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DNA Testing

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what requirements he sets for the accurate monitoring of DNA testing. [151681]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The DNA database is a national database which currently holds details of individuals suspected, cautioned and convicted of a recordable offence, together with their DNA profiles.

The Home Office Circular 16/95: National DNA Database sets out the general conditions relating to the establishment and use of the National DNA database.

DNA profiling technologies have developed rapidly over the last 10 years. Significant advances have been made resulting in improved sensitivity and these enable DNA to be extracted from increasingly smaller crime scene stains. The current technique, FSS SGMplus, analyses 11 areas on the DNA molecule. FSS SGMplus has been in use since September 1999 and has a discriminatory power of 1 in a billion. This has a considerable advantage over the SGM technique previously used, which had a discriminatory power of 1 in 50 million.

The reliability of DNA evidence is assured through the internal quality assurance measures adopted by the Forensic Science Service and through their external accreditation by the British Standards Institute and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service to the BS EN ISO 9000 and M10 National Standards. This independent accreditation of the DNA process involves regular audit to ensure the standards are maintained.

Hinduja Brothers

Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what communications related to the immigration and nationality status of the Hinduja family the Home Office has received from (a) Conservative and (b) Liberal Democrat Members of either House as well as other (i) elected representatives and (ii) office holders of each party; and if he will make a statement. [149114]

Mr. Straw [holding answer 7 February 2001]: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced on 24 January that he had asked former Treasury Solicitor, Sir Anthony Hammond QC, to review the full circumstance surrounding approaches to the Home Office in connection with the possibility of an application for naturalisation by Mr. S. P. Hinduja in 1998. Sir Anthony started his review on Thursday 25 January. After an initial reading of the papers, Sir Anthony decided that, in order to fulfil the terms of reference of his review of the application for naturalisation of S. P. Hinduja, it is appropriate for him to look at the circumstances of the granting of naturalisation in respect of G. P. Hinduja because the circumstances of both applications are closely related. For the same reason, he also decided that it is appropriate for him to look at the circumstances surrounding the inquiries about naturalisation in respect of Prakesh Hinduja. I understand that Sir Anthony hopes to complete his review shortly. The report will be published and copies will be placed in the Vote Office and the Library. It would be inappropriate for me to pre-empt the outcome of this review.

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Asylum Seekers

Dr. Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on the granting of exceptional leave to remain for asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo. [151268]

Mrs. Roche: Each asylum application is considered individually on its merits. In cases where asylum has been refused, exceptional leave to remain may be granted on a discretionary basis in individual cases. Exceptional leave may be granted to a person for a wide number of reasons, but it is most usually granted for compassionate or humanitarian reasons, or to protect from ill treatment a person who does not otherwise qualify for asylum under the terms of the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention.

Postal Votes

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to ensure that electoral registration officers will use only new postal and proxy voting forms which accord with the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 2000. [150726]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 26 February 2001]: There is no prescribed form for making absent vote applications. My Department has provided a specimen postal vote application form to electoral registration officers but it is for them to determine whether absent vote applications meet the requirements as set out in the Representation of the People Regulations 2001.

The Home Office will, however, be writing to these officers encouraging them to consider making their forms available to all political parties and to be proactive in bringing absent voting arrangements to the attention of voters locally.


War Veterans

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will set out the procedures for granting tribunals to disabled war veterans claiming a war pension. [151595]

Mr. Bayley: Most decisions concerning entitlement to or the assessment of a war pension can be appealed to an independent Pensions Appeal Tribunal. The notification of a decision tells war pensioners if there is a right of appeal and the procedure for doing so.

Regulations laid on 26 February will, additionally, ensure that war pensioners have appeal rights which are similar to those provided for in the Social Security scheme. They provide for war pensioners to be able to appeal, from 9 April 2001, against the majority of decisions that affect their war pension, including for the first time, most decisions in respect of supplementary allowances.

Far East Prisoners of War

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many widows and widowers

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will lose benefits due to the receipt of compensation payable to former Japanese prisoners of war and their families. [151294]

Mr. Bayley: No widow or widower of a former Japanese prisoner of war should lose benefit as a result of their or their late partner's receipt of this special payment. The Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Housing Benefit, and Council Tax Benefit Regulations were amended from 1 February 2001 to ensure the payments are disregarded in the calculation of benefit entitlement.

Severe Disablement Allowance

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many new Severe Disablement Allowance awards were made each month since March 2000. [151166]

Mr. Bayley: The information is in the table.

Severe Disablement Allowance awards



Figures are taken from a 5 per cent. sample of the benefit computer system and exclude a small number of cases held clerically. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

Pensioners' Incomes

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the average nominal increase in pensioners' incomes since 1990 (a) in total and (b) by source of income. [151640]

Mr. Rooker: The information is not available in the format requested.

Medical Malpractice

Mr. Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what investigations have been conducted over the past two years into allegations of malpractice by doctors involved with certifying benefit claims. [150530]

Mr. Bayley: Medical Services have identified six cases of alleged malpractice by doctors involved in providing medical reports for benefit claims in the past two years. The Medical Services' Serious Complaints Investigations Team is currently investigating all six cases.

National Insurance Rebates

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the primary and secondary contracted-out National Insurance rebates will be in the financial year starting in April 2002. [151765]

Mr. Rooker: Reports by the Government Actuary and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on the proposed level of contracted-out National Insurance rebates for the five years from 6 April 2002 have been laid before both Houses today, together with draft Rebate Orders.

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New Deal (Jarrow)

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the operation of the New Deal for (a) older people, (b) lone parents and (c) disabled people in the Jarrow constituency. [150465]

Ms Jowell: I have been asked to reply.

The New Deals benefit the labour market because participants leave the programme better equipped, motivated and skilled for the rest of their working lives. For the period ending November 2000, 824 people have joined the New Deal 25+ programme, resulting in 122 jobs. Also, 47 people have started work with the New Deal 50+ employment credit. 540 people have started New Deal for Lone Parents in Jarrow, resulting in 275 jobs. We know that many other people will have left the New Deal for employment without telling the Employment Service--these people are not included in the figures. Figures for New Deal for Disabled People are not yet available at constituency level. The South Tyneside pilot area of the New Deal for Disabled People (NDDP) includes the constituency of Jarrow. All the NDDP pilots are making a valuable contribution to our learning and experience of which forms of extra help and support work best.

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