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Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to his answer of 16 January to the hon. Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison), Official Report, column 331, if he will list the providers of training and business support programmes within the area covered by the South Thames TEC to whom letters of comfort have been issued, and those to whom no such letters have been sent.

Mr. Paice: As the information is contained in a large list, I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy in the Library.

Employment Regulations

Mr. Barry Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what representation he has made to the EEC about the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981; and when he expects a response;

(2) what are the implications for the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 of the revision of the definition of undertakings, with particular reference to compulsory competitive tendering;

(3) what proposals he has to recognise those contractual liabilities arising from redundancy liabilities under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 which may be incapable of being passed to incoming contractors if the regulations are changed.

Mr. Oppenheim: Various representations have been made to the European Commission about the 1977 acquired rights directive, to which the regulations give effect, including concerns about its application to the contracting out of activities and the damaging effect it may have on the rescue of insolvent businesses. In September the Commission produced a proposal to amend the 1977 directive which aimed, inter alia, to distinguish between the transfer of only an activity of an undertaking and the genuine transfer of an undertaking; and to provide for greater flexibility in insolvency situations.

The proposal is still under discussion. It is too early to say when agreement will be reached or what changes to the regulations, or transitional arrangements, may be required.


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SOCIAL SECURITY

War Pensions

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what resources he has allocated to the War Pensions Agency to ensure that welfare officers have advised all disabled war pensioners of their statutory rights concerning disregard on local authority charges.

Mr. Arbuthnot: This is a matter for Mr. Peter Mathison, the chief executive of the War Pensions Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Peter Mathison to Ms Joan Walley, dated 18 January 1995:

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about resources allocated to ensure that the War Pensions Agency Welfare Officers advise all disabled war pensioners of their statutory rights concerning disregards on local authority charges.

It is incumbent upon welfare officers to provide a professional and effective advice service to all disabled war pensioners with whom they come into contact. As part of that service, welfare officers would normally cover advice regarding statutory rights concerning disregards on local authority charges. In addition, information on the statutory rights to disregard of local authority charges is contained in leaflets issued to all successful claimants to War Pension, under standard procedures.

The exact information you request on the resources allocated to this specific activity is not available, as resources are not allocated on an individual advice item basis. I can however tell you that the total resources allocated to the welfare service during the current year, which include this area of advice, is £5.6 million. I hope you find my reply helpful.

Mortgage Internet Payments

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the annual cost of mortgage interest payments to people in receipt of income support.

Mr. Roger Evans: The estimated annual amount of mortgage interest included in the assessment for people in receipt of income support is £1,082 million--source: income support statistical inquiry February 1994.

Doncaster and Mexborough Benefit Offices

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will list for the Doncaster and Mexborough benefit offices how many claims for assistance from the social fund have been made during each of the last 12 months; and what the figure was for each year since 1990;

(2) what is the current average length of time taken to decide on an application for assistance from the social fund (a) nationally and (b) at each of the Benefits Agency offices in the Doncaster and Mexborough area.

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. Martin Redmond, dated 18 January 1995:

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions asking for details of the number of claims made to the Social Fund (SF) and the current average clearance times for these applications both nationally and in the Benefits Agency's Doncaster and Mexborough offices.


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Although information is available relating to Doncaster, information relating specifically to Mexborough is not available in the exact format requested. Prior to the formation of the Benefits Agency in April 1991 Mexborough formed part of Rotherham South. Figures have therefore been provided at Annex A for the total number of applications to the SF in 1990/91 for both Doncaster and Rotherham South. From april 1991 Mexborough became one of four offices making up the Rother and Dearne District and information has been provided at Annex B for the total number of claims to the SF from 1991/92 to 1993/94 at Doncaster and Rother and Dearne Districts.

At Annex C I have provided figures for the number of claims to the SF at the Doncaster and Rother and Dearne Districts in each of the last twelve months.

It is not possible to provide the current average length of time taken to decide an application for assistance from the SF because statistics are not collated in this way. However, I have provided at Annex D figures showing the percentage of claims cleared within two varying timescales; these are provided at a national level and for the Doncaster and Rother and Dearne Districts.

Copies of all the Annexes have been place in the Library. I hope you find this reply helpful.

Pensioner Incomes

Mr. Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what number and proportion of all pensioners had no income from any source other than from state benefits for each year since 1990.

Mr. Arbuthnot: The information is in the table.


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All pensioner units with no income from any 

source other than                           

State benefits                              

           |Number    |Proportion           

Year       |million   |per cent.            

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

1990       |1.1       |16                   

1990-91    |1         |15                   

1992       |1.1       |15                   

Notes:                                      

1. Estimates taken from the family          

expenditure surveys 1990, 1990-91 and 1992. 

2. Figures for 1990 and 1991 were combined  

due to sample size problems.                

Mr. Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of pensioner households has been dependent on state benefits for at least 50 per cent. of their income for each year since 1990.

Mr. Arbuthnot: The percentage of pensioner units dependant on state benefits for at least 50 per cent. of their income was 71 per cent. in 1990, 70 per cent. in 1990 91 and 70 per cent. in 1992. Notes:

1. Estimates taken from the family expenditure surveys 1990, 1990 91 and 1992.

2. Figures for 1990 and 1991 were combined due to sample size problems.

3. Pensioner units are defined as single people over state pension age and couples in which the husband is over state pension age.

Mr. Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proportion of (a) single pensioners and (b) pensioner couples had incomes below one half of average household income in each year since 1979.

Mr. Arbuthnot: Consistent estimates are available for the years shown in the table.


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Proportion of pensioners with net income below half the contemporary average for  

the whole population                                                              

                          |1979   |1981   |1987   |1988-89|1990-91|1991-92        

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

Single pensioners |BHC    |(16)   |(9)    |(23)   |(31)   |(34)   |(29)           

                  |AHC    |(12)   |(8)    |(22)   |(42)   |(44)   |(40)           

                                                                                  

Pensioner couples |BHC    |(16)   |(11)   |(20)   |32     |33     |29             

                  |AHC    |(21)   |(16)   |26     |33     |31     |28             

Notes:                                                                            

1. Analysis is based on equivalised household income from the households below    

average income series. Estimates in brackets () are particularly sensitive to the 

choice of equivalence scale used. The results for single pensioners, for any one  

period of time, are highly sensitive to the assumptions employed in adjusting     

income for household size. For example, the BHC figure for single pensioners in   

1979 of 16 per cent. could, on alternative assumptions, be anywhere between 3 per 

cent. and 53 per cent. The picture of changes over time is not so sensitive to    

the choice of assumptions. For more information on this see appendix 4 of         

"Households Below Average Income: a statistical analysis 1979-1991/92", a copy of 

which is in the Library.                                                          

2. BHC means before housing costs; AHC means after housing costs.                 

3. 1988-89, 1990-91, 1991-92 refers to data from the combined calendar years eg.  

1988-89 means 1988 and 1989 combined.                                             

Mr. Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much the state pension for (a) single pensioners and (b) pensioner couples would have been in April 1995 had the pension been uprated in line with the higher of the retail price index or earnings since 1980.

Mr. Arbuthnot: It is estimated that the weekly rate of category A basic retirement pension would be £79.45 from April 1995 and the combined rate of category A and category B basic retirement pension payable to a couple would be £127.15 if the rates had been increased in line with the higher of earnings or prices since 1980. Expenditure on retirement pension would, as a result, be increased by an estimated £9.7 billion in the 1995 96 financial year.


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Notes:

Estimates provided by Department of Social Security, analytical services division--in each step of the calculation the benefits have been rounded to the nearest 5p;

the retail price index (all items) as published by the Central Statistical Office has been used for prices uprating;

earnings upratings have been calculated on the basis of the Employment Department's average earnings index (whole economy unadjusted) as amalgamated in the abstract of statistics published by the Department of Social Security, analytical services division. Estimate provided by the Government Actuary's department based on benefit rates calculated as per note 1.

Mr. Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of pensioner households has been dependent on state benefits for at least 75 per cent. of their income for each year since 1990.


Column 625

Mr. Arbuthnot: The percentage of pensioner units dependant on state benefits for at least 75 per cent. of their income was 50 per cent. in each of the years 1990, 1990 91 and 1992.

Notes:

1. Estimates taken from the family expenditure surveys 1990, 1990 1 and 1992.

2. Figures for 1990 and 1991 were combined due to sample size problems.

3. Pensioner units are defined as single people over state pension age and couples in which the husband is over state pension age.

Mr. Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many and what proportion of all pensioners, single pensioners and pensioner couples have total incomes of (a) £1, (b) £2, (c) £3, (d) £4 and (e) £5 above income support levels.

Mr. Arbuthnot: The information is in the tables.


Table 1: The number of pensioner benefit units with    

incomes in                                             

ranges up to £5 above income support (IS) threshold    

000s                                                   

           |Single    |Pensioner |All                  

Range      |pensioners|couples   |pensioners           

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

£0-£1      |40        |20        |55                   

£1-£2      |50        |30        |85                   

£2-£3      |65        |25        |90                   

£3-£4      |55        |25        |80                   

£4-£5      |45        |25        |75                   


Table 2: Proportion of pensioner benefit units with incomes in                            

ranges up to £5 above income support (IS) thresholds                                      

Percentage                                                                                

               |Proportion of |Proportion of                                              

               |all single    |all pensioner |Proportion of                               

Range          |pensioners    |couples       |all pensioners                              

                                                                                          

£0-£1          |1             |1             |1                                           

£1-£2          |1             |1             |1                                           

£2-£3          |1             |1             |1                                           

£3-£4          |1             |1             |1                                           

£4-£5          |1             |1             |1                                           

Notes:                                                                                    

1. Caseloads figures have been rounded to the nearest 5,000, and the percentages have     

been rounded to the nearest percentage point.                                             

2. The figures may not sum due to rounding.                                               

3. A pensioner benefit unit is based on the pensions definition of a pensioner which is:  

(i) Single pensioner-a single male aged 65 or over or a single female aged 60 or over     

(ii) Pensioner couple-a couple where the husband is over state pension age.               

4. Estimates are modelled results using data drawn from the 1990, 1991, 1992 family       

expenditure survey, uprated to 1994-95 prices and benefit levels.                         

5. The definitions of income used in the tables is income taken into account for IS       

purposes and excludes certain types of income, such as, attendance allowance, housing     

benefit and the portion of war pensions covered by IS disregards.                         

Social Fund

Mr. Ronnie Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many social fund funeral payments were (a) claimed and (b) awarded in Blyth Valley in each year since 1989.

Mr. Roger Evans: The administration of the social fund is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief


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executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available.

Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Ronnie Campbell, dated 18 January 1995:

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the number of funeral payments claimed and awarded in Blyth Valley.

Information is not available for 1989 90 and has therefore been provided at Annex A from 1990 91. With the formation of the Benefits Agency in April 1991 Blyth office became one of four offices making up the Northumberland District. Although information has been provided relating specifically to Blyth for 1990 91, from 1991 92 such information is not available and has therefore been provided for the Northumberland District.

I hope you find this reply helpful.

Annex A


Applications and awards for funeral payments                     

at Blyth Local Office                                            

Local                     |Application |Number of                

Office       |Year        |type        |applications             

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

Blyth        |1990-91     |Funeral     |88                       

                          |payment                               


Applications and awards for funeral payments                                    

at Northumberland district                                                      

District       |Year        |Application |Number of   |Number of                

                            |type        |Applications|Awards                   

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

Northumberland |1991-92     |Funeral                                            

                            |payment     |270         |196                      

               |1992-93     |Funeral                                            

                            |payment     |312         |228                      

               |1993-94     |Funeral                                            

                            |payment     |376         |292                      

Pensioners' Savings

Mr. Bill Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what weekly income pensioners with more than £3,000 savings are deemed to be receiving therefrom; and what assumptions as to interest rates lie behind this calculation.

Mr. Roger Evans: For income support claims, a deduction from benefit of £1 a week is made for each £250, or part of £250, held above £3,000 up to the upper capital limit of £8,000. Similar rules apply in housing benefit and council tax benefit, but the effect of the tapers which apply to those benefits means that housing benefit is only reduced by 65p and council tax benefit by 20p for each £1 above a set level. Additionally, a higher upper capital limit of £16, 000 applies in housing benefit and council tax benefit. The formula for taking account of capital above £3,000 does not imply any particular return on investments. It ensures that help is targeted on those with the least resources, while not entirely denying help to those with moderate capital.

Child Support

Mr. Norman Hogg: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will respond to the report of the Fifth report of the Social Security Committee, Session 1993 94, HC 470, on the operation of the Child Support Act 1991; and if he will make a statement.


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Mr. Burt: We have considered carefully the recent report of the Social Security Select Committee and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will make an announcement shortly.

Mr. Norman Hogg: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he expects to receive the report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration on the operations of the Child Support Agency; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Burt: I have received the report today, and I am considering it carefully. While I am disappointed that the agency has not met the standards of efficiency and administration it would have wished, I note that the ombudsman recognises that steps have been taken in all cases he investigated to avoid a repetition of errors. Measures to improve quality, accuracy and customer service will be an important component of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's response to the Social Security Select Committee.

HIV/AIDS (Discrimination)

Mr. Corbett: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list organisations representing people with HIV/AIDS who responded to his Department's consultation on Government measures to tackle discrimination against disabled people.

Mr. Hague: Over 1,100 responses to the consultation document were received, including those from the following organisations: the Terrence Higgins Trust; United Kingdom Forum on HIV and Human Rights; National Network of Body Positive Groups; the Scottish AIDS Monitor; AIDS and Housing Project; Blackliners; Positively Women and the Cambridge AIDS Helpline.

Housing Benefit

Mrs. Angela Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how housing benefit transitional payments will be treated from April.

Mr. Roger Evans: With fewer than 4,000 people expected to remain eligible for housing benefit transitional payments from April 1995, we have decided to convert future potential payments to lump sums. These payments will be made as soon as possible after 5 April. The transitional payments unit in Glasgow will then close.

Disabled People (Discrimination)

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will publish an analysis of the responses to the Governments' recent consultation document on discrimination against disabled people.

Mr. Hague: I have today placed in the Library a copy of the document "A Government Consultation on Measures to Tackle Discrimination against Disabled People: An Analysis of the Responses."

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Veal Crates

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he has made in the


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Council of Ministers to ban veal crates in the European Union.

Mrs. Browning: In negotiations leading to the adoption of Council directive 91/629/EEC on the welfare of calves, the United Kingdom pressed hard for a text which would rule out the veal crate as a production system. A text falling short of this objective was adopted by majority vote with the United Kingdom voting against. It has remained our objective since then to get this matter re-considered.

Sir Richard Body: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for what reasons he has not relied upon article 3b of the treaty of Rome to impose a ban on the export of calves for veal production.

Mrs. Browning: Legal advice is that recourse to article 36 would not be possible for this purpose. There is Community legislation occupying the field and a ban on the export of calves for veal production would not be justifiable as proportionate in relation to animal welfare objectives.

Fishing

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will define the word "loosely" as used in the December fisheries agreement in respect of the basing of control of fishing effort in western waters on member state quota entitlements.

Mr. Jack: I cannot identify the reference to which the hon. Member refers. The agreement reached at the December Fisheries Council provides for effort levels to allow each member state, for each fishery, to take up fully its fishing possibilities for species subject to TACs, whether allocated or not, as well as species not subject to TACs.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food why he assures United Kingdom fishermen, in his letter after the December Fisheries Council, that no new measures to control effort will need to be imposed on the United Kingdom industry; and whether his assurance is given in the light of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1992 being brought into force or dropped.

Mr. Jack: The agreement reached at December Fisheries Council states that effort levels will be set to allow member states to take up fully their fishing possibilities for TAC and non-TAC species and that an acceptable way for a member state to regulate fishing effort will be for it to monitor the activity of its fleet and to take appropriate action if, on this basis, the effort reaches--or is about to reach--the permitted effort level. So long as present effort levels do not increase, it should not be necessary to impose new measures to control effort.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many French, Spanish and Dutch fisherman have been prosecuted in the last year by the Commission in relation to fishing offences; what were the offences; and what penalties were imposed.

Mr. Jack: None. Responsibility for enforcement of the common fisheries policy, including action to prosecute fishermen for fishing offences, rests with member states.

Civil Servants

Mr. Byers: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many staff in his Department


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have reported an offer of employment from an outside employer since February 1993 as required under the civil service management code; and how many of these reports were followed by an application to join the company concerned.

Mr. Jack [holding answer 18 January 1995]: The number of staff within MAFF who have reported an offer of employment from an outside employer, as required under the civil service management code, since February 1993 and who made and application to join the company is one in both cases.

State Veterinary Service

Mr. Cox : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he last met the British Veterinary Association to discuss the future of the State Veterinary Service.

Mrs. Browning [holding answer 18 January 1995]: Neither my right hon. Friend, nor I have yet had the pleasure of meeting the British Veterinary Association; however, I have a meeting arranged in February. The BVA met the previous Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mrs. Shephard) on 5 May 1994 when a number of matters were discussed but not, I believe, the future of the State Veterinary Service.

WALES

Hip Replacements

Ms Gordon: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many hip replacement operations have been carried out in each year from 1983 to 1993.

Mr. Richards: Estimates of the number of complete and partial hip replacement operations carried out as a principal or subsidiary procedure are given in the following table:


Year    |Number       

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

1983-84 |1,849        

1984-85 |1,880        

1985-86 |1,894        

1986-87 |1,985        

1987-88 |1,697        

1988-89 |2,167        

1989-90 |2,297        

1990-91 |1,944        

1991-92 |2,699        

1992-93 |2,897        

Source:               

Hospital Activity     

Analysis 1983-84 to   

1990-91. Patient      

Episode Database for  

Wales 1991-92         

onwards. Complete     

data for 1993-94 are  

not available.        

Organ Donors Register

Mr. Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many people have responded to advertisements by his Department for the organ donors register since September 1994; how many have received application forms; when he expects to have responded to all inquiries; and if he will make a statement on the delays to date.


Column 630

Mr. Richards: The Welsh Office has to date received 1,174 inquiries in response to the advertisement for the new NHS organ donor card; all have been acknowledged. The Central Office of Information is in the process of producing a bilingual version of the new organ donor card and these will be dispatched as soon as possible.

Community Care

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is his estimate of the value and number of properties purchased and owned by health authorities and departments of social services for the purposes of community care specific to the need to close institutions that previously housed those individuals now living in such properties; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Richards: The information requested is not available centrally.

Overhead Power Lines

Mr. Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of research into the effects of overhead power lines on the health of individuals in close proximity.

Mr. Richards: The Government obtain advice on radiation risk from the National Radiological Protection Board, which has concluded that there is no persuasive biological evidence of a cancer risk to people living near sources of electrical supply.

The United Kingdom national case control study of childhood cancer is a long-term study which is currently examining the possible influence of a number of agents, including exposure to

electromagnetic radiation, on the incidence of childhood cancer. The findings of the study will be published in about three years' time.

Internet

Sir Wyn Roberts: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if all higher education institutions in Wales are connected to the Janet computer system and Internet.


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