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Departmental Cars

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Ford Mondeo cars his Department has purchased in the current financial year. [28488]

Mr. Spellar: Up to 6 February this financial year, my Department has purchased 134 Ford Mondeo cars.

Sponsored Reserves

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy on sponsored reserves in Her Majesty's forces; and if he will make a statement. [28343]

Mr. Spellar: We believe that the Sponsored Reserve concept has much potential, and we have been encouraged by the interest shown by Industry. My Department is taking forward the concept in a number of areas as one of the ways of supporting operationally essential services in partnership with the private sector. As part of the Strategic Defence Review, we are actively progressing the application of the Sponsored Reserve concept in a thorough examination of the costs and operational risk. No decisions have yet been reached.

Armed Forces (Morale)

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of morale in the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. [26123]

Mr. George Robertson: From my regular visits to Service units and those of my Ministerial colleagues, and discussions within the Ministry of Defence, I assess morale in the Armed Forces at present to be satisfactory. I greatly admire the achievements and sense of purpose of our Servicemen and women. In my experience, they are keen to get on with their jobs, are aware that they are highly valued by the nation and are committed to the operational challenges they face. There are undoubtedly some feelings of uncertainty, and problems in some areas caused, in large part, by longstanding overstretch and undermanning inherited by this administration. One of the main aims of the Strategic Defence Review is to balance our operational commitments and the needs of Service personnel and their families. The openness of the review process will have reassured our forces that it is different from other reviews.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Farm Tenancy Agreements

Mr. Opik: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the operation of the new farm business tenancy agreements; and if he will make a statement. [26995]

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 75

Mr. Morley: An independent policy evaluation of the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995, commissioned by this Department and the Welsh Office, was carried out last year by the University of Plymouth, and the report was recently published. A copy was placed in the Library of the House. The results provide data for England and Wales separately and indicate that uptake of farm business tenancies has been encouraging.

Food Standards Agency

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he will take to ensure that the Food Standards Agency levy will be structured in such a way as not to penalise disproportionately small food producers and retailers. [27144]

Mr. Rooker: The Government will consult closely with key interested parties, including representatives of small businesses, in drawing up detailed proposals for a mechanism that would allow a greater part of the costs of food safety work to be passed from the taxpayer onto the food industry. In formulating their proposals, the Government will consider carefully the need to take into account the size of the business, among other factors.

BSE

Mr. Gray: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the Enfer scientific test available in the Irish Republic. [28622]

Mr. Rooker: We understand the test is capable of detecting abnormal PrP in central nervous system tissues of cattle which are already showing clinical signs of BSE. It has not been shown to be capable of identifying infected cattle early in the incubation periods as far as we are aware.

The Department has been in touch with Enfer Scientific since March 1997, but has been unable to obtain detailed information due to intellectual property issues. Tissues from experimentally infected cattle at known stages of incubation has been offered to Enfer to validate the test by the Department, but the offer has not yet been taken up.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Benefit Integrity Project

Mr. Swinney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is her policy in respect of the timescale and opportunity for future reassessment of the benefit payments for those claimants who have had their benefit reduced or set aside as a result of the Benefit Integrity Project. [27908]

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 76

Ms Harman: The Benefit Integrity Project helps ensure the correctness of awards of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Up-to-date information is being gathered from beneficiaries about their care and mobility needs, so that we can check that they are receiving the correct amount of DLA.

It is important that decisions about benefit entitlement are made fairly and are seen to be fair. I am taking action to improve the quality of decisions made by the Project which involve a reduction or removal of benefit. In future, no decision resulting in reduction or removal of entitlement to DLA will be made solely on the evidence provided by the claimant--there will always be additional evidence to support the decision.

We have been liaising closely with organisations of and for disabled people from the early stages of the Project. This new initiative underlines our determination to act properly to get the benefit right and to listen and act upon any concerns. We will continue to involve these groups in the evaluation of the Project as it develops.

This Project is operating under the normal assessment and adjudication rules that are applied to all DLA cases. Anyone dissatisfied with a decision made in their case may ask for a review of that decision, on any grounds, within three months of the decision having been made. If they remain unhappy following review, they have the opportunity to appeal to an independent tribunal within three months of the review decision being made. Of course, a claimant may ask for a review of their entitlement at any time if they believe that there has been a change in their circumstances that may affect their entitlement to DLA.

Publications

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will list, by title, the publications produced by her Department between 1 May 1997 and 31 January 1998. [26337]

Mr. Field: A list of publications, by title, produced by this Department between 1 May 1997 and 31 January 1998 has been placed in the Library.

Respiratory Diseases

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many applicants for an award in respect of chronic bronchitis and emphysema have failed the FEVI test since April 1997; and how many have been rejected since April 1997 because they did not meet the service qualification, broken down by coalfield area. [28265]

Mr. Denham: Figures are not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is set out in the table.

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 75

Industrial injuries disablement benefit--chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema unsuccessful claims from
1 April 1997 to 31 December 1997 by reason

Area DirectorateFailed FEV1 testFailed 20 year(5)
AD1East London and Anglia16
AD2Chilterns12
AD3London South11018
AD4West Country1412
AD5Mercia2,885183
AD6West Midlands24633
AD7Wales1,606253
AD8North West Coast14624
AD9Greater Manchester27621
AD10Yorkshire2,10775
AD11Tyne Tees1,811102
AD12West of Scotland59549
AD13East of Scotland1,07875
TotalGreat Britain10,876853

(5) Relates to those who failed to meet the 20 year underground work rule.

Note:

1. Data are not collected by coalfield area, but are available by Benefits Agency Area Directorate.

Source:

100 per cent. count.


9 Feb 1998 : Column: 77

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 77

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the total number of applicants for chronic bronchitis and emphysema awards (a) between September 1993 and April 1997 and (b) since April 1997; and what was the number of awards made in each of those periods. [28266]

Mr. Denham: The total number of claims for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit in respect of chronic bronchitis and emphysema for the period 13 September 1993 to 31 March 1997 was 50,195 and in the same period 5,428 awards were made. Since 1 April 1997, a further 22,984 claims have been received and 6,752 awards made.



9 Feb 1998 : Column: 78

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will provide a breakdown of the awards for chronic bronchitis and emphysema made between September 1993 and April 1997, by (a) coalfield area and (b) the level of disablement assessment, together with the same information for the period from April 1997 to date. [28264]

Mr. Denham: Information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is set out in the tables.

Data are not collected by coalfield area, but are available by Benefits Agency Area Directorate. The Area Directorates were altered from 1 April 1996.

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 77

Industrial injuries disablement benefit--chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema, by area directorate and level of disablement assessment. Awards made in the period 13 September 1993 to 31 March 1996

13 September to 1 October 1994 2 October 1994 to 31 March 1996
Number ofAssessment percentage
awards14-2425-34over 3414-1920-25over 25
Anglia3003000
Chilterns4031000
South London and West Sussex--------------
West Country6102030
East London and Essex--------------
South East344325002
Wessex--------------
East Midlands7363852521516104
Midlands and South West563250001
West40922433154817
Wales1,530203223891448161
Merseyside5051826001
Greater Manchester324819010
Lancashire and Cumbria1571825104136
Tyne Tees64033834672748
South Yorkshire and Humberside878579662031587
North and West Yorkshire44761652941323
Glasgow and Paisley8026000
North, Central and West Yorkshire6431245004
East Scotland10311083117

Note:

Figures are provisional and subject to amendment.

Source:

1. 100 per cent. counts from the BA Bronchitis and Emphysema computer system 13 September 1993 to 1 October 1994.

2. BA Central Data Unit 2 October 1994 to 31 March 1996.


Awards made in the period 1 April 1996 to 31 March 1997

Number of Assessment percentage
Area Directorateawards14-1920-25over 25
East London and Anglia--------
Chilterns--------
London1100
West2002
Mercia8521469
West Midlands2002
Wales5441139
North West Coast7205
Greater Manchester181125
Yorkshire842577
Tyne Tees120111
West of Scotland--------
East of Scotland6015

Note:

Figures are provisional and subject to change.

Source:

100 per cent count of BA Central Data Unit.


9 Feb 1998 : Column: 79

Awards made in the period 1 April 1997 to 31 December 1997

Number of Assessment percentage
Area Directorateawards14-2425-34over 34
East London and Anglia--------
Chilterns2--11
London66161040
West225413
Mercia1,7651191641,482
West Midlands127615106
Wales1,4061632141,029
North West Coast112252265
Greater Manchester1811827135
Yorkshire1,224751341,015
Tyne Tees96379161723
West of Scotland2573746174
East of Scotland62830115483

Note:

Figures are provisional and subject to change.

Source:

100 per cent. count BA Bronchitis and Emphysema computer system.


9 Feb 1998 : Column: 79


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