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Mr. McCartney: The Department has frequent discussions with representatives of the pensions industry which cover a range of issues. We also receive a large number of pieces of correspondence concerning a range of pensions issues.
Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average delay was in making payment to state earnings related pension schemes for contributions due in the year to April 2001; what the figure was in each year since the scheme was introduced; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance he has issued to the Benefits Agency concerning the acceptance of a clinical diagnosis of ME as grounds for an entitlement to benefit. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: We recognise the chronic fatigue syndromes (including ME) as potentially debilitating illnesses. Where a clinical diagnosis of CFS has been made, full account is taken of the resultant care and mobility needs in disability living allowance or its effect on the prescribed activities in the personal capability assessment for incapacity benefits.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has received on the funding arrangements due to come into voluntary operation on 1 April about the sector option of New Deal. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 17 January 2002]: New arrangements for funding providers on a formula basis will be introduced throughout the new deal for young people, including the voluntary sector option on 1 April 2002. This approach fulfils the commitments made following the 1999 "Learning to Succeed" White Paper to ensure a common approach to the funding of all post-16 learning.
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Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) of 10 December 2001, Official Report, column 589, how people can apply for backdated winter fuel payments; and whether the procedure differs according to the year to which the claim relates. 
Mr. McCartney: Backdated winter fuel payments are only available for the first three winters of the scheme, 19971998, 19981999 and 19992000. Claim forms are available by either ringing the winter fuel payment helpline on 08459 151515 and requesting one, or from the Department for Work and Pensions' website at www.dwp.gov.uk/winterfuel. The procedure for claiming for each of the three years is the same.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 12 December 2001, Official Report, columns 89697W, when the Statutory Instrument referred to was revoked; and for what reason his answer does not refer to the Statutory Instrument currently in force. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Local Government (Best Value) Performance Indicators Order 2000, SI 2000 No. 896 referred to in my answer of 12 December 2001, Official Report, columns 89697W contains Best Value Performance Indicators for 200001. The order was not revoked but was superseded by the Local Government (Best Value) Performance Indicators and Performance Standards Order 2001, SI 2001 No. 724 which contains Best Value Performance Indicators for 200102 and is currently in force. My answer did not refer to this statutory instrument because the hon. Member did not ask for details of the Best Value Performance Indicators for the current year.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on recent changes in the standards for delivery of medical assessment services contracted by his Department. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 23 January 2002]: Over the last quarter, October to December 2001, service delivery in all key areas of the Medical Services Contract has improved. The volume of examinations which have been completed is significantly higher than in the same period last year and examinations are being arranged more promptly. The proportion of customers seen within 10 minutes of their appointment time has
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risen, and the number being sent home unseen has reduced. Special needs indicated by customers, such as interpreter services, are being met. The training, medical quality, and customer service targets set by the Government in their response to the Social Security Select Committee inquiry into Medical Services all are being met.
|Year||Number of people|
(7) Cases not yet completed.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in how many cases in the last year direct debits of national insurance contributions by self-employed persons suspended during payment of incapacity benefit have not been resumed following the termination of payment of incapacity benefit by reason of technical problems with the National Insurance Contributions Office replacement computer system; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 11 December 2001]: There is no evidence to show that resumption of collection of national insurance contributions by direct debit in these circumstances failed because of technical problems with the National Insurance Contributions Office's replacement computer system.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many employees in (a) his Department and (b) executive agencies supervised by his Department have been employed on temporary contracts of (i) 51 weeks or (ii) less than 51 weeks' duration in this year and each of the
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25 Jan 2002 : Column 1146W
|Year||199697||199798||199899||19992000||200001||1 April 2001 to 31 December 2001|
|Percentage of staff||1.9||1.1||3.9||2.9||4||1.9|
|Percentage of staff||(8)||(8)||(8)||(8)||15||3|
|Debt Management Office|
|Percentage of staff||(9)||(9)||(9)||(9)||5.5||(9)|
|Percentage of Staff||6.5||1.6||12.7||15.5||11.5||1.7|
|Office for National Statistics|
|Percentage of staff||(8)||4.3||2.8||4.8||6.1||5.5|
|Office of Government Commerce|
|Percentage of Staff||(10)||(10)||(10)||(10)||6.9||8.4|
(8) No data available
(9) No casuals
(10) Agency not formed
Data relate to figures of casual staff on contracts of less than 51 weeks
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