10 Dec 1998 : Column: 243

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 10 December 1998

SOCIAL SECURITY

Korean War Veterans

Mr. Pond: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis is amongst veterans of the Korean War; and how this compares with the incidence amongst the population as a whole. [62977]

Mr. Timms: The information is not available.

Devolution

Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the programmes which it will be ultra vires for his Department to fund or have sole responsibility for after devolution; if he will list these programmes; and if he will make a statement. [63298]

Mr. Timms: Social Security, Child Support and pension matters are reserved to the Westminster Parliament by virtue of Head F of Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security will therefore remain responsible for these matters in Scotland after devolution.

Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much is spent annually by his Department on research programmes in Scotland; and what proportion of this funding will be transferred to the Scottish Parliament after devolution. [63296]

Mr. Timms: Social Security, Child Support and Pensions are reserved matters, and the research associated with them will also remain this Department's responsibility after devolution. Therefore none of the funding attributable to research in this Department will be transferred to the Scottish Parliament.

The cost of collecting data in relation to Scotland is an integral part of the cost of collecting data for Great Britain. The overhead costs of conducting the research are incurred on a Great Britain basis. It is not therefore possible to disaggregate the spending on research in Scotland from the total spending in Great Britain.

Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list (a) by programme over £50,000 and (b) the total of spending by his Department in Scotland on the identifiable spending areas detailed in Table 7.6A of the Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis 1997-98 (Cmnd 3601); which of these programmes will fall solely or jointly under the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament; and what arrangements are in place to transfer control of funds for these projects to the Scottish Executive or Parliament. [63297]

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Mr. Timms: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Swinney) on 4 November 1998, Official Report, column 615, which sets out identifiable expenditure on Social Security benefits in Scotland. It does not include the costs of administration in or in respect of Scotland, or certain elements, e.g. benefits paid overseas which cannot be attributed separately.

Social Security is a reserved matter and expenditure on it will not therefore be the responsibility of the Scottish Executive or Parliament.

Supported Accommodation

Ms Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement about the future of the funding arrangements for supported accommodation. [63667]

Mr. Darling: We are publishing today a consultation document "Supporting People" proposing new funding arrangements for support services. The proposals arise from the Inter-Departmental review of funding for supported accommodation.

Over the years Housing Benefit, which was designed to meet housing costs, has been used to meet other costs over which the Government have no control. As a result, Housing Benefit became the primary funding stream for support services that varied in standard from the very good to the very bad. There was no proper consideration of quality or standards.

Nor has there been an effective over-arching strategy of the work of the various government departments involved, or ownership of responsibility for ensuring that vulnerable people receive the support they require. This has resulted in a focus on dealing with problems once they emerge, sometimes pushing people into more acute services than they might have originally needed.

The new arrangements will enable many thousands of vulnerable people to get the cost-effective and high- quality services which they need.

We propose to replace the current complicated arrangements with one single budget targeted specifically at support services. This will ensure that the Government meet people's basic housing costs and at the same time that vulnerable people get the quality help they need to meet their requirements. This will be administered at the local level by Local Authorities. The new single budget will be preceded by a new, time-limited, transitional Housing Benefit scheme which will be implemented when current regulations expire; these regulations were introduced to protect many thousands of vulnerable people whose support services were jeopardised by a Court ruling in July 1997.

Our new proposals for delivering support to vulnerable people will operate in combination with community care, housing, and other existing policies to support vulnerable people in the community. Funding for support services will, for the first time, be clear and practical. This means that many vulnerable people--such as frail elderly people, people with mental health problems, and victims of domestic violence--will be able to remain independent within the community.

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The proposals demonstrate the benefits of Inter- Departmental working, bringing together expertise across Government to develop policies that meet the needs of individuals. In carrying this work forward, the Government are keen to involve local government, the Housing Corporation, the providers and other stakeholders throughout the consultation process and beyond.

Copies will be placed in the Library.

CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

Devolution

Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much is spent annually by his Department on research programmes in Scotland; and what proportion of this funding will be transferred to the Scottish Parliament after devolution. [63287]

Mr. Chris Smith: Nil.

Television Education Channel

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education and Employment over the establishment of a new television education channel. [63316]

Mr. Chris Smith: My Department is in regular contact with the Department for Education and Employment on a wide range of issues including broadcast educational material, and the Department for Education and Employment is discussing direct with broadcasters the development and broadcast of new specific digital educational services to support the GCSE National Curriculum.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will write in response to the questions tabled on 4 November by the hon. Member for East Surrey. [63325]

Mr. Chris Smith: I replied to the hon. Member in a letter dated 30 November and delivered to the House on 4 December 1998.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Ministerial E-mail Address

Mr. Brake: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department what is his e-mail address. [62560]

Mr. Hoon: Hon. Members can e-mail the Lord Chancellor's Department's Ministerial Correspondence Unit at: mcu.lcd@gtnet.gov.uk. Members of the public can e-mail the Department at: enquiries.lcdhq@gtnet.gov.uk.

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Maintenance Orders

Mr. Truswell: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of reciprocal enforcement of maintenance orders; and if he will make a statement. [62357]

Mr. Hoon: Officials from my Department frequently review the effectiveness of internal procedures for transmitting applications for the enforcement of maintenance orders between the UK and overseas authorities to discuss improvements to these reciprocal arrangements.

Environmental Courts

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will establish designated courts to deal with environmental issues. [62537]

Mr. Hoon: There are no plans to establish separate environmental courts. However, cases involving environmental issues will benefit, along with all other cases, from the regime of judicial case management to be introduced in April.

ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

Road Traffic Law

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress has been made over the last five years (a) within his Department, (b) in conjunction with other Government departments and (c) in conjunction with European bodies towards developing systems involving the use of new technology for safety-related road traffic law enforcement and the administration of penalties. [62544]

Ms Glenda Jackson: Road traffic law enforcement and the administration of penalties are mainly matters for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. However, my department, in conjunction with his, is interested in the potential of new technology to support its road safety and environmental objectives. To that end it has an extensive research programme and is also supportive of a wide range of research in the UK and in Europe which seeks to develop practical applications of new technology for road traffic law enforcement and the administration of penalties. Examples of this are the research projects on vehicle speed control being conducted on behalf of the Department by the Motor Industry Research Association and the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, and the field trials conducted in Sweden and the Netherlands evaluating different systems and technologies to control vehicle speeds externally.


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