of benefits provided limited to those relating specifically to the fund manager's business. Fund managers are obliged to make regular and full disclosure to the fund trustees of all benefits provided to them.

Action in the dependent territories and elsewhere is a matter for their regulatory authorities.


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DUCHY OF LANCASTER

Special Advisers

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the special advisers employed by his Department in each of the last five years indicating when they (a) joined and (b) left his Department and the annual salary they received.

Mr. David Hunt [pursuant to his reply, 5 December 1994, Official Report, column 16-17]: Miss R. Finlay was also employed as a speciaadviser in the Chief Whip's Offices from June 1985 to October 1991.

EMPLOYMENT

Jobseekers Allowance

Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is his policy under the jobseekers allowance in respect of claimants needing to show good cause for rejecting the offer of a part-time job of less than 24 hours a week.

Miss Widdecombe: I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave to the hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) on 25 November 1994, Official Report , column 387 .

Social Affairs Council

Mr. Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment, if he will make a statement on the outcome of the EC Social Affairs Council held on 6 December.

Mr. Portillo: I attended the Social Affairs Council on 6 December in Brussels, accompanied by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Deptartment of Employment. The principal items on the agenda were two draft directives, on part-time and temporary work, and on posted workers; a discussion of Commissioner Flynn's White Paper on the future of European social policy; and a presentation of the Commission's proposals for the Essen European Council to follow up the earlier White Paper on growth, competitiveness and employment. There were no formal votes. The Leonardo training programme, a resolution on women and employment and proposals on the future of the handynet information system were agreed unanimously. The other 11 member states agreed a resolution, under their agreement on social policy, on future Community social policy.

In discussion of the part-time and temporary work directive, I made it clear that the United Kingdom could not accept the measure proposed. The United Kingdom Government have always opposed its directive because we believe that this is not an appropriate subject for Community-wide regulation and that the directive would lead to a loss of part-time jobs in the United Kingdom, particularly for women. There are 6 million part-time workers in the United Kingdom--more than 30 per cent. of all the part-time works in the European Community.The vast majority of them wish to work part time rather than full time. With nearly 20 million unemployed, the European Community should not be making it harder for employers to create part-time jobs. The Commission


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indicated that it would bring forward new proposals in this area under the agreement on social policy.

There was an inconclusive discussion of the draft directive on posted workers. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State made clear our considerable difficulties, of both principle and detail. A number of other member states also had significant difficulties with the proposal. The Presidency announced that the Council would meet again on 21 December to discuss it further.

The President of the European Commission, Mr. Delors, reported to the Council on issues to be discussed at the Essen European Council, following up the Commission's White Paper on growth, competitiveness and employment, and on the Commission report on employment. No formal conclusions were drawn.

There was a brief debate on Commissioner Flynn's White Paper on European social policy, again without conclusions.

I took the opportunity at the Council to set out the United Kingdom view of how the social affairs agenda should develop over the next few years. I suggested five main subjects for the Council of Ministers in the social affairs field:

-- encouraging more effective policies to give the unemployed, particularly the long-term unemployed, the best chance of finding a job;

-- improving training, through Community support for member states' activities;

-- developing consistent standards for the implementation and enforcement of existing Community legislation;

-- further practical steps to promote the free movement of workers;

-- a re-examination of existing Community legislation to see whether it is still relevant and whether it stands in the way of job creation.

A resolution on social policy tabled by the Presidency which focused on developing legally-binding minimum standards at Community level was agreed by the other 11 member states under their agreement on social policy.

Final agreement was reached on the Leonardo vocational training programme.

A resolution on women and employment and a decision on the continuation, until 1996, of the handynet information system for people with disabilities were agreed without discussion.

The Council endorsed the conclusions of the Development Council about the world summit on social development which will take place in March 1995 in Copenhagen.


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