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Departmental Recruitment (Older People)

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of those employed in benefit offices are over 55. [48705]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 15 April 2002]: From April 2002, benefits are paid through Jobcentre Plus and the Pensions Service. The percentage of staff aged over 55 in these agencies is 7.32 per cent. and 7.48 per cent. respectively.

Since the Department's creation last year, staff in DWP, (other than senior civil service) have had the opportunity to continue their employment beyond the age of 60 up to 65.

The Department's Diversity and Equality policy statement makes an explicit commitment to non- discrimination on age grounds. DWP is keen to make the most of the talents and experience of older staff and offers a range of working arrangements such as flexible working hours, part-time working patterns and other options which may suit their needs.

We have been looking at ways of further encouraging the recruitment of older workers. At the end of last year the Employment Service worked with colleagues in the Benefits Agency to develop a customised "gateway" to prepare New Deal 50plus customers for jobs in DWP. The initiative proved successful with 20 of the 21 participants subsequently taking up jobs in DWP with the Benefits

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Agency. The success of the initiative has been widely communicated internally throughout the Department, and promoted to other civil service Departments. Under the new Deal 50plus programme we are able to specifically target people from that age group and give them fixed term contracts with us, and permanent posts subject to them passing a fair and open recruitment competition.

In July 2002 DWP will be extending its use of the New Deal 50plus programme to support its staff recruitment. Guidance will be issued across DWP to raise the profile of the programme and to encourage managers to use this alternative form of recruitment.

Reviews, Task Forces and Advisory Groups

Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer on 17 December 2001 to the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Fallon) Official Report, column 151W and to the hon. Member for Havant (Mr. Willetts) on 22 April 2002, Official Report, column 62W, what (a) reviews, (b) task forces and (c) advisory groups have been established by his Department since May 1997; what their membership is; and what reports they (i) have published and (ii) are preparing to publish. [63042]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The information is given in tables, copies of which are in the Library. They show all reviews, task forces and advisory groups with external members which have been established since May 1997.

Members of Parliament (Personal Data)

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library a copy of the profile of the hon. Member for Northavon referred to in section 4.3 of his Department's guidance notes on replies to written questions. [61774]

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place the dossier of personal details held by his Department relating to the hon. Member for Linlithgow in the Library. [61882]

Mr. Forth: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what information is held by his Department on each hon. Member in relation to (a) personal relationships, both current and past, (b) financial status and dealings, (c) connections with companies and interest groups, (d) connections with Governments and (e) published works; and what was held in January 2002. [61825]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Department does not compile personal profiles on MPs.

We do have access to parliamentary reference works such as Dod's and in order to provide, in a cost-effective way, such reference information to the large number of officials drafting parliamentary answers we subscribe to Parliamentary Monitoring Services Ltd. (PMS).

Copies of the career profiles from PMS for the hon. Member for Northavon and my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst have been placed in the Library.

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LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Departmental Expenditure Limit

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how much and what proportion of the departmental expenditure limit for 2002–03 had been spent by 31 May; what the figures were for 2001–02; and if she will make a statement. [61000]

Yvette Cooper: The hon. Gentleman is referred to the answer given by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 June 2002, at column 130W.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how much and what proportion of the departmental expenditure limit for 2002–03 will be accounted for by staff costs; what the figures were for 2001–02; and if she will make a statement. [61028]

Yvette Cooper: Information relating to financial year 2002–03 is not available.

The information requested for the financial year 2001–02 is in The Lord Chancellor's Departments, Departmental Report 2001–02 Cm5408, which was published on 13 June 2002.

Patricia Austin

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on the reasons given by Mr. Justice Burgess for awarding exemplary damages to Patricia Austin of Belfast in May. [60858]

Ms Rosie Winterton: A civil bill was issued on behalf of Patricia Austin in respect of a claim against the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, for assault and battery. The case came on for hearing, at Belfast County Court, on 30 April 2002 before His Honour Judge Burgess. Judgment was reserved.

On 14 May 2002 a written judgment was delivered in open court. The judgment included the following statement: "It is also a case where exemplary damages are appropriate, absorbing the role of aggravated damages".

The plaintiff was awarded a Decree for £8,500.00.

Nether party to the proceedings has lodged an appeal against the order of the court.

The reasons for the Judge's decision are set out in that judgment. It would be in appropriate for me to comment further on the Judge's decision.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many staff there are in his Department, broken down by ethnicity. [60576]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department and its agencies (the Court Service and the Public Guardianship Office) employed a total of 12,849 people as at 15 May 2002. The table shows the staff numbers broken down by ethnicity. The data the Department is representing is for the pre-census ethnic classifications. The Department has begun to incorporate the new ethnic background

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classification this year. All new employees are being surveyed using the new classifications and a re-survey of all staff is planned during the latter part of this year.

Number of employees

PermanentCasual Grant total
White9,7411349,875
Black6158623
Asian58610596
Other1046110
Not given1,3243211,645
Grand total12,37047912,849

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what proportion of ordinary written Questions for her Department were answered within a week of tabling in each month since June 2001; and what proportion of questions for named day received a substantive answer on that day in each month since June 2001. [58978]

Ms Rosie Winterton: 340 of the 899 ordinary written questions that were tabled to the Lord Chancellor's Department between 1 June 2001 and 24 May 2002 were answered within one week of being tabled, the detailed breakdown of monthly figures are as follows.

MonthOrdinary written question answered within a week of being tabled (per cent.)
June 200171.43
July 200168.18
October 200170.07
November 200138.71
December 200181.14
January 200235.93
February 200225.25
March 200246.67
April 20029.09
May 200246.77

Performance in April 2002 was atypical because one hon. Member asked 122 questions which required a great deal of co-ordination. Unfortunately they we all answered two days late.

In addition the Lord Chancellor's Department answered substantively 226 of 413 Named Day questions on the nominated day, representing 54.72 per cent.

Age Discrimination

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if (a) her Department and (b) its agencies have a policy of not considering applications for employment by persons over a particular age. [59457]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department and its agencies (the Court Service and Public Guardianship Office) are committed to equality of opportunity, and therefore have recruitment policies that ensure candidates are not discriminated against on grounds of age when being considered for jobs.

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