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21 Mar 2003 : Column 980W—continued

Medical Retirement

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Wales under the age of 60 retired early due to ill health in each of the last five years, broken down by county. [102755]

Maria Eagle: The information is not available in the format requested.

Online Sales/Purchases

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) products, (b) goods and (c) services were (i) bought and (ii) sold online by his Department in each of the last five years. [97439]

Mr. McCartney: The Department introduced electronic procurement in April 1997 for forms and leaflets direct from contract suppliers. Stationery and computer consumables, paper and general office products were added in April 2001.

Jobcentre Plus has used online processes for travel services and hotel and conference facilities from April 1998. It is intended to pilot these commodities to the rest of DWP beginning June 2003.

The Department also has a number publications, for example research reports, that can be viewed online. Hard copies of these reports have been available for purchase by members of the public and organisations through the Department's web site since July 2001.

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Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the replacement ratio is by (a) state pension only, (b) state pension and SERPS and (c) state pension, SERPS and private pension provision. [99980]

Mr. McCartney: An individual's replacement rate depends upon a number of factors, including past saving behaviour, employment history, earnings profile, private pension provision, investment returns and date of retirement. Depending on earnings, income-related benefits are also available such as MIG and Pension Credit. Figure 2.7 in the recent Green Paper (Cm 5677) shows replacement rates from the state in 2050 as a percentage of weekly average earnings. The Government's strategy is to focus resources on those pensioners who need them the most. As a result, those with low lifetime incomes will have higher replacement rates provided by the state.

The Government have no specific objective on earnings replacement. It is the responsibility of individuals, where possible supported by their employers, to determine the level of income in retirement they want over and above that provided by the state system. Given their state income, figure 2.8 in the Green Paper (cm 5677) estimates the weekly contributions an individual and their employers would need to make to a private pension for the individual to retire on either half or two-thirds of their final salary in 2050.

The assumptions underlying figures 2.7 and 2.8 are detailed in Annex 5 of the Green Paper (Cm 5677) and in the figures' accompanying footnotes.

Return to Work (Benefits)

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to ensure that those who enter work (a) do not experience delays in obtaining the benefits to which they are entitled and (b) are not financially penalised in the time before they receive their first full wage payments. [89290]

Malcolm Wicks: Making the move from benefit into employment can be worrying. In recognition of this we have developed a package of financial help designed to provide real support for people making this transition and give them confidence that they can take up work.

To bridge the gap between leaving benefit and receiving a salary we introduced the Job Grant in April 2001. The Job Grant can provide a one-off tax-free payment of £100 for people aged 25 and over moving into full-time work. We have recently announced our intention to extend and improve the Job Grant to include lone parents and people claiming incapacity benefits. For Lone Parents, this will replace the Lone Parent Run-On that currently provides continued benefit payments for lone parents for the first two weeks after moving from benefits into work.

To assist people with their housing costs we have Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Extended Payments which can provide Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit at their pre-work rate for the first four weeks after moving from Income Support/Jobseekers Allowance into work. We have recently

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announced plans to extend this scheme to include people claiming Incapacity Benefit. People may also be able to continue getting help with mortgage interest payments in the first four weeks of employment through Mortgage Interest Run-On.

The Adviser Discretion Fund, which was introduced in July 2001, gives New Deal personal advisers direct access to funds to remove immediate barriers to employment and help people move quickly into work. Advisers can award up to £300 per eligible client for purchase of anything that will help them obtain a job or, if already offered a job, to accept that offer. The Adviser Discretion Fund is currently only available to New Deal participants though we have recently announced plans to extend its availability to everyone who has been claiming a benefit for six months or more.

Our New Tax credits provide a secure stream of income for families with children, which will be of particular importance during the transition from benefits to work.

This package of measures and the improvements announced in the pre-Budget Report, reduces the risk of people having to return to benefits due to financial difficulties when starting work.



David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2003, Official Report, column 593W, on correspondence, when he will provide a substantive reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Walsall, North of 16 December, ref. GV100/79888/NS (98396). [104351]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: My noble Friend Baroness Amos, Minister responsible for nationality and passport matters arising overseas, sent a substantive reply to my hon. Friend on 19 March.

Departmental Properties

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what his latest estimate is of the (a) market value and (b) same use cost of FCO buildings in (i) Riyadh, Saudia Arabia, (ii) Singapore, (iii) Bratislava, Slovakia, (iv) Ankara, Turkey, (v) Atlanta, USA, (vi) Boston, USA, (vii) Houston, USA, (viii) Seattle, USA, (ix) Los Angeles, USA and (x) Bangkok, Thailand; and if he will make a statement; [98379]

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Mr. Rammell: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 25 February 2003, Official Report, column 430W.


Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement of the costs associated with the military support being provided to enable the return of the UN arms inspectors to Iraq to the UN; and what arrangements are being made to pay the military costs falling to UN member states that enabled the return of the inspectors. [103808]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Under UNSCR 1284 UNMOVIC operations are funded by a diversion of funds from the Oil-For-Food programme. Their operations are, therefore, effectively self-financing. Since the return of the UNMOVIC inspectors to Iraq, a number of countries have provided support to their activities. We do not know the costs associated which this assistance. There has been no UK military support for UNMOVIC at the moment.

Saudi Arabia

Mr. Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK nationals are imprisoned in Saudi Arabia; and what discussions he has had with the Saudi government on their behalf. [101708]

Mr. Rammell: There are currently 12 British nationals detained in Saudi Arabia. Consular staff are in regular contact with the Saudi authorities and we raise issues relating to individual detainees on a case-by-case basis. Consular staff continue to provide all consular assistance they properly can to the detainees.


Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times

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he has visited Scotland on official duties each year since 2000; and what meetings were held on each occasion. [103608]

Mr. Straw: In respect of the period from 8 June 2001 when I became Foreign Secretary, I visited Scotland on official duties on Tuesday 27 August 2002. I had meetings with the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and with First Minister Jack McConnell MSP, and visited Trinity Academy, Edinburgh.


Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 11 February 2003, Official Report, column 728W, on Sudan, if he will place in the Library an account of the discussions his Department has had with aid agencies regarding the Sudanese air traffic control system; and if he will make a statement. [102995]

Mr. Rammell: We have no formal record of discussions aid agencies about the Sudanese air traffic control system. FCO officials expressed the view that Sudan has a need for a modern air traffic control system. A large number of commercial flights fly over and within Sudan. A modern air traffic control system is crucial for the safety of United Nations and Non-Governmental Organisations' staff involved in the delivery of vital humanitarian aid in Sudan.

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