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3 Apr 2003 : Column 844W—continued


Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) when he next plans to review the Approved Code of Practice for the White Papers, "Smoking Kills"; [105771]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Government are currently looking at possible options to reduce the exposure of people to tobacco smoke. We will announce our conclusions in due course about how best we will achieve further progress in this area.

Social Fund

Mr. David Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the administrative costs of the Social Fund were in each of the last five financial years; and if he will make a statement. [82079]

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Malcolm Wicks: (pursuant to my written reply 19 December 2002, col. 1020W.)

The information is not available in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The Department now accounts for its administration and benefit expenditure by Strategic Objective, as set out in its Public Service Agreements (PSA), and by individual Requests for Resources (RfRs) as set out in the Departmental Estimates and Accounts.

Estimates of the cost of administering the Social Fund are available for 1997–98 and 1998–99 and these are shown in the table.


Financial yearEstimated Social Fund expenditure(30)


Costs are rounded to the nearest £million


Social Security Departmental Reports 1999–2000 (Figure 50) and 2000–01 to 2001–02 (Figure 42).

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Targeting Fraud Website

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many hits the Targeting Fraud website has received, broken down by month; how many cases of suspected fraud have been reported to the website; how many of these suspected cases have been investigated; how many (a) cases of fraud have been established, (b) changes to benefits have been made and (c) successful prosecutions there have been, as a result; and what sentences have been imposed by the courts where prosecutions have been successful; [89768]

Malcolm Wicks: Information is not collated centrally on sentences imposed by the courts where successful prosecutions have resulted from the Targeting Fraud Website. The available information is in the table.

Targeting Fraud Website May 2000–December 2002

MonthNumber of hits(30)Number of cases of suspected fraud reportedNumber of cases accepted for action by investigation staffNumber of investigations completedNumber of resulting benefit rate changes(31)Number of successful prosecutions
May 200031100
June 20008027300
July 20009335710
August 200075271850
September 2000(32)1,311,93095281320
October 200089292740
November 200081182860
December 200041141310
January 200111,51668352150
February 200158,62071222520
March 200149,027242832820
April 200119,3493171023691
May 20018,659172604680
June 200116,4751976154130
July 200119,2031446164120
August 200115,6171173945120
September 200150,9051604157140
October 200114,3282008648120
November 200122,82524111152161
December 200113,3821907048110
January 200215,10338415962152
February 200214,02731513488180
March 200212,54829714373120
April 200211,01133312588181
May 20029,512309127116202
June 200211,2932268886281
July 20028,7972449498261
August 20027,0432406986181
September 200210,1822519087250
October 20026,658318129112373
November 20028,84328911883251
December 20029,2022038572254

(30) Information provided by the National Benefit Fraud Hotline.

(31) The number of benefit rate changes includes both increases and decreases both due to client error and to official error. This is not the number of frauds proven, for which data is not available.

(32) For the month of December 2000 the total figure includes the number of hits from May 2000 until December 2000 and these cannot be broken down by month. Figures were not accessible, at that time, without incurring disproportionate costs.

(33) The fraud database shows completed cases commenced in the relevant period. Due to the elapsed time between commencement of an investigation and completion of a prosecution there are cases which are inserted into previously completed data for earlier periods. All totals are therefore correct at the time when quoted but subject to adjustment at a later date.


Fraud Information By Sector system


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Mr. Dhanda: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what discussions he has had with the Seroxat Users Group regarding the Committee on Safety of Medicines review of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class anti-depressants; [105537]

Ms Blears [holding answers 28 March 2003]: The Medicines Control Agency (MCA) and the independent scientific advisory group the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) have kept the safety of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants under close review since authorisation, it is normal practice for the CSM to convene an expert group to consider particular issues. The meeting of the ad hoc expert working group of 21 November 2002 was primarily convened to hear a presentation of the research of Dr. David Healy. Members of the Medicines Act advisory committees, such as the CSM, are required to follow a code of practice relating to declarations of interests in the pharmaceutical industry. The code is applied where members attend meetings of expert working groups and this was the case on 21 November 2002.

A new CSM expert group is being appointed to conduct further review of SSRIs and appropriate membership is being considered in light of issues raised at the meeting and the further work these will require, as well as further legal advice on interests in the particular circumstances of this class review.

Officials at the MCA are in contact with members of the Seroxat Users Group and have taken the views of the group into account.

Assisted Conception

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what procedures NHS hospital trusts follow to ensure the safety and reliability of the test-tube baby procedure. [106850]

Ms Blears: National health service trusts, and all other units providing in vitro fertilisation, must be licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and take account of the provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 as well as the HFEA's code of practice and other guidance issued by the HFEA. The HFEA inspects all clinics regularly to make sure the requirements are being met.

Carbon Monoxide

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) deaths, (b) injuries and (c) illnesses have

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been attributed to carbon monoxide in the (i) UK and (ii) south-west region in each of the past 10 years; and what action the Government has taken, or plans, to reduce the number of people harmed by carbon monoxide. [104883]

Ms Blears: The total number of deaths per year, due to carbon monoxide poisoning of any cause (including suicide) in England has declined from 1,419 in 1992 to 441 in 2001 and in the south-west region has declined from 181 in 1992 to 62 in 2001. A breakdown of the figures for each of the last 10 years has been placed in the Library.

Figures relating to Scotland and Wales are a matter for the devolved administrations. Whilst the institutions in Northern Ireland are suspended, responsibility lies with the Minister for the Northern Ireland office.

Unpublished research commissioned by the Department for Trade and Industry has suggested that between 42 and 57 deaths a year in the United Kingdom are the result of carbon monoxide poisoning from domestic appliances. A breakdown for each of the last ten years is shown in the table. This information is not available for the south-west region.

Deaths in the UK from poisoning in the home by carbon monoxide from domestic appliances in 1990–99

Number of deaths

In 2002, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer at the Department of Health issued a letter to community nurses, midwives, health visitors and general practitioners to encourage recognition of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. The Department of Health has also commissioned research on the health effects of carbon monoxide.

Following a fundamental review of gas safety by the Health and Safety Commission completed in 2000, HSC has set a target of a minimum 20 per cent. reduction in gas-related fatalities over a 10-year average; this includes those caused by CO poisoning (75 per cent. of all gas fatalities).

Measures being taken forward include: improving the public's safety awareness through advice and publicity; driving up gas installers' standards of work by introducing completion certificates to be given to consumers; changes to gas safety enforcement responsibilities and changes to the duties of gas emergency service providers.

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