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Income Distribution

Dr. Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the change in average income has been since 1997; how the real income after housing costs of (a) the poorest 10 per cent. and (b) the richest 10 per cent. in the UK have changed since 1997; and what was the average income for (i) men and (ii) women in each year since 1997. [102890]

Mr. Bayley: The latest available information is published in "Households Below Average Income" (HBAI) and relates to 1997-98 for Great Britain. In that year, mean income Before Housing Costs was £318 per week (in April 1999 prices), £277 After Housing Costs.

Median net equivalised household income of the bottom 10 per cent. of individuals, After Housing Costs, was £71 per week, and of the top 10 per cent. was £600 per week.

HBAI assumes that both partners in a couple benefit equally from the household income, and as a result both partners will appear at the same position in the income distribution. On that basis, mean net equivalised household income for men was £301 per week, and for women was £279 per week.

The Department's statisticians hope to publish the next edition of HBAI, providing information for 1998-99, in the summer of 2000.

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Independent Living Fund

Mr. Ian Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much has been paid out by the Independent Living Fund in each of the last five years; and how much has been awarded to claimants with (a) physical and (b) learning disabilities. [102765]

Mr. Bayley: The information is not available in the format requested. The Funds do not keep records of grants paid to clients as a result of a particular disability. ILF grants are paid on the basis of an individual's care needs. Such information as is available is in the tables.

The amounts paid out as grants by the independent living funds in the last five years

Year1993 FundExtension Fund

Data held by the Independent Living (1993) Fund give a breakdown of clients by primary recorded disability.

Independent living (1993) Fund--Client load in September 1999

Severe learning difficulties1,48127
Multiple sclerosis89116
Cerebral palsy76714
Spinal injury4548
Brain damage3607
Muscular dystrophy2054
Parksinson's disease64--
Spina bifida59--
Friedrich's Ataxia 53--
Mental illness51--
Huntington's Chorea50--
Motor neurone disease31--
Heart disease23--
Respiratory disease23--
Physical malformation20--
Blood disease10--


No similar information exists for the Independent Living (Extension) Fund.

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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people are waiting to have their application for a resident's visa processed. [102499]

Mr. Vaz: I have been asked to reply.

The most recent figures we have show that at the end of October, 8,596 applicants were waiting for settlement visa interviews at the 100 busiest Entry Clearance posts overseas. This figure excludes those applicants waiting in Peking where computer problems have delayed the production of statistical data. The figure also excludes applications referred to the Home Office for a decision; and applications under appeal. During the period January to October 1999, the Posts concerned received 1,314,397 applications for settlement and non-settlement visas for the UK.

Criminal Records Bureau

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Criminal Records Bureau will come into operation; and if he will make a statement. [103466]

Mr. Charles Clarke: On 14 December 1998, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced in a reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Dr. Turner), Official Report, column 356W, that we would be setting up a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) in Merseyside to implement Part V of the Police Act 1997. The function of the Bureau will be to issue certificates to applicants, including people who wish to apply for posts involving working with children and vulnerable adults. On 20 July, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Home Department announced in a reply to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington), Official Report, column 464W, that he was reviewing the timetable for the delivery of the CRB and that he would inform the House of the results after the recess.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has confirmed that Bernard Herdan, the newly appointed Chief Executive of the United Kingdom Passport Agency, will also be in charge of the CRB. He will chair the CRB Management Board and account to the Home Secretary, to Parliament and to stakeholders for the CRB's performance. Some administrative support functions will be provided to the CRB by the United Kingdom Passport Agency, but in general it will operate as an entirely separate business unit and will be publishing its own Business Plan and Annual Report.

I have reviewed the delivery of the project to establish the CRB within the framework of a Public Private Partnership. A dedicated team has been established in Merseyside to deliver the project. A business prospectus was issued on 8 October and a bidders conference was held on 14 October. I am pleased to report that there has been a substantial amount of interest from potential private sector partners, and bids were received on 19 November and are under evaluation. Shortlisted bidders will be invited to take part in a technical design study next spring and we hope to be in a position to let the contract around the middle of next year. It will then take about six to nine months to install the necessary

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systems and recruit the staff before the Bureau is ready to receive applications for registration from employers requiring access to the highest level certificates on behalf of their employees.

My aim is that the CRB should then move on to the next stage and start issuing certificates in July 2001. This is later than our original estimate, but this is a challenging programme and I think it important that the timescale is realistic. Priority will be given to issuing the highest level of certificate, the Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate, for those seeking positions which involve regularly caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of persons aged under 18. The CRB's services will expand over the subsequent year so that, by July 2002, it should be issuing all three levels of certificate provided for in the legislation.

In the course of the review, we have decided that it is not necessary to proceed with earlier plans to procure accommodation to house the whole of the CRB's staff. While it remains our intention to accommodate the Bureau's core public sector staff in Merseyside, we think it right to give our private sector partner the flexibility needed to produce the best, most cost-effective solution. The project will continue to be managed from Merseyside.

Coastal Byelaws

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the transfer of responsibility for the confirmation of coastal byelaws. [103467]

Mr. Straw: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has agreed that, with effect from 1 January 2000, responsibility for the confirmation of byelaws under section 76 of the Public Health Act 1961 (in respect of seaside pleasure boats) and under section 185 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 (in respect of pleasure boats and vessels let for hire to the public) will be transferred to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency will deal with applications from local authorities for confirmation of these byelaws in England. A Home Office Circular giving further details is being issued to local authorities.

Communications Interception

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he intends to publish responses to the consultation paper, "Interception of Communications in the United Kingdom". [103468]

Mr. Straw: Copies of all responses to the consultation paper, "Interception of Communications in the United Kingdom", have been published today on the Home Office website, where permission to publish was not withheld. A summary of all the responses has also been published, and placed in the Library.

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