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Countryside and Rights of Way Act

Andrew Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will set out the timetable for implementing part I of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, in order to achieve her Public Service Agreement target of opening up public access to mountain, moor, heath and down and registered common land by the end of 2005. [3154]

Alun Michael: Part I of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 requires various regulations to be made before the right of access is brought into force. The table sets out the provisional programme for consultation on proposals for regulations and for bringing the regulations into force in order to meet our Public Service Agreement target. We are firmly committed to the 2005 target although the exact timing of each of the intermediate stages in our programme may depend on responses to the various consultation papers which we shall be issuing. I shall consider the views of respondents carefully before laying regulations before Parliament.

Regulation SectionConsultation commendedDate regulations in force
Regulations regarding mapping of access land and consultation on draft mapsSection 11March 2001October 2001
Regulations regarding the establishment of LAFs and the appointment of membersSection 94 (Part V)July 2001December 2001
Regulations regarding issue of provisional maps, appeals, and issue of conclusive mapsSection 11October 2001April 2002
Regulations regarding dedication of land for accessSection 16October 2001March 2002
Regulations relating to exclusion or restriction of access under Chapter II, including appealsSection 32November 2001May 2002
Regulations on removal or relaxation of restrictions on access land and to exclude access in emergenciesParagraph 7, Schedule 2; Section 31November 2002May 2003
Regulations on appeals relating to noticesSection 38February 2003August 2003
Regulations regarding review of conclusive mapsSection 11February 2004August 2004
References to public places in existing enactmentsSection 42To review before general implementation of right of access

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Progress in developing regulations has been delayed by the secondment of staff to undertake vital work in responding to the foot and mouth crisis. I now expect to lay regulations during the summer recess enabling the Countryside Agency to issue the first draft maps of open country and registered common land in November. I shall review the case for giving earlier access to mountain land and registered common land in the light of experience of the first mapping exercises. This would lead to the commencement of certain regulations earlier than the proposed timetable.


Pension Payments (Post Office)

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if it is Government policy to allow indefinitely those who wish to do so to collect their state pension in cash at a post office. [3180]

Malcolm Wicks: Yes.

Occupational Pensions (Disabled People)

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on access to membership of occupational pension schems for disabled people when they start employment. [3256]

Mr. McCartney: The Government want to ensure that all employees take advantage of access to good occupational pension schemes. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 inserted a "non-discrimination rule" into the rules of all occupational pension schemes which prevents the general exclusion of disabled people from occupational pension schemes although schemes can apply different eligibility criteria for benefits if the costs of providing those benefits is substantially greater.

Research undertaken in 1999 indicated that there was no evidence of systematic exclusion of disabled people from occupational pension schemes. There was evidence of the application of blanket restrictions on access to ill-health benefits. These restrictions were perceived to be difficult to challenge through existing channels.

The Disability Rights Task Force made a number of recommendations on occupational pensions including access to complaints procedures. Our response to the Task Force—'Towards Inclusion', published on 5 March 2001—proposes, when legislative time allows, amending the Disability Discrimination Act to allow disabled people to complain to an employment tribunal about discrimination by trustees or managers of an occupational pension scheme.

Invalid Carers Allowance

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he intends to implement the changes to the invalid carers allowance detailed in his Department's press release dated 3 October 2000. [2796]

Maria Eagle: We have already introduced two of the four measures announced last autumn. In April we increased the carer premium paid through income-related benefits by £10 per week, and raised the invalid care allowance (ICA) earnings limit by £22 per week. The

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other changes announced enable claims to ICA to be extended to people aged 65 or over and to enable ICA to continue for up to eight weeks after the death of the person being cared for. We intend to introduce a regulatory reform order to provide for these changes shortly.

Disability Discrimination Act

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to extend the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to cover private clubs. [3257]

Maria Eagle: The Government's response to the Disability Rights Task Force, "Towards Inclusion—civil rights for disabled people", issued in March 2001, noted that the Disability Rights Commission had been asked to develop a voluntary approach instead of legislating to reduce any problems disabled people may have in joining private clubs. Replies to that report are currently being analysed.

Departmental Title Change Costs

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the cost of the recent renaming of his Department, including (a) design costs, (b) stationery costs, (c) new name plaques and (d) other costs; and if he will make a statement. [3013]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) on 26 June 2001, Official Report, column 772W.


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the nationwide implementation progress of the programme Recruit. [3017]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Recruit is a pilot initiative offering help to small businesses which employ people from deprived areas through New Deal.

Pilots have been operational since April 2001 and will run until December 2001 when its impact will be evaluated.

Recruit consolidates and simplifies the wage subsidy of the New Deal. The subsidy is currently paid weekly. Under Recruit, it will be paid in two lump sums, one on recruitment and the second to support retention after 13 weeks.

No decisions have been taken on national implementation.


Defence Equipment Exhibition

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the countries from which buyers (a) have been and (b) will be invited to the defence systems and equipment international exhibition being held from 11 to 14 September. [2398]

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Dr. Moonie: The full list of countries from which Official Defence Delegations will be invited to attend the defence systems and equipment international exhibition 2001 is still being completed. I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as it has been finalised.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on which days the defence systems and equipment international exhibition will be open to (a) overseas customers, (b) the press, and (c) the public; who will be opening the exhibition; if hon. Members will be invited to it; and which ships from (i) the Royal Navy and (ii) overseas navies will be participating in the exhibition. [2399]

Dr. Moonie: The exhibition is an international trade event organised by a commercial company. It will be open to overseas visitors and fully accredited members of the media from 11 to 14 September but will not be open to the public.

I understand that the exhibition organisers will be inviting a number of hon. Members. A final decision on who will be opening the exhibition has yet to be made.

It is planned, subject to operational constraints, for Royal Navy ships to be present. The organisers have also extended invitations to a number of overseas navies to participate.

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