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20 May 2008 : Column 220W—continued


20 May 2008 : Column 221W

Hazardous Substances

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what restrictions on the retail sale of (a) sulphuric acid and (b) other highly corrosive substances there are; and if he will make a statement. [205532]

Mr. Coaker: I have been asked to reply.

The Home Office controls the sale of sulphuric acid, together with other corrosive acids (formic, hydrochloric, hydrofluoric, nitric and phosphoric) under the Poisons Act 1972, included in Part II of the Poisons List. The purpose of the legislation is to allow the sale of commonly-used poisons whilst protecting the individual from their inherent dangers. The sale of Part II poisons are restricted to retail pharmacies and to businesses whose premises have been entered on to local authorities' lists as sellers of poisons (usually hardware stores, garden centres and the like).

The manufacture and sale of certain chemicals, that can be used in the production of illicit drugs, is controlled under EU legislation (Council Regulations (EC) Nos. 273/2004 and 111/2005) and effected through drug precursors regulations administered by the Home Office. Two of the chemicals under such control are sulphuric and hydrochloric acid, both commonly used as solvents in illicit production. Any company manufacturing or trading in either, and in quantities over 100kg a year, must be registered with the Home Office and exports to certain sensitive countries must be authorised.

Additionally, when hazardous chemicals, including sulphuric acid and other corrosive substances are sold, the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2002 places a requirement on suppliers to package such chemicals safely and label properly so that information is provided on the risks associated with these chemicals.

Income Support: Lone Parents

Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will exempt lone parents providing full-time home education for their children from the planned requirement that lone parents be actively seeking work to receive income support; [205382]

(2) what support will be available for lone parents providing full-time home education to their children when the requirement for such parents to be actively seeking work to receive income support comes into effect; and if he will make a statement. [205383]

Mr. Timms: Details of the Government's proposed changes to benefit conditionally for lone parents, together with a set of draft regulations, were presented to the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) on 7 May 2008. The Committee will shortly commence a public consultation exercise seeking views on the proposals from interested organisations before formally responding to the Secretary of State. After considering the SSAC report, the Government will respond on the arrangements for lone parents, including those who educate their children at home.


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In the documentation provided to SSAC, the Government outlined their proposals on lone parents who educate their children at home. While recognising that lone parents can choose to do so, it is not the purpose of income support to fund them to educate their children at home. Therefore, the Government consider that they should be required to look for paid work when their youngest child reaches the relevant threshold age.

Lone parents who educate their children at home and who apply for jobseeker's allowance will need to fit in their home education activities around their obligations to look for work. Unlike lone parents who send their children to school, lone parents who choose to educate their children at home do not have to observe school hours, days or terms and may have greater flexibility to fit paid work around their children's education.

They may, however, need to find alternative care for their children when they undertake work related activities or take up a job. The draft regulations presented to SSAC also include an amendment to allow Jobcentre Plus advisers additional discretion so that a lone parent claiming or receiving jobseeker's allowance will not be penalised if they cannot access appropriate and affordable child care.

Pension Service: Standards

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment he has made of customer service performance at the Swansea Pension Service Centre; and if he will make a statement. [201212]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The information is in the following table:

The year to date customer service performance at Swansea Pension Centre at March 2008
Swansea Pension Centre YTD performance at March 2008 Pension service targets

State Pension applications processed in 60 days

96 per cent.

95 per cent.

State Pension changes processed in 15 days

94 per cent.

95 per cent.

Pension Credit applications average actual clearance time

15 days

15 days

Pension Credit changes average actual clearance time

3.5 days

4 days

Note:
These are the performance levels against the agreed Pension Service targets.
Source:
Respond system.

Pension Service: Swansea

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what information his Department holds on (a) sickness, (b) overtime and (c) other staff absence at the Swansea Pension Service Centre in the most recent period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [201213]


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Mr. Mike O'Brien: The information requested is in the following tables.

Days lost to sickness at Swansea Pension Centre from 2005
Average working days lost per employee Actual number of working days lost

2005

6.7

3,545

2006

11.4

4,260

2007

12.5

4,875

2008

13.1

7,440

Notes: 1. All years are from 1 January to 31 December except 2008 which is the information from 1 January to 31 March. 2. The Average Working Days Lost target is calculated as follows: Working Days lost divided by working days available x 225. 3. As of 2007-08 DWP has adopted the ONS definition and the reported figure excludes unpaid employees. Source: BI Portal information.

T otal cost of overtime at Swansea Pension Centre since 2005
Cost (£) Percentage of total salary costs

2005-06

157,000

1.34

2006-07

371,000

2.94

2007-08

511,000

4.19

Notes: 1. All years are from 1 April to 31 March. 2. Costs figures are rounded to the nearest thousand pounds. Current information on other staff absence at Swansea Pension Centre on 24 April 2008. Source: Information supplied by Resource Support Team in Swansea.

Current information on other staff absence at Swansea Pension Centre on 24 April 2008
Percentage

Attendance

16

Authorised absence

17

Unauthorised absence

67

Notes: 1. This is the staffing information on 24 April (Industrial Action Day). 2. Authorised Leave includes Annual Leave, Carers Leave, Maternity Leave. Source: Swansea Pension Centre return to Business Continuity.

Home Department

Asylum

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many principal applicant cases were allocated to case resolution teams (CRT) in her Department, broken down by (a) CRT (S), (b) CRT (M) and (c) CRT (L) in the years (i) 2003-04, (ii) 2004-05, (iii) 2005-06, (iv) 2006-07 and (v) 2007-08. [200897]

Mr. Byrne: The work to clear the backlog of asylum cases was announced in July 2006. Work started on selected cases in November 2006 and the Case Resolution Directorate was created on 1 April 2007, tasked with managing the work. Around 5,500 principal applicant cases were allocated to each case owning team in December 2007.

The chief executive of the UK Border Agency provided an update on progress on clearing the backlog of older cases to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 17 December 2007 and has given an undertaking to update Parliament every six months on further progress.


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Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of principal applicant cases allocated to case resolution teams (CRT) in her Department were (a) resolved within the year and (b) carried over to the following year, broken down by (i) CRT (S), (ii) CRT (M) and (iii) CRT (L) in the years (A) 2003-04, (B) 2004-05, (C) 2005-06, (D) 2006-07 and (E) 2007-08. [200898]

Mr. Byrne: The work to clear the backlog of asylum cases was announced in July 2006.

The chief executive of the UK Border Agency provided an update on progress on clearing the backlog of older cases to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 17 December 2007 and has given an undertaking to update Parliament every six months on further progress.

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many principal applicant cases resolved in (a) 2003-04, (b) 2004-05, (c) 2005-06, (d) 2006-07 and (e) 2007-08 were given (i) exceptional leave to remain and (ii) indefinite leave to remain, broken down by (A) case resolution team (S), (B) case resolution team (M) and (C) case resolution team (L). [200899]

Mr. Byrne: The work to clear the backlog of older asylum cases was announced in July 2006.

To provide the information requested would incur disproportionate cost as we do not routinely collect this information.

The chief executive of the UK Border Agency provided an update on progress to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 17 December 2007 and has given an undertaking to update Parliament every six months on further progress.

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will make a statement on the progress of the asylum claim of Faith Dziruni of Downswood, Maidstone, Kent. [205157]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 12 May 2008]: I provided details on this case in my letter to the hon. Member on 21 June 2007.

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in introducing new protocols for judicial review in failed asylum cases. [205270]

Mr. Byrne: In March 2007 we introduced a change to judicial review policy in agreement with the courts. This change meant that claimants have 72 hours to lodge a JR where removal directions are set but we are no longer required to defer removals simply on the threat of judicial review; claimants must also lodge full grounds of challenge. As part of this we have also agreed an expedited process for 25 cases per week that are considered abusive or without merit.

We continue to look for ways to improve processes and will present fresh proposals for reform shortly.


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Children: Protection

Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many reports of suspected child exploitation were received by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) from Bebo in the last 12 months; and what length of time elapsed between the report being made to Bebo and its receipt by CEOP in each case. [204692]

Mr. Coaker: In the last financial year 290 reports have been received from Bebo by CEOP in this way, out of an overall total of 6,002. For the purposes of answering this question, CEOP dip-sampled, at random, a total of 12 reports for the last year (one for each month). The time delay on receiving reports from when they reached the Bebo SPOC (single point of contact) to being sent to CEOP varied from three days and 14 hours to seven hours with the average working out to one day and 23 hours.

CEOP do not hold any information on the original date that the matter was reported to Bebo, and so cannot comment on any possible time lapse in that part of the process.

Community Policing

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which newspapers carried her Department's advertisements relating to neighbourhood policing teams on 31 March 2008; and what the cost to her Department of such advertisements was. [204922]

Mr. Byrne: The advertisements that ran on 31 March 2008 informing the public how to contact their neighbourhood policing teams were placed in 10 newspapers: Times, Telegraph, Mail, Express, Independent, Guardian, Mirror, Sun, Star and the Western Mail. The media cost of this advertising was £148,117.00.

Crime: North West

Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many incidents of (a) domestic burglary, (b) vehicle-related thefts, (c) crimes of violence against a person, (d) crimes involving a gun, knife or sharp instrument, (e) vandalism, (f) rape and (g) homicide were recorded in each parliamentary constituency in the North West in each year since 1997. [205628]

Mr. Coaker [holding answer 15 May 2008]: Recorded crime statistics are not collected specifically on a constituency basis. The Home Office does publish statistics at crime and disorder reduction partnership (CDRP) area level.

Although CDRP data is available for selected offences from 1999-2000, the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in April 2002 means figures before and after that are not directly comparable. To enable direct comparisons to be made, statistics from 2002-03 onwards are provided in the tables placed in the House Library for the following offences: domestic burglary, theft of and from a vehicle, violence against the person, criminal damage, rape and homicide. Statistics are not available for crimes involving guns, knives or sharp instruments at CDRP level.


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A look-up table is available that identifies which constituencies are associated with CDRPs. In many instances, a CDRP may comprise of more than one constituency. Conversely, some constituencies will come within two or more CDRPs, either wholly or partially. The look-up table is available at:

Departmental Artworks

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what pieces of artwork valued at over £1,000 were (a) purchased by her Department and (b) transferred to her Department's ownership in each of the last three years; and what the (i) name and (ii) value is of each. [201552]

Mr. Byrne: My Department does not have an annual budget for art. However following the opening of 2 Marsham Street in 2005 £122,000 was spent on the provision of internal art for the new building. This demonstrated the Department’s support for UK arts. The developer had direct responsibility for the costs of the external art strategy, the cost of which is included in the combined PFI charge for the building.


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