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Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: There have been no formal exchanges with the European Commission regarding funding for the M77 Ayr road route. However, the issue of funding of roads was discussed in the context of negotiations about the western Scotland single programming document, which was approved by the Commission on 16 December 1994. The SPD provides that support from the European regional development fund will be available for projects which construct or improve access roads to new or existing sites for industrial, business or tourism development where there is demonstrable potential for significant job-creating investments.
Column 77from the Commission on that subject and we propose to respond by the end of this month.
Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what measures he took to ensure that a proper environmental impact assessment was carried out before he gave consent for the Ayr road route, M77.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: A full and wide-ranging public local inquiry was undertaken into the proposed road scheme in 1988. The environmental assessment of the scheme was presented by the joint promoters at the inquiry. The report of the inquiry, including a summary of the evidence and arguments, was submitted to my right hon. Friend before his decision on whether to proceed with the road proposals.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: My right hon. Friend does not intend to seek European Community funding for the trunk road sections of the proposed M77 Ayr road route for which he is responsible. It would be for Strathclyde regional council to decide whether to apply for funding for all or any part of the route for which it is responsible.
Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list which interested groups he consulted during the planning stage of the Ayr road route, M77; and what were the results of this consultation period.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: More than 50 organisations were consulted, including the National Trust for Scotland, the Countryside Commission for Scotland, regional, district and community councils, ScotRail and the National Farmers Union. The consultations showed general support for the proposals, but also identified some specific concerns. In those cases where the concerns could not be resolved by discussion, they were considered at the subsequent local public inquiry.
Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what measures he has taken to ensure that genuine competition exists between potential contractors for the Scottish renewables obligation; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Stewart: There was considerable interest in the first order under the scottish renewables obligation. A bulletin describing the arrangements for the SRO was issued by my officials in October 1993 to about 300 interested organisations and individuals. As a result, some 190 projects were submitted for consideration. Following a technical and economic scrutiny of these projects, about 140 were judged to be acceptable by the Office of Electricity Regulation. These formed the subject of the advice given to my right hon. Friend by the Director General of Electricity Supply. I understand that 30 of these 140 projects have now been offered contracts by the
Column 78public electricity supply companies under the terms of the first order. There was therefore very keen competition for contracts across the whole range of technologies included.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The bridge assessment and strengthening programme to upgrade all sub-standard bridges on the trunk road network started in 1988 and is expected to be completed by 1998. This is in line with the rest of the United Kingdom. The regional councils were advised to implement a similar programme for regional roads in December 1988 and the Scottish Office Industry Department has taken this into account in the capital allocations to individual regions.
Mr. Faulds: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish the attendance figures for 1994 reported by the national museum and galleries in Scotland, broken down to the individual institutions but including their substations, with the percentage change from 1993.
|Percentage |change since |1994 |1993 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- National museums of Scotland |1,120,240 |+4 National galleries of Scotland |883,928 |+18
Figures for the national museums of Scotland relate to the Royal museum of Scotland, the museum of antiquities, the Scottish agricultural museum, the Scottish united services museum, the museum of flight, the museum of costume and the gasworks museum. The national galleries of Scotland figures relate to the national gallery of Scotland, the Scottish national portrait gallery and the Scottish national gallery of modern art.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 20 January 1995]: In Scotland, the youth service is part of local authority provision for community education. It is not possible to identify separately expenditure on the
Column 79youth service. Total expenditure by local authorities on community education in 1989 90 was £62 million rising to £79.2 million in 1992 93.
In addition, the Scottish Office Education Department administers a scheme of grants to voluntary organisations in the community education field. Grants paid to organisations engaged in the provision of youth services totalled £0.57 million in 1989 90 rising to £0.69 million in 1993 94.
There are some grant assistance schemes which may be of interest to those who keep goats. Goat producers, provided that they meet the eligibility criteria, would qualify for grant under the farm and conservation grant scheme. There are also the marketing and development scheme and, in relation to goat milk and meat products, the EC processing and marketing grant scheme. Some financial assistance in objective 1 and 5b areas may also be available.
Mr. Foulkes: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list all sites in Scotland where low-level radioactive waste is dumped or stored; what steps are taken to ensure that no higher level waste is also included; and what measures are taken to protect the public from any potential dangers.
Sir Hector Monro [holding answer 20 January 1995]: The following landfill sites in Scotland are approved by Her Majesty's industrial pollution inspectorate for the controlled burial of low level radioactive wastes from hospitals, universities and other small users and are still receiving these wastes:
Site |Site location ------------------------------------------------ Kilgarth |Glasgow Summerston |Glasgow Dalmacoulter |Monklands Braehead |Edinburgh Melville Wood |North East Fife Riverside |Dundee Ness |Aberdeen Lower Polmaise |Stirling East Saltoun |East Lothian Longman |Inverness
At AEA Technology's premises at Dounreay, low-level radioactive waste produced by activities on the site is disposed of by burial on site. Before disposal, detailed monitoring of waste takes place to ensure that only low level waste is disposed of by this route.
Column 80All wastes disposed of by these users are classified as low-level waste and the disposals take place in accordance with authorisations issued by Her Majesty's industrial pollution inspectorate.
8. Mr. Rooker: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of his Department's expenditure on benefit is means-tested; and what was the figure 15 years ago.
9. Mr. Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many social fund grants, for each of the last three years for which figures are available, were awarded above the new maximum ceiling of £875.
Mr. Roger Evans: In 1992 93, 27,800 social fund funeral payments were made for amounts more than £875. There were 41,300 such payments in 1993 94 and 31,500 have been made so far in the current financial year.
Mr. Lilley: We are committed to giving pensioners the choice of payment directly into their bank or building society by automated credit transfer or at the post office. For pensioners and others who do not want to be paid in this way, we are planning significant improvements in the delivery of benefits at post offices. The post office network will be automated, and order books and girocheques replaced with a benefit payment card.
Automation will virtually eliminate instrument of payment fraud, produce administrative savings for the Department, and provide a more responsive service to our customers, as well as providing Post Office Counters Ltd. the opportunity to automate other counter business. We are looking to the private sector to suggest how the system might best achieve these objectives, and to design, build, finance and operate the system under a contract that would provide payment based on transaction volumes. I was able to announce on 9 December Official Report, column 385, the names of five companies, some of which lead consortia, which have been invited to further develop their solutions.
26. Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what forms of payment pensioners will be eligible to opt for when having their benefits paid through the Post Office; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Arbuthnot: Pensioners will continue to be able to choose to be paid through the post office by using either automated credit transfer into girobank or National Savings bank accounts, or order books.
Column 81In future, there will be major changes for those who do not choose ACT. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has announced plans to automate the payment of benefits at post offices. Order books will eventually be replaced by a benefit payment card which will allow access to information held electronically. People paid by ACT will not be affected.
22. Sir David Madel: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he expects to reply to the fifth report by the Social Security Select Committee of Session 1993 94 on the operation of the Child Support Act 1991, HC420; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Arbuthnot: We have published the compliance cost assessment for the Child Support Act 1991 today. The report highlights areas where the work of the agency affects employers and represents a cost to them. It has been produced in consultation with the DSS employers' panel and the DSS employers' sub-group for child support. Copies of the compliance cost assessment have been placed in the Library.
19. Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of people receiving income support assistance with their mortgage interest payments are people with disabilities.
21. Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a further statement on the work of his Department's Maxwell pensions unit.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The Maxwell pensions unit continues to provide substantial administrative support to the Maxwell pensioners trust and to work with all concerned to encourage the resolution of Maxwell pensions disputes. The unit will stay in business while it has useful work to do, although it clearly does not represent an infinite resource.
Mr. Ronnie Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many women claimed maternity grant in Blyth Valley in the last year for which figures are available, and what is the estimated number of women who will receive social fund payments for maternity in the year 1993- 94.
The available figures on social fund maternity claims and payments for the Benefits Agency district office of Northumberland are set out in the table.
|Number of maternity|Number of maternity |payments claimed in|payments awarded |in\2 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1991-92 |1,072 |907 1992-93 |1,160 |988 1993-94 |1,239 |1,058
The total number of social fund maternity payments awarded in Great Britain in 1993 94 was 230,220; the number for 1994 95 is estimated at 312,900. Estimates cannot be made other than on a national basis.
Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list (a) the total number of claimants receiving assistance, (b) the average cost per claimant and (c) the total cost of assistance to (i) home owners, (ii) local authority tenants and (iii) private and housing association tenants, in receipt of income support towards their housing costs in each year since 1989.
|1989 |1990 |1991 |1992 |1993 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (i) Home owners Number of income support cases with mortgage interest included in the assessment |281,000 |310,000 |411,000 |499,000 |555,000 Average weekly cost |£24.16 |£34.32 |£44.41 |£44.02 |£42.17 Implied annual cost |£353 million |£553 million |£949 million |£1,143 million|£1,217 million (ii) Local authority tenants Number of income support cases in local authority housing |1,739,000 |1,678,000 |1,657,000 |1,754,000 |1,842,000 Average weekly cost |£19.93 |£22.74 |£26.08 |£29.88 |£32.23 Implied annual cost |£1,802 million|£1,984 million|£2,247 million|£2,725 million|£3,087 million (iii) Private and housing association tenants Number of income support cases in private housing and housing association |552,000 |589,000 |673,000 |836,000 |1,004,000 Average weekly cost |£25.48 |£31.35 |£37.35 |£43.20 |£48.58 Implied annual cost |£731 million |£960 million |£1,307 million|£1,878 million|£2,536 million Sources: Income support statistics annual inquiries May 1989-93; housing benefit management information statistics, annual 1 per cent. sample with income support taken at the end of May in each year given.
Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the number of recipients of rent allowance housing benefits at 31 May 1994 in (a) housing association properties and (b) private rented properties;
Column 84what was the average rent of each of these properties; and what was the average rent allowance being paid for each of them.
Recipients Average weekly Average Weekly (thousands) eligible rent rent allowance |Housing |Housing |Housing |Other |All Private |Association |Other Private|All Private |Association |Other Private |Association |Private |Tenants |Tenants |Tenants |Tenants |Tenants |Tenants |Tenants |Tenants |£ |£ |£ |£ |£ |£ -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- May 1993 |412 |1,068 |46.98 |39.88 |49.86 |43.61 |35.75 |46.80 May 1994 |508 |1,126 |50.78 |n/a |n/a |47.21 |n/a |n/a Note: Information relates to eligible rent for housing benefit as actual rents paid are not available. Detailed average rent and benefit figures are for May 1993 as May 1994 figures are not yet available. Source: Housing benefit management information system.
Mr. Rowlands: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proportion of his estimated savings on invalidity benefit in 1995 96 and 1996 97 will be achieved by (a) an estimated reduction in the number of successful new claimants and (b) existing claimants losing benefit.
Mr. Hague: In 1995 96, 13 per cent. of the estimated savings are accounted for by the exclusion of new claimants as a result of the medical test of incapacity and 41 per cent. by the exclusion of existing claimants. In 1996 97, 17 per cent. of the estimated savings are accounted for by the exclusion of new claimants as a result of the medical test and 48 per cent. by the exclusion of existing claimants.
Disability Living Allowance
Mrs. Jane Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement about measures being taken to review cases handled at the disability living allowance unit in Blackpool.
Column 84executive of the Benefits Agency. He will reply to the hon. Member.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Mrs. Jane Kennedy, dated 20 January 1995:
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about measures being taken to review cases handled at the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) Unit in Blackpool.
The Benefits Agency is committed to improving customer service by working towards the introduction of a One Stop service. Following the introduction of DLA in April 1992 the Agency has looked carefully at the options available in processing DLA claims and reviews. Currently new claims are the responsibility of Disability Benefits Centres (DBC) before the centralised unit in Blackpool takes over the case. Our research has shown that the three month period following the initial decision is the period of high activity and this also represents the prescribed time limit for applications for a review on any grounds.
A pilot exercise is currently being carried out at Newcastle DBC where the file is retained at the DBC and almost all of the activity, including reviews, that arises in the three month period following the decision on a new claim is dealt with; some work done by specialist
Column 85sections, such as Motability agreements, is retained at the DLA Unit in Blackpool.
If the pilot at Newcastle successfully demonstrates efficiency and an improved customer service, consideration will be given to extending the practice to other DBCs.
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the absenteeism rate for (a) his Department (b) the Benefits Agency, (c) the Child Support Agency, (d) the Contributions Agency, (e) the Information Technology Services Agency, (f) the Resettlement Agency and (g) the War Pensions Agency in each year since 1991.
Mr. Hague: Information on sickness absence rates can be supplied in the form requested only for 1993, the latest year for which figures are available. The average number of working day's absence per staff year due to sickness was as follows:
Department or Agency |Days --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Department of Social Security |12.2 Benefits Agency |12.8 Child Support Agency |9.8 Contributions Agency |11.0 Information Technology Services Agency |9.4 Resettlement Agency |14.6
The War Pensions Agency was not in existence in 1993.
In 1992, the average number of working days lost throughout the Department due to sickness was 9.3 and in 1991 the number was 11.2.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what assumptions he has made about (a) the growth in the retail prices index and (b) the growth in earnings when changing the calculations of the earnings factors used to derive SERPS entitlement as proposed in the Pensions Bill;
(2) if the changes in the calculation of the earnings factors used to derive SERPS entitlement contained in the Pensions Bill will (a) reduce the sum paid out to the pensioner from what it is currently forecast to be, (b) contain any element of retrospection and (c) impact in a regressive way;
(3) what is his forecast of the cost or saving in paying out SERPS pensions brought about by the changes in the calculation of the earnings factors used to derive SERPS entitlement contained in the Pensions Bill;
(4) if he will list by earnings decile the impact of the changes in the calculation of the earnings factors used to derive SERPS entitlement contained in the Pensions Bill by comparison with the forecast outcome under the present arrangement for the years (a) 2000 01, (b) 2010 11, (c) 2020 21, (d) 2030 31, (e) 2040 41 and (f) 2050 51;
Column 86(5) how the amount paid to SERPS beneficiaries will be affected by the changes in the calculation of the earnings factors used to derive SERPS entitlement from 6 April 2000 onwards contained in the Pensions Bill.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The changes in the calculation of earnings factors used to derive SERPS, as outlined in the Pensions Bill--annualisation of SERPS--is a technical change to the SERPS formula which will restore the original policy intention that SERPS entitlements are based on average earnings between the lower and upper earnings limit.
The change will result in a recalculation of the amount of SERPS payable in respect of past years for those people who become entitled from 6 April 2000. There will be no loss for people who reach state pension age or qualify for widows benefits before that date. The maximum weekly reduction in individual entitlements, using the woman's current pension age, is estimated to be (a) £2.70, (b) £3.80, (c) £4.90, (d) £4.60 (e) £4.40 and (f) £4.40. This effect is flat rate and applies to those with a complete work history of earnings above the lower earnings limit since 1978 or age 16, whichever is the later. For those with broken work records, the effects will be smaller.
Savings as a result of the change will amount to £400 million in 2010 rising to £2.3 billion by 2050. Projections assume that future upratings will continue to increase flat-rate benefits in line with prices and therefore have been calculated on 1994 95 prices. An assumed real earnings growth rate of 1.5 per cent. has been used.
Mr. Roger Evans: The published forecast for family credit expenditure for 1994 95 is £1,276 million. This is 18 times more in real terms than the £24 million spent on family income supplement in 1978 79.
Mr. Roger Evans: Since the habitual residence test was introduced in August 1994, we have been involved in evaluating and refining the operational procedures and we are not in a position to give the full annual cost of applying the test. These figures should become available by the end of this year.
Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the (a) average, (b) shortest and (c) longest time taken to process appeals against the adjudication officer's decision on habitual residence rules since the rules were introduced (i) in the Greater London area and (ii) in the United Kingdom as a whole.