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Jobseeker's Allowance

Mr. Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the number of carers who are no longer entitled to sign on as unemployed as a result of the introduction of jobseeker's allowance and are also unable to obtain national insurance credits due to the cared-for person not being in receipt of disability living allowance at the middle rate. [8896]

Mr. Roger Evans: No such estimate has been made. Carers who care for someone who is in receipt of the highest or middle rate of disability living allowance care component are not required to be available for work and may be able to claim income support. People who receive income support as carers can take advantage of home responsibilities protection which will protect their basic pension rights.

All unemployed carers, whether caring for someone who is in receipt of disability living allowance or not, can choose to claim jobseeker's allowance and will receive either benefit and credits or credits alone, depending on their personal circumstances, so long as they fulfil the jobseeker's allowance conditions of being available for and actively seeking work. Under jobseeker's allowance,

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carers are able to restrict the hours for which they are available for work in line with their caring responsibilities, so long as they retain reasonable prospects of securing employment and are available for a minimum of 16 hours per week. Additionally, carers are not required to take up employment immediately but are instead allowed 48 hours notice before taking up a job.

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much benefit expenditure has been saved as a result of the introduction of jobseeker's allowance. [11039]

Mr. Evans: The information is not yet available. However, we estimate that the new jobseeker's allowance will save £60 million in 1996-97 and £240 million in 1997-98.

German War Pensions

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many German war pensions are paid to people resident in the United Kingdom; in what ways his Department acts as agent for those payments; what records his Department retains of the war service of those paid; and if he will make a statement. [9905]

Mr. Heald: The payment of German war pensions is a matter for the German authorities. However, I understand that, as at July 1996, 459 such pensions were in payment. The Department does not act in any way as agent for these pensions and consequently has no record of any sort of the individuals concerned.

Child Support Agency

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security which regulations cover the operation of the special payment unit of the Child Support Agency. [11177]

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: None, as the Department's special payments scheme operates on an extra-statutory basis.

Cold Weather Payments

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what changes there have been to the trigger points for cold climate payments in Scotland; for each new station what is the difference in recorded temperatures compared to the previous site for the last three months; how many payments have been triggered for the areas covered by new weather stations; and if he will make a statement. [10727]

Mr. Roger Evans: From November 1996, a number of changes were made to postcode links with weather stations in Scotland. Two additional weather stations were introduced at Aultbea and Loch Glascarnoch. Aultbea covers some postcodes formerly covered by Tiree weather station. Loch Glascarnoch covers some postcodes formerly linked to weather stations at Aviemore, Kinloss, Tiree and Wick airport.

So far this winter, Loch Glascarnoch has triggered payments five times. Aultbea has not triggered.

Based on the daily data used for the scheme, the mean monthly temperatures for the last three months are set out in the following table:

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Mean temperatures Deg. C

October 1996November 1996December 1996
Aultbea115.84.7
Tiree10.76.35.2
Loch Glascarnoch9.02.21.0
Aviemore9.42.10.4
Kinloss10.84.32.4
Tiree10.76.35.2
Wick airport9.43.73.1

This winter, the starting date for the cold weather payments scheme was 4 November.


Visits to Pensioners

Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what visits he made to pensioners on low incomes during the recent cold weather. [11092]

Mr. Heald: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State sees pensioners throughout the year, but he has had no meetings in an official capacity with pensioners in the recent period.

However, our commitment to help with periods of cold weather is reflected in the fact that more than 5 million cold weather payments, worth more than £43 million, have been made so far this winter.

Apart from cold weather payments, the total extra help above normal upratings made available to pensioners on income-related benefits since 1988 is worth around 1.2 billion pounds a year.

Expenditure on benefits for the elderly rose by almost 50 per cent. in real terms between 1978-79 and 1995-96.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Graffiti

Mr. John D. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what measures have been taken to remove the sectarian graffiti on the subway between Cairnshill close and Newtonheights, Belfast; and if he will make a statement. [10803]

Mr. Moss: Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Roads Service under its chief executive, Mr. W. J. McCoubrey. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from W. J. McCoubrey to Mr. John D. Taylor, dated 15 January 1997:


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Central Services Agency

Mr. John D. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what has been the overspend by the legal directorate of the central services agency against its contract income for the year 1996-97; what measures he proposes to address the overspend; and what funding he proposes to make available to the legal directorate of the Central Services Agency in order to cover its overspend. [10876]

Mr. Moss: The information requested is not available.

The level of expenditure of the legal services directorate of the Central Services Agency against contract income for 1996-97 will not be known until the end of the financial year at 31 March 1997.

The legal services directorate is an integral part of the CSA and as such is required to live within its budget by breaking even on income and expenditure taking one year with another. Consequently, if an overspend were incurred, the legal services directorate would be required to identify and take the necessary measures to absorb the deficit. There are no plans at this stage to provide additional funding to the CSA's legal services directorate.

Independent Commission for Police Complaints

Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he will lay before Parliament the 1994-97 triennial review of the Independent Commission for Police Complaints in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [11470]

Sir Patrick Mayhew: I have today arranged for the 1994-97 triennial review of the Independent Commission for Police Complaints to be laid before Parliament.

This is the third triennial review by the commission since it was established in 1988 and, although it largely follows the approach of the other two, it also considers the vexed issue of who should investigate the police. A chapter setting out the strengths and weaknesses of four possible models is included.

The commission makes seven recommendations for change, including on the nature of the disciplinary tribunal, the standard of proof, the commission's involvement in non-complaint cases and recording of complaints.

The Government will be considering the recommendations in the light of the report of the review of the police complaints system in Northern Ireland by Dr. Hayes which is due to be published later this month.