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3 Jun 2003 : Column 58W—continued

Pension Credit

Mr. Hurst: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proposals he has to facilitate the payment of the pension credit through post offices; and if he will make a statement. [115398]

Malcolm Wicks: All customers who wish to continue to collect their benefit or pension in cash at the Post Office need to choose one of the account options that can be accessed at post offices.

The Department for Work and Pensions is providing customers with information, including letters and leaflets, which clearly sets out the account options as part of the move to payment direct into accounts. This information material sets out the key features of the various accounts and explains how people can access their money at the Post Office, if they wish to do so. Customers can choose the account which best suits their needs and circumstances.

These options will apply to new customers and benefits as well as to those customers in receipt of existing benefits.

Mr. Hurst: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the number of persons eligible for the pension credit. [115399]

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Maria Eagle: I refer my hon. Friend to the written answer given by the Minister for Pensions, my right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Atkinson) on 1 April 2003, Official Report, columns 676–77W.

Statutory Instruments

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many statutory instruments have been issued by his Department in each year since 1992. [114375]

Maria Eagle: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) on 22 January 2003, Official Report, columns 384–85W.

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Working-age Benefits

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what analysis he has undertaken of the rate of offload from each of the working age benefits; and how this rate differs for different areas of the country. [110763]

Malcolm Wicks: Most analysis of benefit off-flow is undertaken internally by way of extracts from the benefit computer systems which look at the rate of off-flow at Great Britain level. This is used for forecasting, policy analysis and development purposes, and to monitor labour market developments. The main benefits covered by this analysis are Disability Living Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance.

Information on the numbers of people flowing off each key working age benefit by Government Office Region has been placed in the Library. This information is not available for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit.

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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the total expenditure on advertising by the Department was in (a) 2001–02 and (b) 2002–03; and what the level of planned expenditure is for (i) 2003–04 and (ii) 2004–05. [114435]

Mr. Lammy: The Department of Health's expenditure on advertising in 2001–02 and 2002–03 was £20.405 million and £21.794 million respectively.

Budgets for 2003–04 and 2004–05 have yet to be finalised.


John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what relative priority his Department has placed on (a) treatment and (b) research into treatment for cancer patients whose condition has been caused by exposure to asbestos; [114828]

Ms Blears: At present, around 4,000 people die each year in the United Kingdom from asbestos related disease (ARD); approximately 1,600 from mesothelioma and most of the rest from lung cancer related to asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma is expected to increase in frequency over the next 20 years. Based on prediction models, the number of male mesothelioma deaths is expected to peak at around 1,700 in 2011 with female mesothelioma deaths peaking at around 240 around the same time.

Preventing exposure to asbestos is the most effective way of tackling asbestos related disease. We are taking action on this.

There are a number of clinical trials relating to the treatment of mesothelioma in progress. The national health service is currently providing infrastructure and service support costs for two mesothelioma trials currently underway through the National Cancer Research Network.

We are keeping a close eye on these trials to determine when the development of clinical guidelines on mesothelioma might be appropriate. Such guidelines would take account of worldwide evidence on the treatment and management of this disease.

We are also taking action to improve services for lung cancer patients. 5,000 patients are now able to benefit from the new generation cancer drugs approved by National Institute for Clinical Excellence. Clinical

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guidelines for the diagnosis and management of lung cancer are also being developed by NICE and are due for publication next year. 98.2 per cent. of patients with suspected lung cancer are now seen by a specialist within two weeks of being urgently referred by their general practitioner.

The NHS Cancer Plan set out the first ever comprehensive strategy to tackle cancer from prevention through to palliative care. The Cancer Plan is being supported by unprecedented levels of funding. All cancer patients, including those with mesothelioma and lung cancer, should benefit from the implementation of this plan.


Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on regional variations in the incidence of (a) childhood allergies and (b) asthma; [112507]

Jacqui Smith: That information is not available centrally as many child cases of asthma and allergies are diagnosed via out-patient and general practitioner practices. However the following table shows the number of finished consultant episodes for asthma and other allergies for 2001–02 in England for people up to 17 years.

Additionally we do not hold centrally information relating to the numbers of children suffering asthma in the European Union.

Primary diagnosis asthma and other allergies, age on admission 0–17 years—NHS hospitals, England by region of treatment, 2001–02

AsthmaOther allergy
Y01Northern and Yorkshire regional3,603397
Y02Trent regional office2,253374
Y07West Midlands regional office2,686924
Y08North West regional office4,862613
Y09Eastern regional office2,497130
Y10London regional office3,735612
Y11South East regional office3,493225
Y12South West regional office2,271281


Mr. Hurst: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many new cases of autism were reported in each year from 1990 to 2002; and if he will make a statement. [115191]

Jacqui Smith: Details of the number of children diagnosed with autism since 1990 are not available. In December 2001 the Medical Research Council (MRC) published a comprehensive review of autism research, which provides an authoritative overview of the current state of knowledge on the prevalence, incidence and causes of autism. The report was commissioned by the Department of Health and produced with the help of a

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wide range of experts and a "lay" group including parents and representatives of autism charities. It is available on the MRC website at

The report says that according to recent reviews, there appears fairly good agreement that autism spectrum disorders affect approximately 60, and more narrowly defined autism 10–30, per 10,000 children under eight.

In February 2002 we allocated a further £2.5 million to the MRC to help them to take forward their programme of work on autism. The MRC is currently holding a series of scientific workshops on autism with a view to stimulating additional high quality research proposals. One of these, held on 30 April this year, was on autism in populations.

Cancer Services

Diana Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many (a) consultants, (b) staff grade nurses, (c) play therapists and (d) outreach nurses work in children's cancer services in each regional cancer centre; [114627]

Ms Blears: Data on the numbers of consultants, staff grade nurses, play therapists and outreach domiciliary nurses are not collected centrally at a sub-speciality level such as children's cancer.

Diana Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many (a) children's cancer play therapists, (b) outreach staff grade paediatric cancer nurses and (c) paediatric cancer consultants are (i) fully funded by the NHS and (ii) part-funded by the NHS in partnership with a voluntary organisation; [114628]

Ms Blears: The Department does not collect details of funding and staff posts for children's cancer services in the national health service provided by the voluntary and community sector, nor details of posts funded by the NHS.

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Diana Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the partnership between the voluntary sector and the NHS in children's cancer services. [114629]

Ms Blears: The Department and the national health service have a long and established history of working with the voluntary and community sector on the development of health and social care policy and service delivery. We will continue to develop and strengthen these partnership arrangements to help ensure healthcare service provision is in line with the health needs of the population including the particular needs of children with cancer.

Diana Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the total funding by the NHS for children's cancer services was in each of the last five years. [114626]

Ms Blears: Resources for cancer services over the last five years have been included in baseline allocations, the last three of which have been hypothecated. Because of the number of diagnostic and treatment episodes patients undergo during their illness it is not possible to identify how much of this funding was spent on a particular type of cancer.

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