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Mr. McCartney: The new Pension Service will offer an improved service for pensioners. It will be customer focused and will give pensioners a modern, personalised, efficient service designed to meet their needs. It will also provide information for future pensioners to help them make decisions about their future pension arrangements.
The Pension Service will bring together the backroom processing in 26 locations rather than over 400 at present. These processing centres will support a local service offering face-to-face contact for those who need it.
The local service will work in partnership with local agencies to undertake outreach activity such as visiting, private interviews in locations which suit them and drop-in services. We will build on the Better Government for Older People and Care Direct pilots and are striving to improve local access, not reduce it, and are keen to see a much more joined up approach towards services more generally for pensioners.
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Maria Eagle: The Department monitors the numbers of complaints made to the employment tribunals and the courts under Parts II and III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). It also carries out targeted research on how the provisions of Part II and III of the DDA are working. We will shortly publish a report by Incomes Data Services Ltd., "Monitoring the Disability Discrimination Act 1995Phase 2", which provides a statistical analysis of complaints made to the employment tribunals and county courts and a commentary on the emerging case law.
Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to commission research into the effectiveness of the awards against employers and service providers for discrimination against people with disabilities, with specific reference to the impact on their future behaviour. 
Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to review the use of county and sheriff courts and their jurisdiction in cases under Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. 
Maria Eagle: We are committed to keeping the operation of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 under review, including through research into cases brought under its provisions. Part III is not yet fully in force so it is too early to consider a review of specific provisions.
David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many families in the Midlothian constituency include a disabled person; how many of these families have income support as their main income; and what the average amount is per week that these households spend on (a) food, (b) fuel and (c) medicines. 
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many applications for disability living allowance were received from applicants in Perth constituency for the period 31 May 2000 to 31 May 2001; how many of those applications were refused at first instance; how many of those applicants whose applications were refused appealed; and how many of such appeals were successful (a) in whole and (b) in part. 
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Maria Eagle: In the year ending 31 May 2001, approximately 200 first applications for disability living allowance in Perth were successful at the claim stage, and 100 were unsuccessful. Local information (on a constituency basis) about appeals is not available.
John Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy in respect of a claimant in receipt of a higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance who claims a core component to require medical information to be obtained from the claimant's doctor before a decision to refuse a claim is taken. 
Maria Eagle: The mobility and care components of disability living allowance have separate qualifying criteria and entitlement to one component does not necessarily imply, or result in, entitlement to the other.
Disability living allowance is primarily a self- assessment benefit with no automatic requirement to obtain further evidence to support a claim. The obtaining of additional evidence on a claim inevitably increases the time taken to process itsometimes substantiallyand an approach will only be made to a claimant's doctor for further medical evidence when it is considered necessary and the doctor is deemed to be the most appropriate source for it.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many reports Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority has received of companies that failed to designate a stakeholder pension in time for the 8 October deadline; how many fines it has imposed as a result; and what the total value of fines imposed is. 
Mr. McCartney: Opra has, up to 31 December 2001, received 220 reports of alleged failure of an employer to designate a stakeholder pension scheme for its work force. Seventy seven of those cases have been cleared, either because the employer has now designated a scheme or because the designation requirement does not apply.
On average it can take Opra up to three months to look into a reported failure to designate a stakeholder pension scheme. Initial reports are sometimes anonymous and work can be needed to track down accurate contact details for the employer. Opra will then write to the employer to establish the facts of the case and point out the employer's responsibilities. Opra will check by telephone that the letter has been received, and will give the employer around four weeks to respond. In some situations the employer may need time to meet with their advisers to clarify their circumstancesespecially where there is a possibility that they may be exempt. On receiving a response from the employer, Opra may need to contact the employer again to clarify information provided in the response or to request further information.
The Government seek to work in co-operation with business on stakeholder pensions. Opra's overriding objective is to secure compliance with the law rather than to punish. At present, if the employer complies with the law before the investigation is completed, Opra will take no further action. Given this approach, and the normal timescales involved in following up reports, it is too early for any cases to have progressed to an Opra Board for consideration of a fine.
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The Government's pension education strategy includes raising awareness of retirement planning through a dedicated publicity campaign; providing more information to people about their pension provision through combined pension forecasts; and testing new ways to get information out to the public, for example through interactive Digital Television.
The Department continues to liaise with the Financial Services Authority, employers, private pension providers and other organisations, on an on-going basis, to improve continuously the way we provide pensions information to consumers.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: Cervical spondylosis is a common degenerative condition which cannot result solely from an industrial injury and cannot be easily attributable to employment. In view of the lack of medical or scientific evidence to the contrary, we have no plans to designate it as a prescribed industrial disease.
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