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4 Jul 2005 : Column 65W—continued

Postal Voting

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the effect on turnout of postal voting on demand. [8412]

Ms Harman: Returning Officers have a duty to complete a 'statement as to postal ballot papers'; for each election (form K, schedule 3 to the Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001). This includes the total of postal ballot papers issued and received by the Returning Officer.

The Electoral Commission will collate and publish this information later this summer, as part of their general duty to report on UK Parliamentary elections. We cannot make an assessment of the exact percentage of the overall turnout that can be attributed to postal voting, until the Commission publishes its report.

Lorely Burt: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many cases resulting in conviction there have been of (a) denying another person's right to a secret vote when using a postal ballot and (b) forcing another to vote for a certain person or political party when using a postal ballot in each of the last five years. [8920]

Ms Harman: This information is not held centrally. The following table indicates the number of people found guilty of electoral fraud related offences from 1994 to 2002. Since 2002 a councillor in Blackburn pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the returning officer. He was sentenced to 3 years and 7 months on 8 April 2005 and in Guildford, a councillor was jailed for four months in April 2004 for forging ballot papers in a local election.
Persons(5) proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts of various fraud related offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983, England and Wales 1994 to 2002

Offence description: tampering with nomination and
ballot papers etc. making false declarations as to
election expenses, bribery, treating, undue influence
and personation offences
Persons proceeded againstPersons found guilty

(5)These data are on the principal offence basis.
(6)Excluding any cases in Staffordshire.

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Benefits/Pensions (Payment Methods)

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many customers have responded to the invitation to move to the direct payment of pensions and benefits stating that they couldnot open or operate a bank or Post Office card account; [3153]

(2) how many and what proportion of pension and benefit recipients have been identified as suitable for the cheque-based system of paying pensions and benefits. [3160]

Mr. Plaskitt: Information is not available in the format requested. We did not collect data on how many customers responded stating that they could not open or operate an account.

We contacted all customers who were not paid by direct payment asking them to provide details of which account they would like their money paid into. Customers who did not provide account details (for whatever reason, including not being able to open or operate an account) were moved to cheque payment.

We are now paying over 96 per cent. of customer accounts by direct payment.

The number and percentage of customers that were being paid by cheque at April 2005 is shown in the following chart:
GB total
Total customers (million)16.1
Paid by cheque (million)0.712
Paid by cheque (percentage)4

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans his Department has toevaluate the success of the exceptions scheme for people who are unable to use Post Office card accounts or basic bank accounts to receive their pensions or benefits. [3156]

Mr. Plaskitt: As at April 2005 there were 712,000 customers who were being paid regularly by cheque.

We have monitored payment by cheques since they replaced girocheques in October 2004 and will continue to do so.
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We believe that while cheques are a practical way of paying customers we also believe that, wherever possible, our customers should be encouraged to be paid direct into an account. That method of payment provides the safest, most reliable and best service.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) Gordon and (b) the North East of Scotland have been contacted about the move to the Direct Payment of benefits and pensions; and how many of those have (i) opted to receive their benefits or pension into a (A) bank account and (B) Post Office Card Account (ii) responded that direct payment is not a suitable method for the payment of benefits and (iii) not responded. [3169]

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Mr. Plaskitt: The information is not available in the format requested. Information which is available at 16 April 2005 is shown in the table.

All DWP customers have now been contacted about the move to Direct Payment and in Scotland we are now paying over 95 per cent. of customer accounts this way. Independent research has shown that there are very high levels of satisfaction among those customers who have transferred to Direct Payment.

Customers who did not respond to the initial invitation were contacted again and those who still did not provide account details were moved to cheque payment following confirmation of their on-going entitlement.
Benefit and pension accounts in Scotland by method of payment and parliamentary constituency as at April 2005

AllDirect payment via bank accountDirect payment via post office card accountChequePayable order
Aberdeen Central21,44515,1955,34585550
Aberdeen North22,28516,1205,39576015
Aberdeen South24,02018,4104,87571020
Airdrie and Shotts33,01020,12511,2301,59065
Argyll and Bute24,90018,1005,5451,22035
Banff and Buchan28,20519,2557,9001,03020
Caithness Sutherland and Easter Ross20,58014,3355,31590525
Carrick Cumnock and Doon Valley37,80025,15511,4001,22520
Central Fife31,48522,6557,8151,00515
Clydebank and Milngavie24,81518,0105,6001,19510
Coatbridge and Chryston28,72017,4359,9801,3055
Cumbernauld and Kilsyth23,13516,7905,53080010
Cunninghame North30,62021,6357,6401,32025
Cunninghame South27,53518,3957,9151,21015
Dundee East31,96021,6808,9051,36020
Dundee West28,96020,0207,6451,28510
Dunfermline East26,97019,2956,72095010
Dunfermline West23,23517,5954,89070545
East Kilbride29,87522,9106,0159455
East Lothian27,92020,4306,49097025
Edinburgh Central21,62516,0204,4901,09020
Edinburgh East and Musselburgh29,08520,2207,2451,61010
Edinburgh North and Leith23,76517,0855,2801,38520
Edinburgh Pentlands23,50018,0054,59588020
Edinburgh South23,47017,7554,6151,05045
Edinburgh West26,47520,5504,96091550
Falkirk East25,08017,7206,52581520
Falkirk West28,16519,8606,9851,25070
Galloway and Upper Nithsdale29,78020,8208,01591530
Glasgow Anniesland31,52019,6159,7502,11045
Glasgow Baillieston31,22017,72011,5101,97020
Glasgow Cathcart26,83517,6457,8501,31525
Glasgow Govan24,69016,8156,4401,39535
Glasgow Kelvin21,98013,7756,5551,64015
Glasgow Maryhill31,00016,83011,6402,50030
Glasgow Pollok30,88519,4659,7901,530105
Glasgow Rutherglen29,19018,4059,4651,29025
Glasgow Shettleston33,14517,63512,9852,51515
Glasgow Springburn34,84518,40513,7752,61550
Greenock and Inverclyde27,60518,4657,8651,25020
Hamilton North and Bellshill27,94017,9408,7651,21025
Hamilton South26,07016,9158,0401,10015
Inverness East Nairn and Lochaber29,56022,0956,1851,24530
Kilmarnock and Loudoun31,20522,0307,8151,32530
Motherwell and Wishaw31,10019,14010,4101,53015
North East Fife24,16518,4454,89576560
North Tayside30,07523,5655,54094030
Orkney and Shetland13,0209,5952,93548010
Paisley North26,89017,8507,7351,29015
Paisley South28,95019,5908,0801,22060
Ross Skye and Inverness West26,89019,2956,3351,22040
Roxburgh and Berwickshire22,73017,0005,08562525
Strathkelvin and Bearsden27,09021,6004,64582025
Tweeddale Ettrick and Lauderdale21,89016,8704,38561520
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine20,93516,2904,11552015
West Renfrewshire23,69517,0155,72092040
Western Isles10,8856,5253,44091010

1.Figures are rounded to the nearest 5 and may not sum due to rounding.
2.Figures are taken from the latest available data at 16 April 2005.
3.Figures refer to payment accounts. Claimants with more than one account will be counted for each account and customers with combined payments will only be counted through the paying benefit (i.e. RP with PC). Figures relate only to accounts live and in payment on the specified date.
4.Child benefit is now administered by the Inland Revenue and War Pensions are now administered by MOD. These benefits have therefore been excluded.
5.Parliamentary constituencies are allocated using the relevant ONS postcode directory.
DWP, Information Directorate, 100 per cent. data.

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