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27 Feb 2004 : Column 603Wcontinued
Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many students have been sent down from (a) the current intake and (b) each of the preceding three intakes to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. 
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Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will establish an occupational pension rescue package for the former employees of Ballast plc following the company's liquidation; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Government remains sympathetic to all those people who will not receive the pension they worked so hard to build up for their future retirement. Ministers have been meeting those affected by pension losses in order to understand their plight and to listen to suggestions regarding assistance ahead of the Pension Protection Fund's introduction.
We are examining closely all the suggestions that have been put to us but, given all these workers' anxieties, which we understand, we owe it to those affected to do that without raising their expectations.
They must know that we have been absolutely straight with them all along. If it is not possible to do anything, as might ultimately be the case, they need to know that that has been the position from the outset. At the same time, we should not prematurely close off the opportunity of assistance if we can identify a proper basis on which it can be done.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are receiving benefits into post office card accounts, broken down by (a) Child Benefit, (b) veterans agency payments, (c) pensions and (d) Jobcentre Plus payments. 
As many customers have already supplied their account details it is expected that the figures for Direct Payment into bank or building society accounts and Post Office card accounts will quickly rise, as customers existing methods of payment expire, and they move over to payment being made direct into their nominated account.
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Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what plans he has to provide support to citizens of EU accession states working within the UK when they cease employment, from 1 May onwards; 
(3) what plans he has to allow citizens of EU accession states to claim, from 1 May onwards, (a) Working Tax Credit, (b) Child Tax Credit, (c) Child Benefit, (d) Disability Living Allowance, (e) Incapacity Benefit, (f) Income Support, (g) Carer's Allowance, (h) Jobseeker's Allowance, (i) Housing Benefit, (j) Council Tax Benefit and (k) minimum income guarantee while (i) living and (ii) working in the United Kingdom. 
Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when citizens of EU accession states working in the UK will be entitled to claim (a) Housing Benefit, (b) Child Benefit, (c) Income Support, (d) Jobseeker's Allowance and (e) Working Tax Credit. 
Mr. Pond: Our intention is to introduce legislation so that the accession state nationals who are in the UK but who cannot find work, or will not work, will not have access to Income Support, income based Jobseekers Allowance, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. After 12 months of working legally without interruption, citizens of EU accession states will be entitled to the full range of UK benefits. Tax credits and Child Benefit will be available to those citizens of EU accession states who are working legally in the UK; Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit may also be available to those workers on low income.
Incapacity Benefit and contribution-based Jobseekers Allowance are contributory benefits. People who have not lived and worked in the UK will not have paid National Insurance contributions and therefore will not normally have entitlement to these benefits.
For Disability Living Allowance and Carers Allowance, a person must have been resident for 26 out of the previous 52 weeks. However, time spent in another EEA or EU country may in some cases be treated as a period in the UK for the purpose of determining entitlement.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners are claiming pension credit in (a) Vale of Clwyd constituency and (b) each ward in the County of Denbighshire; how many pensioners he estimates are entitled to claim pension credit but have not done so in each case; and what the average amount claimed by pensioners in the Vale of Clwyd is. 
Malcolm Wicks: The information is not available in the form requested. Numbers of Pension Credit recipients and average levels of award for (a) the Vale of Clwyd and (b) Denbighshire are given in the table. Numbers of recipients are not currently available at
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ward level. Estimates of the number of eligible households are not available at constituency, local authority area or ward level. However, we estimate that there are approximately 250,000 pensioner households in Wales likely to be eligible for Pension Credit.
|Households||Individuals||Average weekly award per household (£)|
|Vale of Clwyd||3,965||4,900||44.96|
1. Numbers of recipients have been rounded to the nearest five.
2. Average weekly awards have been rounded to the nearest penny.
3. Numbers of recipients exclude small numbers of clerical cases. At 31 January there were approximately 400 such cases in Wales.
4. Average weekly awards refer to the amount received by households, which may be a single person or a couple.
1. The figures are from the mid-year population figures, 2002
2. Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand
3. 'Pensioner' is defined as those over state pension age
Office for National Statistics
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how the Pensions Bill will affect people in Northern Ireland; and whether there will be any assistance to those who have lost out in pension schemes in the past. 
Malcolm Wicks: Pensions legislation is a devolved matter to Northern Ireland. The provisions of the Pensions Bill therefore generally extend only to Great Britain. The exceptions to this are set out in clause 246, which specifies the provisions that also extend to Northern Ireland. These include those establishing the two new Non-Departmental Public Bodies, The Pensions Regulator and the Board of the Pension Protection Fund, whichas currently with the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority and the Pensions Compensation Boardwill operate throughout the United Kingdom, but with functions relating to Northern Ireland conferred by Northern Ireland legislation.
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The Government remains sympathetic to all those people who will not receive the pension they worked so hard to build up for their future retirement. Ministers have been meeting those affected by pension losses in order to understand their plight and to listen to suggestions regarding assistance ahead of the Pension Protection Fund's introduction.
We are exploring all the suggestions that have been put to us and are considering them in depth. But there are complex arguments on both sides so we need to consider very carefully what the appropriate course of action should be.
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