Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact of the downrating of pensions and benefits during hospital stays on the elderly and the sick. 
Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement regarding loss of entitlement to pensions and other benefits of elderly people during hospital stays. 
Mr. McCartney [holding answer 28 January 2002]: As previously promised we have considered carefully the impact of the current rules which reduce certain benefits paid to pensioners and people of working age after six weeks of hospitalisation. The downrating of benefits preserves the principle that the state should not make double provision. It also recognises that a substantial number of people leave hospital before six weeks.
However, we also recognise that people have on-going financial commitments while in hospital, and although we consider the six week rule strikes a fair balance between what the state should provide financially and the provision individuals should make for themselves, we have none the less decided to extend the period before benefits are downrated by a further seven weeks to the 13 week stage. This will mean that people previously affected by the six week rule will be able to keep their benefits untouched if their period of stay in hospital is under 13 weeks.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff were seconded between (a) PWC Consulting and PricewaterhouseCoopers, (b) Ernst & Young, (c) Deloitte & Touche, (d) KPMG and (e) Andersen and his Department in (i) 19992000, (ii) 200001 and (iii) April 2001 to the latest date for which figures are available. 
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Mr. McCartney: We have had no secondments between this Department (including Employment Service and the former Department of Social Security) and PWC Consulting and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Andersen for the periods listed.
However, as part of the One Project to pilot welfare reform options for clients of working age, a number of staff from the Benefits Agency and Employment Service have been seconded into Deloitte Consulting, which is an operating arm of Deloitte & Touche. The numbers are set out in the table.
Malcolm Wicks: The Department takes its responsibilities to protect its assets from theft and fraud very seriously and has put in place a wide range of security measures designed to deter and detect such events.
We have appointed a senior accountable official to ensure that we have effective measures for deterring internal fraud and for investigating it vigorously if it should happen. A central probity team supports the senior accountable official and provides guidance and advice to managers and staff, security specialists and internal investigators. Our recruitment security measures fully meet Cabinet Office requirements.
Staff have a policy statement setting out their personal responsibilities in combating internal fraud and theft, and detailed guidance outlining what to do if they suspect fraud. Later this year we shall be publishing a guide to security for all managers and a guide for staff emphasising their duties and responsibilities, and introducing security awareness induction training for all new staff. Our whistleblower's hotline allows staff to report, in confidence, any suspicions they may have about possible fraud or abuse by staff.
Our management controls include mandatory checks and audit trails targeted at areas of high risk. As well as acting as a deterrent, these checks allow us to identify and tackle potential weaknesses in our systems. We have a network of security specialists to help managers identify risks and put in place counter measures, and teams of internal investigators to investigate cases of suspected internal fraud and theft when they arise.
To emphasise to staff that we will not tolerate wrongdoing, we publish within the Department the outcomes of internal investigations. Penalties may include dismissal and prosecution for serious offences.
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of the departmental expenditure limit in 200102 will be accounted for by salary costs and pension contributions. 
Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what has been the total expenditure of his Department on IT systems and support in each year from May 1997 to date; how many IT contracts have been let in each of those years; of the other main contracting party in each of those contracts, how many have been (a) companies whose registered office is in (i) England and Wales, (ii) Scotland and (iii) Northern Ireland and (b) foreign companies; and what are the names of the companies falling within category (a). 
Mr. McCartney: The Department of Social Security and the Employment Services both had made their own contractual arrangements for Information Technology (IT) prior to the formation of the Department for Work and Pensions.
The Department has let four contracts from May 1997 to date. These contracts were the ACCORD IS/IT contract let to three main parties, EDS (let 23 February 1999), ICL (let 25 February 1999) and BT plc (let 25 March 1999), all of whom have their registered offices in England and the SASA contract let in August 1997 to SEMA Group UK who also have their registered offices in England. Under the ACCORD contract there have been four specific businesses allocations awarded to date.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cases of retirement pension payday beginning on the Monday after the person's birthday there were in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
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Numbers rounded to the nearest 10,000.
September PSCS data, 5 per cent. sample.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much money has been saved in each year since 1997 through starting retirement pension payday on the Monday after a person's birthday; and if he will make a statement. 
If payment were made for part weeks at the start of a claim only, and there was no recovery of overpaid benefit at the end of a claim, we estimate that this would have incurred a cost of up to £20 million per annum in each year since 1997.