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Tightening of the WBS criteria in 1998 was followed by a large reduction in the WBS achieved by local authorities in 199899 and 19992000. To address this, increased rates of additional subsidy were made payable to Local Authorities and a reduced level of penalty was introduced in April 1999.
In January 2000 the Department announced that it would replace WBS over 2 years from April 2001 with a new anti-fraud incentive scheme that gives greater financial rewards to local authorities for preventing and detecting overpayments and for punishing fraud. Since April this year all local authorities have been operating the new scheme.
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Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions why he has declined to meet officials of the Public and Commercial Services Union to discuss the health and safety implications for staff of the Jobcentre Plus arrangements. 
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consultations he has had with leaders of the Public and Commercial Services Union regarding recent industrial action taken by their members; and if he plans to meet them following the latest 48-hour strike. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answers 1 and 5 February 2002]: It is for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, as the head of the organisation, to conduct discussions on this issue with the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).
I am pleased to say that, following the most recent round of discussions, the PCS has, after a ballot of its members, accepted an agreement based on the proposals which Jobcentre Plus management originally put forward last October. These proposals will ensure that Jobcentre Plus operates in a predominantly unscreened environment in line with Government policy.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what was the crisis loan expenditure on living expenses (alignment) in each year since 1996; and what such expenditure was expressed as a proportion of crisis loan expenditure. 
|Year||Total crisis loan expenditure £ million||Alignment payment expenditure £ million||Alignment payments as a percentage of crisis loan expenditure|
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest £ million.
2. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.
Annual Reports by the Secretary of State on the Social Fund 199697 to 200001.
Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what arrangements are intended for the organisation, operation and accountability of the Caernarfon for Healthcare Audit and Inspection in Wales. 
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Mr. Paul Murphy: The Commission for Health and Improvement (CHI) and the Audit Commission are England and Wales bodies. The First Minister and the Assembly Cabinet are content with the proposals in principle. It will be necessary to make sure that this works properly and effectively for Wales, and these detailed issues will be addressed during the framing of the necessary legislation.
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many digital radios are owned by her Department for use in departmental buildings from which Ministers work; and what the (a) cost and (b) date of purchase of each radio was. 
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list the magazines and periodicals subscribed to by her Department, stating for each subscription the (a) number of copies taken and (b) annual cost. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 26 April 2002]: The total annual cost of magazine and periodical subscriptions currently taken by the DCMS Information Centre is £28,275. A list specifying each title taken, the cost per copy and the total annual cost per title has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which films have been certified by her Department since 1997 as a qualifying film for the film tax relief introduced in the (a) 1997 and (b) 2001 Budgets; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the mandate of the Advisory Committee for Co-operation in the Field of Tourism is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if she will list the items currently under its consideration; if she will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if she will make a statement. 
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Since May 2001, the committee has met three times and the UK has been represented by officials from my Department. The costs incurred by my Department in travelling to these committee meetings is in the region of £1,300. To disaggregate the costs of the committee from the UK's total contribution to the EU budget would involve disproportionate costs.
Accountability and transparency to Parliament is ensured by the submission of Commission and Council documents to parliamentary scrutiny. Together with member states, the Commission is currently conducting a review to bring existing legislation on the conduct of comitology committees into line with Council Decision 1999/468/EC, to simplify the requirements for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission. As an obligation to this decision, the Commission undertook to publish an annual report on the working of committees. The first report was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses on 26 February (Commission Document 5685/02). As part of the review process, the UK Government have encouraged the Commission to produce and maintain an electronic database of every comitology committee, its agendas and recent actions, to be accessible through its website.
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