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Mr. Marlow: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the public expenditure cost per head of total population in each European Union country of state-provided pensions in 1995; and what it is estimated to be under present policies in the years (i) 2000, (ii) 2005, (iii) 2010, (iv) 2015 and (v) 2020, respectively. [15570]

Mr. Heald: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows.

The 1988 EU figures are contained in "Digest of Statistics on Social Protection in Europe Volume 1: Old Age" published by Eurostat in 1992, a copy of which is in the Library.

The table contains Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development forecasts of per capita spending on public pension systems in the four EU countries listed:

Local currency values--1994 prices

GermanyFranceItalyUnited Kingdom

Figures for UK are based on current average pension receipt and World bank population projections, figures take into account equalisation of state pension age but do not take into account changes to SERPS.

The following table contains the Government Actuary's Department's projections for Great Britain, which take into account all the changes to date and are based on more recent population data:

Per capita spending in 1994 prices on Retirement Pension (including SERPS)

Great Britain (£)

19 Feb 1996 : Column: 29


Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many social security appeals are currently adjourned pending a decision by the House of Lords. [15359]

Mr. Roger Evans [holding answer 15 February 1996]: The information is set out in the table.

Cases on which action has been suspended

Social security appeals2,011
Court of appealnil

(10) This figure represents both cases upon which appeals have been accepted and cases upon which applications for leave to appeal are still to be considered.

Disability (Access Committee for England)

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 13 February 1996, Official Report, column 550, what representations he has received on the achievements of the Access Committee for England; what replies he has sent; and if he will make a statement. [15772]

Mr. Burt: We have received a number of letters about the Access Committee for England which have been brought to the attention of the working group set up to consider the committee's future role and functions.

Benefit Fraud

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what further measures he is assessing to combat benefit fraudulent claims. [14864]

Mr. Heald [holding answer 12 February 1996]: The Benefits Agency's comprehensive security strategy includes a five-year plan for improving security and control of the benefits system.

The further measures include the continuing benefit review programme to establish the scale and patterns of fraud and incorrectness in all the major benefits; increasing the numbers of visits to, and other checks of, claimants to benefit; expanding data matching to compare information on DSS computers; investigation of employers who collude with employees who make fraudulent claims; the gradual replacement of order books and girocheques with a benefit payment card; improving the integrity and control of national insurance numbers; and the introduction in targeted areas of mobile electronic stop notice scanners in post office to stop the fraudulent encashment of order books.

Local authorities administer housing benefit. New measures being introduced include the development of a central computer register to cross-check claims, ear marking of £8 million for challenging funding to encourage innovation in fighting fraud, and a strengthening of the financial incentives for local authorities to pursue fraud.

19 Feb 1996 : Column: 30


Gas Supply (Failure)

Mr. Home Robertson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the inquiry by Ofgas into the failure of the gas supply in Prestonpans, Lockenzie and Port Seton on 29 December 1995. [15647]

Mr. Eggar: I fully sympathise with the hon. Member's constituents who suffered during the supply failure. The Director General of Gas Supply is rightly looking into the incident and we must await her conclusions. I understand that she hopes to report at the end of February.

Electricity Import

Mr. Jack Thompson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the effect upon the balance of payments of the import of electricity from France in (a) 1990-91, (b) 1991-92, (c) 1992-93, (d) 1993-94 and (e) 1994-95. [15650]

Mr. Page: The following information from the DTI's "Digest of UK Energy Statistics 1995", in practice relates to net imports from France:

Net imports of electricity, Overseas Trade Statistics basis

£ million


"Digest of UK Energy Statistics 1995", Table 64.

Environmental Technology Companies

Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what has been the level of Government financial support in each year since 1990 to companies involved in environmental technology. [15533]

Mr. Page: Companies involved in environmental technology may apply for support under a range of general regional, export promotion and innovation programmes funded by the Government. The Office of Science and Technology's funding of the research councils is also relevant to the needs of these companies. Spending under these general arrangements on projects relevant to environmental technology companies cannot be readily identified.

Government funding under programmes directed specifically at environmental technology totalled £176 million in the period 1 April 1990 to 31 December 1995. Figures for individual years are not readily available.

In addition, the environmental technology best practice programme, run jointly by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of the Environment, aims to benefit both suppliers and users of environmental technologies and techniques through encouraging United Kingdom firms to take up measures that will improve both

19 Feb 1996 : Column: 31

their competitiveness and their environmental performance. The programme budget is £16 million, for the five years to 1998-99. Spending under the programme was £1.99 million in its launch year 1994-95, and £2.36 million between 1 April and 31 December 1995.

Sellafield (Safety)

Mr. McGrady: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many incidents have been reported at the British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. plant at Sellafield since 1 January; what discussions have taken place with the directorate of British Nuclear Fuels plc concerning these; and what action will be taken to prevent similar incidents occurring. [15711]

Mr. Eggar: The arrangements for reporting nuclear incidents at civil nuclear installations to my Department and its precursor were revised in 1987. I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Mr. Goodlad) to a question from the then hon. Member for Sherwood, Official Report 30 April 1987, columns 203-04.

Since 1 January 1996, no incidents at British Nuclear Fuel plc's plant at Sellafield have been reported to my Department under the above arrangements. Two minor events which were not of such safety or radiological significance as to be formally reportable were brought to the attention of my Department because of public interest. Details of these two incidents are contained in the 13 February Sellafield site newsletter, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

All incidents at Sellafield are investigated by BNF plc management to determine their cause and to put in place such measures as may be necessary to prevent a recurrence. Inspectors of the Health and Safety Executive's nuclear installations inspectorate carry out separate investigations as necessary, in order to determine what further regulatory response, if any, is appropriate.

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