Previous Section Index Home Page

Bereavement Benefits

Mr. Ivan Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the responses to the consultation exercise on the reform of bereavement benefits; and if he will make a statement. [68915]

Angela Eagle: The consultation period ended on 13 January 1999 and 76 responses have been received. Thirty one were from organisations at national and local level, and local authorities. The rest were from individuals

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 421

including 3 from hon. Members. We thank all those who responded to the consultation document and can assure them that we are carefully considering the responses.

A list of those who responded has been placed in the Library. Copies of this list and specific responses are available on request from The Widows' Benefit Consultation Team, 3rd Floor, The Adelphi, 1-11 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HT.


Senior Salaries Review Body

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the report and recommendations of the Review Body on Senior Salaries. [68817]

The Prime Minister: The 1999 report of the Review Body on Senior Salaries, covering pay arrangements for the senior civil service, senior military officers and the judiciary, together with the annual uprating of Parliamentary salaries, has been published today. Copies are available in the Vote Office and the Library of the House. I am grateful to the Chairman and Members of the Pay Review Body for the work they have put into their report.

In the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Government made it clear that public sector pay settlements would need to be fair, affordable and consistent with the targets for public service improvements which we have set. The terms of reference of the Review Body on Senior Salaries were revised to ensure that, in making its recommendations, four key considerations set out in the Comprehensive Spending Review were taken into account:

    the requirements on departments to meet their output targets for the delivery of services;

    the requirements on departments to stay within their three year expenditure limits; and

    the Government's inflation target, requiring responsibility in pay settlements across the public and private sectors.

The main recommendations of the Review Body on Senior Salaries are:

    an increase of 3.3 per cent. in the maxima of the pay ranges within which individual salaries are set for senior military personnel.

    an increase of 3.5 per cent. in judicial salaries.

The Review Body recommended that these increases should take effect from 1 April 1999.

The Government are satisfied that these recommendations reflect the key considerations set out in the Comprehensive Spending Review and we have therefore decided to accept them. The additional cost of the recommendations will be contained within the Departmental expenditure limits announced in July and it remains the Government's intention to meet the objectives

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 422

and targets set out in the Public Service Agreements. This is in line with the Government's prudent and disciplined approach to public spending and their commitment to delivering high quality public services and low inflation.

The Lord Chancellor will respond in the next few weeks to the Review Body's recommendations on the fee structure for part-time judiciary which, although included in this report, was an exercise separate from the Review Body's consideration of senior salaries.

Pay increases for Members of Parliament and Ministers are linked automatically to the increase in pay bands for the senior civil service. Their pay entitlement from 1 April 1999 will therefore increase by 2.8 per cent. in addition to the 1.5 per cent. increase due as the deferred second stage of the 1998 pay award.

The Review Body on Senior Salaries will produce shortly a further report on the pay of junior Ministers in the House of Lords, office holders in the devolved administrations and on certain aspects of Parliamentary allowances.


Asylum Seekers

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what opportunity will be afforded to asylum seekers who have been able to demonstrate that they have been the victims of unscrupulous advisers to establish their claims without their case being prejudiced by the actions of those advisers. [67115]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Any representations made in support of asylum claims are considered, even if they are received after an initial decision has been taken. Consequently, it would be open to any asylum seeker who considered that they had been poorly advised to inform the Immigration and Nationality Directorate at any time. This information would be treated on its merits.

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases of asylum application made between January 1985 and 1 July 1993 have been disposed of to date; and with what result. [67733]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The information is given in the table.

Asylum applications made between 1 January 1985 and 1 July 1993 by status as at the end of 1998(4)

Case status as at 31 December 1998
Granted asylum11%
Granted exceptional leave43%
Refused after full consideration28%
Refused on 3rd country grounds1%
Paragraph 340 refusal(5)17%
Total decisions(6)125,800
Total applications(6)132,400

(4) Percentages are estimates, rounded to the nearest whole number, based on cases for which information is recorded.

(5) Paragraph 340 of Immigration Rules. For failure to provide evidence to support the asylum claim within a reasonable period.

(6) Rounded to the nearest 100, excluding dependants.

(7) New estimate of the number of pre-July 1993 asylum applications that remain outstanding.

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 423

Departmental Papers (Access for Visually Impaired)

Mr. Michael J. Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for departmental (a) White and (b) Green Papers to be made available on floppy disk format in a form which facilitates access for the visually impaired. [67841]

Mr. Straw: The manner in which documents are produced and disseminated is decided upon by careful consideration of the individual merits and requirements of each publication.

The Home Office has employed a number of alternative publication formats in recent years and it is now common practice to make White and Green Papers available via the Internet in a format that is accessible to the widest range of users.

The Cabinet Office is currently producing guidance to Departments on the arrangements for production of White and Green Papers, as announced by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, on 27 January 1999, Official Report, column 296.

Court Visits

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) Crown courts, (b) magistrates courts and (c) youth courts he has visited in the last year. [67581]

Mr. Straw: In the last year I have visited one Magistrates Court and two Youth Courts as follows:

In addition, I attended and addressed five regional magistrates' meetings as follows:

    23 July 1998: London and South East in London

    1 September 1998: Wales in Cardiff

    16 September 1998: South West in Bristol

    22 September 1998: North East in Newcastle.

Offenders (Deaths)

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many deaths of ex-offenders occurred within (a) one month and (b) six months of release from custody in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement; [67920]

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 424

Mr. George Howarth: The available information relates to people who are under probation service supervision following release from prison, which, in the case of those sentenced to less than 12 months, is on a voluntary basis:

Number of deaths of those under supervision by the Probation Service
England and Wales Number of persons

Time between release and death199519961997
Under one month263334
One month and under six months534763
Six months or more292127

The Department is not currently carrying out research on deaths following release from prison.

Next Section Index Home Page