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Pension Credit Consultation

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the results of the pension credit consultation will be placed in the Library. [158691]

Mr. Rooker: We will be announcing our response to the pension credit consultation in due course.

Winter Fuel Payment

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the number of newly eligible men who made a successful claim for the 2000-01 Winter Fuel Payment by 30 March. [157055]

Mr. Rooker: The administration of benefits is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency, Alexis Cleveland. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Alexis Cleveland to Mr. Steve Webb, dated 23 April 2001:


Business Questions

Mr. Bercow: To ask the President of the Council, pursuant to her oral answer of 5 April 2001, Official Report, column 502, what the source was of the information pertaining to the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Mrs. Browning); and if she will make a statement. [158344]

Mrs. Beckett: Information was provided by the Labour party.

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Appointments (Age Limits)

Tony Wright: To ask the Prime Minister what age limit is placed on appointments to public bodies in his Department; if this limit is mentioned in advertisements for such posts; and what the basis for this limit is. [158115]

The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to then answer I given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office on Monday 23 April.

Government IT

Maria Eagle: To ask the Prime Minister when he will make an announcement about the continuing implementation of the recommendations contained within the "Successful IT: Modernising Government in Action", report. [158890]

The Prime Minister: I have decided that ministerial and official responsibility for continuing the implementation of these recommendations will move to HM Treasury and the Office of Government Commerce. This will provide greater synergy with the work that OGC already does with Departments on IT-enabled projects.

It should be clear that both ministerial and official responsibility for the performance of individual projects remains with each Department.

Lord Birt

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Prime Minister how many reports Lord Birt has submitted to him in his capacity as an adviser on crime; and if he will make a statement. [158280]

The Prime Minister: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer given by the Home Secretary to the hon. Member for Taunton (Jackie Ballard) on 27 March 2001, Official Report, column 594W.

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions, and on what dates, he has met Lord Birt in his capacity as an adviser on crime; and if he will make a statement about the contribution of Lord Birt to Government policy on crime. [158240]

The Prime Minister: As part of his work, Lord Birt has met Ministers and officials from relevant Departments, including myself. As with previous Administrations it is not my practice to provide precise details of all such meetings.



Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many childminders were registered with English local authorities in each year since 1995. [157282]

Ms Hodge: I have been asked to reply.

The information about registered childminders is shown in the table. Over the same time period the number of registered day nurseries has increased from 4,800 to

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7,100, the number of registered holiday schemes from 2,900 to 9,300 and the number of registered out of school clubs from 1,300 to 3,700.

Number(1) of registered childminders for children under eight: 1995-2000

Number of registered childminders(2)
March 199596,000
March 1996101,300
March 199797,100
March 199893,300
March 199980,000
March 200074,800

(1) These figures have been rounded to the nearest 100.

(2) Excluding childminders provided by the local authority.

The responsibility for day care provision transferred from the Department of Health to the Department for Education and Employment in March 1998.

Specified Risk Material

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what further action he plans to take to ensure that specified risk material does not enter the domestic food chain from abroad. [155834]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 27 March 2001]: Under European Union single market rules only meat which has been produced in accordance with relevant EU meat hygiene and BSE protection rules may be marketed for human consumption within the EU. These rules include European Commission Decision 2000/418/EC, which requires the removal of specified risk material (SRM) from cattle and sheep carcases at the slaughterhouse. Single market rules do not permit border controls at points of entry in respect of meat imported from other EU member states, although random checks at points of destination are permissible. The importation of fresh meat containing SRM into the United Kingdom from third countries is prohibited by virtue of the SRM Order 1997. Meat imported directly into the UK from a third country is subject to official checks at the border inspection post to ensure that it complies with all relevant EU and national public and animal health requirements.

In the UK such checks have shown that the vast majority of consignments of meat imported from other EU member states have complied with the relevant EU rules. A small number of consignments, however, have been found to contain carcases with small pieces of SRM still attached. The majority of these consignments (12 out of 14) were destroyed with the remaining two returned to the export approved plant in January 2001.

As a result of these findings, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has, in each case, taken up the matter vigorously with the national Government of the exporting country concerned and with the EC. The FSA has also put in place risk-based enhanced checks on meat imported from other EU member states. The Meat Hygiene Service and its equivalent in Northern Ireland, has been instructed to check all consignments of imported carcase beef originating from those slaughterhouses which have previously exported carcases with SRM still attached. Since half of the findings of SRM have involved meat imported from Germany, the FSA has instructed that every consignment of carcase beef imported from

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Germany arriving at a licensed meat plant in the UK must be checked by the relevant authority for the presence of SRM. Local authorities throughout the UK have been advised to make extra checks at meat plants under their supervision known to receive imports of carcase beef, and to check every consignment of carcase beef imported from Germany for the presence of SRM.

In addition, because of the disruption of British meat supplies arising from the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, enforcement authorities have been instructed by the FSA to step up levels of inspection of all types of imported meat, on a risk assessment basis, in order to ensure that all relevant public health requirements are met.

The enhanced checks on meat imported from other EU member states, and the enhanced level of inspection of all imported meat, will be maintained for as long as the FSA considers such measures to be justified. The FSA will continue to monitor the situation.

Prescription Charges

Mr. Ian Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will extend exemption from prescription charges to patients who have had an organ transplantation and require lifelong medication. [158069]

Ms Stuart: People including those recovering from organ transplants are entitled to free prescriptions if they are aged under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education, or are aged 60 or over, or they (or their partner) are receiving Income Support, income based Jobseeker's Allowance or full tax credit (with net income up to £11,543). They may also claim help under the National Health Service low income scheme. We have no plans to change these arrangements.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it his policy to provide free prescription charges for people on Incapacity Benefit. [158234]

Ms Stuart: No. Incapacity Benefit is not income related and it would not, therefore, be appropriate to extend automatic exemption from prescription charges to recipients of this benefit.

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