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Malcolm Wicks: As the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security, my hon. Friend the Member for City of York (Mr. Bayley), said on 22 March 2001, Official Report, column 346W, from April 2002 we propose to introduce new rules for people who receive Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Income Support based on incapacity who want to undertake some form of paid work which may ease their way back into full-time employment. We are aware of concerns that the current therapeutic work rules may be of limited use where it is difficult to demonstrate that a particular job would be beneficial to a person's medical condition. The current rules also do not help someone who wants to work on a limited basis in order to have social contact if they do not satisfy the therapeutic requirement. This is why we have reviewed the current position and are introducing some improvements.
Claimants who undertake sheltered work or are undergoing a hospital treatment programme which includes work, will, as now, be able to earn up to £60.50 a week (April 2001 rates) with no limit on the number of hours they work.
We believe that these rules are much fairer than those that currently exist. Because we are opening up the rules to anyone on incapacity benefits we are giving more people the opportunity of trying paid work. This, together with our other measures to help people find suitable work, will enable people to move off benefits and into work. Also by allowing all claimants to do some paid work without time limit, we will be encouraging those who are otherwise excluded to take part in activities which will help them feel part of, and play a more active role in, their local community. Additionally, of course, there are the rules
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which we already have in place to allow claimants to try full-time work or training and return to benefit at the same rate if they have to give up that work or training.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which House of Commons Minister in his Department will have responsibility for matters relating to (a) the Child Support Agency, (b) the integrated child credit, (c) child care, (d) maternity/paternity pay and (e) the Appeals Service. 
Malcolm Wicks: Departmental ministerial responsibility for these areas in the House of Commons is divided as follows: I am responsible for the Child Support Agency and the Integrated Child Credit; the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Maria Eagle), is responsible for Maternity/Paternity pay and the Appeals Service. The Department for Employment and Skills has policy responsibility for child care.
Mr. McCartney: Our recent national take-up campaign on the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) was a success resulting in 110,286 successful claims to MIG. The average additional income awarded is £20 per week.
We have also increased the lower and upper capital limits to £6,000 and £12,000 respectively. These increases will result in more people becoming newly entitled to MIG and will increase the number of people who will become entitled to the full amount of the MIG.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the total amount of compensation (1) that he expects to be paid as a result of the problems with the NIRS2 computer system; 
The delay in the implementation of NIRS2 caused arrears of work in both the Inland Revenue and the then DSS. These arrears are being managed through a recovery plan that has been developed by both Departments and continue to be cleared as quickly as possible. Compensation is being paid as a result of the delays.
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Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will provide a breakdown of the companies and others to whom the claimed qualifying expenditure of £23,705,511 made by Walton Commercial Group Ltd. now Walton Group plc, was made, indicating the reasons for payment and the amount paid to each. 
Ms Keeble: The claimed qualifying expenditure was paid to Todd and Benn (Contractors) Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Walton Group plc, against invoices for work claimed to be done on the Exchange Flags building, Liverpool.
Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what research his Department has conducted into changes in pollution following the implementation of congestion taxes. 
Ms Keeble: My Department will be working with local authorities when they develop and implement schemes, to carry out before and after studies to assess schemes' impacts, including changes in levels of air pollution. Modelling work for the Government's 10-Year Plan for Transport published in July 2000 forecasts significant reductions in particulate and oxide of nitrogen emissions by 2010 from a range of measures in the plan, including the introduction of urban congestion charging in a number of towns and cities.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what proportion of delays to train services during the most recent month for which figures are available are attributable to temporary speed restrictions associated with gauge corner cracking. 
Mr. Spellar: Railtrack's Network Performance Report for the four-week period to 26 May 2001 shows that 6 per cent. of delays were attributable to gauge corner cracking. This includes both passenger and freight services.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many temporary speed restrictions remain in place on the national railway network in connection with gauge corner cracking. 
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Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what progress has been made in the appointment of a public interest director to the board of Railtrack. 
Mr. Spellar: As part of the Statement of Principles agreed between the Government and Railtrack, the company announced on 2 April the decision to appoint, in consultation with Government, a non-executive director to its main board with the background and credentials to provide a powerful public and consumer interest voice around the boardroom table. The appointment of such a director is currently under review by the nominations committee of the Railtrack Board.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much money has been granted to Railtrack from public funds over the past year; and what contractual safeguards exist to ensure that the money is used for its intended purposes. 
Mr. Spellar: In 200001, train operating companies (TOCs) were paid £847 million in Support for Passenger Services (SPRS) by the Franchising Director and the Strategic Rail Authority and £185 million in grants by Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs). Since some 85 per cent. of Railtrack's income is paid to the company by TOCs in access charges, Railtrack's revenue is contingent on that indirect subsidy.
In future, Railtrack will also receive considerable sums in direct grants for track renewals. As part of the Statement of Principles agreed on 2 April between the Government and Railtrack, the Government agreed to bring forward the timing of £1.5 billion of payments due to the company under the Periodic Review. In doing so, the Government have attached strict conditions of increased public accountability and Railtrack has undertaken to spend the Government revenues strictly on improving the railway. A copy of the Statement of Principles has been placed in the Library. None of this new funding has yet been paid.
The main safeguard in respect of all subsidy to Railtrack is the Network Licence and the conditions attached to it by the Rail Regulator. The Regulator's reformed regulatory structure is nearing completion. It comprises the Periodic Review; a strengthened network licence; and new model clauses for clearer and simplified track access agreements with Railtrack's customers, the passenger and freight train operators. The Transport Act 2000 has also strengthened the regulation and accountability of Railtrack. The Regulator now has the powers and resources to ensure that Railtrack delivers on its public service commitments.
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