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Parliamentary Questions

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will answer written questions (a) 97909 and (b) 97910 of 12 February tabled by the hon. Member for Perth. [104020]

Mr. McCartney: Answers were given to the hon. Member on 19 March.

Passive Smoking

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment he has made of the effects on workers of passive smoking in the workplace. [99358]

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Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans the Government have to assess the number of workers exposed to second hand smoke in the workplace. [99982]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Research by the Department of Health's Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) into the general effects of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is continuing.

The results of a survey on smoking behaviour and attitudes, undertaken by the Office for National Statistics in 2002, are due to be published on behalf of the Department of Health this summer.


Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of total public expenditure has been spent on (a) retirement pensions, (b) winter fuel payments, (c) means-tested benefits for pensioners, (d) other benefits for pensioners and (e) free television licences in each year since 1992–93. [102988]

Mr. McCartney: The information required is given in the table.

Percentage ofTotal ManagedExpenditureRetirement pensions(11)Winter fuel paymentsIncome related benefits(12)Other benefits(13)Over 75 TV licence

(11) Includes pension age expenditure on widows/bereavement benefits; Severe disablement allowance; and invalidity/incapacity benefit (prior to 2001–02).

(12) Income related benefits include the minimum income guarantee and housing benefit and council tax benefit paid to people aged 60 or over.

(13) Other benefits comprise Christmas bonus (contributory and non-contributory).

(14) Based on forecast expenditure.


Percentages have been calculated using total managed expenditure, which includes Government departmental expenditure limits and annually managed expenditure, based on pre-Budget report 2002 figures. Apart from benefits mentioned in note

(15) contains no data relating to expenditure on disability benefits.

Pensions Commission

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many times the pensions commission had met by the latest date for which he has information. [102556]

Mr. McCartney: As of 11 March, the pensions commission has met twice.


Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans Ministers in the Department

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have to (a) visit Scotland on official business, (b) announce public appointments and (c) make ministerial announcements in April. [103664]

Mr. McCartney: Departmental business during the campaign period preceding elections to the Scottish Parliament will be conducted in accordance with the Guidance on Conduct for Civil Servants in UK Departments in respect of elections to the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales, published by the Cabinet Office on 10 March.

Sign Language

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if his Department will make it its policy to ensure that its contract with SchlumbergerSema requires that only registered qualified sign language interpreters are used at medical examinations when making an assessment of sign language users. [103105]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: SchlumbergerSema Medical Services' current procedures adhere to the principle that the provision of interpreters is a customer led one.

Therefore customers are given the option of either requesting a sign language interpreter or arranging for a friend or family member to interpret or sign for them.

In the event that a customer elects for Medical Services to provide a Sign Language Interpreter, Medical Services' policy is to arrange for provision of a Qualified Signer to be obtained through the RNID helpline.

The Department has no current plans to review this requirement.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what contractual (a) obligations and (b) targets his Department has placed on SchlumbergerSema medical services for providing sign language interpreters for medical examinations; and if he will make a statement. [102901]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 14 March 2003]: The contract between the Department and SchlumbergerSema Medical Services defines deafness as a "Special Need" and specifies the following:

Social Fund

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he intends to (a) increase the Social Fund budget and (b) make other changes to the

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Social Fund, to cover potential cashflow problems for benefit claimants as they move to automated credit transfer. [100794]

Malcolm Wicks: On 27 November we announced that from April 2003, £90 million will be added to the discretionary Social Fund over the three years to 2005–06. This extra investment will enhance the Fund's ability to help those on low incomes manage their finances.

The size of the gross national Social Fund budget, set at 1 April each year, is dependent on forecasts of the level of Social Fund loan recovery in the coming year. We will announce the 2003/04 budget once we are able to finalise details based on this forecast.

The move to Direct Payment will be phased in over a two year period from April 2003. No changes are being made to benefit payment frequencies so that anyone currently receiving their benefit weekly can continue to do so when they move to Direct Payment. We do not anticipate any increase in Social Fund crisis loan applications because of Direct Payment and therefore have no plans to make any changes to the Social Fund.

Special Advisers

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers have been employed by his Department in each year from 1994–95 to 2002–03; and at what cost in each year. [92476]

Mr. McCartney : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) on 23 July 2002, Official Report, column 1038.

The Department for Work and Pensions was formed on 8 June 2001 from parts of the former Department of Social Security, parts of the former Department for Education and Employment and the Employment service. Information on costs for 1994 to 2001 is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The Department currently employs 16 (£1,065,233) press officers. A further 13 (£671,702) press officers work in the regions (England, Scotland and Wales) providing specific advice on local services that are now being rolled out.

Last year the Department employed 21 press officers at a cost of £816,725. The cost for 2002–03 is a forecast spend for the whole year and includes the total staff costs in press office and regional network, including admin. staff.

Targeting Fraud Campaign

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the targeting fraud campaign has cost, broken down into expenditure on (a) the television and radio campaign, (b) advertising in the press, (c) evaluation of the campaign, (d) the website and (e) other costs. [102987]

Malcolm Wicks: The most recent Targeting Fraud advertising campaign took place between September 2001 and March 2002. The costs break down as follows:

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TV advertising5,061,680
Press advertising1,119,651
Radio advertising852,516
Poster advertising1,006,781
Research (Evaluation)257,150

These costs are exclusive of VAT. They include fees for placing the advertisements on the Targeting Fraud website. All design work for the website was undertaken by the in-house team and it is not possible to identify the cost separately.

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