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Territorial Forces

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many members of staff of her Department are members of the Territorial forces; and if her Department has a strategy to encourage members of staff to become members of the Territorial forces. [44064]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We have staff who are members of the Territorial forces, although we keep no central record of numbers. We actively support members by providing eight working days paid special leave for training (of 15 days or more), as well as unpaid leave if they are required to undertake a period of mobilised service.

Magistrates Courts

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) what indicators and methods his Department uses to measure the satisfaction of magistrates courts' users; and if he will make a statement; [43776]

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Mr. Wills: Quality of service in magistrates courts areas is assessed bi-annually by questionnaire and survey. Users are asked to rate their satisfaction with court facilities and the information given to them. The methodology and results are explained fully in LCD Information Bulletin 1/2002, copies of which are lodged in the Library of the House. This latest bulletin, issued on 7 March, covers the survey results for 2001.

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what performance measures his Department uses to judge the financial efficiency of magistrates courts; what the performance of each courthouse against those measures was in Greater London in (a) 1998, (b) 1999, (c) 2000 and (d) 2001; and if he will make a statement. [43778]

Mr. Wills: Cost per unit of weighted caseload is the financial efficiency performance indicator for magistrates courts. This indicator uses the gross expenditure in a year divided by the total unitary value of completed caseload. The measure is collected and assessed at the administrative level of the magistrates courts committees (MCCs), as set out in the table for 1998–99, 1999–2000 and 2000–01. Figures for 2001–02 are not yet available, and when they are produced they will only be available for the single entity of the Greater London Magistrates Courts Authority, (GLMCA), which was formed in April 2001 and incorporates the previous 22 Greater London MCCs.

Cost per unit of weighted caseload

Barking and Dagenham35.0836.9331.91
City of London57.3755.8858.75
Inner London area47.7853.8148.05
Kingston upon Thames38.4246.9443.87
Richmond upon Thames44.9144.4143.62
Waltham Forest33.3139.6139.04
Greater London average43.9047.5444.73


Rehabilitation Leave

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent representations he has received

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on the introduction of rehabilitation leave after trauma or sudden infirmity. [44264]

Maria Eagle: At their conference on 7 March the Royal National Institute for the Blind, in their employment strategy document Work Matters, raised the issue of disability leave to allow people losing their sight to get time off work for intensive rehabilitation, mobility training and the opportunity to learn new skills.

The Disability Rights Task Force considered this and concluded that the reasonable adjustment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act provide adequate arrangements for employees affected. We are continuing to work with the Disability Rights Commission and employers to promote the retention and rehabilitation of people who become disabled.

Stolen Equipment

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of 23 January 2002, Official Report, columns 851–52W, on stolen equipment, whether the computer equipment stolen from his Department was (a) new and unused and (b) used; and what was the nature of the data stored on such items in each case. [42643]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. From May 1997 to March 2001 there have been no reported cases of equipment stolen containing protectively marked data.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) whom he has appointed to his Regulation Scrutiny Group; and what is its remit; [42253]

Malcolm Wicks: The Regulation Scrutiny Group is made up of officials from the Department and representatives appointed by the local authority associations. Its remit is to consider proposed changes to housing benefit and council tax benefit and to make recommendations on the timing of such changes, taking account of local authorities' capacity to implement them.

We have already made a commitment to the local authority associations that changes to regulations will only be introduced in April and October of each year apart from in very exceptional circumstances. This, combined with the Regulation Scrutiny Group, will go a long way to improving the handling of essential changes to the housing benefit and council tax benefit schemes.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many claimants for incapacity benefit underwent a medical examination in (a) 1999, (b) 2000 and (c) 2001; and at what cost to public funds; [40783]

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Mr. Nicholas Brown: People who have been receiving incapacity benefit for more than 28 weeks normally undergo a personal capability assessment (PCA). The purpose of the PCA is to determine that a person meets the threshold of incapacity to continue receiving benefit. In addition, in selected pilot areas, examining doctors are able to produce a capability report for the person's personal adviser. The capability report helps those who wish to return to work by shifting the emphasis from disability to ability.

As part of the PCA process, a person may be called, where appropriate, to attend a medical examination. The importance of keeping an appointment along with the potential consequences of not attending are clearly highlighted in the supporting documentation sent to the person.

When a person fails to attend an appointment he or she is asked to provide written details of their reasons for non-attendance. The reasons, along with any other relevant information, are presented to a decision maker for consideration of whether there was good cause for not attending the appointment. The good cause provision acts as a safeguard for vulnerable people and those with genuine difficulties.

A decision maker decides good cause by considering all the evidence and applying the law to the facts of the claim. Each case is considered on merit and all relevant circumstances, including the person's state of health, are taken into account. If it is decided to withdraw entitlement, then the person can ask for the decision to be reconsidered or referred to an independent appeal tribunal.

The available information is in the tables.

Number of medical examinations

YearNumber of medical examinationsCost of incapacity benefit examinations (£)

(24) Figures for the number of medical examinations performed are not available until the beginning of the 1999–2000 financial year. Therefore, figures for the period 1 January to 31 March 1999 have been estimated.

(25) A restructuring of prices took place during 2001. As a result of this, the cost of incapacity benefit examinations increased, but this was offset by a reduction in the cost of Incapacity Benefit scrutiny reports.


1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 5.

2. Volumes and costs include severe disablement allowance.


Figures are taken from IMPACT 100 per cent. counts.

Number of incapacity benefit recipients who failed to attend a medical examination for incapacity benefit



1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 5.

2. The Department only pays SchlumbergerSema for completed cases. The administrative costs associated with failed appointments are not separately available.


Figures are taken from a 100 per cent. count by SchlumbergerSema Medical Services of Incapacity Benefit (including Severe Disablement Allowance) customers who fail to attend a medical examination appointment.

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