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Listed Sporting Events

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on paragraph 9 of the revised ITC code on sports and other listed events, regarding the Government's policy on listed sporting events. [156566]

Janet Anderson: The Government's policy is to ensure that free to air broadcasters, with a reach of at least 95 per cent. of the population, are given a fair and reasonable opportunity to acquire the rights to broadcast live coverage of "crown jewel" events. As paragraph 9 of the ITC code--last revised in January 2000--explains, it does not guarantee that the event will be broadcast live. Rights holders are not obliged to sell live rights and broadcasters are not obliged to purchase them or to show the events. However, any UK broadcaster that obtains the rights to live coverage of the whole or part of a listed event cannot broadcast exclusively live in the UK without first seeking the consent of the ITC.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the impact of the foot and mouth outbreak on safari and wildlife parks. [156681]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 3 April 2001]: My Department has made no special assessment of the impact of the foot and mouth outbreak on safari and wildlife parks.

However, my Department is in touch with the Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland, which includes wildlife and safari parks in its membership, about the implications of the foot and mouth outbreak. They have been involved in developing

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Government guidance on the circumstances in which visitor attractions should open. The Federation estimates that in the first four weeks of the outbreak, the zoo, wildlife and safari park sector lost approximately £3.5 million in revenue.



Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the (a) policy and (b) legal reasons that prohibit his Department and its agencies from joining (i) the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System and (ii) the National Hunter System. [156473]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 2 April 2001]: We cannot join the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System (CIFAS) because it would entail DSS making data about claimants available to the private sector. Members of CIFAS seek their customers' consent to this. In the case of social security benefits, I am advised that making entitlement to benefits conditional upon claimants' giving consent to release of their personal data to organisations such as CIFAS would not constitute real consent, as the claimants often have no choice but to claim benefits from DSS. The alternative of releasing information only for those claimants that gave their consent would be valueless, as fraudsters would hardly be likely to give such consent.

However, we have set up a working party with the private sector to examine what information held by the DSS could be made available within existing legal constraints.

The National Hunter system is a computer software programme which checks for inconsistencies with respect to applications for mortgages. As we procure new IT we will build in the capability we require. The Department is specifying requirements and it is the suppliers' job to decide what form the solutions should take. The Department is deliberately not seeking to lead the suppliers in the direction of specific solutions.

Home Visits

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of (a) the number of his Department's staff making home visits in the last year, (b) the total number of home visits made, (c) the total number of homes visited and (d) the number of such homes that were also visited by local authority staff in the same period. [156531]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 2 April 2001]: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is that for the period April 2000 to February 2001 when 1,251,280 home visits were made by 6,332 staff.

Child Support

Dr. Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action he proposes to take in respect of the recent decisions of a social security commissioner in relation to the operation of the Social Security Act 1998

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and the Social Security and Child Support (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 1999; and if he will make a statement. [153384]

Angela Eagle: We do not propose to take any action in relation to these decisions.

The Commissioner confirms the approach taken by decision makers in relation to the operation of the Social Security Act 1998 and the Social Security and Child Support (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 1999. That is, decision makers can make the decision to 'supersede at the same rate' where there is a change of circumstances but it does not change the existing award, and can refuse to supersede a decision where the application cannot possibly affect the existing award.

The Commissioner also held that it is necessary for a new claim for benefit to be made, in all cases, before there can be a supersession for change of circumstances. It is our view that this was a ruling on a point of law which was incidental to the decisions reached, rather than a necessary part of the legal reasoning. Accordingly, the Commissioner's decisions on this point do not constitute binding rulings. For that reason we have decided not to appeal these decisions and we have not asked for existing guidance to decision makers to be altered.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. William Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what his estimate is of the percentage of farmers who have had their farm livestock slaughtered as a consequence of foot and mouth disease who will be entitled to claim unemployment benefit. [156556]

Angela Eagle: No such estimate has been made.


Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what discussions he has had with pensioner organisations in Scotland about initiatives to inform older people of their rights. [156571]

Mr. Rooker: Ministers regularly meet representatives of pensioner organisations, including those based in Scotland. On 2 March 2001 we published a Scottish edition of our pensioners guide which provides information of a range of help and advice available to older people through central and local Government.

Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what changes have been made since 1997 to pension and social security provision for pensioners living in poverty. [156575]

Mr. Rooker: The poorest pensioners will have gained from some or all of the extra increases in basic State Pension, tax allowances and Minimum Income Guarantee, together with Winter Fuel Payments and free TV licences.

As a result of tax and benefit measures introduced by this Government, the poorest pensioner households on the MIG will, on average, be at least £15 a week, or £800 a year, better off in real terms.

Winter Fuel Allowance (Paisley, South)

Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many over 60s in Paisley South qualify for the winter fuel allowance. [156862]

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Mr. Rooker: Latest information shows that nearly 14,000 Winter Fuel Payments have been made in Paisley, South.


Rover Taskforce

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will provide a breakdown of the costs of each of the projects involving the Rover taskforce and indicate how much of the funding allocated to it remains to be distributed. [156776]

Mr. Byers: The following is a list of projects which I have approved and which count against the £129 million (originally offered to BMW for investment at Longbridge) which I made available to support good quality projects in the West Midlands.

Initial actions and administrative uplift for Advantage West Midlands (AWM)300,536
Modernisation of the automotive base27,720,000
Diversifying the regional economy20,152,000
Support to the workforce(11) 35,000
Support to families and the community70,000
Regenerating the area(12)22,250,000
Grants offered to firms under the Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) scheme37,250,000
Support towards Staffordshire taskforce proposals1,973,000
Acquisition of Industrial Land for the Automotive Sector10,000,000
Proposals which are presently commercially sensitive9,000,000
Total allocated against the £129 million128,750,536
Total unallocated against the £129 million249,464

(10) Estimated cost

(11) This does not include expenditure by the Employment Service

(12) The regeneration projects arising from the Rover taskforce final report have not yet been approved as I am awaiting details of these proposals. However, an amount of £22,000,000 has been allocated to these proposals and will count against the £129 million

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