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21 Jun 2006 : Column 1926W—continued

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate (a) the number of people affected by and (b) the total savings to the Treasury from the abolition of adult dependency increases, as proposed in the White Paper, “Security in Retirement: towards a new pensions system” in (i) 2020, (ii) 2030, (iii) 2040 and (iv) 2050. [77997]

James Purnell: The information requested is set out in the following table:

Expenditure saved (£ billion) Number of people affected













1. Expenditure is in 2006-07 price terms and all figures are for UK and overseas cases.
2. Estimates of expenditure changes are consistent with the policy detail set out in the White Paper.
3. Savings presented in the table are additional to long-term projections of United Kingdom benefit spend, consistent with the Budget Report 2006 but are subsumed in the overall costs of the proposals as set out in the White Paper.
4. Currently around 66,000 people (the vast majority of whom are men) receive an adult dependency increase of state pension.
5. The numbers in the table take account of the equalisation of State Pension age between 2010 and 2020 and are based on current rates of female labour market participation.
6. The numbers affected are rounded to the nearest 10,000.

Post Office Card Account

Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on what date the first public announcement was made that the Post Office card account was a temporary scheme. [70892]

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Mr. Plaskitt: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mr. Reid) on 13 March 2006, Official Report, column 1849W.

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact of the withdrawal of Post Office card accounts on the blind and partially sighted. [74530]

Mr. Plaskitt: Post Office Ltd. made a number of improvements to its PIN pads to ensure its banking services were accessible to as many customers as possible, including those who are blind and partially sighted. Customers using a bank account at the Post Office follow exactly the same routine as those using a Post Office card account. They insert their plastic cards in the same PIN pads before entering their PIN. So any blind or partially sighted people who have used a card account should equally well be able to use a bank account at their post office branch.

Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his Answer of 3 May 2006, Official Report, column 1606W, on Post Office card accounts, whether (a) agents and (b) outsourced workers of the Pensions Service are telephoning pensioners to persuade them to cease using their Post Office card accounts. [75814]

Mr. Plaskitt: No, they are not.

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Targeting Fraud Website

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many hits the Targeting Fraud website has received, broken down by month; how many cases of suspected fraud have been reported to the website; how many of these suspected cases have been investigated; how many (a) cases of fraud have been established, (b) changes to benefits have been made and (c) successful prosecutions there have been as a result; and what sentences have been imposed by the courts when prosecutions have been successful; [73440]

(2) how many submissions have been made to the Targeting Fraud website in each month since January 2000; how many referrals for investigation were made as a result of submissions to the Targeting Fraud website; how many investigations were completed as a result of submissions to the website; and how many prosecutions have resulted from website submissions. [73441]

Mr. Plaskitt: Information is not available broken down by month. Information on sentences arising from investigations as a direct result of the Targeting Fraud website is not available.

The available information is in the following table.

Targeting Fraud website
Hits received Cases reported to website Cases referred for investigation Cases accepted for investigation Cases completed Cases with change of benefit Cases successfully prosecuted

May 2000 to March 2001







April 2001 to March 2002








April 2002 to March 2003








April 2003 to March 2004








April 2004 to March 2005








March 2005 to April 2006








(1) Not available.
(2) Not yet available.
Records commenced from May 2000, when the Targeting Fraud website became available.
DWP Communications -Targeting Fraud, National Benefit Fraud Hotline (NBFH), Fraud Information by Sector (FIBS).

Foreign and Commonwealth Office


Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the case of Abdul Rahman, convicted in Afghanistan of apostasy. [77942]

Dr. Howells: Abdul Rahman was not convicted of apostasy.

Owing to apparent procedural flaws in the case, the apostasy charges against Mr. Rahman were referred back to the Attorney-General's Office and he was released from custody on 26 March 2006.

I refer the hon. Member to my public statement of 22 March 2006, available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at Page&c=Page&cid=1007029391629&a=KArticle&aid =1142704623955%20&year=2006&month=2006-03-01 &date=2006-03-22, and to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Clwyd, West (Mr. Jones) on 28 March 2006, Official Report, column 914W.

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Latin America

Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of US democracy promotion in Latin America. [78058]

Mr. Hoon: We have not made a specific assessment of the impact of US democracy promotion in Latin America. We work with a number of partners in the EU and across the region to promote democracy and good governance in Latin America.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made towards the implementation of the 13 practical steps for nuclear disarmament adopted in 2000 at the non-proliferation treaty review conference. [79084]

Dr. Howells: The UK is fulfilling all its obligations under the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT), including those on disarmament under Article VI of the treaty. We continue to support the relevant disarmament measures contained in the Final Document from the NPT Review Conference (RevCon) in 2000, including the 13 practical steps towards disarmament, and we have a good record on meeting the priorities they set out. Not all the 13 steps are relevant to the UK, such as those relating to bilateral measures between the US and Russia. However, we have made progress on the majority of the other steps. For example, in 2000 the UK initiated a research programme to study techniques and technologies that could be used to verify nuclear disarmament. Conclusions of this programme were presented to the 2005 NPT RevCon. We continue to call for the entry into force of the comprehensive test ban treaty as soon as possible and, pending its entry into force, maintain a moratorium on nuclear weapons test explosions and any other nuclear explosions. The UK is also pressing for the immediate commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, without preconditions, at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

Terrorism Victims

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in (a) providing financial support and (b) improving information and logistical support for British citizens who are victims of terrorist attacks abroad; and if she will make a statement. [78311]

Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has in place a package of immediate assistance measures to help victims of terrorism overseas and their families in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist incident overseas. This is available in the absence of an insurance policy, employer's scheme or any other form of assistance.

Depending on the circumstances, the support we offer on top of our normal support may include medical evacuation for people who have been injured or evacuation
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for people in danger (this may not necessarily be to the UK, but to a safe place in the region); paying immediate medical expenses; transporting bodies or remains back home; paying the return luggage costs of those killed or injured; travel for two members of the victim's family to the site of the attack; and accommodation and travel insurance.

In addition to this support, victims of major catastrophes overseas, or their families, need further help when they return to the UK. The Humanitarian Assistance Unit in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) works with the relevant agencies and services to help victims to get the aftercare they need.

The Chancellor announced in the Budget a £1 million initial endowment to a charitable fund to help the British victims of terrorism. The fund will provide rapid relief to meet the immediate financial needs of those caught up in a terrorist attack, whether in the UK or overseas. The DCMS is working in consultation with the voluntary sector, partners in Government and victims' groups to finalise the details and will make a further announcement in due course.

Information and logistical support has been improved by the deployment of Rapid Deployment Teams (RDTs) to the areas affected. These volunteers are trained consular officers who travel to the area to assist our embassy/high commission with the incident. Their tasks range from meeting family members to visits to morgues, assisting with medevacs etc. The RDTs also consist of personnel from International SOS and the British Red Cross.


Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans there are for Ministers in her Department to visit Venezuela. [78054]

Mr. Hoon: Foreign engagements for my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and other Ministers are kept under constant review. It is not our practice to announce such visits until they are firm. Because of the unpredictable nature of world events, final decisions on overseas visits are often not possible until very shortly before the day of travel.

Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken to promote British commercial interests in Venezuela. [78055]

Mr. Hoon: We actively support UK commercial interests in Venezuela through our embassy in Caracas, UK Trade and Investment and UK regional partners. UK exports to Venezuela have grown in recent years: £236 million in 2005 (26 per cent. up on 2004). The embassy and its partners work closely with the Venezuelan authorities, national and private companies, and chambers of commerce in Venezuela to identify and report commercial opportunities that could benefit UK enterprises. This year we will support five outward missions to Venezuela by UK small and medium-sized enterprises and two inward missions to the UK by Venezuelan companies seeking joint venture partnerships and alliances.

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Weapons of Terror Report

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of recommendations (a) 58, (b) 26, (c) 20, (d) 19, (e) 7 and (f) 45 of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission report on weapons of terror; and if she will make a statement. [79082]

Dr. Howells: The UK has not yet made a full assessment of the various recommendations contained in the report of the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Commission, “Weapons of Terror”. However, we consider it to be a valuable contribution to the continuing discussion of proliferation in many fora around the world and will study it closely.

The UK takes its disarmament obligations under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) very seriously and we have an excellent record in this area. We have reduced the explosive power of our nuclear forces by over 70 per cent. since the end of the cold war and currently have a stockpile of fewer than 200 operational warheads. We continue to support the relevant measures agreed at the 1995 and 2000 NPT Review Conferences and have a good record on meeting the priorities they set out. We also remain fully committed to the negative and positive security assurances we gave to non-nuclear weapon States Party to the NPT in 1995.

The UK is fully committed to progress in multilateral disarmament fora, in particular in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). We continue to press for the immediate commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, without pre-conditions, in the CD. However, we believe that the CD must continue to operate by consensus if we are to make progress on these serious matters.

The Outer Space Treaty (1967), to which the UK is a Depository, places important constraints on the use of space, prohibiting the deployment of WMD in space and military activity on the moon and other celestial bodies. There is no international consensus on the need to start negotiations on a new international instrument governing the military use of space.

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