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Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much his Department (a) budgeted to spend and (b) spent in each of the last six years on entertaining; and if he will break down these figures into categories. [32676]

Angela Eagle [pursuant to her reply, 8 February 2002, c.1250] [holding answer 8 February 2002]: I reported that the costs of entertaining official visitors and guests for the financial year 2000–01 was £143,269; it has since been found that a sum relating to costs of conferences had been incorrectly classified in the accounting system as hospitality costs.

Expenditure for the year on entertainment was actually £62,410.

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Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller) of 5 March 2002, Ref. 40938, if he will place in the Library a copy of the letter and the accompanying leaflet that will be sent to those within 10 years of state pension age, explaining how the changes to inherited SERPS may affect them. [42181]

Maria Eagle: The letter and accompanying leaflet have been placed in the Library.

Appeal Costs

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average cost was of an appeal to (a) a social security appeal tribunal and (b) a child support appeal tribunal, in the latest year for which figures are available. [37586]

Maria Eagle [holding answer 26 February 2002]: The average cost of an appeal heard by an appeal tribunal is £139 (excluding first tier agency costs). Separate figures are not available in respect of child support appeals.

The average first tier agency direct staffing costs of an appeal in respect of Benefits Agency administered benefits is £81.92 and in respect of child support appeals is £136.79.

Long-Stay Hospitals

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what payments are available to patients in long-stay hospitals. [36076]

Mr. McCartney: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 25 February 2002, Official Report, column 778W.

Jobcentre Plus

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to introduce additional security measures for benefits offices after screens have been removed; whether these plans include (a) CCTV cameras and (b) security guards; and if he will make a statement. [32762]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 6 February 2002]: There are no plans to remove protective screens from Benefits Agency offices until they are converted into fully integrated offices of the new Jobcentre Plus service.

In very Jobcentre Plus area there will continue to be screened provision for dealing with those customers and transactions known to give rise to particular risk. The precise type and location of this provision will depend on the recommendations of the risk assessments carried out in each individual Jobcentre Plus office. We have a zero tolerance policy under which determined action will be taken against anyone threatening or abusing Jobcentre Plus staff.

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56 Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices are already open and operating effectively—with positive feedback from staff and customers. For each of these offices a full health and safety risk assessment has been conducted and its recommendations implemented in full.

Examples of measures implemented to support the safety of staff and improved customer service as a result of the risk assessments include:

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many prosecutions have been brought against perpetrators of physical assault on Benefits Agency and Employment Service staff in each year since 1997; and how many resulted in successful prosecutions. [32649]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 5 February 2002]: The majority of prosecutions in cases of physical assault on Benefits Agency and Employment Service staff are criminal prosecutions brought by the police. The Department does not keep statistics on such cases.

In addition, both the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service refer some cases to the Department's solicitor for consideration of proceedings where the police have decided not to prosecute. The Benefits Agency does not keep statistics on such cases. The Employment Service has referred 13 such cases since 1 April 1996, four of which have resulted in successful prosecution. A yearly breakdown of these cases is in the table.

Year(18)Submitted for prosecutionSuccessful prosecution

(18) 1 April to 31 March

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many incidents of (a) verbal assault and (b) physical assault reported in Benefits Agency offices in the last 12 months took place in (i) a reception area, (ii) an unscreened office and (iii) a screened office. [32645]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 5 February 2002]: The information is in the table.

Benefits Agency incidents (2001)

Physical assaultsVerbal assaults
Unscreened area103914
Screened area311,422
Unknown location143


1. The figures are based on the number of cases reported so far. Other incidents could have taken place but have not yet been reported.

2. Of the assaults in known locations, 23 physical assaults and 1,100 verbal assaults occurred in reception. The reception in Benefits Agency offices is generally a screened area.

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Visually Impaired People

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if all documentation and forms issued by his Department are available in formats suitable for the visually impaired. [41928]

Maria Eagle: The Department is committed to providing accessible information to all its customers and produces a wide range of information in a variety of formats. If a customer with a visual impairment requests a document or form in an alternative format (e.g. braille, large print or audio cassette) every effort is made, both locally and nationally, to provide it.


Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) male and (b) female pensioners who have retired in each of the past five years have deferred their state basic pension entitlements for sufficient time to claim a pension increment of (i) less than £5 per week, (ii) £5 to £10 a week and (iii) exceeding £10 a week at present rates of payment; and how many such pensioners retired without such an increment. [31304]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 31 January 2002]: The information is not available in the format requested. The available information is in the table:

Number of pensioners in receipt of retirement pension on the dates shown, by amount of deferred retirement increment received and gender—Great Britain

Total with incsLess than £5Between £5 and £10More than £10Total without incs
March 1996
March 1997
March 1998
September 1999
March 2000
March 2001


1. The figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

2. Totals may not sum due to rounding.

3. Increments include basic retirement pension increments and additional pension increments payable.

4. Analysis has shown that increments data for March 1999 are not reliable therefore September has been used for that year.

5. Excludes overseas cases.


Five per cent. sample from the Pension Strategy Computer System at March in each year, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001. Data for 1999 are at September of that year.

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