Previous Section Index Home Page

29 Jun 2005 : Column 1565W—continued

Rent Arrears

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the total amount of rent arrears of housing benefit recipients was in each year since 1997, broken down by local authority area; [5437]

(2) how many housing benefit recipients have been evicted for rent arrears in each year since 1997, broken down by local authority area; [5438]

(3) what estimate he has made of the number of households which accumulated rent arrears as a result of the time taken to process housing benefit claims in each year since 1997, broken down by local authority area. [5446]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information is not available.

Unemployment Levels

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate he has made of the effect on levels of unemployment since 1997 of (a) the new deal and (b) Jobcentre Plus initiatives; and if he will make a statement; [814]

(2) what his estimate is of the effect of the new deal on the claimant count for unemployment; and if he will make a statement. [967]

Margaret Hodge: The development of Jobcentre Plus is building on the high quality service already provided by social security offices and Jobcentres. The new offices deliver a single, integrated service with a clear focus on work to all people of working age. As a result of a strong economy and our active labour market policies, we have record levels of employment and the lowest sustained levels of unemployment for 30 years. The new deal has helped well over a million people to find jobs, and is giving people in all areas of the country the help and support they need to move off benefits and into work.

The Jobcentre Plus client base has changed considerably over the past few years. Since May 1997 claimant unemployment has roughly halved and, as at April 2005, the UK claimant count stands at 839,400, down 782,200 (48 per cent.) since the 1997 election. The claimant unemployment rate is 2.7 per cent.; down 2.7percentage points since the 1997 election.

ILO unemployment in the UK stands at 1.40 million (January-March 2005), down 654,000 (32 per cent.) since the 1997 election. The ILO unemployment rate is 4.7 per cent. down 2.5 percentage points since the 1997 election.

The number of lone parents on benefit is down 20 per cent. to 763,000. Youth claimant unemployment has fallen by two-fifths, to its lowest level for 30 years; the number of 18 to 24-year-old claimants unemployed for more than a year has fallen by over 90 per cent.; and long-term adult unemployment (two year plus) has been cut by three quarters to its lowest level for 30 years.
29 Jun 2005 : Column 1566W


Work-related Stress

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many cases of work-related stress have been reported among House staff in each of the last three years; how much compensation was paid to employees in each year; how many work days were lost due to work-related stress in each year; at what cost; what procedures have been put in place to reduce work-related stress; at what cost; and if he will make a statement. [7867]

Nick Harvey: The Parliamentary Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Service (OHSWS) have been recording cases of work-related stress as a separate category from other cases of stress only since the latter part of 2003; therefore accurate statistics are only available for 2004. In that year six cases were dealt with, representing approximately 0.38 per cent. of the House work force. Subsequent benchmarking has confirmed this to be a relatively low figure. Departments of the House and the OHSWS have proactively sought to support such staff, and consequent absence from work has been low. Long-term absence has been the exception rather than the rule. In most cases of reported stress, work is one of a number of contributory factors, including personal problems. No cases have resulted in civil action and resultant compensation.

Over the past year OHSWS have been leading a review of how the House manages and supports staff concerning issues of stress and wellbeing. Extensive research, benchmarking and gap analysis shows that appropriate support mechanisms are in place for staff. The House is committed to continuous improvement and implementing best practice, and the arrangements for minimising, recognising and managing stress at work are currently under review.

No estimate has been made of the cost of days lost as a result of work-related stress, or of the measures to deal with it.



Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many of the complaints under Army redress procedures upheld or partially upheld between 1997 and 2003 related to issues of bullying or harassment; and how many (a) officers, (b) non-commissioned officers and (c) private soldiers were disciplined as a result; [2061]

(2) how many complaints have been considered by the Army Board from soldiers who are serving, or who have served, at (a) Deepcut Barracks and (b) ITC Catterick since 1997; and how many of these complaints related to issues of bullying or harassment. [2055]

Mr. Touhig: Bullying is not a criminal offence, nor a clearly defined form of behaviour; there are various definitions that cover all forms of harassment, abuse or intimidation. Furthermore, complainants do not use a
29 Jun 2005 : Column 1567W
standard form of words and cases are recorded using the wording adopted by those making a complaint or seeking redress. Consequently, we are unable to identify every allegation, complaint or investigation that involves bullying without conducting a trawl of individual case records and archives, held in various databases and paper files. Our records do not lend themselves to the kind of analysis which these questions demand. Essentially, we would need to examine every case considered by the Army Board and make a judgment as to whether bullying or harassment were significant factors in the complaint. This would be extremely time consuming and it may not be immediately apparent whether this is the case or not. The scope for interpretation may also be quite wide. However, we have undertaken a rudimentary electronic search of our databases and spreadsheets to ascertain which complaints record allegations of bullying or harassment. This has highlighted eight cases, none of which relate to complaints upheld or partially upheld, by the Army Board.

None of the eight cases referred to relate to incidents alleged to have taken place at either Deepcut or Catterick.


Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the availability of military dental practitioners in the services to practise on reserve forces personnel; and whether his Department's policy has changed on the use of military dental practitioners by reserve forces personnel. [5320]

Mr. Touhig: Reserve forces personnel are entitled to treatment on operations and exercises and during periods of military training. Dental teams are established at Chilwell to undertake initial dental examination and to provide urgently required treatment (if time allows) for reserve forces personnel called forward for deployment. There is no spare capacity within the Defence Dental Services to routinely treat reserve forces personnel.

Military Readiness

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the finding of the National Audit Office report Assessing and Reporting Military Readiness, paragraph 2.22, concerning the land contribution to any Joint Rapid Reaction Force; what land contribution the UK is able to make to such a force; what units are potentially available at the moment in extremis; and what limitations are being imposed by the factors mentioned in the paragraph. [7550]

Mr. Ingram: It is accepted that our continued commitment to operations in Iraq is impacting on the Army's ability to recuperate all land elements of the Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF). Under routine circumstances, the Army would maintain the following contingent land forces: a brigade sized grouping held at High Readiness; and two Strategic Reserves—the Spearhead Land Element (SLE) held at Extremely High Readiness and the Airborne Task Force (ABTF) held at Very High Readiness.
29 Jun 2005 : Column 1568W

Since Operation Telic commenced the High Readiness Brigade has been routinely deployed to Iraq and has therefore been unavailable to the JRRF. Nonetheless, the SLE and ABTF have been maintained throughout.

Napalm Weapons (RAF Fairford)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will ensure that United States planes flying out of RAF Fairford do not use MK 77 napalm weapons. [7275]

John Reid: The operational use of the United Kingdom bases, including RAF Fairford, by the United States forces is a matter for joint decision by the UK and US Governments. It is not our practice to speculate or comment on specific aspects, such as weapons systems.

Next Section Index Home Page