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19 July 2006 : Column 479W—continued


Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what provision he has made to assist families affected by suicides within the (a) East Belfast, (b) North Down and (c) Ards/Castlereagh area of Strangford; and if he will make a statement. [85051]

Paul Goggins: The Ulster Community and Hospitals Health and Social Services Trust provides a range of mental health intervention and strategies to support the families of suicide victims, including counselling for bereavement in conjunction with specialised agencies such as CRUSE.

Since February 2004, the Trust has been operating a Crisis Response and Home Treatment Team, which is available 365 days per year to provide an appropriate response to individuals who have attempted self-harm or are suicidal.

In addition to this service, members of this team assess any patient who presents to the A&E department of the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, suffering from mental health problems. Furthermore, the Trust has recently trained three staff in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training and arrangements
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are presently being made for suicide awareness sessions in local sports and community clubs.

South and East Belfast Trust offer the primary care route of referral for assessment of mental health and will offer bereavement counselling through Community Psychiatric Nursing and Social Work services. They can also offer to support families in a crisis through involvement with their Crisis Response and Home Treatment Team. South and East Belfast Trust also signpost individuals and families to voluntary organisations such as CRUSE who offer straightforward bereavement counselling.

Regionally, a Families Forum is to be established. This forum will nominate representatives to sit on the forthcoming Suicide Strategy Implementation Body and will allow those bereaved by suicide to have a major say in the implementation of the Strategy.


Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the most recent take-up rate is of MMR vaccine, broken down by council district in Northern Ireland. [85729]

Paul Goggins: Information on the take-up of MMR vaccine broken down by council district area is not collected centrally. However, the Department collects information from health and social services (HSS) boards on the immunisation status of each board’s resident children with regard to several conditions including MMR.

The latest available information on MMR immunisations by HSS Boards is detailed in the following table, which shows the percentage of children resident in each board’s administrative area that completed a primary course of MMR immunisations at any time before their second birthday, which occurred during the year ending 31 March 2005.

Board of Residence MMR (Percentage)









Northern Ireland


Valuation and Lands Agency

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 21 June 2006, Official Report, column 1872W, on the Valuation and Lands Agency, when the documentation will be placed in the Library. [85448]

Mr. Hanson: These documents were placed in the Library on 28 June 2006.

Wind Turbines (Hospitals)

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to his answer of 26 June 2006, Official Report, column 216W, on wind turbines (acute hospitals), whether other acute hospitals have expressed an interest in having a wind turbine constructed at their sites in the next 12 months. [85727]

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Paul Goggins: Causeway Hospital, Coleraine, has expressed an interest in developing a wind turbine installation on the site within the next 12 months.

Prime Minister

G8 Summit

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Prime Minister if he will raise the issue of the Russian Federation’s level of compliance with the Energy Charter Treaty and its transit protocol with President Putin at the forthcoming G8 Summit in St. Petersburg. [85092]

The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to my statement of 18 July 2006, Official Report, columns 151-54.


Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will ensure that (a) individuals who use tax havens and (b) directors whose firms are involved in (i) exploitation of cheap labour at home or overseas, (ii) tax avoidance or price fixing and (iii) health and safety violations are not considered for honours. [83379]

The Prime Minister: Guidance for nominating potential recipients of honours and the criteria for consideration for awards of honours are available on the Cabinet Office website ( and in the Library of the House.

Ministerial Behaviour

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with Sir John Bourn on matters concerning the behaviour of Ministers; and if he will make a statement. [85015]

The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Maldon and Chelmsford East (Mr. Whittingdale) during my evidence to the Liaison Committee on 4 July.

Work and Pensions

Atos Medical Services

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he plans to review (a) the contract with Atos Medical Services as part of the Welfare Reform Programme and the Disability Equality Duty scheme and (b) the training requirements for Atos medical staff. [84388]

Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 12 July 2006]: The contract between the Department and Atos Origin is reviewed on an on-going basis to ensure it delivers services that are fully compliant with all current relevant legislation.

Each year a programme of continuing medical education is agreed with Atos Origin that identifies training need priorities for all Atos medical
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practitioners. Participation is mandatory and ensures medical knowledge and expertise is kept up to date. Implementation is monitored through an established governance framework. Any changes or amendments to the contracted service arising from changes in business requirements include a review of the training requirements for doctors.

Benefit Claimants

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department has taken to tackle the perceived stigma of claiming benefits by people in rural areas; and if he will make a statement. [84955]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) is currently undertaking its annual monitoring of the rural proofing of Government policy. The CRC has appointed a team of consultants who will be interviewing officials from each Government Department on selected subjects. One subject selected for the DWP is the payment of benefits. The interviews are expected to take place this month.

The Department also produces an internal annual Rural Proofing Report for the Countryside Agency; this includes examples of how the Department has addressed service delivery issues in rural areas. A copy of the Countryside Agency’s Rural Proofing Report for 2004-05 is available in the Library.

A fundamental element of our plans for the future is the need to transform the way customers access and use the services of Jobcentre Plus so we can release resources to focus on customers who need more help. Customers are no longer required to attend our offices to make claims for benefits, undertake jobsearch activities or to enquire about their benefit payments. As we transform our services, other more efficient channels are now available to our customers, such as Jobseeker Direct, Interactive TV, or the Jobcentre Plus website, and these new options will greatly assist our customers living in rural areas.

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the likely impact in each region of introducing a lower rate of benefit for young people under the age of 25 claiming the proposed employment and support allowance. [78108]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The proposal in the Green Paper was to align the basic rate of the employment and support allowance with jobseeker’s allowance basic rates. In the main phase, a work-related activity component or support component would be added on top.

During the consultation period, stakeholders raised concerns that this would penalise disabled young people. Therefore, in our consultation report we announced that we will not proceed with plans for a young person’s rate during the main phase. Claimants will get the same benefit rate, regardless of age, once on the main phase of the benefit. We believe that this provides the best balance between aligning rates until the medical assessment is completed, and making sure
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we provide an appropriate level of support for all people with health conditions or disabilities.

The Green Paper consultation report (CM6859) is available in the Library.

Incapacity Benefit

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which local authorities had an increase in the numbers of incapacity benefit claimants between 2001 and 2005. [86398]

Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 18 July 2006]: The information has been placed in the Library.

Job Vacancies (Hartlepool)

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many job vacancies were listed at Jobcentre Plus in Hartlepool constituency in each year since 1997. [77176]

Mr. Jim Murphy: [pursuant to the reply, 26 June 2006, Official Report, column 54W]: Information on Jobcentre Plus vacancy data at parliamentary constituency level is only available from April 2004 and is set out in the following table.

Hartlepool Parliamentary Constituency
Period Vacancies notified to Jobcentre Plus Average number of 'live' unfilled vacancies on any given day

2004 (from April)






Source: Jobcentre Plus Labour Market System


Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the amount spent by his Department, including the costs spent on administration costs, responding to requests from pensioners who live abroad and have their pensions frozen in each year since 2001-02; and if he will make a statement. [83378]

James Purnell: Information that is available is in the following tables. We are unable to provide costs prior to 2004-05.

Costs for 2004005 and 2005-06
2004-05 2005-2006 Total

Frozen state pension paid to pensioners living abroad




Direct costs to administer frozen state pensions for pensioners who live abroad.





874. 18



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Costs For The First Three Months Of The Financial Year 2006-07

Frozen state pension paid to pensioners living abroad


Direct costs to administer frozen state pensions for pensioners who live abroad.




Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what pilot projects have been funded as part of the initiative announced in the 1997 pre-Budget report to encourage the improved take-up of benefits by pensioners; how many projects were given long-term funding; and how many pensioners were involved in the pilot projects. [85560]

James Purnell: The information is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 11 July 2006, Official Report, column 1754W, on pensions reform, if he will add a column to the table provided in the answer showing comparable data assuming the Pension Commission’s proposals were implemented in total. [86518]

James Purnell: The figures presented in the 11 July 2006, Official Report, column 1753W refer to people reaching state pension age. They consequently will not be affected by including the assumption of the full implementation of the Pensions Commission proposals—i.e. to include the payment of a full basic state pension to all people aged 75 and over.

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are in receipt of (a) state pension and (b) pension credits in each nation and region of the UK; and what total spending was on each benefit in the latest period for which figures are available. [86512]

James Purnell: Information that is available relating to the state pension caseload and number of individual beneficiaries of pension credit in Great Britain on 31 November 2005 is in the following table. Information relating to Northern Ireland is the responsibility of my hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

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Government office region State pension caseload Pension credit—individual beneficiaries

North East



North West



Yorkshire and the Humber



East Midlands



West Midlands



East of England






South East



South West









Source: DWP Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study

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