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Food Poisoning

Mr. Swinney: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much her Department has spent on research into food poisoning in each of the last five years, broken down to show the funds dedicated to (a) E. coli, (b) campylobacter and (c) salmonella. [3605]

Mr. Worthington [holding answer 17 June 1997]: The amount spent on research into food poisoning in each of the areas listed is as follows:

YearE. coliCampylobacterSalmonella
1992-9324.925.36.7
1993-9437.299.45.1
1994-9555.8110.44.0
1995-9638.5117.48.8
1996-9745.058.05.4

Mr. Swinney: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much her Department has budgeted for research into food-poisoning in 1997-98, broken down to show the funds dedicated to (a) E. coli, (b) campylobacter and (c) salmonella. [3606]

Mr. Worthington [holding answer 17 June 1997]: The amount budgeted for research into each of the areas is as follows:

YearE. coliCampylobacterSalmonella
1997-9880.288.05.6

SOCIAL SECURITY

War Pensions Agency (Conference)

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations she has received about the cost of the recent conference of War Pensions Agency staff in Windermere; and what assessment she has made of the value for money of that conference. [4150]

18 Jun 1997 : Column: 213

Mr. Denham: One of our key aims is that delivery of service should be simpler and more efficient. Queries on operational matters concerning the War Pensions Agency are for its Chief Executive Mr. Kevin Caldwell. I have asked him to write to the hon. Member. Letter from K. C. Caldwell to Mr. Hilton Dawson, dated 7 June 1997:








Jobseeker's Allowance

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people (a) in total and (b) under the age of 25 years have lost entitlement to benefit following the introduction of the jobseeker's allowance. [1465]

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

Transitional provisions ensured that people who were in receipt of Unemployment Benefit and/or Income Support for the unemployed at the point of change kept entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA).

Jobseekers lose entitlement to JSA if they fail to be available for work, to seek work actively, or to have a jobseeker's agreement in place. Just under 7,000 people lost entitlement for these reasons between 7 October and 31 December 1996, the latest date for which information is available. Additionally JSA payments (but not underlying entitlement) cease if jobseekers are sanctioned. There were just over 21,000 sanctions in this same period. Separate figures for under 25 year olds are not available.

Jobseekers who can demonstrate that they would otherwise suffer hardship can receive hardship payments.

Our welfare to work programme will help get young unemployed people, long term unemployed people and lone mothers off benefit and into work.

18 Jun 1997 : Column: 214






Child Support Agency

Mr. Healey: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans she has to change the regulations covering the formulae used by the CSA to assess liability for payments; and if she will make a statement. [1652]

Mr. Bradley: We are aware of the concerns which have been expressed about the child support formula. We will be looking closely at this area over the coming months as part of our wider consideration of the Child Support Agency.

Mr. Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what analysis she has made of the proportion of absent parents with a full maintenance assessment who are paying maintenance through the Child Support Agency. [4508]

Mr. Bradley: Recent figures show that only some 32 per cent. of absent parents with a full maintenance assessment and making payment through the Child Support Agency are paying the full amount due.

Children are entitled to the support of both parents wherever they live. Absent parents need to fulfil their responsibilities. It is not acceptable that so many do not pay the maintenance they owe. Over the coming months we will be looking closely at all aspects of the operations of the Child Support Agency to ensure that it provides an efficient and effective service.

Habitual Residence Test

Mrs. Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans she has to issue a national definition of the habitual residence test. [2360]

Mr. Bradley: We are committed to a wide ranging review of Social Security. We aim to restore confidence in the system and reduce levels of poverty. The habitual residence test will form part of this work.

Mortgage Benefit

Mrs. Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans she has to introduce a mortgage benefit to enable people with mortgages, who are on income support, to afford to return to work. [2361]

Mr. Bradley: We have no immediate plans to introduce a mortgage benefit. However, this Government is committed to streamlining and modernising the tax and benefit systems to fulfil the objectives of promoting work incentives, reducing poverty and welfare dependency, and strengthening community and family life.

We recently announced that Martin Taylor (the Chief Executive of Barclays PLC) will lead a Whitehall Task Force to look at the problems caused by the interaction of the tax and benefit systems. The review will consider the difficulties people face on moving from welfare to work.

18 Jun 1997 : Column: 215

Pensions

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will review the link between the basic pension and prices. [3275]

Mr. Denham: We will shortly be announcing details of a review of the central areas of insecurity for elderly people. We are committed to the Basic State Pension and will retain it as the foundation of pension provision. It will be increased at least in line with prices. All aspects of the basic pension will be included in our review.

Minister for Women

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will make a statement on the responsibilities of the Parliamentary Secretary for Women; and how many officials and at what grades have been appointed with responsibility in this area. [4256]

Ms Harman: As Minister for Women, I have been given the responsibility to co-ordinate and drive forward policies which will make a real difference to women's lives. I will chair the new Cabinet Sub-Committee for Women, which will review and develop the Government's policy and strategy on issues of special concern to women and oversee their implementation, and I will examine economic and social papers going to Cabinet Sub-Committees to monitor their impact on women. My objectives are to create a new bond of trust between women and Government and to ensure that the Government delivers its promises to women, including manifesto commitments on issues such as family-friendly employment, a national childcare strategy and domestic violence.

I will be supported in this role by Joan Ruddock MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and at official level by a new Women's Unit. The resourcing of the Women's Unit is still under consideration but the current staff profile (full-time equivalents) is as follows:"


This includes the six staff that make up the Secretariat of the Women's National Commission.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State is supported by a Private Office consisting of 1 HEO, 1 EO and an AO.


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