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13 Dec 2006 : Column 1121Wcontinued
In addition the total number of staff employed at peak period for each of the last five years is as follows:
|(1)The figures for 2006 are until the end of September 2006.)|
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his Department continues to issue jumbo 48-page passports. 
Joan Ryan: Provision of the jumbo 48-page passport was withdrawn on 18 September 2006 and at present only 32-page biometric passports are available. The 48-page book was withdrawn so that the Identity and Passport Service could safely move from digital to biometric passports and meet the US visa waiver deadline of 26 October for full production of 32-page biometric books. A date has yet to be set as to when the 48-page passport may be reintroduced; this will potentially be spring 2007.
Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many passport applications there were in each of the last five years. 
Joan Ryan: The number of passport applications received by the Identity and Passport Service (formerly UKPS) in each of the last five calendar years are as follows:
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Obscene Publications Act 1959 applies to internet websites offering pornographic material, with particular reference to child protection on the internet; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Coaker: The Obscene Publications Act 1959 applies to all published material whether on the internet or offline. Material is published if it is circulated, distributed, sold, given, lent or offered to another person. It will be deemed to be obscene if the court finds that its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely to read, see or hear it.
The Criminal Law Subgroup of the Home Secretarys Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet has considered the implications of a judgment in the Court of Appeal (R v. Perrin  EWCA crim 747) which indicated that where children are likely to access material of a degree of sexual explicitness equivalent to what is available to those aged 18 and above in a licensed sex shop, that material may be considered to be obscene and subject to prosecution. This applies to material which is not behind a suitable payment barrier or other accepted means of age verification, for example, material on the front page of pornography websites and non-commercial, user-generated material which is likely to be accessed by children and meets the threshold.
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what evidence underlay the decision by HM Prison Service to provide industrial and agricultural grades with a £350 recruitment and retention payment; and what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the payment on recruitment and retention. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: Following identified concerns from managers, a recruitment and retention allowancefor specified trades was introduced in 2005. While establishments have stated that recruitment and retention problems have eased in targeted trades, a reduced allowance of £350 for 2006 is still required to maintain progress. Further review and impact assessment will be undertaken as part of the current Job Evaluation project.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the proposed EU legislation for the Schengen Information System II additional acquis; and what its legal base is. 
Joan Ryan: The second generation Schengen Information System, SIS II will enable extension of an enhanced system with new functions to at least 30 member states. The legal base for SIS II consists of three draft legal instruments:
A Regulation of the Parliament and the Council based on Articles 62(2)(a), 63(3)(b) and 66 of the treaty establishing the European Community (TEC), covering alerts on third country nationals for the purpose of refusing entry and stay. The UK will not participate in this Regulation.
A Council Decision based on Articles 31(1)(a) and (b) and 34(2)(c) of the treaty on European Union, covering alerts on persons wanted for arrest for surrender or extradition purposes; missing persons; persons sought in order to assist with a judicial procedure; persons and objects for discreet checks or specific checks; and objects for seizure or use as evidence in criminal proceedings. The UK will participate in this Decision.
A Regulation of the Parliament and the Council based on Article 71 TEC, regarding access by the services in the
member states responsible for issuing vehicle registration certificates. The UK will participate in this Regulation.
The European Parliament adopted the draft legal instruments at first reading in October 2006. The Finnish presidency of the EU hopes that the two Regulations will be formally adopted as an A point at a Council before the end of December, and that the Council Decision will be formally adopted early in January 2007.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) fraud and (b) error rate was in the administration of the basic state pension in each of the last five years; how many basic state pension claimants were asked to make repayments in each year; what the total amount of overpaid state pensions repaid was in each year; and what the average amount of basic pension overpayed to claimants was in each year. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The number of state pension customers who were asked to make repayments in each year is not available. The available information is in the following tables.
|Table 1: Estimates of state pension overpaid|
|April to March each year||Fraud||Customer error||Official error||Total|
The estimated amounts of state pension overpaid in each of the last five years are set out in Table 1. As state pension is not reviewed every year, the estimates provided are calculated as follows:
1. Fraud and customer error estimates are calculated by applying percentages from the 2006 state pension pilot National Benefit Review to expenditure for previous years.
2. The official error estimates are produced from the continuous official error measurement in the relevant year.
|Table 2: Amount of state pension repaid in each of the last five years|
|Recovered (£ million)|
A direct comparison with the figures in Table 1 is inappropriate. This is because the data in Table 1 are obtained from sampling exercises which are then assumed to apply to the total number of state pension cases. In contrast, the figures in this table relate to actual amounts repaid.
|Table 3: Average amount of state pension overpaid to individual customers who have been overpaid|
|Average amount overpaid (£)|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost of bereavement benefit was in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The gross cost of bereavement benefits in the last 12 months was £838 million.
1. The quoted figure has been extracted from the Department's accounting systems and relates to a 12 month period ending October 2006.
2. The figure is gross expenditure and does not take account of any benefit recoveries or accounting adjustments, and is not audited.
3. The impact of any resulting adjustments is historically small.
4. DWP benefit expenditure tables can be viewed at the following website: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/expenditure.asp.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of his Department's mail is shipped using private companies; and what the cost has been over the last 12 months. 
Mrs. McGuire: The percentage of mail shipped using private companies is 11 per cent. This is made up of8 per cent. via a courier contract and 3 per cent. via alternative mail providers. The total expenditure was £7.9 million.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) single pensioners and (b) pensioner couples received (i) pension credit in 2006-07 and (ii) income support in 1997-98 in each ward in the London boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea; and what the average payment was in each case. 
James Purnell: The number of single pensioners and pensioner couples receiving pension credit in 2006-07 for each ward in the London boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea is in Tables 1 and 2. The earliest year for which we are able to provide information on the number of single pensioners and pensioner couples by ward is 1999. This information for the minimum income guarantee, which replaced income support for pensioners in May 1999 is provided in Tables 3 and 4. Table 5 contains the total numberof single pensioners and pensioner couples in receipt of income support in the London boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea in 1997-8.
|Table 1: Pensioner couples and single pensioners in receipt of pension credit and average weekly payments of benefit for wards in Westminster, May 2006.|
|Number||Average weekly payments (£)|
|Ward name||Pensioner couples||Single pensioners||Pensioner couples||Single pensioners|
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