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Mr. David: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress has been made in discussions with the European Commission about winter fuel payments being available to people in EEA countries. 
Mr. McCartney: We have now concluded our discussions with the European Commission with regard to the extent of the UK Government's responsibilities under European law. As a result, generally EEA nationals who first qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment in the UK and currently reside in another EEA country may now be entitled to Winter Fuel payments. We will publicise the change, and give details of the claims procedure.
Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what plans he has to introduce further measures to give the Child Support Agency power to take action against parents not paying their rightful alimony;  (2) what action he will take to provide further support to single parents whose former partners are avoiding paying their rightful contribution to their child's upbringing. 
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current scheme. This reduction in complexity will translate into fewer resources being required for initial and further assessment of cases, enabling more resources to be put into ensuring that liabilities are enforced.
To support the Child Support Agency in its administration of the new scheme, a new IT system is being built. The new scheme will only be introduced when the technical backup necessary to make a success of the scheme is in place. The combination of modern technology, informing the staff of the Child Support Agency of a failure to pay maintenance, and the Agency having more resources to act on that information, should ensure that maintenance due to children is paid.
In further support of the new scheme, to deter those seeking to avoid their responsibilities, section 13 of the Act created two new criminal offences, of failing to give information and of knowingly giving false information. Conviction for either of these offences carries fines of up to £1,000. The provision has been in force since last year.
Mr. Doran: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will publish his report into the standards of decision making in the Benefits Agency, Child Support Agency and Employment Service for 200001. 
This is the first report under the new decision making and appeals system introduced by the Social Security Act 1998. It covers the period 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001, the first full year of operation of the new regime. The report shows variable standards in performance. As the report explains, steps have been taken to improve performance in all areas.
Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what actions his Department is taking to promote the use by benefit and pension recipients of cash payments from post offices from 2003 onwards. 
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Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 18 July 2002]: I refer my hon. Friend to the written answer I gave the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Brian Cotter) on 11 June 2002, Official Report, column 874W.
Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the percentage of benefit and pension recipients who will wish to collect their benefit moneys (a) in cash from a post office and (b) by ACT payments in (i) 2003, (ii) 2004, (iii) 2005, (iv) 2006 and (v) 2007. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 18 July 2002]: Between 2003 and 2005 we will move to paying all benefits and pensions direct into bank accounts ("automated credit transfer" or ACT). Already over 40 per cent of customers are paid this way.
Even where a customer is paid directly into an account, they can still collect their cash at the post office, either through existing Network Banking arrangements between Post Office Ltd and several banks or, from 2003, through universal banking services at post offices. We have not estimated how many customers will choose to access their accounts at post offices, but research suggests that many will do so.
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the recently started pension inquiry will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the methodology of this inquiry. 
Letter from John Pullinger to Mr. Bill Wiggin dated 9 July 2002:
The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question on the pension inquiry. I am replying in his absence. (68993)
The National Statistician announced the review of pension contribution statistics in a statement on 2 July. The terms of reference, which have been placed in the House of Commons Library, state that the review should be completed by the end of September 2002.
The objectives of the review are:
To establish what information is needed, in terms of frequency, scope and quality, and to advise on the best available data.
To comment specifically on the quality, coverage and methodology of the range of sources of private pension contribution statistics available.
To advise on how this data should be presented.
To recommend appropriate action. The panel will include representatives from ONS, industry, academic experts, the Department for Work and Pensions, Inland Revenue, HM Treasury and the Government Actuary's Department.
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The Government already provides very generous tax relief to encourage saving in pensions for retirement, including upfront income tax relief and tax-free lump sums on retirement, at a cost to the Exchequer of over £14 billion a year.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the public consulations undertaken by his Department since 1997, indicating for each consultation (a) if copies were available online, (b) if copies were available in print, (c) the date the time period given for responses opened and (d) the date the time period given for responses closed. 
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how long the Department allowed for consultation on each consultation document it published in 2001 in (a) electronic and (b) printed form. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Government's code of practice applies to written consultations which have a national impact on policy and services from January 2001. The Department for Work and Pensions came into being in June 2001. All copies of consultation documents are published online on both the Department for Work and Pensions and UK Online websites. Paper copies are also available.
The Department for Work and Pensions follows the Cabinet Office's guidance on written consultation that sets 12 weeks as the standard minimum period for a consultation. The table lists the consultations the Department has begun, or completed since 8 June 2001. There were two occasions where shorter consultations have been conducted, and the reasons for this are included in the table. All the Department's consultations are published electronically with paper copies available.
|Title of consultation||Start date||End Date||Period in weeks||Reason for shorter consultation|
|Changes to Invalid Care Allowance||July 2001||July 2001||12|
|Amending the Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979||July 2001||July 2001||12|
|The Minimum Funding Requirement: The next stage of reform. Consultation on the draft Occupational Pension Schemes (Minimum Funding Requirement and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2001 (Occupational Pensions Minimum funding requirements)||September 2001||September 2001||12|
|Occupational Pension Scheme Winding up Notices and Reports (etc) Regulations 2001||August 2001||October 2001||12|
|Occupational and Personal Pension schemes (Disclosure of Information) Amendment Regulations 2001||August 2001||November 2001||12|
|Private Pensions Simplification||October 2001||January 2002||14|
|Bulk transfer of accrued pensions rights without member consent||December 2001||March 2002||13|
|Revised code of practice on for gathering of information as required in Social Security Fraud Act 2001||April 2002||April 2002||2 weeks||This was a follow-up to a previous exercise to which minor technical changes were introduced.|
|Consultation on Three Recommendations in the Myners' report"Institutional Investment in the UKa review."||February 2002||May 2002||12|
|Member nominated trustees and directors||February 2002||March 2002||4 weeks||The shorter period was needed to fit into a regulatory timetable.|
|Measuring Child Poverty||April 2002||July 2002||12|
|Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (OPRA) quinquennial review||May 2002||August 2002||12|
|The future of the Residential Allowance component of Income Support, Minimum Income Guarantee and Jobseeker's Allowance||May 2002||August 2002||14|
|Equality, opportunity, and independence for all [RRAA]||May 2002||September 2002||17|
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Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many consultation documents published in 2001 in (a) electronic and (b) printed form his Department has monitored and evaluated in accordance with the Cabinet Office code of practice on written consultations. 
Malcolm Wicks: Of the consultations published by the Department of Work and Pensions since its inception, we have received one complaint on one document. This concerned the clarity of the wording of a specific proposal. Officials ensured that the point was clarified and gave additional time for a response, resolving the issue to the satisfaction of all parties.
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