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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the legislative progress of the implementation of the EU Work at Heights Directive; and if he will publish a regulatory impact assessment for its implementation in the United Kingdom. 
Mrs. McGuire: The EU Directive 2001/45/EC on the selection and use of work equipment for working at height was implemented in Great Britain by the Work at Height Regulations 2005. These regulations were laid in Parliament on 16 March 2005 and came into force on 6 April 2005. It was implemented in Northern Ireland by the Work at Height Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005, which came into operation 11 July. Gibraltar is well advanced in producing implementing legislation.
A regulatory impact assessment on the implementation of the Regulations in Great Britain was lodged in the House of Commons and House of Lords Libraries on 16 March 2005. A supplement on the impact of the Directive in Northern Ireland is available on request from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland at 83 Ladas Drive, Belfast BT6 9FR.
Both sets of regulations do not apply to instructing or leading others in climbing, caving or similar activities. Arrangements for the application of the directive to workers in these activities are still under discussion with representatives from the sector.
Mr. Timms: New scheme funding requirements will replace the minimum funding requirement for private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes from 30 December 2005. This flexible framework will give trustees greater leverage in framing the scheme's funding strategy and determining the contributions paid by the employer. In addition, from 6 April 2006 current HM Revenue and Customs requirements for pension schemes to reduce an actuarial surplus will be abolished. This will remove a factor which may have played a part in some decisions to allow pension fund contribution holidays in the past. We do not believe, however, that it would be appropriate to prevent a contribution holiday where the scheme is sufficiently well-funded, and the trustees and the sponsoring employer consider that it is appropriate in the circumstances.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action he is promoting in conjunction with other Government Departments to ensure that suitably qualified health and safety advisers in the public service are encouraged to achieve the status of chartered health and safety practitioners; and how many of them have this status. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Government are fully supportive of the introduction of a chartered qualification for professional health and safety advisors and would recommend all advisors, where appropriate, to work towards achieving this qualification. There are currently about 6,000 chartered practioners in the UK. The Government hold no figures for the number working in the public sector.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has held with trade unions about industrial relations issues concerning the HSE. 
Mrs. McGuire: The HSE is in frequent discussion with those trade unions representing members of its staff, over the full range of employee relations. Discussions include those held through the departmental Whitley structure; negotiations, such as the annual pay negotiations which are currently ongoing; and more informal working groups on specific topics.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost was of medical examinations for incapacity benefit claimants in each year since 1997; and how often on average existing claimants have been re-examined . 
Mrs. McGuire: Information about the cost of medical examinations for incapacity benefit is confidential and cannot be disclosed as to do so may prejudice the commercial interests of the Department and/or its suppliers.
People are re-referred at varying intervals from three months to five years on the basis of medical advice about the severity of a person's condition and the likelihood of an improvement in their condition in the future.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent estimate he has made of the number of people claiming incapacity benefit who were claiming jobseeker's allowance immediately prior to claiming incapacity benefit. 
Claimed JSA within
previous 30 days
|Percentage of IB commencements that claimed JSA within previous 30 days.|
Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people have been receiving incapacity benefit in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) the United Kingdom in each year since 1997; 
(2) how many people have claimed the long-term rate of incapacity benefit in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) the United Kingdom in each year since 1997. 
|Great Britain||North East GOR||South Tyneside||Jarrow|
|IB/SDA all rates||2,849,200||198,600||11,900||5,700|
|IB long-term rate||1,527,900||119,000||6,900||3,400|
|IB/SDA all rates||2,795,500||189,300||11,800||5,700|
|IB long-term rate||1,452,800||111,000||6,700||3,400|
|IB/SDA all rates||2,755,200||186,700||11,300||5,700|
|IB long-term rate||1,386,200||103,800||6,400||3,600|
|IB/SDA all rates||2,737,800||184,600||11,500||5,400|
|IB long-term rate||1,331,600||101,300||6,300||3,300|
|IB/SDA all rates||2,808,600||189,500||11,700||5,900|
|IB long-term rate||1,338,000||101,500||6,300||3,300|
|IB/SDA all rates||2,822,200||189,900||11,700||6,000|
|IB long-term rate||1,358,400||102,700||6,200||3,300|
|IB/SDA all rates||2,829,700||188,800||11,500||5,900|
|IB long-term rate||1,344,800||100,400||6,000||3,200|
|IB/SDA all rates||2,825,000||184,500||11,100||5,900|
|IB long-term rate||1,337,000||97,400||5,700||3,100|
|IB/SDA all rates||2,784,000||178,300||10,600||5,700|
|IB long-term rate||1,309,000||93,500||5,400||3,000|
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