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11 Dec 2003 : Column 552W—continued

Chronic Pain

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost of disability payments paid to sufferers of conditions associated with chronic pain was in 2002–03. [140478]

Maria Eagle: The available estimates relate to Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance. In 2002–03, the Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance payments made to people for whom their recorded main disabling condition was one usually associated with chronic pain amounted to some £3.8 billion.

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Employment and Social Policy, Health andConsumer Affairs Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the outcome of the Employment and Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council was on 1 December; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [142006]

Mr. Andrew Smith: I represented the UK together with the Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe), at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in Brussels on 1 December 2003.

The Council reached partial political agreement on the Articles of a new Regulation to replace Regulation 1408/71 co-ordinating social security systems for people moving from one member state to another. In particular, member states reached a compromise on Unemployment Benefit for people who live in a member state other than the one where they last worked. This relates to a reimbursement system that member states have agreed to: the last state of work will reimburse part of the Unemployment Benefit paid by the state of residence. UK retains a Parliamentary Scrutiny on this Regulation.

The Council discussed the Commission Communication on Structural Indicators for next year's spring Council and took note of the opinions of the Economic Policy Committee, the Working Group on Environment, Employment Committee and Social Protection Committee. The Presidency invited the General Affairs and External Relations Council to adopt joint conclusions as close as possible to the existing draft.

The Council adopted Conclusions on disability, on immigration, integration and employment and on gender equality indicators. The Council also agreed a general approach on a Council Decision establishing a Social Protection Committee. Council noted the Other Business items without comment.

In the Consumer Affairs part of the Council, a Resolution on the Safety of Services was adopted without comment. There was a general policy discussion on the proposed EC Regulation on Consumer Protection Co-operation, and the UK supported the proposal.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Health (Mr. Hutton), represented the UK for consideration of the health items on the agenda of the Council on 2 of December.

The main health business related to the Proposal for a European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Discussion focused on the scope of the Centre, which is due to be operational by 2005, with member states agreeing it should concentrate initially on communicable disease, with the possibility of broadening the remit following external evaluation of its operations at a later date. Issues still to be resolved include the legal base, where the UK retained its reserve, and data protection requirements.

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A draft Council Decision was adopted authorising the Commission to negotiate the revision of the International Health Regulations under the framework of the World Health Organisation, within its area of competence.

The Council Conclusions emerging from a conference on Healthy Lifestyles: Education, Information and Communication were adopted. These cover action on lifestyles monitoring and evaluation and impact assessment, aimed to help develop a European action plan to promote healthy lifestyles.

The Council Recommendation on Cancer Screening advocating mass cancer screening through clearly established and scientifically proven methods in quality controlled screening programmes were also adopted, as was the Council Resolution on Pharmaceuticals and Public Health Challenges—Focusing on the Patients.

The Council adopted Council Conclusions on Medical Devices which acknowledge the importance of medical devices in health and social care, endorse the good work done so far and invite further work to strengthen co-ordination, interpretation and implementation of the sectoral Directives in the interests of protecting public health.

The Council received information from the Italian Presidency on the threat posed by malaria. The French delegation presented information on raising tobacco tax to help reduce tobacco consumption and the Irish delegation presented proposals for the forthcoming Irish Presidency where the emphasis will be placed on cardiovascular disease and e-health matters.

No votes were taken at this Council.


Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pages of (a) primary and (b) secondary legislation the Department put through Parliament in 2002–03. [141169]

Maria Eagle: The Department did not sponsor any primary legislation during the 2002–03 Session (13 November 2002 to 20 November 2003).

The Department was responsible for the making of 97 General Statutory Instruments during the 2002–03 Session and these accounted for 725 pages of secondary legislation. The number of instruments produced includes some that consolidated and revoked previous instruments.

New Deal for Disabled People

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have (a) registered with a new New Deal for Disabled People job broker, (b) been placed in work by a job broker and (c) achieved sustained work with a job broker's help since the extension of the New Deal for Disabled People. [141496]

Maria Eagle: New Deal for Disabled People was extended nationally in July 2001. Between July 2001 and September 2003, over 57,000 disabled people registered to find work; over 15,500 found work; and over 5,900 achieved sustained employment.

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Winter Fuel Payment

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the number of eligible people who have not received backdated winter fuel payments for the first three years of the scheme; and what the value was of such payments. [143083]

Malcolm Wicks: According to our estimate around 1.9 million people could have been eligible for backdated payments for the first three years of the scheme and about 1.2 million people have now been paid. There are no cut-off dates for these retrospective payments.

It is not possible to provide a reliable estimate of the numbers who have not claimed because the estimate of those newly eligible was based on sample data. It is up to the individual, where a claim is necessary, to decide whether or not to make that claim.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to introduce a cut-off date for claiming backdated Winter Fuel Payments for the first three years of the scheme. [143084]

Malcolm Wicks: There are no current plans to introduce a cut-off date for claiming backdated Winter Fuel Payments for the first three years of the scheme.

Income Support

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the income support needs of women carers who are pensioners. [143340]

Malcolm Wicks: Pension Credit replaced Minimum Income Guarantee from 6 October 2003. Around half of all pensioner households are eligible and stand to gain around £400 a year. Of those eligible, over half are single women (when partners are included almost two thirds of the people who will benefit from Pension Credit are women.)

Under Pension Credit additional amounts are included for carers. All those entitled to Carer's Allowance or treated as satisfying the qualifying conditions for the award benefit from the additional amount. A person may be entitled to Carer's Allowance even if it is not payable, (for example because of the overlapping benefit provisions). The rate is currently set at £25.10.


Commission for Equality and Human Rights

21. Mr. David: To ask the Minister for Women if she will make a statement on the Making it Happen consultation. [143338]

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Jacqui Smith: My right hon. Friend the Minister for Women announced on 30 October the Government's intention to set up a Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR). The CEHR will be key to realising the Government's vision of a fairer, more prosperous, more inclusive Britain based on equal opportunities for all and respect for the dignity and worth of each person. We have set up a Task Force to advise Government on the vision for the new body, and as a first task, assist us in the preparation of a White Paper to be published in the spring.

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