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13 Dec 2004 : Column 855W—continued

European Constitution

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the effect of the coming into force of the European Constitution on the operation of his Department, with reference to (a) changes in legislative competence, (b) the extension of qualified majority voting, (c) the increased legislative role of the European Parliament, (d) the cost of implementation of regulations, (e) the requirements of adherence to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and (f) the quantity of legislation originating in the EU institutions. [200176]

Mr. Pond: I refer the hon. Member to the answer that my hon. Friend (the Minister for Europe) gave on 29 November 2004, Official Journal, column 10W.

Health and Safety

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to bring forward proposals to remove Crown immunity in relation to safety in the workplace, with particular reference to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974; and if he will make a statement. [202242]

Jane Kennedy: The Government stand by their commitment to remove Crown immunity from statutory health and safety enforcement. We will do this as soon as a suitable legislative opportunity arises.

In the meantime the Health and Safety Executive continues to enforce health and safety requirements in Crown bodies and applies the Crown censure procedure, where, but for Crown immunity, prosecution would have been justified.

Mr. Bailey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representation there is from manufacturing industry on the Health and Safety Commission. [200227]

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Jane Kennedy: Three of the members of the Health and Safety Commission were appointed following consultation with employers' organisations. Of these Ms Judith Hackitt is the Director General of the Chemical Industries Association (CIA). The CIA represents the chemical and chemistry-using industries, which includes manufacturing processes. Three members were appointed following consultation with employees' organisations. Of these Daniel Carrigan is the assistant General Secretary of trade union Amicus. Amicus represents the skilled trades in manufacturing.

Housing Benefit (Redirection)

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which and what percentage of local authorities have yet to implement an agreement with the post office not to redirect housing benefit payments; and what plans he has to make such agreements mandatory for all local authorities. [200168]

Mr. Pond: Of the 408 local authorities administering housing benefit, four have yet to make contractual arrangements with the Royal Mail for the introduction of the scheme to not redirect benefit post. This is less than 1 per cent. of local authorities.

Two of these four authorities are working towards implementing the Do Not Redirect scheme; East Hertfordshire council will be implementing the scheme within the next few weeks, while North West Leicestershire district council expects to begin implementation in the new year. One authority, Ellesmere Port and Neston borough council, had previously implemented the scheme, but has since withdrawn because of concerns about the cost effectiveness of the scheme. The Council of the Isles of Scilly, which has fewer than 100 claimants, has not implemented the scheme. This too is because of cost-effectiveness issues.

Given the very small rate of non participation, we have no plans to make such agreements mandatory, but will continue to encourage the remaining authorities to participate.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of new claimants of incapacity benefit in each year since 1997 were already in receipt of another benefit; and what proportion were new benefit claimants. [203170]

Maria Eagle: The information is in the table.
All incapacity benefit/severe disablement allowance commencements each year by whether a new entrant to benefit or an existing beneficiary
Thousand and percentage

All IB/SDA commencementsNew entrants to benefitPercentage of new entrantsExisting beneficiaries(16)(2)Percentage of existing beneficiaries
1 June 1996–31 May 1997943.0519.055.0424.045.0
1 June 1997–31 May 1998856.2505.559.0350.741.0
1 June 1998–31 May 1999798.0486.861.0311.239.0
1 June 1999–31 May 2000763.0462.560.6300.539.4
1 June 2000–31 May 2001750.9456.760.8294.239.2
1 June 2001–31 May 2002697.8435.462.4262.437.6
1 June 2002–31 May 2003691.0429.562.2261.537.8
1 June 2003–31 May 2004640.1399.262.4240.837.6

(16) Other benefits in this instance are income support (IS), jobseeker's allowance (JSA) and pension credit (PC).
(17) Figures for existing beneficiaries in receipt of other benefits are where the IB/SDA claimant has had a claim to one of those benefits cease in the 91 days prior to the IB/SDA start date or has a continuing IS/PC claim at the time of the IB/SDA commencement (excluding cases where the IB/SDA and IS/PC claims are made at the same time eg within the same week).
1. Case load figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred.
2. Figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample, and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling variation.
3. Figures are based on persons claiming severe disablement allowance (SDA), long term or short term incapacity benefit (IB), credits only, and those persons claiming IB but who have their benefit extinguished for reasons such as an overlap with another benefit, or because of hospitalisation.
4. A person is counted only once in each year, regardless of the number of times they claim and subsequently leave each benefit.
5. SDA is not available to new claimants from 6 April 2001.
IAD Information Centre.

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Industrial Injuries

Liz Blackman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will publish his response to the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council Report on prescribed disease A11. [203052]

Jane Kennedy: The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council published its report on Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome in July 2004. We have accepted the principal recommendation that the terms of prescription for prescribed disease A11 (Vibration White Finger) be extended to include sensor neural symptoms, in addition to the existing vascular symptoms.

The regulatory changes required to implement the recommendations from the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council relating to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome are currently being worked on. It is intended that the new regulations will come into force in April 2005.

IT Systems

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the written answer of 1 December 2004 , Official Report, column 177W, on IT systems, what the estimated cost is of the Customer Information System; and who the supplier is. [204580]

Jane Kennedy: The Department has engaged Accenture as the Information Technology Solution Provider for the Customer Information System. Accenture has to date been awarded contracts for the design and development of the system.

The implementation date and cost of the system can be found in the Departmental Report which is available in the Library and on the Internet at: dwp/dept reports.htm

Job Vacancies (Wandsworth)

Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many unfilled job vacancies there are at job centres in the London borough of Wandsworth. [200307]

Jane Kennedy: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from David Anderson to Mr. Tom Cox, dated 13 December 2004:

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Numbers of unfilled vacancies recorded at Jobcentres and Jobcentre Plus offices as on 29 October 2004

Balham Irene House570
Brixton Hill540
Camberwell Green320
Clapham Common300
Clapham Junction900
Kennington Park380
London Bridge1,680

DWP Vacancy Database, Management Information

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