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Departmental Publications

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the titles of official departmental reports he is preparing with a view to publication in (a) 1999 and (b) 2000, stating in each case the planned date of publication. [99627]

Mr. Rooker: The Department fully expects to publish the following documents in 1999-2000.


As yet dates for these are unconfirmed. Publication dates will be determined by the progress of work, the requirements of Parliament and the efficient management of Government. Other reports may emerge during the course of the year.

Child Poverty

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much extra cash income would need to be received by low-income households in the latest year for which figures are available in order to ensure that all children are in households with at least half average income (a) as the half average is at present and (b) as half average income would be after the extra transfers. [99395]

Angela Eagle: Our strategy for eradicating child poverty within 20 years involves tackling the main causes of poverty and social exclusion. This means helping parents find work, making work pay and ensuring that every child gets the best possible start in life as well as providing additional help for families through the tax and benefit system.

Using information drawn from the 1997-98 Households Below Average Income data set, based on the 1997-98 Family Resources Survey; it is estimated that, on average, around £46 per week per household of additional

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income from earnings, benefit, or other source would have needed to have been received in 1997-98 to ensure that all children were in households with at least half average income before housing costs as it was before the transfers; and around £52 per week using the after housing costs measure.

The amount of additional income needed, as half average income would be after transfers depends on the proportion of the total additional income accounted for by transfers and how those transfers are funded.



    1. Figures given in April 1999 prices are rounded to the nearest pound. All figures are estimates and are taken from the Households Below Average Income (HBAI) data sets. The current series is based on the Family Resources Survey (FRS) and is available for the years 1994-95 to 1997-98 and covers Great Britain but not Northern Ireland. The figures presented will be subject to sampling error. Figures for children are sensitive to the choice of equivalence scale.


    2. Estimates assume that each household receives exactly enough extra to reach half average income.


    3. The estimates assume no change in working patterns after the transfers have been made.


    4. Estimates based on reported current income, which is assumed to stay constant throughout the year. Estimates include some negative incomes (after tax and housing costs). Estimates exclude the self-employed. Income data at the bottom of the income distribution and for self-employed people are known to be an imperfect indicator of living standards. Estimates of the median gap, which are less affected by very low incomes at the bottom of the income distribution than the mean, are £36 per week (after housing costs) and £32 per week (before housing costs).

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if the Government's policy of eliminating child poverty requires rates of social security benefits set above the official poverty line. [99569]

Mr. Bayley: We published the document "Opportunity for all" on 21 September (Cm 4445) which sets out our strategy for tackling the causes of poverty and social exclusion. The report includes a range of indicators against which we can monitor our progress in tackling these causes and overcoming the problems faced by people living in poverty. Further details on all the indicators in the report have been placed in the House of Commons Library.

Our strategy for eradicating child poverty within 20 years involves tackling the main causes of poverty and social exclusion, providing additional help for families with children through the tax and benefit systems and ensuring that every child gets the best possible start in life.

Capital Limits (Benefits)

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the Government's review of the capital limits for (a) income support, (b) housing benefit and (c) council tax benefit will be concluded. [99445]

Angela Eagle: We announced in the Pensions Green Paper, "Partnership in Pensions", that we would examine ways to greater reward those who have made provision for their own retirement. Our proposals will be announced during this Parliament.

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Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security in what circumstances a female appellant against a disability living allowance rejection is permitted to ask for an all-female tribunal to hear her case; and if he will make a statement. [99549]

Angela Eagle: The allocation of members to a tribunal is a matter for the President of the Independent Tribunal Service, His Honour Judge Michael Harris. He will write to the right hon. Member.

Industrial Injuries Benefit

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the medical examination given to claimants of industrial injuries benefits. [100257]

Mr. Bayley: Decisions on claims for Industrial Injuries benefits are made by decision makers, taking into account the medical evidence provided by medical advisers trained in Disability Assessment Medicine. It is for the decision maker to judge whether the medical examination report is adequate for the purpose of deciding a claim. The on-going medical quality monitoring of the medical advisers' examination reports suggests that they are maintaining the same standards as pertained when the doctors were responsible for decision making. However following the introduction of lay decision making in July this year the quality of the medical report is further enhanced by a requirement that medical advisers give clear, unambiguous and jargon-free reasons for their opinion.

Asbestos-related Disease

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proposals he has to claim from asbestos manufacturers, suppliers and their insurance companies for the cost to the public purse of asbestos- related illness. [99575]

Mr. Bayley: The Industrial Injuries scheme provides benefits for employed earners disabled by asbestos-related illness arising out of and in the course of their employment. This benefit compensates people for a loss of faculty which results in disablement; it is not based on issues of 'fault'.

Under the provisions of the compensation recovery scheme, benefits paid as a result of asbestos-related illness can be recovered if the person suffering from the illness is awarded third party compensation. Benefits are recovered from the compensator from the date of claim to benefit in respect of the disease, subject to a five year maximum. The compensator may reduce the compensation payment to take account of this liability, but only where compensation and benefits are paid for the same need. Compensation for pain and suffering cannot be reduced.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations have been made to

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him about the adequacy of the diagnosis procedures for asbestos-related diseases for qualifying for social security benefits; and if he will make a statement. [99572]

Mr. Bayley: Representations have been received about individual claimants, which are of course confidential. We are not aware of any representations specifically about the adequacy of diagnostic procedures for these diseases.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what training is undergone by doctors serving his Department to enable them to distinguish between diseases having their origin in smoking and those having their origin in asbestos. [99574]

Mr. Bayley: Medical Services doctors receive a five day training course instructing them how to apply their medical knowledge to the legislative criteria. It includes considering the raw materials, radiological and pathological findings and clinical presentation. Each doctor is then assigned to a more experienced colleague who acts as a supervisory mentor until he or she is assessed as capable of working alone. Work is then audited regularly with quality assured processes to assess any need for further training, and the training is kept under constant review. Forms used to record medical assessments for respiratory prescribed diseases require the doctor to record details of the claimant's smoking habits.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if it is his policy that all those claiming a social security benefit on the grounds of suffering from an asbestos-related disease should have undergone a CT scan to improve diagnosis. [99573]

Mr. Bayley: It is not our policy that such Social Security benefit claimants should have undergone a CT scan.

CT scans involve considerable exposure to ionising radiation. It would be incompatible with EU and UK legislation on reducing radiation exposure to set any such requirement when it is possible to award benefit on the basis of other evidence of an acceptable nature, such as ordinary chest radiographs. It is important to note that the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (which advises the Secretary of State on this benefit) recommended in 1996 that awards for bilateral diffuse pleural thickening should be based upon the chest radiograph rather than a CT scan.


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