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Desert Storm Syndrome

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the recent United States Senate Committee for Veteran Affairs' report on Desert Storm syndrome; and if he will make a statement.


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Mr. Soames: My Department is aware of a report dated 8 November 1994, written by the majority staff of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, entitled "Is Military Research Hazardous to Veterans' Health? Lessons Spanning Half a Century". As with all material relating to the alleged Desert Storm syndrome, my Department will be reviewing the scientific and medical basis for the report and evaluating the relevance of it, if any, to our own investigations into the claimed Gulf war-related illnesses among UK armed forces personnel.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Rents

Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the full-year effect on social security expenditure of the proposal to cover only 50 per cent. of rent above the average for similar properties in an area for new claimants and those moving home after October 1995.

Mr. Roger Evans: Much will depend on the definition of the average and other factors, including the behaviourial effects of the proposals. However, the estimated savings to housing benefit from this proposal from October 1995 to October 1996 are around £40 million. The projected cost of housing benefit expenditure over this period will be published in the social security departmental report in the normal way.

Pensions

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) men and (b) women aged over 65 years who qualified for a state pension based on their own contributions did not qualify for the full rate of state pension; and what proportion those figures represent of the total of (i) men, (ii) women and (iii) men and women in receipt of state pension.

Mr. Arbuthnot: The information is in the table.


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Column 1           |Column 2          |Column 3          |Column 4          |Column 5          |Column 6          |Column 7          |Column 8          |Column 9                             

                                                         |Number of men     |Number of                                                                                                        

                                                         |aged 65 and       |women aged 65                                                                                                    

                                                         |over in receipt   |and over in                                                                                                      

                                                         |of basic          |receipt of basisic                                                                                               

                                                         |retirement        |retirement                                                                                                       

                                                         |pension (based    |pension(based                                                                                                    

                   |Total number of                      |on own            |on own                                                                                                           

Total number of    |women in                             |contributions) at |contributions at  |Column 4 as a     |Column 5 as a     |Column 4 as a     |Column 5 as a                        

men in receipt of  |receipt of state  |Column 1+         |less than         |less than         |percentage of     |percentage of     |percentage of     |percentage of                        

state pension      |pension           |column 2          |standard rate     |standard rate     |column 1          |column 2          |column 3          |column 3                             

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

3,310,060          |6,285,590         |9,595,650         |172,310           |334,890           |5.21              |5.33              |1.80              |3.49                                 

Notes:                                                                                                                                                                                        

1. Figures are for 31 March 1994, the latest date in respect of which information is available, for persons resident in Great Britain.                                                        

2. "State retirement pension" means a contributory retirement pension, a non-contributory retirement pension or graduated retirement benefit.                                                 

3. Figure at column 2 includes women aged 60-64.                                                                                                                                              

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the average state earnings-related pensions scheme pension for (a) women aged 60 to 64 years and (b) men aged 65 to 69 years in the latest available year.

Mr. Arbuthnot: At 31 March 1994, the latest date in respect of which information is available, the average rate of additional pension payable as a component of retirement pension was:


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£9.53 for women aged 60 to 64 years

£14.12 for men aged 65 to 69 years

Notes:

1. Figures do not include--

(a) women aged 60 to 64 and men aged 65 to 69 receiving additional pension as a component of invalidity pension,

(b) women aged 60 to 64 receiving additional pension as a component of widow's benefit,


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(c) women aged 60 to 64 and men aged 65 to 69 whose entitlement to additional pension is fully extinguished by a contracted-out deduction arising from membership of a contracted-out occupational pension scheme or an approved personal pension scheme,

(d) persons with no entitlement to additional pension.

2. Figures are for persons resident in Great Britain.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of (a) men aged 65 years and (b) women aged 60 years received a state earnings-related pension at the latest available date.

Mr. Arbuthnot: At 31 March 1994, the latest date in respect of which information is available, 71.8 per cent. of men aged 65 and 35.2 per cent. of women aged 60 were in receipt of additional pension payable as a component of state retirement pension.

Notes:

1. Figures do not include--

(a) women aged 60 and men aged 65 receiving additional pension as a component of invalidity pension,

(b) women aged 60 receiving additional pension as a component of widows benefit,

(c) women aged 60 and men aged 65 whose entitlement to additional pension is fully extinguished by a contracted-out deduction arising from membership of a contracted-out occupational pension scheme or an approved personal pension scheme.

2. Figures are for persons resident in Great Britain.

3. Population figures used are Government Actuary's Department 1992 based estimates.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) men aged 65 years and over and


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(b) women aged 60 years and over were in receipt of state pension in the latest available date.

Mr. Arbuthnot: I refer the hon. Member to my reply of 25 October, Official Report , column 428 to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Broadgreen (Mrs. Kennedy).

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) men aged 65 to 69 years and (b) women aged 60 to 64 years were receiving an occupational pension at the latest available date.

Mr. Arbuthnot: The most recent estimates available show that in 1992 there were 1 million men aged 65 to 69 years and 0.4 million women aged 60 to 64 years in receipt of an occupational pension. Estimates are derived from the 1992 Family Expenditure Survey; and "Occupational Pension Schemes 1991--Ninth survey by the Government Actuary".

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many women aged over 60 years are currently not eligible for state pension as a result of an insufficient national insurance contribution record.

Mr. Arbuthnot: The information requested is not available.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many women eligible for the state pension in the latest available year received the full state pension; and what percentage of women this represents of (a) the female population, (b) the female population aged over 60 years and (c) the female population in receipt of state pension.

Mr. Arbuthnot: The information is in the table.


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                                        |Column 3           |Column 4                               

Column 1            |Column 2           |Figure at column 1 |Figure at Column 1                     

                                        |as a percentage    |as a percentage                        

Total number of     |Figure at column 1 |of the total       |of total number of                     

women receiving     |as a percentage                        |women in receipt                       

standard rate       |of the total female|female population  |of state                               

Category A, B, B(L) |population         |aged                                                       

or                                                                                                  

A/B(L) retirement                       |60 and over        |pension                                

pensions                                                                                            

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

5,328,920           |18.4 per cent.     |78.8 per cent.     |87.0 per cent.                         

Notes:                                                                                              

Columns 1 and 4:                                                                                    

-figures are for 31 March 1994, the latest date in respect of which information is available, for   

persons resident in Great Britain.                                                                  

-"State retirement pension" means a contributory retirement pension, a non-contributory retirement  

pension or graduated retirement benefit.                                                            

-Category A retirement pension is based on the woman's own national insurance contributions.        

-Category B retirement pension is payable to a widow and is based on her late husband's national    

insurance contributions.                                                                            

-Category B(L) retirement pension is paid to a married woman and is based on her husband's national 

insurance contributions.                                                                            

-Category A/B(L) retirement pension is payable to a married woman and is based on both her own and  

her husband's national insurance contributions.                                                     

Columns 2 and 3-population figures are Government Actuary's Department 1992 based estimates.        

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many women who retired at age 60 years during the latest year for which figures are available received pensions based (a) wholly and (b) partly on the husband's national insurance contribution records; and what proportion, by percentage, these figures represent of: (i) total female population aged over 60 years and (ii) total female population in receipt of state pension.

Mr. Arbuthnot: The information is in the table.


Column 1       |Column 2      |Column 3      |Column 4      |Column 5      |Column 6      |Column 7      |Column 8      |Column 9      |Column 10     |Column 11                    

Number of                     |Number of                                                                                                                                            

married                       |married                                                                                                                                              

women aged     |Number of     |Women aged                                                                                                                                           

60 in receipt  |widows aged   |60 in receipt |Total female                                                                                                                          

of Category    |60 in receipt |of Category   |population    |Total female                                                                                                           

B(L)           |of Category   |A/B(L)        |aged 60       |population in |Column 1 as   |Column 2 as   |Column 3 as   |Column 1 as   |Column 2 as   |Column 3 as                  

retirement     |B retirement  |retirement    |years and     |receipt of    |per cent. of  |per cent. of  |per cent. of  |per cent. of  |per cent. of  |per cent. of                 

pension        |pension       |pension       |over          |state pension |column 4      |column 4      |column 4      |column 5      |column 5      |column 4                     

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

19,690         |4,440         |13,870        |6,764,000     |6,285,590     |0.29 per cent.|0.07 per cent.|0.21 per cent.|0.31 per cent.|0.07 per cent.|0.22 per cent.               

1. Category B(L) and Category B pensions are based wholly on the husband's national insurance contributions.                                                                        

2. Category A/B(L) pensions are based partly on the husband's national insurance contributions.                                                                                     

3. Figures are not available in respect of widows whose pensions are based partly on the late husband's national insurance contributions.                                           

4. Figures at columns 1 to 3 and 5 are for 31 March 1994, the latest date in respect of which information is available, for persons resident in Great Britain.                      

5. Population figures used are Government Actuary's Department 1992 based estimates.                                                                                                

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) men and (b) women were members of an occupational pension scheme at the latest available date.

Mr. Arbuthnot: The most recent figures available show that in 1991 there were 6.8 million male and 3.9 million female active occupational scheme members .

Occupational pension schemes 1991. Ninth survey by the Government Actuary.

A member of an occupational pension scheme who is at present accruing benefits under that scheme in respect of current service.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the effect on Government revenues in a full year of the real increase in non-dependent deductions from housing benefit.

Mr. Roger Evans: The estimated savings from the real increase in non -dependant deductions in housing benefit from April 1995 are £35 million in a full year.

Source:

The 1990 91 92 family expenditure surveys uprated to 1994 95 prices and benefit levels. Figures rounded to the nearest £5 million.

Family Credit

Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will give reasons for waiting until October 1996 to pilot his proposed scheme for extending family credit to childless couples and individuals.

Mr. Roger Evans: The timing of introduction of the proposed pilot scheme is dictated by the need to develop and consult on the evaluation methodology and the criteria for selecting pilot areas; to draw up detailed rules for the new benefit and develop supporting IT systems; and to allow time for the introduction of jobseeker's allowance in April 1996. An earlier introduction would be operationally difficult and would risk confusion between the effects of the new benefit and those of the jobseeker's allowance itself.

National Insurance

Mr. Hawksley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many persons are eligible for a national insurance card.

Mr. Arbuthnot: Everyone who is registered for national insurance on the national insurance recording system is eligible to receive a national insurance number card. It is estimated that, at 5 December, there were 62,058,200 people registered on the system.

European Year of Older People

Mr. Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what contribution his Department has made in 1994 to follow up European Year of Older People and Solidarity between Generations in 1993.

Mr. Arbuthnot: The year 1994 is viewed both in the United Kingdom and within the Community as a year of evaluation and consolidation of the achievements of the European year. We maintain close links with the voluntary sector and have provided the sum of £20,000 towards the setting up of a small secretariat to take this work forward.


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Income Support

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what discussions he held with the insurance companies prior to his announcement of changes to the provision of income support for mortgage interest.

Mr. Roger Evans: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Southhampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham), on 7 December, Official Report , column 363 .

VAT on Fuel

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what were the reasons for the recall of recently printed pension books relating to VAT compensation.

Mr. Roger Evans: As a result of the decision not to increase the level of VAT on domestic fuel to 17.5 per cent., the rate of retirement pension, and certain other benefits, from April 1995 has been revised. Some books containing payments at the incorrect rate had already been issued and these will be replaced.

Disabled People

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) on what date he intends to publish the Government's proposed Bill on discrimination against disabled people;

(2) if he will be publishing the Government's proposed Bill on discrimination against disabled people before the Christmas recess.

Mr. Hague: The Bill will be published shortly once the detailed contents have been finalised.

Child Support

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the practicalities of introducing a lower rate of assessable income for child maintenance in retrospective cases, as recommended by the Social Security Select Committee, fifth report of Session 1993 94, HC 470; and when he will report his findings to the House.

Mr. Lilley: I have today written to the Chairman of the Committee, providing the exemplifications it requested; and I have placed a copy of the letter in the Library.

Contributions Agency

Mr. Trend: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he intends to evaluate the introduction of the Contributions Agency, in line with the next steps principles.

Mr. Arbuthnot: I am pleased to announce that an evaluation report on the Contributions Agency has been published today. It shows clearly that the introduction of the agency has proved successful and is a sound base on which to build. The report sets out the many improvements that have resulted from agency status, both in the agency's specific areas of responsibility and in their positive impact on the work of this Department as a whole.


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Copies of the report have been placed in the Library.

Inquiries about the report should be addressed to:Ms C. Thompson, Department of Social Security, Room 0903, The Adelphi building, 1-11 John Adam street, London WC2N 6HT.

Social Fund

Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many social fund applications for (a) grants and (b) loans have been turned down in each local office in the Benefits Agency southern territory in each year since 1990 91;

(2) how many social fund applications for (a) grants and (b) loans were turned down even though the applicant fulfilled qualifying criteria due to local budgeting restriction in each local office in the Benefits Agency southern territory in each year since 1990 91.

Mr. Roger Evans: The administration of the social fund 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. John Denham, dated 13 December 1994:

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions asking how many Social Fund grant and loan applications were refused, and how many were


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refused due to local budgeting restrictions, for each local office in the Benefits Agency's Southern Territory since 1990/91.

Information for 1990/91 is not available in the format requested; this is because the Southern Territory has only existed from April 1991 when the Benefits Agency was formed. However, I have provided details of the number of loan and grant applications refused in each of the Districts in the Southern Territory for the years 1991/92, 1992/93 and 1993/94 at Annex A; a copy has been placed in the Library. The number refused on the grounds of insufficient priority for the same period has been provided at Annex B and a copy has also been placed in the Library.

The new Social Fund Computer System (SFCS), introduced in 1993/94, collects additional statistics which were not held on the previous system. Many statistical items are collected differently and are not directly comparable with earlier years. The previous system recorded reasons for refusal per application whereas SFCS records reasons for refusal per item requested. In cases where a partial award is made, a reason for refusal will also be appropriate. As SCFS was introduced into Districts on a rollout basis throughout 1993/94, the figures for that year will be a combination of the information held on the two systems.

I hope you find this reply helpful.

Benefit Upratings

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his oral statement of 30 November, Official Report , columns 205-8 , what would be the value of all non-uprated benefits and allowances had they been uprated (a) by price increase and (b) by earnings since the dates they were (i) announced and (ii) first paid.

Mr. Hague [holding answer Monday 5 December 1994]: The information is in the table.


Column 675


Column 1                   |Column 2            |Column 3            |Column 4            |Column 5            |Column 6                                 

Benefits/Allowances        |Date introduction   |Date introduced     |Rate at announcement|Rate when introduced|Current rate                             

                           |announced                                                                                                                    

                                                                     |£                   |£                   |£                                        

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

Christmas bonus            |November 1972       |December 1972       |10.00               |10.00               |10.00                                    

                                                                                                                                                         

Income Support-                                                                                                                                          

amounts for meals                                                                                                                                        

where these cannot                                                                                                                                       

be purchased                                                                                                                                             

within the accommodation:                                                                                                                                

daily rates                                                                                                                                              

breakfast                  |November 1987       |April 1988          |1.10                |1.10                |1.10                                     

 midday/evening meal       |November 1987       |April 1988          |1.55                |1.55                |1.55                                     

                                                                                                                                                         

Ilford Park Polish                                                                                                                                       

Home-personal                                                                                                                                            

expenses for:                                                                                                                                            

claimant                   |November 1987       |April 1988          |11.50               |11.50               |17.35                                    

partner                    |November 1987       |April 1988          |11.50               |11.50               |17.35                                    

dependent children aged 18 |November 1987       |April 1988          |10.30               |10.30               |15.55                                    

                                                                                                                                                         

Maternity                                                                                                                                                

Allowance-                                                                                                                                               

higher rate                |March 1994          |June 1994           |52.50               |52.50               |52.50                                    

                                                                                                                                                         

Retirements                                                                                                                                              

Pension-age 80                                                                                                                                           

addition                   |March 1971          |September 1971      |0.25                |0.25                |0.25                                     

                                                                                                                                                         

Social Fund                                                                                                                                              

-Maternity Payment         |December 1985       |April 1987          |approx. 75.00       |85.00               |100.00                                   

                                                                                                                                                         

Statutory Maternity                                                                                                                                      

Pay-lower rate             |April 1986          |April 1987          |31.60               |32.85               |52.50                                    

                                                                                                                                                         

Statutory Sick Pay                                                                                                                                       

-standard rate             |November 1981       |April 1983          |37.00               |40.25               |52.50                                    

                                                                                                                                                         

War Pensions                                                                                                                                             

-education                                                                                                                                               

allowance (see                                                                                                                                           

note 6)                    |not applicable      |September 1939      |not applicable      |35.00               |120.00                                   

                                                                                                                                                         

Widows Payment             |December 1985       |April 1988          |1,000.00            |1,000.00            |1,000.00                                 


Column 1                    |Column 7            |Column 8            |Column 9            |Column 10                                

                            |Value of rate at    |Value of rate at    |Value of rate at    |Value of rate at                         

                            |column 4            |column 4            |column 5            |column 5                                 

                            |if uprated by       |if unprated by      |if uprated by       |if uprated by prices                     

                            |earnings            |prices since        |earnings            |since                                    

Benefit/Allowance           |since date at column|date at column 2    |since date at column|date at column 3                         

                            |2                                        |3                                                             

                            |£                   |£                   |£                   |£                                        

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

Christmas bonus             |107.20              |64.45               |107.20              |64.45                                    

                                                                                                                                     

Income Support-                                                                                                                      

amounts for meals                                                                                                                    

where these cannot be                                                                                                                

purchased within the                                                                                                                 

accommodation:                                                                                                                       

daily rates                                                                                                                          

breakfast                   |1.95                |1.60                |1.65                |1.55                                     

midday/evening meal         |2.55                |2.30                |2.45                |2.15                                     

                                                                                                                                     

Ilford Park Polish                                                                                                                   

Home-personal expenses for:                                                                                                          

claimant                    |19.65               |16.50               |18.20               |16.10                                    

partner                     |19.65               |16.50               |18.20               |16.10                                    

dependant children                                                                                                                   

aged 18                     |17.55               |14.85               |16.25               |14.35                                    

                                                                                                                                     

Maternity Allowance-                                                                                                                 

higher rate                 |56.10               |54.65               |54.55               |53.65                                    

                                                                                                                                     

Retirement Pension-age                                                                                                               

80 addition                 |3.55                |1.60                |3.55                |1.60                                     

                                                                                                                                     

Social Fund-Maternity                                                                                                                

Payment                     |141.10              |114.35              |145.10              |125.50                                   

                                                                                                                                     

Statutory Maternity Pay                                                                                                              

-lower rate                 |59.45               |48.15               |56.00               |48.50                                    

                                                                                                                                     

Statutory Sick Pay-                                                                                                                  

standard rate               |93.65               |69.95               |94.00               |71.60                                    

                                                                                                                                     

War Pensions-education                                                                                                               

allowance (see note 6)      |not applicable      |not applicable      |see note 5          |899.05                                   

                                                                                                                                     

Widows Payment              |1,881.30            |1,525.15            |1,583.00            |1,417.90                                 

Notes:                                                                                                                               

1. Figures have been rounded to two decimal places.                                                                                  

2. In each step of the calculation the benefit has been rounded to the nearest 5p.                                                   

3. The Retail Prices Index (all items) and the Retail Prices Index (all items except housing ROSSI) as published by the Central      

Statistical Office have been used for prices uprating (ROSSI for income-related benefits).                                           

4. Average Earnings Index (Whole Economy Unadjusted) as published by the Employment Department has been used to calculate the        

earnings uprating.                                                                                                                   

5. Average Earnings Index began in January 1963: it is not possible to provide earnings upratings in respect of periods commencing   

before that date.                                                                                                                    

6. Education allowance was inherited from the WW1 scheme (under which it was available on a discretionary basis) at the onset of     

WW2.                                                                                                                                 

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the changes to his proposals, following his annual review of national insurance contributions, consequent upon the decision not to proceed with the second phase of value added tax on domestic fuel.

Mr. Lilley [pursuant to his reply, 12 December, Official Report, column 541-542]: I regret that the rate of the Class 3 contributioshown in the table was incorrect.

The correct information is in the table.

Contribution rates and limits for 1995 96

CLASS 1

Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) £58 a week

Upper Earnings Limit (UEL) £440 a week

Employee contributions

Initial rate

2 per cent. (on earnings up to the LEL)

Main rate

10 per cent. (on earnings between the

LEL and UEL)

Employer contributions

Weekly earnings

Contribution rate

£58-£104.99

3 per cent.

£105-£149.99

5 per cent.

£150-£204.99

7 per cent.

£205 and over

10.2 per cent.

CLASS 2

Self employed rate

£5.75 a week

Limit of net earnings for

exception from Class 2 liability £3,260 a year

CLASS 3

Voluntary contributions rate £5.65 a week


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