To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if it is his policy to allow income drawdown from stakeholder pension individual pension funds. 
The rules allowing income drawdown will apply to stakeholder schemes in the same way as to other personal pension schemes.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if it is his policy to allow concurrent contributions to the state second pension and stakeholder pensions. 
Yes. As with other private pensions, this will be possible provided the member of the stakeholder pension scheme has not contracted out the State second pension.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many retired people's only income is the State Retirement Pension. 
It is estimated that approximately 20,000 pensioners (less than 1 per cent.) in Great Britain received no income other than the State Retirement Pension.
1. Pensioners are defined as single people over State Pension age (65 and over for men, 60 and over for women) and couples (married or cohabiting) where the man is over State Pension age.
2. The Retirement Pension category includes basic State Pension, addition pension (from SERPS), graduated retirement benefit, dependant increases and all other components of State Retirement Pension.
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3. Estimates are based on survey respondents' identification of different benefits and are subject to misreporting. In particular, some respondents may not have distinguished between the State Retirement Pension and Income Support, since these benefits are paid jointly. Therefore, these estimates should be treated with caution.
4. Estimates are rounded to the nearest 10,000 or 1 per cent, but are not necessarily accurate to that degree since they are subject to sampling error.
Family Resources Survey 1998-99
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many reports from the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate have been published in respect of (a) local councils and (b) other organisations in Scotland. 
The Benefit Fraud Inspectorate (BFI) reports on the administration of Social Security benefits by local authorities and seeks to drive up standards of administration.
To date, we have published nine reports following BFI inspections of Housing and Council Tax Benefit administration in local authorities in Scotland.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on how the pension credit will work for those who receive less than the full basic state pension. 
Our proposals for how the Pension Credit will operate are set out in "The Pension Credit: A Consultation Paper" (cm 4900) published on 9 November. The illustrative figures in the Annex to the consultation paper show that the savings element of the Credit will begin to accrue when the original income exceeds £77.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of (a) the number of pensioners failing to take up appropriate benefits and (b) the value of funds set aside for this propose, and surplus to requirements, in each year from 1992 to 2000. 
Estimates of take-up for income based benefits are published regularly by the Department, and have been placed in the Library. Estimates of expenditure presented to Parliament are based on trends observed in receipts of benefits and forecasts of likely future trends; there is therefore no funding surplus.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the recent Government Actuary's report on the affordability of restoring the pensions link with average earnings; and if he will make a statement. 
We believe that restoring the earnings link is not the best means of tackling pensioner poverty. We are spending more on pensioner incomes than an earnings-linked increase would have cost.
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Child Support Agency
Mr. Bill O'Brien:
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action his Department is taking to ensure the Child Support Agency (a) improves its efficiency and (b) speeds up its assessments for maintenance payments; and if he will make a statement. 
The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr. Doug Smith. He will write to my hon. Friend.
Letter from Doug Smith to Mr. Bill O'Brien, dated 16 January 2001:
I am replying to your Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the Child Support Agency.
Mr Smith is unavailable and therefore I am writing to you on his behalf.
I accept that the Agency's performance is still falling short of the service we want to deliver to our customers. We are striving for continuous improvement and the Secretary of State has set us challenging performance targets for this year.
Since 1996 we have increased the proportion of non-resident parents who are fully complaint from 32% to 47.6% and in 1999/00 we collected and arranged £730.9m, compared to £400m in 96/97.
However, I agree that there is still someway to go. In the longer term, the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000 will lead to radical improvements in the service we offer our clients. Maintenance calculations will be based on a simple percentage of the non-resident parent's net income - 15% for one child; 20% for two and 25% for three or more. The simpler system of rates will make it easier for parents to know how much they are expected to pay, and sorting out child support quickly will enable parents to get on with their lives without the current uncertainty about maintenance.
The reforms will be introduced for new cases by April 2002 with existing cases transferred at a later date when the system is seen to be working well. However, there is much that we can do in the meantime with the new legislative powers in the Act. This is why we have agreed with Ministers that the new parentage and information gathering provisions and the extension of child support jurisdiction will come into effect from the end of this month. And in April we will bring the driving licence provisions into effect. This will mean that from 31st January 2001, the CSA will be able to presume parentage if it is denied but the non-resident parent was married to the parent with care at any time between the child's conception and birth, or if unmarried he is registered on the birth certificate. The Agency will also be able to presume parentage if he refuses DNA testing or disputes a positive DNA result.
From 31st January 2001 it will be a criminal offence not to co-operate with the Child Support Agency, carrying a fine of up to £1000. From April 2001, persistent offenders can have their driving licence removed by the courts.
The Agency is striving to improve its performance and I am committed to continuing these improvements whilst working towards the successful introduction of the child support reforms.
Mr. Peter Bottomley:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what data he has collated in respect of the Ealing division of the Metropolitan police service on the numbers of ethnic minority officers and civilian staff in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Charles Clarke:
Information on the numbers of ethnic minority officers and civilian staff in the Ealing division of the Metropolitan police service in each of the past five years has been provided by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, and are shown in the table. The total figures are generally lower than in the original answer. The other details in the original answer were correct.
|Year||Ealing division||Southall division||Ealing borough
|Police officers from ethnic minority groups(22)
|Civilian staff from ethnic minority groups(22)
(22) As at 31 December apart from the year 2000, which is as at 6 December. Ealing Southall divisions merged on 1 April 2000.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of police strength levels in the Metropolitan police service for the next three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Charles Clarke
[holding answer 15 January 2001]: I understand from the Metropolitan police service (MPS) that the following strength targets have been adopted for the next three years:
(23) Figures are full-time equivalents. They include secondments to National Crime Squad, National Criminal Intelligence Service and Central Service but exclude secondments to county forces following the boundary change on 1 April 2000.
(24) It is expected that officers seconded to county forces following the 1 April 2000 boundary change will have returned to the MPS by 31 March 2002.
The MPS plans to reach the strength figures shown, but precise strength may be affected by the budget set for the MPS, by changes to projected wastage and by the success of the MPS's recruitment plans.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers were on secondment to other police forces and duties from the Metropolitan police service on (a) 1 April 2000 and (b) 30 September 2000. 
Mr. Charles Clarke
[holding answer 15 January 2001]: I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that 950 officers were on secondment on 1 April and 981 officers were on secondment on 30 September 2000. It is standard practice for forces to fill most vacancies that arise from officers on secondment. The table sets out the principal categories under which these secondments are recorded.
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Metropolitan police secondments
|1 April 2000||30 September 2000
|National Crime Squad||321||325