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Dr. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which of the advisory non-departmental public bodies sponsored by his Department (i) hold open meetings, (ii) conduct public consultation exercises, (iii) conduct consultation exercises with outside commercial interests, (iv) publish a register of members' interests, (v) publish agendas for meetings and (vi) publish the minutes of meetings; and whether this is in each case (a) under a statutory requirement or (b) voluntary.
Mr. Trimble: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list all the projects in the Northern Ireland single programme on which European assistance is forecast to be spent in 1994, indicating the amount forecast to be spent in each case.
Mr. Ingram: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many parents with care at each Child Support Agency reporting centre have (a) claimed exemption because of fears of undue harm or distress, (b) been unable to give information about the whereabouts of a non-custodial parent and (c) been unable to name the non-custodial parent;
(2) how many parents with care at each Child Support Agency reporting centre have (a) had a claim for exemption accepted, (b) had a claim for exemption refused and (c) withdrawn a claim for exemption.
Column 1024Letter from Ann Chant to Mr. Adam Ingram, dated 20 December 1994:
I am replying to your Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the number of cases the Child Support Agency has considered under the requirement to co-operate, and the number of cases in which the whereabouts of the absent parent (AP) was unknown.
Figures for 1993/94 are available only for the whole Agency, and cannot be broken down by Agency Centre (CSAC).
During 1993/94, 64,812 claims by parents with care (PaWC) were subject to investigation into the requirement to co-operate. Of those, the requirement was waived in 31,749 cases and not waived in 18,857. In a further 14,206 cases the PaWC named the AP.
Information is collected on the reasons why the requirement to co-operate is waived, rather than on the reasons why PaWCs claim that they have good cause not to co-operate in naming the AP. In 1993/94, the requirement was accepted in 15,823 cases due to the possible threat of violence, in 8,424 cases where the AP was unknown, and in 7,502 other cases.
Requirement to co-operate waived-April to September 1994<1> |Total good |Claim for |Fear of |cause |Good cause |good cause CSAC |violence |Other<2> |accepted |not accepted|withdrawn ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Belfast<3> |2,235 |1,276 |3,529 |2,654 |1,225 Birkenhead |2,387 |1,508 |3,895 |3,232 |1,339 Dudley |2,313 |1,212 |3,525 |3,023 |800 Falkirk |2,537 |1,267 |3,804 |2,310 |856 Hastings |2,386 |1,091 |3,459 |2,832 |942 Plymouth |2,291 |1,270 |3,561 |3,311 |902 <1> Since April 1994, the Agency has not collected data on cases where the identity of the AP is unknown. This is because such cases are no longer considered under the retirement to co-operate. <2> Includes cases where it is considered that not to accept good cause would be detrimental to the welfare of the child. <3> GB cases only.
You also asked about the number of PaWCs unable to give information about the whereabouts of the AP. During 1993/94, 33,000
Column 1024cases were subject to specialist tracing action because the whereabouts of the AP was unknown. The AP was traced in over 28,000 of cases.
Specialist traces completed April to September 1994 |Specialist traces |Work on hand at 30 CSAC |cleared |Successful traces |30 September 1994 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Belfast<1><2> |2,004 |1,664 |3,526 Birkenhead |5,672 |3,620 |4,839 Dudley |5,154 |4,500 |2,819 Falkirk |3,665 |2,997 |4,165 Hastings |4,882 |2,445 |3,082 Plymouth |7,137 |5,502 |2,845 <2> GB cases. I hope this reply is helpful.
Mr. Ingram: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many parents with care at each reporting centre (a) have asked for maintenance payments to be paid via the Child Support Agency, (b) are having their maintenance payments paid via the Child Support Agency and (c) have been refused the option of having their maintenance payments paid via the Child Support Agency.
Letter from Ann Chant to Mr. Adam Ingram, dated 20 December 1994:
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the number of parents with care who have asked for child maintenance to be paid via the
Column 1024Child Support Agency; are having maintenance paid via the Agency; and have been refused the option of having maintenance paid via the Agency.
As the Agency makes no distinction between parents with care and absent parents information is not available in the precise form requested, but I can confirm that at 30 September accounts for maintenance to be paid via the Agency had been set up in around 150, 000 cases.
Clients would not be refused the option of having child maintenance paid via the Agency.
Information broken down by Agency Centre is currently under evaluation, and will not be available until the new year.
I am sorry I cannot be more helpful.
Mr. Devlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 7 December, Official Report column 244 , if he will investigate the circumstances in which Peter Stevenson, Ref.
Column 10257000102373, was sent two CSA assessments of £53.45 and £42.09 per week by the same office on 2 December; and by what amount his income had changed since his assessment of March 1994.
Letter from Ann Chant to Mr. David Chidgey, dated 20 December 1994:
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about staff absences in the Child Support Agency.
The number of working days lost through sick absence in the Child Support Agency in 1993 was 9.8 days per staff year. This compares with a Civil Service average of 10.1 days per staff year. I hope this is helpful.
Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what plans he has to propose changes in the system of recovery of overpayments of child support maintenance arising from error by the Child Support Agency or the receipt of incorrect information; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what representations he has received regarding cases involving the Child Support Agency where overpayments have been made in payment of child support maintenance; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Burt: The Child Support Agency has received a number of representations in cases where the amount at which an overpayment of child support maintenance is being recovered does not reflect the size of that overpayment or have regard to the remaining period of liability.
We are currently looking at the application of regulation 10 of the Child Support (Arrears, Interest and Adjustment of Maintenace Assessments) Regulations 1992 and if changes are required an announcement will be made.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether children's national savings accounts are taken into account in calculating a father's liability under the Child Support Act 1991.
Mr. Burt: The Government have been keeping the operation of the Child Support Act under close review for some time. We are now considering carefully the recent report of the Social Security Select Committee and expect to respond to the Committee by the end of January 1995.nb
Mr. Burt: It has always been the intention that the Child Support Agency's headquarters would move out of London when it became fully established. The agency's headquarters is now ready to relocate and it will move to Dudley by April 1996.
Following a relocation study, Dudley has been chosen because it offers value for money. The headquarters will be located in premises already held by the agency. Location alongside operations will also enhance staff development opportunities for both headquarters and operations staff and ease the exchange of business skills. I am satisfied that the new headquarters will attract good quality staff. Appointments will be made from existing headquarters staff who wish to transfer and from existing managers and staff and new recruits from the Dudley and surrounding areas.
Mr. Carrington: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action the Child Support Agency will take in order to manage the backlog of cases and to improve the quality of service from the agency.
Mr. Burt: The Child Support Agency will delay the take-on of the remaining cases where the parent with care was already receiving income support before April 1993 until it is in a position to tackle them promptly and to a high standard. The agency will, however, continue to provide sympathetic consideration to requests by individual parents who wish their application to be dealt with early. In addition, the agency will not pursue, for the time being, cases where it issued a maintenance application form over six months ago which either has not been returned or has been returned with insufficient information to progress it. By prioritising cases in this way, the agency will get the existing backlog cleared and allow proper attention to be paid to accuracy and customer service.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many parliamentary questions tabled in the last Session of Parliament were not answered on the ground that the information sought was not held centrally by the Department.
Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Milburn) of 1 December, Official Report , column 891 , if he will make a statement regarding his Department's expenditure on special advisers in each of the last three financial years and for the financial year 1979 80.
Mr. Charles Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his letter of 25 October to the hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye, if he will list the criteria by which he concluded that the linking of
Column 1027the community of Garve, Ross-shire to Tiree weather station was both sensible and meteorologically sound; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Roger Evans: Weather stations are chosen in consultation with the Meteorological Office using its judgment and expert climatological knowledge. The key criteria taken into account are: how close a weather station is to the main centre of population, how representative it is of local climatic conditions for those main centres of population, and the speed and reliability with which temperature information can be obtained.
For automatic payments to be made in 1991, weather stations were linked to postcode areas which vary in size throughout the United Kingdom. The Meteorological Office considers that the temperatures recorded at Tiree are far more representative of the whole of the postcode area--IV23--in which Garve lies, than those recorded at any other site in Scotland at which the temperatures are measured. The links are reviewed with the Meteorological Office each year, principally to take account of weather station and postcode changes. No changes were required for postcode IV23 for 1994 95.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will set out how the standard rate of interest on which mortgage interest support will be based after 1 October 1995 will be calculated; and what that rate would currently be if that formula were now in force.
Mr. Hall: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how much compensation married pensioners will receive for the introduction of VAT on fuel in (a) 1994 95 and (b) 1995 96; (2) how much compensation the single pensioner will receive for the introduction of VAT on fuel in (a) 1994 95 and (b) 1995 96; (3) how much compensation disabled people will receive for the introduction of VAT on fuel in (a) 1994 95 and (b) 1995 96.
Mr. Arbuthnot: Using the 1990 91 92 family expenditure surveys, uprated to 1994 95 and 1995 96 prices and benefit levels, the estimated average amounts of compensation for the introduction of VAT on fuel are contained in the following table.
|Average weekly |Average weekly |amount of help in|amount of help in Client group |1994-95 |1995-96 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Single pensioner |50 pence |75 pence Couple pensioner<1> |75 pence |£1.15 All disabled<2> |65 pence |£1.00 <1> Couple where the head of the couple is over pension age. <2> Average compensation for all single disabled people, and all couples where at least one person in the couple is disabled. Note: 1. Average amounts of help are higher than the amounts contained in standard rate retirement pension, because some pensioners receive other benefits, and some receive RP at a higher rate.
Sir Andrew Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the compensation for VAT on fuel at 8 per cent. is worth to pensioners following the decision not to proceed to VAT on fuel at 17.5 per cent. from April 1995 at 1 April (a) 1994 in weekly and annual terms, (b) 1995 in weekly and annual terms and (c) 1996 in weekly and annual terms.
Mr. Arbuthnot: Using the 1990 91 92 family expenditure surveys, uprated to 1994 95 and 1995 96 prices and benefit levels, estimated help for VAT on fuel for all pensioners is given in the table. The amounts of help in 1996 97 are likely to be similar to the amounts estimated for 1995 96.
|Average weekly|Average annual|Average weekly|Average annual --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- All pensioners<1> |60 pence |£31 |90 pence |£47 <1>Includes all single people over pension age, and all couples where the head of the couple is over pension age. Notes: 1. Average weekly help rounded to nearest 5p, annual help rounded to nearest £1. 2. These figures are calculated at benefit unit level.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will give details of the total annual expenditure on social security benefits for people in employment, for the latest available year, broken down by (a) family credits, (b) income support, (c) housing benefit and (d) council tax benefit.
Social Security benefits for people in employment |Number of |Average |Total weekly |Implied annual |cases<1> |weekly |expenditure |expenditure Benefit |(£000s) |amount (£) |(£ million) |(£ millions)<5> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Family Credit<2> |489 |43.34 |21 |1,101 Income Support<3> |192 |61.51 |12 |615 Housing Benefit<4> |390 |29.60 |12 |600 Council Tax Benefit<4> |453 |5.35 |2 |126 <1> Figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand. Sources: <2> Family Credit Enquiry May 1993. The figures shown cover all awards, Some recipients may not have been in employment at the time of enquiry. <3> Income Support Statistics Annual Enquiry May 1993. Expenditure is for cases where the claimant and/or partner is in part-time work, including the self-employed. <4> Housing Benefit Management Informtion Statistics Annual 1 per cent. Enquiry May 1993. Expenditure is for cases where the claimant and/or partner has declared full-time or part-time earnings. <5> Implied Annual Expenditure is derived by multiplying the weekly expenditure by 52. Multiplication of the figures shown in the table will not correspond due to rounding.
Sir David Steel: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the change in legislation to equalise the eight and 16-hour rules for national insurance class 1 contributions was originally proposed to be introduced; when it is now expected to be introduced; and what are the reasons for the delay.
Mr. Arbuthnot: There were no previous proposals for the introduction of this legislation. As part of the measures associated with the introduction of jobseeker's allowance, legislation to raise from eight to 16 the number of hours that an unemployed person can work and still qualify for the award of a national insurance contribution credit is expected to be introduced from April 1996.
Income support recipients with deductions from IS for fines recovery |Number of cases --------------------------------------------------- Male recipients |4,000 Female recipients |2,000 All recipients |6,000 Source: Income Support Statistics Quarterly Enquiry February 1994 Notes: The figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand.
Mr. Hall: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what is the average fuel bill for a single pensioner for the financial year 1994 95; and what it is projected to be in 1995 96; (2) what is the average fuel bill for disabled people for the financial year 1994 95; and what is it projected to be in 1995 96; (3) what is the average fuel bill for a pensioner couple for the financial year 1994 95; and what it is projected to be for 1995 96;
|Average weekly fuel|Average weekly fuel |bills in 1994-95 |bill in 1995-96 Client group |£ |£ -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Single pensioner |9.25 |9.20 Couple pensioner<1> |13.15 |13.00 All disabled<2> |11.45 |11.35 <1> Couple where the head of the couple is over pension age. <2> Average fuel bills for single disabled people, and all couples where at least one person in the couple is disabled. Notes: 1. Average weekly fuel bills rounded to the nearest 10 pence. 2. It is difficult to forecast future fuel expenditure; fuel prices have fallen by over 1 per cent. in real terms over the past two years inclusive of VAT. Further reductions have been assumed in 1994-95 and 1995-96. 3. The figures are calculated at benefit unit level.
Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will introduce a scheme to provide for the deduction of benefit for those in receipt of invalidity benefit who are at risk of imprisonment for non-payment of fines.
Mr. Hague: Arrangements currently exist for making payments of invalidity benefit to a suitable third party where the beneficiary becomes incapable of managing his or her own affairs through mental impairment. It is also possible to divert payments to protect the interests of the beneficiary or his family where there are exceptional circumstances. We have no plans to extend these arrangements.
Mr. Bill Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what income pensioners with £3,000 savings are deemed to be receiving therefrom per week; and what assumptions as to interest rate lie behind this calculation.
Mr. McAllion: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the Benefits Agency market tests for which (a) BET Facilities Management, (b) Group 4, (c) Hoden, (d) Manpower, (e) Mowlam, (f) Procord, (g) Reliance, (h) SERCO and (i) Turner Townsend were invited to tender; whether they did so; and in which they were successful.
The Attorney-General: No statistics are kept for witness waiting times in the magistrates courts. In April 1994 the Crown Prosecution Service commenced a national survey of witness waiting times in the Crown court. The survey does not capture information about waiting times for professional witnesses, expert witnesses and police officers. The results for the first six months of the survey show that, for a random sample of cases 55.2 per cent. of witnesses had to wait for more than two hours at court before giving evidence.
Mr. Boateng: To ask the Attorney-General what percentage of prosecution witnesses do not currently receive their expenses within 10 working days of the Crown Prosecution Service receiving their completed claim form.
The Attorney-General: The results of a sample survey carried out during the quarter ending September 1994 show that 20 per cent. of prosecution witnesses do not currently received their expenses within 10 working days
Column 1031of the Crown Prosecution Service receiving their completed claim. Brian Patchett
There is no record of an international arrest warrant or extradition proceedings against Mr. Patchett.
Mr. Gill: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in which countries the tins of beef from the intervention stores and distributed free of charge by registered charities were manufactured.
Mr. Trend: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether all 1994 autumn environmentally sensitive area and farm woodland premium scheme payments were made in accordance with targets published in "Commitment to Service"; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Waldegrave: Short delays occurred in making payments made under both these schemes this year. These arose because of the need to accommodate changes in the way part of the national expenditure under the schemes is reimbursed by the European Community. Reimbursement from the European agricultural guidance and guarantee fund now comes under the guarantee section, rather than the guidance section as was previously the case. It has to be reclaimed by member states from the European Community in the month in which it makes the payments to farmers. When reimbursement was claimed from the guidance section, payments were made annually to member states, in arrears. Payments under both the environmentally sensitive area and farm woodland premium schemes are normally made to farmers during October. The EC budget year starts on 16 October. This means that payments made in October would fall, unpredictably, within two financial years, leading to budgetary and accounting problems. To avoid this, all payments in 1994 under both schemes were delayed slightly, so that they all took place after 16
Column 1032October. This has meant that the targets published in "Commitment to Service" could not be met.
Payments have been made as soon as practicable under the new arrangements. Revised "Commitment to Service" targets, taking account of these changes, will be published shortly.
Mr. Jack [holding answer 19 December 1994]: The cost of the work undertaken by Diagnostic Social and Market Research Ltd. to evaluate the results of the MAFF exhibition at the national history museum was £9,106, including charges made by the Central Office of Information.
Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what involvement he had in the drawing up of questions by Diagnostics Social and Market Research Ltd. at his Department's exhibitions at the natural history museum.
Mr. Jack [holding answer 19 December 1994]: None. The market research was commissioned by MAFF, via the Central Office of Information, to evaluate the effectiveness of its natural history museum exhibition and to assist with future planning. The questions were draw up by Diagnostics Social and Market Research Ltd. based on a brief provided by MAFF's information division and COI's market research department.
Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what use is to be made of the data collected on behalf of his Department by Diagnostics Social and Market Research Ltd. at his Department's exhibition at the natural history museum.
Mr. Jack [holding answer 19 December 1994]: The data collected by Diagnostics Social and Market Research Ltd. in connection with the MAFF exhibition at the natural history museum will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the exhibition and to assist with planning of future publicity on the environment.
Mr. Jack [holding answer 19 December 1994]: British pig producers, like those in most other European countries, have suffered a long period of low prices and poor profitability. The pig cycle, whereby good profitability leads to herd expansion, increased supplies and ultimately falling producer prices, is characteristic of the industry which relies on the marketplace for its returns. The most recent trough in the cycle has been longer lasting than anyone in the industry expected. However, the signs are that supply is slowly reducing across Europe and we expect to see improvements in producer profitability in 1995. As my hon. Friend explained in the debate on the pig industry on 15 December, Official Report, columns 1189 93 , it is important that our industry works to distinguish British pigmeat from that of our competitors on the grounds of