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Housing Benefit

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of housing benefit regulation 5 on the receipt of housing benefit for a period of notice required by a landlord of a hospitalised claimant who is too unwell to return to their normal dwelling; and if he will make a statement; [57148]

Malcolm Wicks: The housing benefit scheme is designed to help people on low incomes meet the costs of the accommodation which they rent and occupy as their normal home. We recognise that there are circumstances in which people will reasonably be absent from their normal home for temporary periods and it is right that benefit should remain in payment in these cases.

People in hospital can continue to receive housing benefit in respect of their normal home for up to 52 weeks, or until the local authority decides that their absence is likely to be substantially more than 52 weeks or become permanent. At this point housing benefit is withdrawn. In reaching a decision on the likely length of a person's absence from their normal home, the local authority takes account of all available evidence including, where appropriate, the views of the local social services.

Child Support

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will initiate the new CSA maintenance formula; and whether sums being calculated during the interim period from April represent (a) definitive and (b) provisional obligations on absent parents being assessed. [57244]

Malcolm Wicks: Regarding the introduction of the new scheme, I refer the hon. Member to the statement my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made to this House on 20 March 2002, Official Report, columns 315–16. In all cases where a non-resident parent's liability begins before the new scheme is introduced, the assessment will be made using existing rules, until the case is converted to the new arrangements.

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Public Sector Pension Schemes

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what information he collates as to the adequacy of (a) funded provision and (b) direct funding for public sector pension schemes to discharge their present and future obligations. [57245]

Mr. McCartney: The Department does not collate information on the adequacy of public sector pension schemes to discharge present and future liabilities.

In the case of funded public sector schemes, this would be taken into account in discussions with the sponsoring Department.

In the case of unfunded public sector schemes, projections of future expenditure are taken into account as part of the long-term fiscal projections of Her Majesty's Treasury. These are published as part of the Economic and Fiscal Strategy report at the time of the Budget. A copy of the 2002 report is in the Library and shows that the public finances are sustainable in the long term.



Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on charging students for a hepatitis B vaccination when it is a condition of university entry. [44656]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 19 March 2002]: Under the national health service general practitioners (GPs) are required to provide free of charge for their patients all necessary and appropriate medical services of the type usually provided by GPs. This may include immunisation against hepatitis B, if in the GP's clinical opinion, such a procedure is medically necessary. In determining medical necessity GPs may make reference to "Immunisation against Infectious Diseases"—the "Green Book". This lists one of the risk groups to whom hepatitis B should be offered as, "health care workers including students and trainees who have direct contact with patients' blood or blood stained body fluids or with patients' tissues".

If a GP thinks it is not medically necessary, then a charge can be made even if the vaccination is a requirement of employment or of university entry.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the level of BCG and Tuberculin PPD vaccination stocks was on 31 March in each of the past five years. [56998]

Yvette Cooper: The stock levels of licensed BCG vaccination and Tuberculin PPD on 31 March each year are shown in the table.

YearBCG vaccine (number of doses)Tuberculin PPD (number of tests)

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Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what dates (a) tenders were sought and (b) contracts were awarded for supply of (i) BCG vaccines, (ii) Tuberculin PPD solutions and (iii) influenza vaccine in the last 12 months. [56656]

Yvette Cooper: No tenders were sought and no contracts awarded in the last 12 months for BCG vaccine or Tuberculin PPD solutions.

For influenza vaccine, tenders were sought on 13 June 2001 and awards were made to four suppliers on 1 July 2001. The contract award notice appeared in the Official Journal of the European Communities (OJEC) on 7 August 2001.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the written questions asked of him between (a) 1 to 30 June 2001, (b) 1 to 31 July 2001, (c) 1 to 30 September 2001, (d) 1 to 31 October 2001, (e) 1 to 30 November 2001, (f) 1 to 31 December 2001, (g) 1 to 31 January 2002, (h) 1 to 28 February 2002, (i) 1 to 31 March 2002 and (j) 1 to 30 April 2002 that had not received a substantive answer by 30 April; and if he will state (i) the name of the hon. Member asking the question and (ii) the reasons the question had not received a substantive answer. [54084]

Ms Blears [holding answer 2 May 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Council (Mr. Cook) on 2 May 2002, Official Report, columns 949–50W.

The information is shown in the table.

Number of written questions yet to receive a substantive answer by 30 April570391
of which:
Number subsequently answered446329

The number of written questions tabled for the Department was 923 in February, 821 in March, and 1,139 in April. The size of the backlog is unfortunate, but nonetheless the key figure—the amount answered—demonstrates our commitment to responding as promptly and helpfully to Members' questions as we possibly can, regardless of the volume.

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the question from the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton, ref. 51604, tabled on 17 April. [58178]

Yvette Cooper: I replied to the hon. Member on 20 May 2002.


Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent information he has collated on the extent to which smoking reduces life expectancy. [55404]

Yvette Cooper: The Health Education Authority publication titled "The UK Smoking Epidemic: Deaths in 1995" by Christine Callum sets out the impact of smoking on life expectancy, table F1 on page 65. A copy of the report is available in the Library.

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The report shows, for example, that men of 35 who smoke will, on average, die seven years earlier than men who have never been smokers. Similarly, women of 35 who smoke will, on average, die six years earlier than women who have never been smokers.

Genetic Discrimination

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the Government will introduce legislation to prevent genetic discrimination by insurers, with specific reference to the refusal of insurance on the grounds of adverse genetic test results. [55633]

Yvette Cooper: The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on genetics and insurance published in April 2001 recommended that the best way forward would be for Government and industry to agree a voluntary moratorium on the use of genetic tests by insurers. The moratorium came into effect on 1 November 2001 and will last for five years. Details of the moratorium are set out in the Government's response to the select Committee published in October 2001. However, if there is evidence of serious and persistent non-compliance with the terms of the moratorium, then the Government are prepared to introduce legislation if necessary.

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