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SOCIAL SECURITY

Regeneration-related Initiative

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will list for each (a) area-based and (b) other regeneration-related initiative for which his Department is responsible (i) the amount budgeted and (ii) the total expended in each financial year for the planned lifetime of each initiative; [119791]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 20 April 2000]: This Department is not directly responsible for funding regeneration-related initiatives. However, the Department provides substantial support for people living in deprived areas through the benefits system and the range of improvements to the welfare systems since 1997.

Pensioner Incomes

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many pensioners had an income less than £10 above the minimum income guarantee in (a) 1999-2000 and (b) 2000-01; and what is his estimate for 2001-02. [119943]

Mr. Bayley [holding answer 20 April 2000]: Estimates for the years 1999-2000 and 2001-02 are not available. This is because the Departments modelling system cannot make future projections, and producing like for like figures for previous years would involve disproportionate costs due to modelling and data changes between years.

In 2000-01 an estimated 515,000 pensioners have an income of up to £10 above the minimum income guarantee level.


Notes:
1. Figures are in 2000-01 prices and benefit levels.
2. Cases have been rounded to the nearest 5,000.
3. The figure has been calculated using the Pensioner Income Series Data based on the 1997-98 FRS and the Policy Simulation Model (PSM) for Income Related benefits, based on 1997-98 Family Resources Survey data.
4. The Department's Policy Simulation Model is built to represent the baseline situation in mid-2000-01 and is then used to assess the effect of changing policy against that base case. Consequently estimates are only available for the part of the question that relates to this time period.

Carers' Benefits

Jackie Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to raise carers' benefits taking into account the increase in the minimum wage; and if he will make a statement. [120391]

Mr. Bayley: Invalid Care Allowance is an income maintenance benefit which is paid to help protect the carer from the financial effects of being unable to work full-time. It is not intended to be a carer's wage nor a payment for the services of caring. Its rate, therefore, is not linked to, or dependent on, the National Minimum Wage.

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However, we are committed to keeping financial support for carers under review and we are continuing to do this, in the context of follow-up work to the National Carers' Strategy, and our response to the Royal Commission on Long Term Care.

TREASURY

Birth Certificates

Mr. Caton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what purposes his Department requires a birth certificate to be furnished by (a) employees, (b) contractors, (c) those applying for employment and contracts and (d) other persons. [120311]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Each of the Chancellor's Departments and agencies (HM Treasury, HM Customs and Excise, Inland Revenue, National Savings, Office for National Statistics, Royal Mint, Government Actuary, Debt Management Office and Valuation Office Agency) requires, as part of the basic check on new employees, some evidence of identity; age (for pensions purposes); and of the right to work in the UK. Such evidence depends upon whether or not the applicant is a UK or EC national but might be provided from a combination of different documents including a full British passport, P45, valid British driving licence, birth certificate, proof of residence at a given address, etc, or (where relevant) a full EC or other national passport; an identity card issued by an EC country; or other proof of immigration status and/or the right to work. Most Departments also require contractors to make checks similar to the basic check on their employees.

Birth certificates, as evidence of identity, are not required to be furnished by other persons.

Annuities

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the results of the review by the Inland Revenue of the income drawdown arrangements for annuities; and if he will make a statement. [120201]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Changes to simplify the administration of income drawdown where purchase of an annuity from a personal pension scheme has been deferred were announced in a press release issued on 7 April 2000 by the Department of Social Security and the Inland Revenue. These changes reflect representations made during the recent Inland Revenue review and will be implemented in the current Finance Bill along with amendments to secondary legislation.

Privatisation

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the privatisations since 1979 together with the number and percentage of shares allocated to the employees at the date of privatisation and the number and percentage of shares so held (a) one year after privatisation and (b) three years after privatisation. [120618]

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Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government have not collected information on the number and percentage of shares held by employees in privatised companies either at the time of privatisation or since then. Such information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Voicemail

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Chairman of the Information Committee what was the total cost of the installation of voicemail in (a) Norman Shaw North and (b) other parliamentary buildings; what performance targets have been set for the operation of the system; and how many performance targets have been missed and on how many occasions in the last 12 months. [119853]

Mr. Allan: The Information Committee endorsed the House-wide introduction of the CCTA/Global Crossing Voice Mail service at its meeting of 10 May 1999. The cost of the service in 1999-2000 was around £92,000. The costs cannot be broken down by building as the system is a function of the central parliamentary switchboard which does not require the installation of local equipment.

The day to day performance of the system and associated targets are operational matters for the Head of Telecommunications. I have therefore asked him to respond directly to the hon. Member on the performance of the system against target.

Susan Hamilton Secretarial Agency

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee in respect of the Susan Hamilton Secretarial Agency, what rent is paid for

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the accommodation it occupies in the House; what the terms of the tenancy are; when the (a) rent and (b) tenancy is next subject to review; if it will be subject to tender; and what the ratio is of Members of the House of (i) Lords to (ii) Commons who use it. [119854]

Sir Sydney Chapman: This is a matter for the Serjeant at Arms; I have asked him to write to the hon. Member.

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Gambia

Mr. McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will review the Government's aid to the Government of The Gambia following the recent deaths of demonstrators in pro-democracy marches. [120302]

Clare Short: We remain deeply concerned at the death and injury of students in the demonstrations on 10 and 11 April. The UK made immediate representations to the Government of The Gambia protesting at the handling of the demonstrations. A Coroners Inquest is already sitting and a full Commission of Inquiry is being set up to establish responsibility for the events. We continue to monitor the situation closely and urge the Government of The Gambia to ensure the inquiry is independently led, transparent, and free from political interference.

Since the resumption of our development programme in The Gambia in 1998, we have committed over £4 million to projects through government and civil society, aimed at improved governance, social inclusion, education management and capacity building for community based organisations. We are keeping the programme under constant review in the light of the Government's policies for the reduction of poverty, and respect for human rights.

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