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Pensions Bill

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the cost to the Treasury of implementing the effects of Lords Amendments 68 to 76 to the Pensions Bill. [142568]

James Purnell: We have not worked out the exact cost of implementing the amendments as they are somewhat contradictory in effect and may be technically deficient. The intended effect would appear to be payment of PPF levels of benefit to those qualifying for FAS schemes (costs below). The amendments would also extend the level of benefits to an unspecified number of pension schemes in wind up with a solvent employer, costings for which will not be available until after the report of the review of FAS scheme assets. There would be very significant implementation costs in setting up and running the institutions proposed but these have not been costed.

Paying PPF level benefits to the current set of qualifying FAS schemes would cost around £2.5 billion in NPV terms (£640 million in addition to the budget extension) and £10.6 billion in cash terms (an additional £2.7 billion on the Budget extension).

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Pensions: Bankruptcy

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) when he decided to include other sources of non-public funding in the review of pension scheme assets held by schemes in wind-up with a deficiency of assets; [140364]

(2) when he decided to publish an initial report in summer 2007 on pension scheme assets held by schemes in wind-up with a deficiency of assets in addition to a final report before the end of the year; for what reasons; and if he will make a statement; [140365]

(3) whether the initial report on pension scheme assets held by schemes in wind-up with a deficiency of assets is planned to be published before the summer parliamentary recess 2007. [140366]

James Purnell: On 28 March 2007 the Secretary of State announced a review to examine how the best use could be made of the assets in pension schemes that are winding up underfunded. He also said the review would consider any suggestions from interested and concerned parties.

On 23 April 2007 in a letter placed in the House, the Minister of State for Pensions Reform provided the full terms of reference which referred specifically to the review considering other sources of non-public expenditure funding (that have not already been allocated). It also stated

We expect that an initial report will be provided before the summer parliamentary recess of 2007.


John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of the Remploy workforce is aged over 55 years. [140712]

Mrs. McGuire: [holding answer 6 June 2007]: 29 per cent. of the Remploy workforce is aged over 55 years.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consideration he has given to the option of joint ventures, including with local colleges, at any existing Remploy site. [140713]

Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 6 June 2007]: Remploy has contacted over 120 local organisations, including local colleges, providers and community groups to establish how they can work together.

Remploy has established national partnerships with four major charities and Social Firms UK to establish what they can do to support employees should a decision be taken to close any factories.

Remploy: Closures

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assistance is planned to be made available to workers affected by the closure of Remploy factories in finding alternative employment in a sector of their choice. [139200]

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Mrs. McGuire: Remploy will provide a support package to help employees through the transition and ensure that disabled people will continue to be able to choose to maintain meaningful employment on Remploy’s terms and conditions, including membership of Remploy’s final salary pension scheme.

The Government will consider the Company’s final proposals once they have been submitted later in the year following consultation. No decisions by the Secretary of State on the future of the Company will take place until then.

(The total retraining and job placement budget for dealing with those affected is £58 million).

Social Security Benefits

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average weekly amount of benefit was for an (a) single pensioner, (b) married pensioner, (c) single person under pensionable age, (d) married couple under pensionable age and (e) married couple with children (i) in 1997 and (ii) at the latest available date. [128541]

James Purnell [pursuant to the reply , 18 May 2007, Official Report, c . 941W]: The available information is in the following table.

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Average (mean) weekly benefit payments to claimants in Great Britain
1997-98 2005-06

Single pensioner



Married pensioner couple



Single non-pensioner



Married non-pensioner couple



Married non-pensioner couple with children



1.Data for 1997-98 were collected between April 1997 and March 1998 and data for 2005-06 were collected between April 2005 and March 2006.
2.The Family Resources Survey (FRS) is a nationally representative sample of approximately 28,000 households.
3.Pensioner couple is defined as a couple where the head of the benefit unit is over pension age, defined as 60 for women and 65 for men.
4.Married couples include Civil Partnerships in 2005-06.
5.The estimates are based on sample counts that have been adjusted for non-response using multi-purpose grossing factors which align the FRS to Government Office Region populations by age and sex. Estimates are subject to sampling error and remaining non-response error.
6.Figures are mean-averages of weekly benefits received by claimants only (i.e. excluding non-claimants) and have been rounded to the nearest £1. Figures for couples are average weekly benefit amounts per couple.
7.Figures for weekly benefits include both income-related and non-income related benefits but exclude tax credits.
Family Resources Survey: Great Britain 1997-98 and 2005-06.

Social Security Benefits: Prosecutions

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many prosecution cases were brought outside the 12 month limitation under section 112 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and what percentage such cases represented of cases undertaken in each year. [142008]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information is not collected centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 14 June 2007


Alcoholic Drinks: Misuse

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether her Department has conducted comparative research on the cost to the NHS of treating the effects of addiction to alcohol and tobacco. [138180]

Caroline Flint: The Department, in partnership with the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA), published Models of Care for Alcohol Misusers in November 2005. Models of Care was informed by the review of the effectiveness of treatment for alcohol problems commissioned by the NTA. Both publications have been placed in the Library and are available at:

The Health Technology Assessment Programme, part of the Department's National Institute for Health Research, is currently supporting two studies looking in part at the cost effectiveness of therapies designed to help people stop smoking. These are:

Angina: Medical Treatments

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment (a) her Department and (b) the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has made of the use of enhanced external counter pulsation treatment for angina; [140705]

(2) which primary care trusts fund the provision of enhanced external counter pulsation treatment; [140706]

(3) what assessment she has made of the availability of enhanced external counter pulsation treatment for individuals with angina in (a) South East Essex primary care trust and (b) primary care trusts which do not provide enhanced external counter pulsation treatment. [140707]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Enhanced external counter pulsation (EECP) is not routinely offered to patients with angina by the national health service. There is currently insufficient evidence on the benefits of using EECP to treat angina. Although there is currently insufficient evidence, should this situation change the position can be reviewed. The National Institute for
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Health and Clinical Excellence were made aware of EECP in 2004, but were unable to pursue an appraisal.

Most central funding is allocated directly to local primary care trusts (PCTs) and health authorities. Individual PCTs are responsible for funding services that reflect the priorities and needs of the local population. The Department is unable to comment on the funding decisions each PCT makes.

Arthritis: Young People

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many children under the age of 16 years in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) England (i) were diagnosed with and (ii) required treatment for the juvenile form of rheumatoid arthritis in each year since 1997; [140827]

(2) how many adults in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) England (i) were diagnosed with and (ii) required treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in each year since 1997. [140829]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The information is not available.

Bereavement Counselling: Buckinghamshire

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what resources and funding have been made available for bereavement services in 2006-07 in Buckinghamshire primary care trust; and if she will make a statement. [141190]

Ms Rosie Winterton: This is a matter for Buckinghamshire primary care trust (PCT). PCTs are responsible for the provision of local services, including bereavement services.

Blood Transfusions

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what factors she will take into account when making a decision on whether to instigate prion filtration in blood transfusion. [142831]

Caroline Flint: The Department will take advice on the use of prion reduction filters from independent evaluations recommended by the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee to test the efficacy and reproducibility of the filters, an approach endorsed by Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Blood and Tissues and Organs. The Department will take the following factors into account when considering prion reduction filters: the results of clinical safety trials and whether they indicate no adverse effect on patients with the use of filtered blood; that filtered blood units meet the required product specification; the results of an independent evaluation of the efficacy of the filtered in reducing variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (vCJD) infectivity in blood; estimates of the prevalence of preclinical vCJD or a carrier state in the donor population and consequent estimates of infections prevented through filtration and the benefit of life years saved; the cost of implementation of filtration compared with the benefit received and the availability of other technologies to reduce infectivity in blood.

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Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if her Department will introduce new treatments and technologies to reduce the risk to public health from blood transfusions on the basis of successful patient trials in Europe and the US. [142833]

Caroline Flint: NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has a duty to investigate any new technologies which might improve the safety of the blood supply. Currently, NHSBT is investigating vCJD screening, new filters to remove infectious prions, bacterial screening of platelets and pathogen inactivation of platelets. Such assessments consist of review of manufacturers’ data on efficacy and quality of the product, laboratory studies and clinical trials as appropriate. NHSBT might need to perform additional studies. Only licenced methods are considered.

All blood safety measures are considered by the Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Blood, Tissues, and Organs for Transplantation.

Blood: Contamination

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many of the documents rediscovered by her Department referred to in the Review of Documentation relating to the Safety of Blood Products—1970-1985 relate to self-sufficiency; and if she will make a statement. [142663]

Caroline Flint: The review identifies that 20.5 per cent. of papers have been categorised as relating to self sufficiency. The focus of the review was 1970-85, and 90 per cent. of the documents related to this time period, just under 10 per cent. fell outside this timeline.

Lord Archer has been advised that the Department will release all papers identified in the review, in line with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The papers will be released to Lord Archer’s inquiry as quickly as possible, in batches on a monthly basis.

British Food

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of food served in (a) buildings occupied by her Department and (b) NHS hospitals was of British origin in (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006. [111125]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: 80 per cent. of food served through the approved supplier of catering and hospitality services to the Departmental estate was home-grown and 20 per cent. produced from other countries in 2005 and 2006.

National health service trusts select the suppliers that provide food for their trust and information relating to the proportion of food served of British origin in all NHS hospitals is not held centrally. However, NHS Supply Chain manages approximately 55 per cent. of the NHS food market, with the balance via facilities management companies and smaller wholesalers. For the period 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006, NHS Supply Chain sourced 59 per cent. of meat from the United Kingdom, while the remainder was imported. The organisation sourced 40 per cent of fruit and vegetables in the UK, while 60 per cent. was imported.

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