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5 Jan 2004 : Column 106W—continued


Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what meetings of the pilot group of experts on terrorism from EU states and Europol have taken place since 25 June. [144250]

Mr. Blunkett: The informal pilot group held its second workshop on terrorist profiling at the headquarters of Europol on 20 November 2003, with UK representation. This meeting was essentially a stock take as the research needed to inform this long-term and complex project is on-going.

Volunteers in Action Programme

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide support for the Volunteers in Action programme. [143026]

Fiona Mactaggart: I would like to congratulate the Volunteers in Action on the amount of good works they have done over the years. As with many voluntary groups their work is invaluable for supporting active communities and I wish them well for the future.

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Women Pensioners

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many women pensioners were means-tested in (a) 1997 and (b) 2002. [144481]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is not available in the format requested. The following figures include both single women and women who are partners of recipients.

In May 1997 there were 1,350,100 women aged 60 or over receiving income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, family credit and disability working allowance. In addition, it is probable that there were some other women who received housing benefit or council tax benefit but we are unable to estimate how many.

In May 2002 there were 1,341,400 women aged 60 or over receiving minimum income guarantee and income-based jobseeker's allowance. Including those who were receiving housing benefit and council tax benefit the number was 2,140,000.

Chronic Pain

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many working days were lost in each of the past five years as a result of chronic back pain; and how many days were lost to mental illnesses. [140479]

Ruth Kelly: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Sheerman, dated 5 January 2004:

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Occupational Deafness

Mr. Mahmood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to amend the criteria for entitlement to state benefit on the grounds of occupational deafness. [143459]

Mr. Browne: We have no current plans to amend the criteria for entitlement to Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit for occupational deafness.

However, the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council completed a review of occupational deafness last year, all its recommendations have been accepted and amending legislation came into force on 22 September 2003.

Pension Credit

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many individuals are estimated to be eligible for pension credit in Wales in (a) 2003–04, (b) 2004–05, (c) 2005–06 and (d) 2006–07; [144628]

Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is not available. It is estimated that 250,000 households or 350,000 individuals in Wales are eligible for pension credit in 2003–04. As at the end of November 2003 there were 120,000 households (145,710 individuals) in Wales receiving pension credit. There is no departmental target for the number of individuals who will be receiving pension credit in Wales. The Department has a PSA target for at least 3 million pensioner households to be receiving pension credit in Great Britain (GB) by 2006, which is estimated to correspond to around 3.7 million individuals. Reliable estimates of households and individuals entitled to or in receipt of pension credit in future years are not available below GB level. We want all those eligible for pension credit to take up their entitlement.



Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what information she has collated on the take-up of broadband in each of the last five years in (a) Dudley North, (b) the West Midlands and (c) England; and if she will make a statement. [143893]

Mr. Timms: Information on the take-up of broadband by Parliamentary Constituency is not available. The take-up of broadband in the West Midlands based on historical data from operators, the

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number of households and businesses and availability by technology to the post sector level have been estimated by Analysys Consulting Ltd. as:

West Midlands


On the same basis, the estimated combined total for all English regions for the same periods is:

English regions


Data for earlier years have not been collated.

Oftel has collated data on the estimated number of UK broadband subscribers since November 2000. Updated figures are published regularly on the Oftel website From 29 December 2003, data will be published on the Ofcom website.

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her estimate is of the number of broadband connected personal computers in the UK which have, unknown to the owner of the computer, been hijacked by computer programmes written by internet criminals and which also have the potential to serve as a platform for the spread of fraud, spam, paedophile images and organised crime over the internet; and what steps she is taking to counter this problem. [144391]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 17 December 2003]: We do not collect data on this and are not aware of reliable estimates. We do undertake a regular survey of information security breaches in the business community based on a sample of one thousand companies. We use the results of this survey to inform our message to business about the importance of protecting information assets and the advice we give, particularly to smaller companies, about techniques and technologies to prevent problems. The Home Office, as a supplement to the British Crime Survey, surveys households' experience of breaches of this kind, though obviously victim surveys only identify those who are aware their machine has been used in this way. The activities described are criminal acts and should be reported to the police when users become aware of them.

Business Innovation

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what targets her Department has set for improving business innovation; and if she will make a statement on the UK's (a) G7 ranking, (b) European ranking and (c) world ranking in business innovation. [143136]

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Ms Hewitt: My Department's Public Service Agreement includes a target to increase the rate of business innovation. On 20 November, my Department published an economic report, "Competing in the Global Economy—The Innovation Challenge", that reviewed existing evidence on the UK's innovation performance. The report shows that UK innovation performance across a range of measures was around—or below—average relative to other advanced economies although some indicators have moved in the right direction in recent years. For example, after a period of decline of Research and Development spending from 1.5 per cent. of GDP in 1981, to 1.16 per cent. in 1997, we have seen an upturn in more recent years as summarised in the following table.

Per cent.

A report on the Review of Innovation that we have undertaken this year was published on Wednesday 17 December.

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