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Prison Welfare-to-Work Programme

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of prisons operate welfare-to-work programmes. [13963]

Beverley Hughes: Currently, 11 establishments are delivering the Prison Service's welfare-to-work programme. They are: Cardiff, Deerbolt, Glen Parva, Guys Marsh, Lancaster Farms, Moorland, New Hall, Onley, Portland, Stoke Heath and Usk.

A number of other establishments provide similar pre- release programmes, often in partnership with voluntary sector organisations. For example, the Foundation Training Company delivers an employment training programme at Feltham, Chelmsford, Hollesley Bay, Highpoint and Norwich. The New Bridge provides a careers advice and jobfinding service in 17 establishments. The Headstart pre-release programme operates at Thorn Cross, Hindley and Risley. All of these programmes are geared to helping more prisoners into employment or the new deal on release as a contribution of reducing re-offending.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of prisoners have successfully completed the welfare to work programme in each year since its introduction. [13962]

Beverley Hughes: The Prison Service welfare-to- work programme began in April 1998. The available information on prisoners starting and successfully completing the programme is shown in the table.

Number of prisoners:
PeriodStarting the programmeSuccessfully completing the programmePercentage of prisoners successfully completing the programme
April 1998 to March 19992,4281,62567
April 1999 to March 20002,4751,94479
April 2000 to March 20011,7661,47684
April 2001 to September 20011,15171262

Immigration and Nationality Directorate

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the backlog of cases is in each division at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate; and what the waiting time is for naturalisation, from application to determination. [13632]

Angela Eagle: Statistics on the number of cases awaiting an initial decision in each division of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate are not currently available, with the exception of asylum applications, as these are subject to rigorous quality checks. The result of a physical count on 31 August 2001 showed that there were 43,100 asylum cases awaiting an initial decision.

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Information on the average waiting time for naturalisations are not routinely published. The most recent published information relates to March 2001, when the average waiting time was 11.6 months.

One of the Government's Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets is to reduce the average time taken to grant citizenship (naturalisations and registrations) to six months by the end of 2001–02. It is expected that performance on this target will be reported on in due course after the end of this financial year.

Prison IT Systems

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) prisons and (b) young offenders institutions use IT systems which have not been networked. [13960]

Beverley Hughes: All prisons have a varying degree of Information Technology (IT) provision. The existing provision has been driven by local policy and local, internal networking is quite common. Currently, across the Prison Service as a whole, there is basic e-mail provision. It has been recognised that the Prison Service needs a modern infrastructure with interlinkings. To this end, Her Majesty's Prison Service has entered into a contract, part of which has the requirement to provide the Service with a new infrastructure that will provide common services on a Service-wide network and enable Her Majesty's Prison Service to build an electronic interface with the wider Criminal Justice System. We are on the verge of beginning the implementation of this new infrastructure.

Consultation Documents

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many consultation documents were issued by his Department from (a) 15 October to 14 January, (b) 15 January to 14 April, (c) 15 April to 14 July and (d) 15 July to 14 October in each year from 1996. [12901]

Mr. Blunkett: My Department holds central records on issued consultations from 1997 for the Home Office, its non-departmental bodies and agencies. Between 1997 and 2000 the information is held by year of publication only. Determining all the details contained in the question would require access to archived records at a disproportionate cost. However in order to give the fullest reply I have listed the number of consultations published each year from 1997 to date.

YearNumber of consultations issued

Details of all Home Office published consultations can be found on the website at atoz/consultpapers.htm. Consultations published after January 2001 are also on the national register of consultations on

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Travel Costs (Concorde)

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what was the cost of his travel on Concorde on 7 November; and if this was at a reduced rate. [13974]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 12 November 2001]: Since 1999 this Government have published a list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The information requested will be published as soon as possible after the end of the current financial year.

All travel was undertaken fully in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code on Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Library.

US Visit

Mr. Laws: To ask the Prime Minister what is his estimate of the cost of his visit to the United States on 7 November; which officials and Ministers accompanied him; and if he will make a statement. [14140]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I have given to my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) today Official Report, column 783W.


People's Panel

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when the evaluation of the People's Panel will be (a) completed and (b) published. [15042]

Mr. Leslie: A first draft has been received. The final evaluation report will be completed in December and published in January 2002.

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when the People's Panel's contract with MORI expires. [15043]

Mr. Leslie: The contract with MORI expires at the end of January 2002.

Scottish Devolution

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his policy is regarding consultations prior to the publication of proposals involving the transfer of powers to the Scottish Executive by (a) primary legislation and (b) Order in Council. [13819]

Mr. Leslie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to her by my right hon. Friend the Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Mrs. Liddell) on 6 November 2001, Official Report, columns 91–94.


Benefit Fraud

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his most recent estimate is of the value

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of benefit fraud; and how much fraudulently obtained benefit has been repaid following detection in each year since 1997. [7470]

Malcolm Wicks: Our most recent estimate is that £2 billion is lost annually through benefit fraud. It is not possible to separate the total amount of overpaid benefit recovered into overpayments due to fraud and those due to other reasons.

Widows' Payments

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what plans he has better to publicise the time limit for making applications for widows' payments; [10825]

Malcolm Wicks: We are sympathetic to the needs of the recently bereaved and understand that making a claim for bereavement benefits will not be the first priority for people in these circumstances. We believe the three month time limit for claiming bereavement benefits strikes the right balance between allowing people time to grieve and setting a reasonable and appropriate limit on the length of time within which a claim to benefit should be made. The three month time limit for making a claim was introduced in 1997 for the majority of Social Security benefits and we have no plans to change it.

Since March 2000 the Department has issued leaflets on the new bereavement benefits to doctors' surgeries, Post Offices and benefit advisers. Articles explaining the new benefits were placed in a variety of magazines prior to their introduction in April 2001. Claim forms for bereavement benefits also include a clear explanation that claims must be made within three months. In addition, the Registrar of Deaths automatically issues a form to the person registering the death which gives them the opportunity to make a claim for bereavement benefits.

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