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Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average period of payment was for claimants of incapacity benefit at 31 March. [64329]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Information regarding the average duration of incapacity benefit claims at 31 March 2002 will not become available until early 2003. For the latest available information, I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave him on 26 April 2002, Official Report, column 472W.

Annual Leave

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average annual leave entitlement is for staff in his Department in 2002. [64642]

Mr. McCartney: The average annual leave entitlements in the year 2002 will be:

The annual leave allowance for members of the Senior Civil Service is set by the Cabinet Office and continues to be 30 days.

Winter Fuel Payment

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many widowed women over 60 wrongly received a reduced level of winter fuel payment for the 2001–02 winter, owing to a mistaken assessment of two people living in the household in (a) Scotland and (b) the UK; and how many are awaiting receipt of the full payment. [65377]

Mr. McCartney: Information available shows that 172 widows, identified through receipt of Widows Pension, had to be paid an additional £100 because they were the only eligible member of their household. One of these payments was in Scotland.

Industrial Injuries Benefits

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) men and (b) women received the principal contributory industrial injuries benefits in each year since 1972. [65293]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 1 July 2002]: The main industrial injuries benefit is Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. This is a tax-free, non-contributory benefit payable to people who have become disabled as a result of an accident at work or as a result of an industrial disease.

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Details of the number of recipients of this benefit by gender since 1972 are in the table.

Industrial injuries disablement benefit (IIDB) recipients by gender



1. Prior to 1986–87 annual data was collected from 1 October to 30 September. From 1986–87 data was collected by financial year.

2. A person may be in receipt of IIDB for more than one condition.


Based on a 10 per cent. sample of IIDB clerical returns.

Benefit and Tax Credit Payments

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether benefit and tax credit claimants will be allowed to choose between (a) a card account at the Post Office, (b) a basic bank account and (c) another type of bank account, in order to continue to receive their benefit and tax credit payments; and whether the information available to benefit and tax credit claimants will include clear description of each of these options and will set out their advantages and disadvantages. [65260]

Malcolm Wicks: Yes.

The Department and the Inland Revenue will be providing customers with all the information they will need (including details of the respective features of each type of account) to choose the account which is most appropriate for them.

Around 85 per cent. of our customers already have access to a suitable account for receiving payments of benefits and tax credits. While we anticipate that most people will choose to have their money paid into an existing account or open a basic bank account, no one will be prevented from opening a card account at the Post Office if they wish.

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Committee Mandates

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the mandate of the Committee for the European Refugee Fund 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 he will list the items currently under its consideration; if he will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if he will make a statement. [58455]

Beverley Hughes: The mandate for the Committee for the European Refugee Fund is set out in the Council Decision 2000/596/EC, OJL 252, 6.10.2000, that adopted the programme, and is available in the Library. The Committee meets three times a year on average.

The United Kingdom (UK) representation usually consists of a member of the UK representation to the European Union plus a Home Office official from the Refugee Integration Unit. The Commission refunds travel and subsistence costs for one official from the UK for each Committee meeting. Up to three additional representatives can attend, and their expenses are met from the Home Office subsistence allowance. The purpose of the Committee is to monitor the implementation of the European Refugee Fund across the member states.

The Council decision contains a reporting mechanism under which the Commission evaluates the implementation of the European Refugee Fund and submits a report to the Council and European Parliament. The reports are publicly available on the internet. In addition, details of projects selected for funding within the UK allocation of the fund are made available in the form of a written parliamentary answer on an annual basis.

Fingerprints/DNA Samples

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which organisations have access to (a) fingerprints and (b) DNA samples held by the police. [64245]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 25 June 2002]: Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (as amended) retained fingerprints and DNA samples can be used only for purposes related to the prevention or detection of crime, the investigation of an offence or the conduct of a prosecution. Fingerprints and DNA samples, and the profiles derived from them, which are held by or on behalf of police forces in the United Kingdom and Islands, may be accessed only by relevant law-enforcement authorities. Relevant law-enforcement authorities are listed in section 63A of the 1984 Act. They are:

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