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Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has had from Manchester city council about her proposal to reduce the city's AIDS support programme; what reply she is sending; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Sackville: We received one letter on 17 February which was answered on 8 March.
Sir John Gorst: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what criteria the areas helped by the establishment of the London initiative zone were selected; and what plans she has to extend the life and scope of the zone.
Mr. Malone: The London initiative zone covers those areas where need is deemed to be greatest, services weakest and where both hospital services and primary care present further challenges. The LIZ is expected to continue until 1997 98. There are no plans to extend the scope and the life of the zone.
Sir John Gorst: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information is held centrally on London ambulance service response times; what are the catchment areas served by local hospitals; what are the numbers of patients attending accident and emergency departments; and what is the number of patients attending minor accident treatment service units.
Mr. Sackville: Information is collected centrally for ambulance services, including the London ambulance service, on response times. Information on catchment areas and patient flows is available from district health authorities.
Dr. Marek: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what contingency plans she has in respect of court awards of large sums of money following litigation against health trusts.
Mr. Malone: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) on 16 March, Official Report , column 706.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the total expenditure on (a) all forms of publicity and (b) all publications and pamphlets produced for her Department and for all the agencies and public bodies for which her Department is responsible, for each year since 1979, including the budgeted figure for 1995 96, (i) including and (ii) excluding privatisation-related expenditures and expressed in 1994 prices; and if she will supply information for the period from 1 April 1993 to 1 March 1995 showing (1) the nature and (2) the purpose of each publicity campaign and of each publication involving the expenditure of more than £50,000.
Mr. Sackville: This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the total cost of his Department's war widows' pensions currently being paid to post-1973 war widows.
Mr. Arbuthnot: Actual expenditure for 1994 95 post- 1973 war widows' pensions is not available from the expenditure information currently collected, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The total estimated net cost of all war widows' pensions in 1994 95 is £361 million.
Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the hon. Member for Walsall, North will receive a reply to his letter of 2 February concerning a constituent.
Mr. Roger Evans: I sent a reply to the hon. Member today, having obtained a copy of the letter the day before. The original had not been received in the Department.
Dr. Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his Department's policy concerning the position of Maxwell pensioners.
Mr. Lilley: In June 1992, I announced a number of exceptional measures to help the Maxwell pensioners. This followed the discovery of a shortfall in scheme assets of some £440 million, affecting the pension rights of some 32,000 pension scheme numbers. About 4,000 current pensioners faced large and immediate cuts in their payments and about 12,000 future pensioners had no prospect of their pensions coming into payment. These
Column 743measures have ensured that all pensions have stayed in payment while uniquely complicated asset recovery work has been undertaken by the pension scheme trustees and the liquidators of the Maxwell pension investment company.
The measures the Government took were: the provision of £2.5 million in emergency funding to keep pensions in payment in the short term; setting up the Department's Maxwell pensions unit and the Maxwell Pensioners Trust, chaired by Sir John Cuckney, which raised some £6 million; and deferring the collection of some £115 million in state scheme premiums payable on the pensioners' return to the state earnings-related pension scheme, which amounts to a substantial interest-free loan. Sir John Cuckney also acted as my adviser on the Maxwell pensions affair.
The Government and the Maxwell Pensioners Trust have encouraged the parties to Maxwell pensions claims to consider the possibility of out-of-court settlements and mediation so that the cost and delays of litigation can be kept to a minimum. On 10 February, I warmly welcomed the announcement by the scheme trustees and the liquidators that they had agreed in principle a basis of a major settlement of various claims. This agreement was subject to terms and conditions also being agreed and obtaining the necessary court approval. Other claims are unaffected and are being pursued separately.
I hope that the parties concerned will be able to finalise a settlement. I shall continue to follow developments closely as, I am sure, will others, including the Social Security Committee, who have done excellent work on behalf of the pensioners. Sir John Cuckney and the Maxwell pensions unit have played an important role in
Column 744helping the parties to reach the basis for a major settlement. However, the task of bringing a settlement to a conclusion is in the hands of the parties concerned. So it is appropriate for the unit to cease acting as an independent entity and for me to release Sir John from his role as my adviser at the end of March.
The Government have played an active part in helping a resolution of the problems faced by the Maxwell pensioners. We have ensured that pensions continued to be paid by all Maxwell schemes while the scheme trustees and the liquidators undertook asset recovery work. We hope that the settlement recently agreed in principle can be concluded so that the pensioners can enjoy a secure future without the delays and costs of litigation.
Mr. Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 7 March, Official Report , column 168 , how many of the people moving off incapacity benefit to sign on in 1995 96, and 1996 97, he estimates (a) will also receive an occupational or private pension and (b) will be aged 45 years or over.
Mr. Hague: The information is not available.
Mr. Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people in each of the years 1995 96, 1996 97 and 1997 89 he estimates will qualify for income support to top up a payment of (a) the lower rate of short-term incapacity benefit (b) the higher rate of short-term incapacity benefit and (c) the long-term rate of incapacity benefit.
Mr. Hague: The information is not available in the form requested. The figures in the table are based on the estimated number of incapacity benefit recipients also in receipt of income support at the end of March each year.
|1996 |1997 |1998 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Short-term incapacity benefit (lower rate) |40,000 |40,000 |40,000 Short-term incapacity benefit (higher rate) |30,000 |30,000 |30,000 Long-term incapacity benefit |170,000|200,000|225,000 Totals |235,000|265,000|290,000 Notes: 1. Estimates are rounded to the nearest 5,000. Totals may not sum due to rounding. 2. As some estimates are based on small sample sizes, the data should be treated with caution.
Mr. Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many appeals concerning invalidity benefit were (a) received and (b) decided in each of the quarters ending June 1993, September 1993 and December 1993; and what percentage of these were found in the claimants's favour.
Mr. Hague: The information is in the table.
G Invalidity Benefit Appeals |Percentage in |Heard and |appellant's | ----------------------------------------------------------------------- June 1993 |5,689 |1,800 |51.7 September 1993 |7,021 |2,961 |54.9 December 1993 |7,150 |3,225 |57.8 Figures from "Quarterly Social Security Appeal Tribunal Statistics" produced by the Government Statistical Service.
Mr. Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many claimants of severe disablement allowance also receive an allowance for an adult dependant who is aged under 60 years who is not looking after children.
Mr. Hague: As at 3 April 1993 there were 3,000 recipients of severe disablement allowance, less than 1 per cent. of the total case load, who had an increase for an adult dependant but no increase for a dependent child in payment. Information is not available on the number of adult dependants who are aged under 60.
Based on a 1 per cent. sample of claims in Great Britain rounded to the nearest 1,000.
Mr. Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what were the numbers and proportion of people who lodged an appeal during each of the quarters ending December 1994, September 1994 and June 1994 against
Column 745a decision that they were capable of work, who were for the period pending their appeal (a) signing on as available for work, (b) claiming income support without signing on under regulation 8 of the Income Support (General) Regulations and (c) without any state benefit.
Mr. Hague: The information is not available.
Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 20 February, Official Report , column 77 , if he will state for each company the month and year in which they began employing staff from his Department.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The available information is given.
Date of leaving |Company joined ------------------------------------------------------------------ Information Technology Services Agency 27 November 1992 |AA Consulting 20 May 1994 |Price Waterhouse 28 October 1994 |Siemans Nixdorf 6 January 1995 |Syntegra
The officers who joined Fairhaven Computer Services and ICL both applied to leave the Department to join the outside companies during the first quarter of 1990.
The officer who joined BT Datacommunications applied to leave the Department during the third quarter of 1991.
Mrs. Liddell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement about acts of intrusion into the privacy of clients of the Benefits Agency with particular reference to the arrangements made with Royal Mail for the opening of mail to the agency.
Mr. Roger Evans: This is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Mrs. Helen Liddell, dated 16 March 1995:
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning confidentiality aspects surrounding the opening of Departmental post.
The Government's Competing for Quality initiative subjects public functions to competition from the private sector. As part of this initiative the Benefits Agency has market tested its accommodation and office services, which includes post opening operations.
The work was placed in geographical packages before being market tested and the outcome has been a mixture of wins by in-house and external suppliers. The Royal Mail are now opening and sorting post for the Benefits Agency under a sub-contract to the in-house team in the Tyne/Tees, North and West Yorkshire, Scotland, East Midlands, Wales, Greater Manchester and South East areas. This is not a national contract. The sub-contract with the Royal Mail was not obligatory for successful in-house teams, but the in- house teams in these areas have the opportunity to provide significant service enhancements along with savings for the tax payer.
The contract specifications drawn up with the Royal Mail contain all the necessary safeguards to ensure confidentiality of information is maintained to the high standards required by the Civil Service. All staff directly involved in post opening are bound by the same stringent security and confidentiality rules, including each member
Column 746of staff being required to sign a declaration acknowledging the provisions of section 123 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992, which makes it a criminal offence to disclose personal information provided for Social Security purposes. The Royal Mail is a Government body and consequently the staff are already governed by the Official Secrets Act.
The mail is opened under supervision in a separate, secure area which is locked at all times, and only staff directly involved in the contract will be allowed access to this room. Whilst the post is being opened and sorted no one is allowed to enter or leave the room. Any mail marked "Private", "Personal" or "Confidential" is left unopened. The sorted mail is then placed in sealed bags and delivered to the District Office sections each morning.
The Benefits Agency has ensured that in seeking to provide better value for money in the delivery of public services, standards of quality and confidentiality will not be sacrificed. In particular the Agency has:
specified carefully in the contracts the standards which must be observed;
ensured that staff are properly trained in post opening operations;
set up detailed and continuous procedures to monitor the standard of service being provided.
There are many opportunities for enhanced customer service, in terms of the Agency's business as a whole, to be gained from the new arrangements and I am confident that we are able to maintain our high standards of customer confidentiality.
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Mr. Pawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans the Child Support Agency has produced to move its headquarters to the Dudley Child Support Agency centre; when the Child Support Agency intends to implement that proposal; and whether the chief executive of the Child Support Agency intends to base her own office and her support staff at the Dudley Child Support Agency centre.
Mr. Burt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is the responsibility of the chief executive, Miss Ann Chant. She will write to my hon. Friend.
Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Mr. James Pawsey, dated 17 March 1995:
I am replying to your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the relocation of the Child Support Agency's headquarters to Dudley.
A small project team was established in January to develop detailed proposals and plans for the relocation of the Agency's headquarters, and other centralised work, away from London. Implementation of these plans is now under way and proceeding to timetable. It is intended to relocate the Agency's headquarters to Dudley through a phased programme of moves by April 1996.
It is my intention to house both my own office and my support team at Dudley.
I hope that this is helpful.
Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he introduced leaflet BAL4; what is its purpose and what was the reason for its introduction at that time; and if he will list the areas in the United Kingdom where the leaflet is being used.
Mr. Roger Evans: The administration of the Benefits Agency is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, its chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. John Austin-Walker, dated 16 March 1995:
Column 747The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the introduction, purpose and availability of leaflet BAL4.
In 1993, as Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency, I met with the National Association of the Citizens Advice Bureau. At that meeting, concern was expressed that the Agency was asking people, as part of the process for allocating National Insurance numbers to new customers, to produce documents they would not normally have in their possession, in order to establish their identity.
I arranged for action to be taken and, following further investigation and consultation with other welfare groups, the leaflet BAL4 was published in September 1994. Customers are now more aware, as a consequence, of the type of documents that will be required to provide evidence of identity when claiming benefit. This has allowed the Agency to give a better service to its customers as the allocation of National Insurance numbers is quicker. Consequently, the administration and payment of benefit via the computer system, which of itself offers an enhanced service, can be implemented more speedily.
The leaflet was made available to 20000 external organisations as well as Agency offices throughout the United Kingdom.
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Mr. Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proportion of (a) new family credit claims and (b) renewal family credit claims are presently being processed with in (i) one week, (ii) four weeks, (iii) six weeks, (iv) eight weeks and (v) longer than eight weeks.
Mr. Roger Evans: The administration of family credit 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. Keith Bradley, dated 16 March 1995 :
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the clearance times of new and renewal claims to Family Credit. You requested details of the proportion cleared within one week, four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks and longer than eight weeks.
The table below details the information you have requested. Such figures are produced on a monthly basis and I have therefore provided information for the month ending 28 February 1995 which is the latest full month available. For the purposes of answering this question, one week has been calculated as 5 working days.
Percentage |1 Week |4 Weeks |6 Weeks |8 Weeks |Over 8 weeks |(1-5 days) |(6-20 days) |(21-30 days)|(31-40 days)|(41+ days) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- New Claims |38.45 |46.67 |10.40 |0.79 |3.69 Renewal Claims |39.68 |46.35 |8.74 |2.96 |2.27
You may also be interested to know that Family Credit operates a Fast Track system for processing claims from the newly employed through the Employment Service. Information required for the assessment is provided by the customer's Client Advisor which enables the unit to assess the claim more quickly. Figures for the month ending 28 February showed that 90.06% of customers using the Fast Track system had their claim decided in 5 working days.
I hope you find this reply useful.
Dr. Wright: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will identify which forms of personal conduct are unacceptable for a Minister; and if he will amend "Questions of Procedures for Ministers" accordingly;
(2) if any Minister who has, or who has had, an extra-marital affair will be expected to resign.
Mr. Newton: I have been asked to reply.
Paragraph 1 of "Questions of Procedure for Ministers" makes it clear that Ministers are expected to conduct themselves in such a way as to protect the integrity of public life. My right hon. Friend has no plans to amend it.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, what was the total expenditure on (a) all forms of publicity and (b) all publications and pamphlets produced for his Department and for all the agencies and public bodies for which his Department and for all the agencies and public bodies for which his Department is
Column 748responsible for each year since 1979, including the budgeted figure for 1995 96, (i) including and (ii) excluding privatisation-related expenditures and expressed in 1994 prices; and if he will supply information for the period from 1 April 1993 to 1 March 1995 showing (1) the nature and (2) the purpose of each publicity campaign and of each publication involving the expenditure of more than £50,000.
Mr. Ian Taylor: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if the salary paid to Mr. Peter Luff while employed as a specialist adviser to Ministers by the Department of Trade and Industry during the period 13 June 1987 to 24 July 1989 was supplemented by income from employment outside the Department.
Mr. Heseltine: Special advisers are bound by the same rules as civil servants regarding outside employment and their other financial interests. In general, these require that there should be no conflict between those interests and their official duties. Apart from this, their income is a matter for them.
Mr. Frank Cook: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what contact his Department has had with Eurosolar UK; and what assessment he has made of Eurosolar UK's stated aims and activities.
Mr. Eggar: There have been exchanges of correspondence with Eurosolar UK and meetings between officials and representatives of Eurosolar UK. The Department was represented at the launch of Eurosolar
Column 749UK on 28 February. Eurosolar UK has been invited to express its views in the consultation process on the non-fossil fuel obligation and future renewable energy orders.
The Government welcome the launch of Eurosolar UK since its key aim is to promote the use of sustainable forms of energy which is in line with the Government's own policy in this area.
Mr. David Evans: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when the Office of Fair Trading will publish its report on prepaid funerals and the funeral industry.
Mr. Ian Taylor: I understand from the Director General of Fair Trading that he expects to publish his report on prepaid funerals during April.
Ms Harman: To ask the President of the Board of Trade for this year and each of the past five years, how many employees in (i) his Department and (ii) all executive agencies for which his Department is responsible who have been employed on temporary contracts of (a) 51 weeks or (b) less than 51 weeks' duration are re-employed in the same or similar position at a later date.
Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 15 March 1995]: The information in precisely the form requested by the hon. Member is not readily available. The number of staff currently employed, or who have been employed during the last five years, on temporary contracts and then re- employed in the same or similar position at a later date is 70 for my Department and 279 for the agencies.
Ms Harman: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many people he expects to employ in (i) his Department and (ii) all executive agencies for which he is responsible on temporary contracts of (a) 51 weeks or (b) less than 51 weeks' duration in the next three years, in each case specifying the number of employees who had previously been employed in a similar position on the same contract.
Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 15 March 1995]: The information is not available in the form requested. The Department's "Expenditure Plans Report 1995"--Cm 2804--gives details in man years of casual staff planned in my Department and its agencies. Copies are available from the Library of the House.
Ms Harman: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many employees in (i) his department and (ii) all executive agencies supervised by his Department have been employed on temporary contracts of (a) 51 weeks of (b) less than 51 weeks' duration for this year and each of the past five years, in each case specifying what percentage of the respective total work force t hese employees constitute.
Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 15 March 1995]: The information requested by the hon. Member is as follows:
51 weeks Less than 51 weeks |Per cent. |Per cent. ------------------------------------------------------------- Department 1989-90 |14 |0.2 |131 |2.0 1990-91 |19 |0.3 |120 |2.0 1991-92 |7 |0.1 |75 |1.2 1992-93 |6 |0.1 |103 |1.5 1993-94 |10 |0.2 |83 |1.3 1994-95 |n/a |n/a |140 |2.3 Agencies 1989-90 |13 |0.2 |272 |4.1 1990-91 |15 |0.2 |347 |5.1 1991-92 |19 |0.3 |322 |4.7 1992-93 |16 |0.2 |278 |4.2 1993-94 |29 |0.3 |334 |5.3 1994-95 |n/a |n/a |566 |9.4 n/a Not available.
Exact figures for the current financial year are not available because some staff taken on during the course of the year will not have served a possible full 51-week term.