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22 Mar 2006 : Column 411W—continued

Migrant Workers

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when his Department expects to report through the Health and Safety Commission on the implications of increasing numbers of migrant workers in the UK. [58377]

Mrs. McGuire: The Health and Safety Commission will consider at its July meeting the findings of research carried out for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the health and safety risks migrant workers face. The Commission will use the findings to inform the development of future HSE work in this area, and expects to make a statement after the July meeting on this. It also expects to publish the research results after the July meeting.

Pension Credit

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost was of administering pension credit in 2004–05. [55206]

Mr. Timms: The cost of administering pension credit during the year to March 2005 has been estimated as £237 million. This figure is an approximate assessment only. The Pension Service continues to develop its unit cost information to enable it to provide a more robust and detailed financial analysis of the processing activities for which it is responsible. A modern resource management system is being rolled out across the Department in 2006. Once in place, this new system will support improved costing analysis.

Private Pensions

Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what plans he has to ensure that the transfer values of private pensions reflect the actual value of the underlying assets; and if he will make a statement; [58529]

(2) if he will introduce regulations to restrict the scope for deductions applied to private pension assets when they are transferred between providers; [58531]
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(3) how much was paid in penalty and transfer charges levied by private pension providers on their clients in each of the last three years; [58569]

(4) what research has been undertaken by his Department into the effects of penalty and transfer charges on people's willingness to take out private pensions; and if he will make a statement; [58570]

(5) what mechanisms are in place to record the penalty and transfer charges levied by private pension providers on their clients; and if he will make a statement. [58571]

Mr. Timms: Private pensions in the form of personal pensions and stakeholder pensions are contractual arrangements between individuals and scheme providers. The Financial Services Authority's (FSA) product disclosure rules for personal pensions require that point-of-sale literature includes a description of the charges that can be incurred and a projection illustrating the potential fund values along with the effect of charges at various points in the product's lifecycle. Amongst other things, this is intended to highlight the effects of any transfer penalties in the early years after purchase.

In 2001 the Government introduced the stakeholder pension to provide good value pensions for people who could not join an occupational pension scheme. One of the features of the stakeholder pension is that where a member wants to transfer out of the stakeholder pension, regulations provide that the scope for charges and deductions is very limited. The FSA's product disclosure rules for stakeholder products reflect these regulatory requirements.

The Government do not routinely collect information on the charges levied by personal pension schemes and the Government have no plans to regulate to control charges set by such schemes.

Welfare Reform Green Paper

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) whether current incapacity benefit claimants classified as automatically exempt from the personal capability assessment will be required to participate in the revised personal capability assessment process proposed in the Green Paper A New Deal for Welfare: Empowering People to Work; [51970]

(2) whether the revised personal capability assessment process proposed in the Green Paper A New Deal for Welfare: Empowering People to Work will apply to existing incapacity benefit claimants. [51972]

Margaret Hodge: Everyone who wants to work, whatever their health condition or disability, should receive the necessary help and support to enable them to work as soon as they are able to do so. The current Personal Capability Assessment process is often viewed simply as a hurdle that must be cleared to receive benefits and, as a consequence, it focuses upon incapacity rather than capability.

In our Green Paper; A New Deal for Welfare: Empowering People to Work" we set out our proposals to transform the current assessment process so that it:

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For the majority of people, the prospects are good, given the right advice and help. However, we recognise that for others with the most severe limits to their functional capabilities, it would be unreasonable to expect that they engage in work-related activity.

Under the proposals in the Green Paper, this group of people will fall into the new category of people who receive the Support component of the Employment and Support Allowance, and conditionally will not be imposed on them. It will differ from the current 'exempt' group, which it will replace, in that it will not be based on the nature of the specific illness or disability the individual has, but on the severity of the impact of that condition on the individual's ability to function.

Consideration is still being given to whether existing claimants will participate in the revised Personal Capability Assessment. However all existing eligible claimants will have their benefit level protected.


Cabinet Office Website

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many visitors the Cabinet Office website received between 1 February and 1 March 2006; and how many updates were made to the website during that period. [60163]

Mr. Jim Murphy: During this period, the Cabinet Office website had 48,799 unique visitors who visited the site a total of 160,308 times. The website was updated 876 times.

Ministerial Travel

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans he has to purchase an aircraft for the dedicated use of the Prime Minister; and if he will make a statement. [59419]

Mr. Jim Murphy: In December 2004 my right hon. Friend the then Minister for the Cabinet Office announced an independent review of royal family and
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ministerial air travel to be led by Sir. Peter Gershon. When Sir. Peter submits his findings the Government will give them careful consideration.

Public Services

Mr. Bone: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what recent discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on the delivery of reform of public services. [59873]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The delivery of reform of public services is at the core of most discussions that I have with colleagues in delivery Departments. There are regular discussions on matters related to delivery, both between Ministers attending Cabinet Committee meetings and between Ministers and their officials.



Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many studies monitoring the contribution of the caravan sector to the Northern Ireland economy have been carried out in the past 20 years. [60459]

Mr. Hanson: The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has, over the past 20 years, undertaken two annual surveys per year which identify the revenue spent by visitors and domestic holidaymakers including the caravan sector. NITB has not undertaken any additional, dedicated, surveys among the caravan sector providers over this period, and has no plans to do so.

Estimates of the number of employee jobs in camping sites (including caravan sites) are readily available from the Census of Employment on a biennial basis from September 1995. The latest estimates available relate to September 2003 (123 employee jobs). Information relating to September 2005 will be available in late 2006.

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