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6 Apr 2005 : Column 1478W—continued


Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many households will be eligible for winter fuel payments in 2005–06 but will not be eligible for the special £200 payment in respect of council tax. [224673]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 4 April 2005]: We forecast that 8.4 million households will be eligible for a winter fuel payment in 2005–06, of these it is estimated that 3.5 million will not be eligible for the £200 council tax payment. This comprises:

Forecasts based on DWP administrative data and GAD population estimates.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average (a) council tax benefit and (b) housing benefit payment to pensioners was in the last period for which figures are available. [224672]

Mr. Pond: The average council tax benefit payment to claimants over 60 is £11.90 a week.

The average housing benefit payment to those claimants over 60 is £48.98 a week.
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1. The figures are based on a one per cent. sample and subject to a degree of sampling variation. 2. Council tax benefit data excludes any second adult rebate cases. 3. Housing benefit data excludes extended payments. 4. The figures are rounded to the nearest penny. 5. The figures refer to cases where the claimant and/or partner are aged 60 or over.

Housing benefit and council tax benefit management information system, annual one per cent. sample, taken in May 2003.

Statutory Maternity Pay

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what percentage of pregnant women in York qualified for statutory maternity pay in (a) 1997 and (b) the latest year for which figures are available. [224644]

Maria Eagle: The information is not available.

Work-focused Interviews

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the average length of time taken for a work-focused interview was in 2004; [222627]

(2) how many work-focused interviews have been conducted since the new deal programme was introduced in 1998; and in how many cases participation in the new deal ended with such an interview. [222628]

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

Letter from Lesley Strathie to Paul Holmes, dated 6 April 2005:

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Government Policy Co-ordination

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the areas in which he has co-ordinated Government policy; when he set himself the task of so doing in each case; what his objectives were; what the outcomes were; and which Government Departments were involved. [224740]

Mr. Milburn: I was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster by the Prime Minister in September 2004.

I have a cross-Government role in the co-ordination of Government policy. I am also responsible for the work of the Strategy Unit and the Policy Directorate.

As a result I have been involved in a wide range of policy issues including those covered by the Cabinet Committees of which I am a member.

Detailed information about the development of Government policy is not routinely disclosed.

Sikhs (Public Appointments)

Rob Marris: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) what steps he has taken in the last four years to increase the number of applications received from members of the British Sikh community for public appointments to (a) local and (b) national decision-making bodies; [224494]

(2) what assessment he has made of progress since June 2001 in increasing the number of public appointments to (a) local and (b) national decision-making bodies of members of the British Sikh community; and what estimate he has made of the number of such appointments since that date. [224496]

Mr. Miliband: The Government remain committed to encouraging applications for public appointments from all sections of society. Data are not collected centrally on applications and appointments from more specific groups, but the Cabinet Office does monitor progress on the Government's broader targets to ensure that the make-up of the boards of public bodies is representative in terms of gender, ethnicity and disabled people. The latest report, "Delivering Diversity in Public Appointments 2004", published on 16 December 2004 shows that the proportion of public appointments held by people from a minority ethnic background was 7.7 per cent. in 2004, up from 7.4 per cent. in 2002. The report also sets out targets set by individual Departments and action plans to achieve those targets.
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Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the voting system in place for the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Afghanistan. [224487]

Mr. Rammell: The choice of voting system for the Afghan parliamentary elections scheduled for 18 September is single non-transferable vote. The Government of Afghanistan concluded that this was the only system the Afghan people would immediately recognise as democratic. The challenge now is to ensure that elections are as well-organised and transparent as possible. The UK and other international partners are offering support to the Government of Afghanistan to ensure the success of the elections.

Anti-semitic Incitement

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made regarding anti-Semitic incitement to the governments of (a) Iran, (b) Syria and (c) Egypt. [223710]

Mr. Rammell: We remain deeply concerned at continuing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric from senior figures in the Iranian regime. Senior UK officials discussed this most recently with representatives of Iran's Supreme National Security Council on 2 February. We have also pressed the Iranian authorities on many occasions to address international concerns about Iran's links to groups undermining the Middle East Peace Process through violence.

We have raised the issue of anti-Semitism with the Egyptian and Syrian authorities in the past, but have not had occasion to do so recently.

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