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Drug Users

Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what proportion of people arrested in Belfast between (a) July and December 2001 and (b) January and March 2002 were known or suspected users of illegal substances. [49902]

Jane Kennedy: The Police Service of Northern Ireland does not have data on the illegal substance habits or suspected habits of arrested persons.

Comprehensive Spending Review

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many staff have contributed to his Department's input to the Spending Review. [68688]

Jane Kennedy: The 2002 Spending Review involves a comprehensive assessment of the Department's performance, priorities and resource requirements and a range of staff make a contribution.

It is not possible to give a total number of staff involved, due to the wide range of contributions, needed from different divisions within the Department.

Full Time Reserve

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many full-time reserve police officers in Northern Ireland were (a) killed and (b) injured each year between 1972 and 1994. [68459]

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Jane Kennedy: The statistics relating to reserve police officers killed and injured as a result of the security situation in Northern Ireland each year from 1972 to 1994 is set out as follows. These figures comprise both full- time and part-time reserve officers.

Number of deathsNumber of injuries

Belfast Agreement

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what progress has been made by the Northern Ireland Office on political development in Northern Ireland; [67334]

Jane Kennedy: Very substantial advances were made in the implementation of the Belfast Agreement in recent times. Since last autumn, the devolved institutions have been operating fully effectively; substantial reforms to the policing and justice systems have been carried forward in the last year and there have been acts of decommissioning by the IRA. Continued implementation of the agreement is essential to the political future of Northern Ireland. It can only be achieved if there is full confidence that all involved have renounced violence for good.

Female Staff

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of the staff of his Department are women; and what the percentage was in June 1997. [66916]

Jane Kennedy: Information is not held in the format requested.

In July 2002, 60 per cent. of the staff in the Department are women.

In April 1997, 58.7 per cent. of the staff in the Department were women.

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Pension Tax Credit

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to implement the pensions tax credit. [68414]

Mr. McCartney: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Telford (Mr. Wright) on 28 January 2002, Official Report, column 37W.

Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority

Kali Mountford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to receive the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority's sixth annual report. [71804]

Mr. McCartney: My right hon. Friend has received the sixth report of the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra) which documents how the organisation has carried out its regulatory duties concerned with occupational pensions schemes and new work involving personal and stakeholder pensions. Copies of the report have been laid before Parliament today.

Discretionary Social Fund

Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what changes he will be making to the Discretionary Social Fund. [71805]

Malcolm Wicks: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be making a number of minor changes to the discretionary social fund, with effect from 18 August 2002. The improvements included in this amendment to directions and guidance have been identified during the course of routine monitoring and also include recommendations made by the Work and Pensions Select Committee and the Independent Review Service for the Social Fund.

Details of the changes have been placed in the Library.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of 19 December 2001, Official Report, column 365W, on housing benefit, what conclusions he has reached in his investigations of how local authorities can receive tailored electronic access to other departmental benefit data; and if he will make a statement. [66580]

Malcolm Wicks: We are committed to improving the Housing Benefit scheme to make it easier for councils to administer and easier for the public to understand.

Providing access to a wider range of Departmental benefit data has long been a requirement for local authorities and we have identified a suitable technical solution to give authorities improved tailored access to this information. We have recently made available to all local authorities tailored access to the Departmental Central Index which enables them to access personal details where a National Insurance number is known, and where necessary trace National Insurance numbers.

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Further enhancements are planned including access to details of State Retirement Pension, Incapacity Benefit and Bereavement Benefits. We anticipate that development work will be completed by April 2003 and further access will be made available to local authorities shortly thereafter.

Income Support

Mr. Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many lone parents in receipt of income support have a youngest child below school age; and what proportion this represents of all lone parents on income support. [69739]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is as follows.

Lone parents receiving income support—February 2002
Number of lone parents receiving income support whose youngest child is under five years of age—420,000.
Percentage of all lone parents receiving income support whose youngest child is under five years of age—48.
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 100.
2. Figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling variation.
3. Lone parents are defined as single people with dependants and who are not receiving the disability or pensioner premium.
Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry, February 2002.

Jobseeker's Allowance

Mr. Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants had their jobseeker's allowance reduced during 2001–02 for (a) two weeks and (b) four weeks for not attending or failing to complete (i) Jobplan workshops, (ii) Restart courses, (iii) Workwise and Worklink and (iv) non-prescribed Government programmes where referral was under a jobseeker's direction. [69744]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is not available.

Jobplan workshops, Restart courses, Workwise and Worklink were phased out when we introduced our New Deal programmes from April 1998. Information on sanctions applied as a result of a person not attending or failing to continue a programme where referral was under a Jobseeker's Direction is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

New Deal

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many persons in Scotland over the age of 45 years have been helped with the upgrade of maritime competence certificates through New Deal schemes; [59664]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Information on the number of New Deal participants undertaking specific training courses and qualifications is not available.

The Government offer financial assistance for merchant navy training through the Support for Maritime Training scheme (SMarT). The scheme, which is administered by

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the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, offers substantial financial support to eligible training providers offering to provide approved training, which includes training for maritime competence certificates. In the financial year 2001–02 the overall budget for this support was £7.4 million. Funding is based on an average of course costs at the main maritime colleges. In broad terms this means that 50 per cent. of eligible costs are covered for each participant's course. If maritime competence training is identified as a need for a New Deal participant, their New Deal personal adviser can refer them to a training provider supported by SMarT if appropriate.

There is other provision available as well as the SMarT scheme. For example, if a New Deal participant identifies training that they wish to undertake which has not already been contracted for locally, the Jobcentre Plus district is able to buy in one-off provision (assuming that certain eligibility conditions are met and the participant's personal adviser believes that it is an appropriate type of provision for the participant to undertake).

In addition, the Adviser Discretion Fund gives New Deal personal advisers direct access to money to help people quickly into jobs. Advisers can spend up to £300 on anything that will help a jobseeker obtain a job or, if offered a job, to accept that offer. New Deal participants may be able to access this fund to upgrade their maritime competence certificates, with the agreement of their personal adviser.

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