Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many former miners in Merseyside have (a) received final compensation payments, (b) received interim compensation payments and (c) undertaken a medical assessment and are awaiting payment for (i) vibration white finger and (ii) respiratory diseases. 
Mr. Wilson: IRISC, the Department's claims handlers, have registered, in Merseyside 1 778 claims in relation to Vibration White Finger, VWF. Of these, 428 have attended appointments to undergo the Medical Assessment Process, MAP. To date, IRISC have made 197 interim payments and 128 claims have been settled in full and final settlement.
With regard to respiratory diseases, IRISC have registered 1,383 claims in Merseyside 1 . Of these, 605 claimants have undertaken a screening spirometry test and 132 claimants have undergone the full MAP. To date, IRISC have made 279 interim payments and 82 offers in full and final settlement.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average duration is between medical assessment and final compensation payment for former coal miners seeking compensation for (a) Vibration White Finger and (b) respiratory diseases. 
Mr. Wilson: With regard to Vibration White Finger, VWF, under the Handling Agreement, where there are no outstanding issues, the employment has been agreed and IRISC, the Department's claims handlers are in receipt of all the necessary documents, an offer of compensation in respect of general damages can be made in 56 days. The issues regarding special damages have not been finalised and therefore these payments can not be made as yet.
In respect of compensation for respiratory diseases, following spirometry, the first stage of the medical assessment, expedited offers are made within seven days where the results meet the relevant criteria. Payment is made within 10 days of acceptance of offers, subject to agreement of employment history.
In relation to settling claims where claimants have undergone the full Medical Assessment Process, where there are no outstanding issues, the employment has been agreed and IRISC are in receipt of all the necessary documents, an offer of compensation in respect of general damages can be made in 28 days. Meanwhile, IRISC are making interim payments wherever applicable.
Mr. Wilson: To date, the Department has received over 272,000 claims in respect of respiratory disease and Vibration White Finger, VWF. Of these, more than 132,000 have been assessed. The Department has made over 91,246 individual payments amounting to £451 million.
5 Jul 2001 : Column: 268W
Mr. Waterson: To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, when the Commission intends to publish its plans for spending on public awareness campaigns under section 13 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Beith: The Electoral Commission acquired responsibility for promoting public awareness of electoral and democratic systems under section 13 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 on 1 July 2001. I understand from the Chairman of the Commission that information about the Commission's spending plans under section 13 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 will be included as part of its overall Five Year Plan. This will be published following consideration by the Speaker's Committee at its next meeting, whose date is currently under discussion. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, (1) what reports the Commission (a) has submitted and (b) intends to submit to the Secretary of State under section 6 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000; if he will place the reports in the Library; and if he will make a statement; 
Mr. Beith: I understand from the Chairman of the Electoral Commission that the Commission intends to publish a report on the administration of the 2001 general election later this month. The report will also deal with wider issues relating to the election. A further report, addressing issues of election expenditure, is planned for spring 2002. These reports will set out the Commission's preliminary views on the need for a review programme for modernising the electoral process.
The Commission has not, to date, submitted any reports to the Secretary of State under section 6 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. It is expected to do so following the completion of its review programme.
Mr. McCartney: Generally, Minimum Income Guarantee remains in payment for a limited period while the claimant is abroad provided certain conditions are fulfilled. The conditions are set out in the Income Support (General) Regulations 1997 (SI 1987/1967), regulation 4.
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Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if pensioners who respond to the Government's take-up campaign for the Minimum Income Guarantee will be contacted to advise them of their potential entitlement to the Pension Credit once details of that scheme have been worked out. 
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the proportion of a stakeholder pension fund accumulated over 20 years which would be lost by a 1 per cent. charge. 
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many pensioners are subject to a reduction in their state retirement pension because they have been in (a) an NHS hospital and (b) a similar institution and treated as being an NHS patient, for over 52 weeks; 
(3) how many people experienced a reduction in (a) their state retirement pension and (b) one or more means-tested benefits due to being in hospital for (i) six weeks and (ii) 52 weeks in the last year for which figures are available. 
Mr. McCartney: The rule that pensions and other benefits should be reduced when the beneficiary is in hospital has been in force since the National Insurance Scheme was introduced. There is no reduction during the first six weeks in hospital. Thereafter the amount of Retirement Pension is reduced by 20 per cent. of the basic pension rate for those with a dependant and by 39 per cent. for all other cases. (40 per cent. prior to 9 April 2001). The amount of Retirement Pension reduces to 20 per cent. after 52 weeks. No one receives less than 20 per cent. of the basic State Pension.
5 Jul 2001 : Column: 270W
|All hospital reductions
|Reduced by 20 per cent.
|Reduced by 40 per cent.
|Reduced to 20 per cent.
1. The figures are rounded to the nearest hundred
2. Totals may not sum due to rounding
5 per cent. sample from the Pension Strategy Computer System at September 2000
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the Government will publish the revised reports from the Pension Provision Group on pension provision for self-employed people and the impact on pensions of changes in the labour market. 
Mr. McCartney: The Pension Provision Group are currently reviewing both reports in the light of the Government's Pension Credit proposals. It is anticipated that both reports will be ready for publication later in the year.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Marsden) of 25 June 2001, Official Report, column 33W, on the pension credit, if he will estimate how many of the responses to the formal consultation process did not welcome the proposals. 
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average amount of state pension and benefits lost by pensioners subject to hospital downrating rules was in the last year for which figures are available. 
|£ per week
|Benefit reduced to pocket money rate
|Benefit reduced by 20 per cent.
|Benefit reduced by 40 per cent.
Data are from the September 2000 administrative sample