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Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his oral statement of 13 December, Official Report, column 773, if he will make a further statement on the Pergau dam project.
Mr. Baldry: As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs announced to the House on 13 December, arrangements are being made for the outstanding commitments on this project to be met from the reserve voted by Parliament. This is outside the scope of the Overseas Development and Co-operation Act 1980.
Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to argue in the forthcoming IDA replenishment negotiations, that the bulk of IDA funds should be allocated to social sectors and direct poverty reduction programmes; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry: In the report on the 10th replenishment of IDA, donors underlined the central importance of poverty reduction in IDA's policy dialogue with borrowers, and stated that they expected the share of social sector and poverty-targeted interventions to increase steadily where justified by the country assistance strategy. In IDA-11, we will press IDA to intensify its efforts in this area.
Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his Department's plans for (a) the size of the 11th IDA replenishment and (b) the allocation of IDA-11 among the various objectives towards which it is directed.
Mr. Baldry: We shall be working for a substantial replenishment of the International Development Association, while taking account of the constraints on available aid programme resources. We do not expect any major shift in IDA's priority objectives of poverty reduction, sound economic management and environmentally sustainable development.
Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy (a) to support the United States Government's position on mandatory social safety net programmes and public consultation campaigns for all structural adjustment loans and (b) to press for their implementation, at the Paris meeting of International Development Association delegates in February.
Mr. James Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what arrangements are being made by the Overseas Development Administration to meet expenditure in 1994 95 on the Turkey Ankara metro mixed credit aid and trade provision project.
Mr. Baldry: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs announced to the House on 13 December 1994, Official Report, columns 773-74, that, following a review of aid and trade provision projects in the light of the judgment of the divisional court on the Malaysia Pergau hydro-electric dam project, arrangements would be made for outstanding commitments to certain projects to be met from funds voted by Parliament outside the scope of the Overseas Development and Co- operation Act 1980.
Financial aid for the Turkey Ankara metro project, including the cost of monitoring, will be met from funds outside the overseas aid budget. Parliamentary approval to this new service will be sought in a spring supplementary estimate for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office--Overseas Development Administration: external assistance vote, class II, vote 5. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure, estimated at £4.627 million, will be met by repayable advances from the contingencies fund.
Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the number of housing benefit claimants who are likely to be affected by the tighter restrictions on the level of rent eligible for housing benefit consequent on the change to the housing benefit regulations he proposes to make from October 1995.
Mr. Roger Evans: Much will depend on the definition of average rents to be used in the calculation of housing benefit, and other factors, including the behavioural effects of the proposals. A realistic estimate will not be possible until we have made decisions on the detailed structure of the new arrangements, following consultation with the local authority associations, the social security advisory committee and other interested bodies.
Letter from Ann Chant to Mr. Adam Ingram, dated1 February 1995: I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the number and success rate of specialist traces performed by the Child Support Agency. Since launch to the end of November 1994, specialist tracing action has been completed in almost 77,000 cases, 58,000 of which were successful; a success rate of 75 per cent.
I hope that this is of help.
Column 70718 reviews outstanding as at 31 March 1994 cited in his answer of 18 May 1994, Official Report , column 526 ; how many section 18 reviews of child support officers' decisions have been requested since then and how many have been cleared; and what efforts are being made to monitor the outcomes and length of time that reviews are taking to be decided;
(2) how many section 17 reviews of child support officers' decisions have been cleared in the first half of 1994 95; how many of these resulted in a fresh assessment; and what efforts are being made to monitor the number of requests made for section 17 reviews and the length of time that reviews are taking to be decided.
Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Mr. Adam Ingram, dated 1 February 1995:
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about Section 17 and Section 18 reviews completed by the Child Support Agency.
Between April and september 1994, 15,562 Section 17 reviews were cleared. From April to the end of July, 13,065 reviews resulted in the maintenance assessment being revise. From August 1994, numbers of reviews resulting maintenance assessments were no longer collected because there was no business need for the information and data collected for earlier periods had clearly shown that the overwhelming majority of reviews cleared result in a fresh assessment .
Following enhancements to the Agency's management information systems it was found that the number of Section 18 review applications outstanding at 1 April 1994 was 9,537, which differs from the figure of 11,732 given in the answer of 18 May 1994. Between April and November 1994, a further 18,766 review applications were received and 18,671 applications were cleared.
Enhancements to our Management Information Systems enable us, from August 1994, to identify the number of Section 18 review clearances which actually result in a review being completed, against those considered not appropriate to Section 18 and those refused or withdrawn. However, there is no business requirement to record the number of completed reviews which result in a change to assessment. From August we are also now able to measure the proportion of Section 17 and Section 18 reviews completed within specific age bands. I hope that this is of help.
Mr. Thurnham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what information he has on the proportion of households in the bottom 10 per cent. of income distribution which have (a) a car, (b) a television, (c) a video, (d) a telephone, (e) a washing machine, (f) a fridge freezer or freezer and (g) a home computer (i) in the latest year for which figures are available and (ii) in 1979.
Percentage of individuals in the bottom 10 per cent. of the income distribution who live in households with access to consumer durables, in 1979 and 1991-92<1> Before Housing After Housing Costs Costs |1979 |1991-92|1979 |1991-92 -------------------------------------------------------- Car or van |39 |51 |40 |53 Television |93 |<2>97 |93 |<2>97 Video |<4>- |60 |<4>- |65 Telephone |47 |74 |47 |73 Washing machine |69 |87 |69 |86 Fridge freezer or freezer<1> |29 |79 |32 |81 Home computer |<4>- |20 |<4>- |21 Notes: <1>The latest period for which figures are available is 1991-92; that is the calendar years 1991 and 1992 combined. <2>The latest period for which information on televisions is available is 1990-91. <3>The large increase in access to fridge freezers or freezers mainly reflects a rise in the access to fridge freezers over the period. <4>Information on videos and home computers was not available in 1979.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list for each of the last three years the numbers unemployed and drawing (a) national insurance benefit only, (b) national insurance and income support and (c) income support only; and if these three sets of data for each year could also be presented in percentage terms of the total claimant unemployment count.
Number of unemployed claimants by benefit entitlement at the second Thursday of the given months (GB) thousands |Unemployment |All unemployed|Unemployment |Benefit and |Income Support |claimants |Benefit only |Income Support|only |No benefit --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1991 November |2,313 |507 |119 |1,386 |301 1992 February |2,553 |566 |129 |1,530 |328 May |2,546 |545 |124 |1,564 |313 August |2,641 |525 |117 |1,651 |347 November |2,687 |534 |121 |1,664 |368 1993 February |2,840 |578 |123 |1,769 |370 May |2,759 |543 |116 |1,765 |335 August |2,821 |532 |108 |1,817 |364 November |2,640 |483 |101 |1,744 |312 1994 February |2,727 |503 |104 |1,802 |317 May |2,551 |428 |113 |1,729 |281 August |2,542 |381 |132 |1,763 |266 Notes: Figures are based on a 100 per cent. count. Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand and component parts may not sum to totals. Source: Quarterly Analysis of Unemployed Claimants.
Percentage of unemployed claimants by benefit entitlement at the second Thursday of the given months ( GB) Percentages |Unemployment |All unemployed|Unemployment |Benefit and |Income Support |claimants |Benefit only |Income Support|only |No benefit --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1991 November |100 |21.9 |5.2 |59.9 |13.0 1992 February |100 |22.2 |5.0 |59.9 |12.8 May |100 |21.4 |4.9 |61.4 |12.3 August |100 |19.9 |4.4 |62.5 |13.2 November |100 |19.9 |4.5 |61.9 |13.7 1993 February |100 |20.4 |4.3 |62.3 |13.0 May |100 |19.7 |4.2 |64.0 |12.1 August |100 |18.9 |3.8 |64.4 |12.9 November |100 |18.3 |3.8 |66.1 |11.8 1994 February |100 |18.4 |3.8 |66.1 |11.6 May |100 |16.8 |4.4 |67.8 |11.0 August |100 |15.0 |5.2 |69.3 |10.5 Notes: Figures are based on a 100 per cent. count. Percentages are rounded to one decimal place and component parts may not sum to totals.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the cost of the report prepared by SIA Ltd. on the analysis of responses to consultation on Government measures to tackle discrimination against disabled people.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will commission a report on the analysis of responses to the Government consultation on pensions similar to the analysis carried out by SIA Ltd. on Government measures to tackle discrimination against disabled people.
Mr. Arbuthnot: No. The report of the pension law review committee included an analysis of the written responses to the committee's consultation document. Since the publication of that report, the Department has consulted widely on a large number of issues, and received detailed and technical responses. These were placed in the Library on Thursday 22 December 1994 in
Column 710response to the hon. Member's earlier question, on 19 December 1994, Official Report columns 930-31 .
Mr. Roger Evans: The Benefits Agency pursues a number of initiatives to ensure that all sectors of the public, including older people, are aware of the availability of benefits. A leaflet, FB32 "Benefits after retirement", gives information on a wide range of benefits available to older people. The first stage of the one-step benefit delivery service was completed in July, providing information locally on all major benefits, plus help with claims. Information material is also available through other, non-Benefits Agency, outlets. The social security freeline service provides information and advice on all benefits.
Column 711about the level of British pensions paid to people living in Australia; what replies he has sent; what action he is taking; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Arbuthnot: We have received a number of letters recently about non-payment of annual pension increases to British pensioners living in Australia. We have also received representations from the Government of Australia. It would cost an additional £105 million a year to uprate British pensions paid there. In view of the continued need to contain public expenditure, we have no plans to change our policy on this issue.
24 January by Australia's Minister for Social Security about the level of British pensions paid to people living in Australia; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what use his Department or its executive agencies makes of private hospitals in testing applicants for benefits; if he will list (a) those private hospitals which have contracts from his Department or its executive agencies to carry out work during the current financial year, (b) the types of medical testing which will be carried out, (c) the number of patients to be treated under those contracts and (d) the value of the contracts; and what factors led his Department to use these facilities rather than national health service hospitals.
(a) General Healthcare Group plc trading as BMI Healthcare Audiology Services (BMI) are currently contracted to carry out audiological examinations for the War Pensions Agency.
(b) In each case pure tone audiometry is performed and depending on the circumstances, tympanometry and/or Evoked Response Audiometry may also be performed.
(c) BMI performed just over 105,000 pure tone audiometric tests. (d) This information is commercial in confidence.
Prior to this contract being awarded, audiological services were provided by a fragmented network of private individuals throughout the United Kingdom that had been appointed by senior medical officers in the various regions. However, a wide variance of service reporting standards and unacceptable delays in some areas led to the decision to undertake a competitive tendering exercise for the nationwide provision of audiological services. Many expressions of interest were received, including some from individual NHS hospitals. However, upon extensive and thorough evaluation of all submissions, a single contract was awarded to General Healthcare Group plc, its tender best matching the contract strategy of providing a uniform quality service to pre-determined standards and offering the best value for money.
Mr. McAllion: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proportion and number of non-industrial civil servants in the Department and agencies for which he has responsibility are registered disabled and disabled as defined by the Cabinet Office document, "Focus on Ability".
Mr. Robert G. Hughes: The number of registered disabled people in the Departments and agencies for which my right hon. Friend is responsible and other areas which fall to the Cabinet Office vote is as follows:
|Total |Number of |staff in |Percentage |RDP |department|of RDP ---------------------------------------------------------------- Cabinet office OPSS (including CCTA) |18 |1,316.5 |1.4 CCC |3 |397.5 |0.75 CSC |- |253 |- OHS |0.5 |113 |0.4 RAS |3 |137.5 |2.2 COI |4 |502 |0.8 HMSO |40.5 |2,002 |2
The figures represent full time equivalent posts; part time staff are shown as 0.5.
Figures for the number of all disabled people employed within the Departments and agencies as a whole are not available. However, 51 staff in the central Cabinet Office/OPSS and CCTA have a disability which they consider might affect them at work.
Mr. David Hunt: The Duchy has no record of tenants who may themselves be in receipt of housing benefit. The Duchy receives housing benefit in the form of rental payments on behalf of tenants for four properties.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many applications for the release of information under the code of practice on access to government information since April 1994 have been (a) successful and (b) unsuccessful; and in the latter case what reasons have been given.
Mr. Robert G. Hughes: This information is not available centrally, but information on the first nine months of operation of the code of practice is being collected for a report to be issued shortly by the Office of Public Service and Science.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he will make available documentation in its original form in instances where information is released under the code of practice on access to government information.
Mr. Robert G. Hughes: There is no commitment that pre-existing documents, as distinct from information, will be made available, but paragraph 52 of the guidance on the code of practice states: "Requests for information should be met in the simplest, most cost-effective way. This will usually be by letter giving the information requested [ . . . ] There may be occasions on which it is appropriate to send photocopies--for example of a letter which has been published or a factual record . . . "
Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Prime Minister (1) in which circumstances a Minister is not expected to notify the Member for the constituency visited by the Minister of a ministerial visit to the constituency, under paragraph 71 of "Questions of Procedure for Ministers", May 1992;
(2) what constitutes adequate notice of a ministerial visit, under paragraph 71 of "Questions of Procedure for Ministers" May 1992; (3) in which circumstances hon. Members are (a) invited and (b) not invited to make suggestions to Ministers about the inclusion of places which it would be helpful to visit, under paragraph 71 of "Questions of Procedure for Ministers", May 1992.
The Prime Minister: It is for individual Ministers to ensure that they comply with paragraph 71 of "Questions of Procedure for Ministers" and to judge what constitutes adequate notice. "Questions of Procedure for Ministers" makes it clear that informing the Members for the constituencies that they intend to visit is a courtesy which they should take special care not to overlook.
Mr. McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment (1) how many nurses were employed by the Health and Safety Executive's employment medical advisory service in the years 1974 to 1994; (2) how many (a) doctors and (b) nurses were employed within the Health and Safety Executive's Health policy division and its predecessors in each year since 1974;
(3) how many doctors were employed by the Health and Safety Executive's employment medical advisory service in each year since 1974.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what initiatives he is developing to improve access to information on employment vacancies for people living in rural areas; and if he will make a statement.
Column 714Service Agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from M. E. G. Fogden to Mr. Malcolm Bruce, dated 1 February 1995 :
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about initiatives to improve access to information on employment vacancies for people living in rural areas.
Local initiatives are being developed by many of the Employment Service's (ES) rural offices to improve our clients' access to vacancy information. These often involve provision of vacancy displays in post offices, libraries, community centres and other focal points in small rural communities. Local press and radio are also used to publicise our services.
The ES programme Development Fund is being used to develop rural initiatives and supplement the more traditional forms of vacancy filling in scattered communities. Mobile Jobcentres have been provided in several areas and Freephone services are being used to make Jobcentre services more accessible to clients in the more remote areas. Access to vacancies and advisory services has also been provided by our Claimant Advisers through Outreach projects. These initiatives will be subject to evaluation in the future and consideration may then be given to wider delivery.
You may also be interested to know that an internal working group has been set up in Scotland to consider how existing ES services might be further developed to meet the needs of ES clients in rural areas.
Miss Widdecombe: Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service Agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given. Letter from M. E. G. Fogden to Mr. Malcolm Bruce, dated 1 Februry 1995 :
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the guidelines he has issued in respect of the geographical size of the catchment area served by Jobcentres.
There are no specific guidelines on the geographical size of catchment areas. Decisions on the location of Jobcentres and the area they serve are made primarily on the basis of how the best possible service can be provided to clients taking economic, demographic and geographic factors such as travel to work patterns into account. The network of local offices nationally was reviewed in 1990 as part of the Employment Service's (ES) integration programme, which is about merging Jobcentres and Benefit Offices into a single location of ES Jobcentres.
The location of the new integrated Jobcentres and the areas they serve were decided using the factors mentioned above to provide, wherever possible a service appropriate to the local economy and labour market. Since 1990, 925 integrated Jobcentres have been created, with a further 47 planned in the current financial year.
Mr. McAllion: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what proportion and number of non-industrial civil servants in the Departments and agencies for which he has responsibility are registered disabled and disabled as defined by the Cabinet Office document,"Focus on Ability".
Column 7152,342, representing 3.9 per cent. of the total. Figures for the number and proportion of all disabled people are not available as the Department does not record information on people who have chosen not to register as disabled.
Miss Widdecombe: Latest estimates from the summer 1994 labour force survey show that 64 per cent. of men aged 55 to 64 were economically active. Equivalent figures for 1987 and 1979--the earliest available comparable data--were 68 per cent. and 84 per cent. respectively.
(2) when the state of solvency of the South Thames TEC was at such a point as to render it advisable for providers to ask for cash in advance.
Mr. Paice: I understand that the board of South Thames training and enterprise council invited my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to appoint a receiver as soon as it became apparent to them that the TEC was insolvent. This was as a result of a report by a team of accountants acting on behalf of the Department, a copy of which has been placed in the Library.
Before that point the terms on which providers contracted with the TEC were a matter for their commercial judgment. I have no direct knowledge of the indicators available to providers prior to the appointment of the receiver though I understand that the appointment was preceded by a period of difficulty in relations between TEC and its providers when, for example, payments to some providers were delayed.
Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what alternatives to the South Thames TEC existed for providers of training opportunities guaranteed by Government before the insolvency of the TEC.
Mr. Paice: The Government do not guarantee that training opportunities will be contracted to any provider of training. The extent to which training providers had alternatives to their commercial contracts with South Thames training and enterprise council will have depended on the nature of their business. Many providers will also have contracts with other TECs in London and elsewhere.
Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many training providers were not paid by (a) the Manpower Services Commission at the time it was wound up and (b) the South Thames TEC.
Mr. Paice: At the time the Manpower Services Commission ceased to exist, its contractual responsibilities on training were transferred to the Training Commission and business continued as normal. As for South Thames training and enterprise council, it is for the receiver to specify what number of training
Column 716providers have not been paid as a result of it's receivership.
Ms Corston: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment on how many occasions and in what circumstances in the last five years advertisements have been placed in newspapers or periodicals which have been described as being issued by or on behalf of Ministers in his Department rather than on behalf of Her Majesty's Government.
Miss Widdecombe: There have been no occasions where advertisements have been placed in newspapers or periodicals which have been described as being issued by or on behalf of Ministers in the Employment Department rather than on behalf of Her Majesty's Government.