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26 Jan 2006 : Column 2394W—continued

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will answer questions (a) 26399, (b) 26327 and (c) 26331 tabled by the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon on 3 November. [33011]

Mrs. McGuire: Replies have been given to the hon. Member for all the questions as follows:

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will answer question 34383 tabledby the hon. Member for Lancaster and Wyre on 29 November 2005 on the Gershon review. [42427]

Mrs. McGuire: An answer was given to the hon. Member on 16 January 2006, Official Report, column 1044W.
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Pension Credit

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) men and (b) women have claimed pension credit. [45855]

Mr. Timms: As at 30 September 2005 there are 1,714,600 women and 996,500 men in receipt of pension credit in Great Britain.

1.Caseloads are rounded to the nearest 100. 2.PC data from the Generalised Matching Service (GMS) 100 per cent. scans taken on 16 September 2005 and the figures have been rated up to give month end estimates. This is the data used for the Pension Credit Quarterly Progress Report (QPR). 3.These figures are early estimates. Operational processing times mean that a number of claim commencements and terminations are not reflected in the figures. The final figures incorporated within the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS) will take account of such cases.

DWP Information Directorate: 100 per cent. GMS data

Pension Service

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints were received by the Pension Service in each of the last 12 months; and what the average time taken to resolve complaints was in the last period for which figures are available. [44522]

Mr. Timms: Details of the number of complaints/inquiries received in each of the last 12 months are in the following table.

The last period for which figures are available is December 2005. The average time taken to resolve complaints was 2.9 days, broken down as follows: direct complaints—two days; MP inquiries—11 days; and PCA inquiries—eight days.
Customer complaints receivedMP inquiries/ complaintsPCA inquiriesTotal complaints/inquiries received each month

Post Office Card Account

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consultations his Department held with (a) pensioner groups and (b) others before the decision was taken to terminate the contract of the Post Office card account; and if he will make a statement. [45587]

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Mr. Plaskitt: The Post Office card account contract is not being terminated. The Government will continue to fund the card account until March 2010 as always provided for in the contract. My officials will be meeting with customer representative groups and other key stakeholders over the next few weeks to discuss our future strategy for paying benefits and pensions.

Turner Report

John Penrose: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of the effect on the employment rate of the Turner report's proposed 3 per cent. employer contribution to the National Pension Saving Scheme. [41387]

Mr. Timms: We are in the process of examining the recommendations made by the Commission in detail. At this stage, nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out. One of the Commission's recommendations, to which we will be giving careful consideration, is the need for compulsory employer matching contributions. In looking at this option we will of course take account of possible impacts on business and on the labour market.


Air Passenger Tax

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether the proposed diversion of revenue from the air passenger tax to fund development aid will (a) be a new addition to the UK aid budget on top of the increases already announced this year and (b) replace money from other tax sources. [42420]

John Healey [holding answer 16 January 2006]: I have been asked to reply.

As part of an agreement to implement an international finance facility (IFF), the Government are prepared to allocate some of the existing revenue from the air passenger duty (APD) to provide a long-term financial commitment to the IFF.

The Government remains fully committed to its timetable for reaching 0.7 percent. ODA/GNI by 2013. As set out in Spending Review 2004, with the IFF the UK could achieve the equivalent of 0.7 percent. by 2008–09.


Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if the Government will act as insurer of last resort to Biwater through the Export Credit Guarantee Department after the company's losses in the Dar Es Salaam water system contract. [40774]

Ian Pearson: I have been asked to reply.

In June 2003, the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) provided Overseas Investment Insurance cover to Biwater for their City Water, Dar Es Salaam water and sewerage contract.

It is not possible at this stage to say whether the reported action of the Tanzanian authorities will result in any claim against ECGD. If Biwater does submit a
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claim, ECGD will examine it under the terms of its Overseas Investment Insurance policy and the Department would only pay a claim if it was satisfied that it was liable under the policy.


Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 17 January 2006 to the hon. Member for St. Ives (Andrew George), Official Report, column 1219W, on Fallujah, what assessment he has made of the position of the 61,000 people displaced from Fallujah since April 2004; and what assessment he has made of the ways in which aid disbursed to Fallujah has been spent, with particular reference to the repair of existing homes and the construction of new homes. [45345]

Hilary Benn: DFID understands that life in Fallujah is slowly returning to normal. A functioning local government exists and the population has voted in both the October 2005 constitutional referendum and December 2005 general election. The US now estimates the city's population to be at 239,000, compared to 300,000 before 2004. The US Government reports that there is currently no-one officially classified as a displaced person in the vicinity of Fallujah; many of those displaced by the conflict moved to stay with relatives or relocated to surrounding cities. A UN survey showed that 17 per cent. of former Fallujan residents (approximately 50,000) did not expect to return to the city.

The United Kingdom has provided advice but not financial aid for the reconstruction of Fallujah. In the aftermath of military operations in Fallujah, DFID staff and consultants made assessment visits to Fallujah and provided advice to the Iraqi Government on the management of health, humanitarian and co-ordination issues. The Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Minerals continues to lead on the reconstruction effort, with support from the US. Financial aid came from the Iraqi Government and the US. We have made no detailed assessment of the ways in which aid disbursed to Fallujah has been spent. However, the following information, drawn from US assessments, may be helpful.

The Iraqi Government has allocated US$100 million for Fallujah's reconstruction and US$178 million in housing compensation for Fallujah's citizens. Shortly after military operations in Fallujah ended, the Government initially estimated the damage to housing to be in the region of US$500 million. Fallujah residents have so far received US$103 million in housing compensation. The Government recently announced a further US$75 million which will be paid to citizens over the next month, bringing the total to US$178 million. It is unclear whether any additional funds will be made available.

The United States is funding 81 reconstruction projects in Fallujah worth over US$100 million. Of these, 14 have been completed, 25 are underway, 22 have
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contracts awarded but have not yet started and one is being evaluated. Major projects include:

Smaller projects include reconstruction of the Fallujah railway station, renovating the court house and constructing new health care facilities. Four new health clinics are due to be completed between February and August 2006.

No official data exist on the repair and construction of homes in Fallujah. Anecdotal evidence from those working in Iraq suggests that around 15 per cent. of homes have been restored. This is expected to increase with the distribution of the extra US$75 million.

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