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Sir Peter Soulsby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Freedom of Information requests were submitted to the Health and Safety Executive in the last 12 months; how many were refused; and on what basis each was refused. 
Mrs. McGuire: The following information has been retrieved from statistics HSE has provided to the Ministry of Justice (previously known as Department of Constitutional Affairs) which have been published in the Second Annual Report on the operation of the FOI Act in Central Government 2006. This can be found at:
Mr. Jim Murphy: The Working Future project is led by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and East Thames (a large registered social landlord). Although the Department for Work and Pensions is supporting the project, the GLA is responsible for its evaluation.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average length taken for an incapacity benefit claimant losing benefit to have his or her appeal heard was in (a) 1997 and (b) the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement on his Departments plans to shorten the period between loss of benefit and an appeal hearing taking place. 
|Incapacity benefit appeals: average clearance time from lodged to cleared at hearing|
|Average clearance time (weeks)|
|(1) Figures are not available prior to September 1997|
1. All figures are subject to change as more up to date data become available.
2. Figures for the latest months may increase substantially as information feeds through to the Appeals Service.
100 per cent. download of the Generic Appeals Processing System
The Department is continually working to improve the speed of the whole claims process, including reconsiderations and appeals. The appeals process involves a number of stages, from the lodging of the appeal, through reconsideration of the decision, to referral of the appeal submission to the Tribunals Service. The Tribunals Service is part of the Ministry of Justice. In Jobcentre Plus, the target time, from the lodging of an appeal to referral of a submission to the Tribunals Service, is 50 days. In 2006, this process took an average of 37 days.
Mrs. McGuire: HSE does not hold this information in a manner allowing the question to be answered in detail without incurring disproportionate cost. Work is in hand to allow regular reporting of this information from 2007-08 onwards.
Sir Peter Soulsby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of workplace deaths in the construction industry resulted in (a) prosecution and (b) conviction in each of the last five years. 
Mrs. McGuire: HSE does not hold this information in a manner allowing the question to be answered without incurring disproportionate cost. Work is in hand to allow regular reporting of this information from 2007-08 onwards.
In response to a recent exercise to respond to an FOI request HSE prepared figures for the years 2000-01 to 2002-03 inclusive. There are still some prosecutions ongoing from these years, and we cannot give figures for 2003-04 onwards because of significant numbers of outstanding prosecutions.
Sir Peter Soulsby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of workplace deaths of non-British nationals resulted in (a) prosecution and (b) conviction in each of the last five years. 
Mrs. McGuire: Workplace deaths are reportable to HSE under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2005). RIDDOR does not require employers to provide information on the nationality of an injured person. Therefore this information could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.
Sir Peter Soulsby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many employer representatives were given custodial sentences for offences relating to their failure to comply with health and safety law in each of the last five years. 
Mrs. McGuire: HSEs prosecution data is not recorded in a way that enables the answer to be provided in the format requested without incurring disproportionate cost. However, the limited analysis undertaken by HSE indicates that, between 1994 and 2004, 111 company directors were prosecuted, with 86 convicted under Health and Safety at Work legislation. 11 were given custodial sentences.
Sir Peter Soulsby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what average fine was imposed on employers for breaches of health and safety regulations in the last period for which figures are available. 
Sir Peter Soulsby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what measures are being taken to ensure health and safety policy in the workplace is effectively communicated to non-English speakers. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published guidance and press articles for employers on how to meet legal requirements for communicating clearly to non-English speaking workers information about risks at work, and the measures needed to avoid them. It has also set out clearly what workers should expect from employers on this, in a leaflet (produced jointly with the TUC) currently available in 24 languages, together with other leaflets on specific topics. HSE visiting staff have clear instructions on the need to address this issue at site visits.
Sir Peter Soulsby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions he has had with (a) the Health and Safety Executive and (b) trade unions on health and safety concerns related to the employment of non-English speaking nationals in the building and construction industry. 
Mrs. McGuire: My colleague Lord McKenzie of Luton, Minister with responsibility for health and safety, meets regularly with the Chair of the Health and Safety Commission and with the Health and Safety Executives Chief Executive and Chief Inspector of Construction. His discussions encompass not only general health and safety issues, but those covering issues specific to constructionincluding vulnerable groups such as migrant workers.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what provisions have been made in the workplace to allow for deaf employees to carry out their work efficiently in the last five years. 
Mrs. McGuire: In the last five years, the Government have significantly improved the protection afforded to disabled people, including people with hearing impairments, under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). For example, from 1 October 2004, we extended the employment provision of the Act to cover all employers and all previously excluded occupations with the exception of service in the armed forces.
The DDA requires employers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees or job applicants where the disabled person would otherwise be at a substantial disadvantage compared with a non-disabled person. For a deaf person, this may include installing induction loops or visual warning displays in place of, or in addition to, audible warnings.
Provision of assistance for people with a hearing impairment is available through Access to Work. As well as giving advice and information to disabled people and employers, grants are available towards the approved costs that arise because of an individuals impairment. For example, Access to Work can help pay for communication support for people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment. Funding for Access to Work has increased from £51 million in 2002-03 to £64 million in 2007-08.
Updated and strengthened guidance on the provision of support workers, including communication support for deaf and hard of hearing people, was issued to all Access to Work Business Centres in December 2006. The guidance describes the types of support that may be suitable, for example sign language interpreters, lip speakers and palantypists, as well as the steps to take to establish the type and level of appropriate support.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many (a) people on incapacity benefit and (b) lone parents were assisted back into employment by the job centre in Chard in each of the last five years; what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of that job centre, and if he will make a statement; 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions about Chard Jobcentre. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to Lesley Strathie as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus. I am replying on her behalf as Acting Chief Executive.
Information on the number of people on Incapacity Benefit and the number of Lone Parents who were assisted back into employment by Chard Jobcentre is only available from 2004. The available information is in the table below.
|Incapacity benefit and lone parents placed into employment at Chard jobcentre April 2004March 2006|
Business Information System
Chard Jobcentre has received two Jobcentre Plus awards. The office received a South West Performance Award for the period October to December 2006. It also received a South West Regional Customer Service Award in 2007.
We do not routinely collect data on the number of customers who use our Jobcentres and, therefore, do not have actual customer numbers for Chard, Bridport and Frome Jobcentres over the last 12 months. We are analysing the number of customers using Chard Jobcentre as part of the office network review. This monitoring commenced on 21 May 2007 and is being undertaken over a six week period. Frome and Bridport Jobcentres do not form part of this review.
I hope this is helpful.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his recent correspondence with the hon. Member for Christchurch, in what ways the report to him from Jobcentre Plus suggested that the closure of the Christchurch Jobcentre Plus office would enable his Department to provide a better service to the residents of Christchurch than it had previously been able to provide; and what assessment he made of the conclusions of that report before making his decision to go out to consultation on the closure of that office. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the proposed closure of Christchurch Jobcentre. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to
Leslie Strathie as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus. I am replying on her behalf as Acting Chief Executive.
As our Minister of State, Jim Murphy, outlined in his letter of 15 May, this is part of the work being undertaken to review the services we provide to our wide range of customers through our network of Jobcentre Plus offices. Advances in technology and increased availability of Contact Centre facilities mean that increasing numbers of customers access our services by using the telephone or via the internet. At the same time, given the continuing pressure on our resources, it is critical that we make the most effective and equitable use of them.
The proposal for the closure of the Christchurch site reflects the low level of customers in the catchment area and the major investment of public money in the development of a new Bournemouth Jobcentre Plus office, which is located five miles away. No final decision will be made on the closure until after the six-week consultation exercise is concluded on 2 July 2007.
I hope this is helpful in clarifying the current position.
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