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15 Dec 2004 : Column 1142W—continued

Photocopying Facilities

Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what measures are being taken to ensure that photocopying facilities on the parliamentary estate are not used by members or staff for either personal or party campaigning use. [204920]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: The regulations, approved by the Administration Committee, state that the photocopiers provided for use by Members and staff are "intended for use in connection with Members' parliamentary duties only, and may not be used for Party political or non-parliamentary work outside Parliament." Serjeant at Arms' staff will take appropriate action if they detect any abuse, or if alleged abuse is drawn to their attention.

Water Usage

Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, (1) what targets have been set on reducing water usage on the parliamentary estate; and if he will make a statement; [204917]

(2) what measures are being taken to encourage the conservation of water resources on the parliamentary estate; [204918]

(3) if he will introduce measures to improve the conservation of water resources on the parliamentary estate by upgrading washing and toilet facilities so that water is only used when necessary, and facilities do not continue to consume water automatically during weekends and other non-working days. [204919]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: The Commission's overall target is to reduce water usage. Urinal cisterns are fitted with detectors to prevent unnecessary automatic flushing; other cisterns have flush volume reduction devices or dual flush equipment; and improvements have been made at Portcullis House so that less water is drawn from the boreholes. The Energy Savers Group is charged with encouraging economical use of water. Water economy measures compete with energy saving investments for the annual conservation budget.


Age Prejudice

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consultation was carried out with (a) those seeking employment and (b) those involved in advising people in finding employment within the framework of the Government's consultation, Equality and Diversity: Age Matters; and if he will make a statement. [204174]

Mr. Sutcliffe: I have been asked to reply.
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The Government have consulted widely on age issues and proposals for legislation in two consultation exercises, including Age Matters. We received over 400 responses, including responses from a wide range of voluntary organisations and trade unions as well as individuals.

Disabled People (Scotland)

David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the Department is on target to 2006 to increase the employment rate of people with disabilities in (a) Scotland and (b) Midlothian. [200219]

Maria Eagle: The information is only available for Great Britain.

The Public Service Agreement target, covering the period from spring 2003 to spring 2006, aims to 'increase the employment rate of disabled people and reduce the difference between their employment rate and the overall employment rate'.

On current trends we should meet this target as the employment rate of disabled people has increased steadily in recent years: from 43.4 per cent. in spring 1998 to 48.9 per cent. in spring 2003 and 50.1 per cent. in spring 2004. In the same period the employment gap fell from 29.8 per cent. (spring 1998) to 25.6 per cent. (spring 2003) to 24.6 per cent. (spring 2004).

Housing Benefit

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has further to promote the housing benefit extended payment scheme. [204468]

Mr. Pond: Giving advice and information on the support available to customers is a key part of the Jobcentre Plus personal advisers' role, this includes advice on eligibility for housing benefit extended payments. We believe that these arrangements work well, but will keep them under review.

From April 2004, the extended payment scheme was widened to include those in receipt of incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance.

Jobcentre Plus

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the time taken to process the average benefits claim at Eston Jobcentre Plus was in (a) 2003–04 and (b) 2002–03; [202676]

(2) how many personal advisers are allocated to (a) Eston Jobcentre Plus and (b) the other areas of Redcar constituency. [202677]

Mr. Pond: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. He will write to the my hon. and learned Friend.

Letter from David Anderson to Ms Vera Baird, dated 15 December 2004:

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PeriodNumber of days

PeriodNumber of days

Number of PAs
Whole-time equivalents7.299.0935.6
Actual staff numbers81036

National Insurance

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 29 November 2004, Official Report, columns 43–44W, on contracted-out rebates, what his assumptions are of the number of people who are contracted out in 2004–05; and if he will make a statement. [201933]

Malcolm Wicks [pursuant to his reply, 6 December 2004, Official Report, c. 377W]: The information is in the table:

Type of schemeNumber of people
contracted out in 2004–05
Contracted-out Salary Related Scheme7.0
Contracted-out Money Purchase Scheme     0.6
Contracted-out Mixed Benefit Scheme
Appropriate Personal Pension Scheme3.1

(13) Numbers do not sum to total due to rounding to the nearest hundred thousand.
1. The estimates are based on the numbers contracted-out in 2000–01, the latest year for which information is available; they are for Great Britain and are consistent with those used by the Government Actuary to estimate the cost of the rebate for the 2004 pre-Budget report.
2. The numbers are based on those shown in the departmental publication "Second-Tier Pension Provision" published in March 2004 but exclude:
(a) data for Northern Ireland as estimates for the pre-Budget report are based on Great Britain only; and
(b) people earning below the lower earnings limit.

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