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27 Jun 1995 : Column WA47

Written Answers

Tuesday, 27th June 1995.

County Education Budgets

The Earl of Kimberley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they have approved Somerset County Council's request to exceed its education budget (despite this necessitating an increase in council tax) but refused Gloucestershire's request, notwithstanding the views expressed by parents and teachers in that county (which necessitates reducing council tax, involving an administration cost of £500,000).

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): On the basis of the figures put to us by the authorities, and taking into account each authority's overall financial situation, the impact on services of budgets at their original caps would not have been as constraining in Gloucestershire, as in Somerset, especially in respect of school budgets.

Building Research Establishment: Key Targets

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    If they will publish the current key performance targets for the Building Research Establishment.

Viscount Ullswater: The Building Research Establishment is working to the following key targets for 1995/96:

    £90,000 net contribution to the Exchequer

    income to cover full economic costs on a trading basis

    gross non-Exchequer income of £3.5 million

    the average daily cost of commissions to be at 1994/95 levels, with costs of major management initiatives met through efficiency savings.

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Nursing Home Fees and Income Support

Lord Molloy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How people with preserved rights can meet the fees demanded by private nursing homes once the capital raised by the sale of their homes has run out and the local council is not permitted to fund.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): For preserved rights cases, fees are a matter between the homeowner and the resident, or their representative. The aim of the Income Support limits is to help residents meet reasonable charges for their care. The aim could not be to meet all fees however high they may be set.

Where a third party meets the shortfall, that contribution is disregarded in assessing the amount of Income Support payable.

Practically all the Income Support nursing home limits have increased in real terms since 1985. The "elderly" limit increased by 38 per cent. in real terms between April 1985 and April 1994.

In cases where the local authority is not permitted to provide funding, the local authority, in collaboration with the health authority, will be able to help nursing home residents who face eviction or home closure with advice and guidance to help them to find alternative accommodation.

Parliament: Rising Times of the Two Houses

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked the Chairman of Committees:

    On which days since 1 January, and at what times, the House rose after 10 p.m. during the Committee and Report stages of bills; and at what time on those days business, other than the Adjournment Motion, concluded in the House of Commons.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): The information requested is given in the following table:

27 Jun 1995 : Column WA47

Date Bill House of Lords: rising time House of Commons: beginning of adjournment debate Difference
Thursday 12 January Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill [HL]-Committee 10.20 p.m. 7.34 p.m. +2 hr 46 min
Monday 16 January Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill [HL]-Committee 11.35 p.m. 10.16 p.m. +1 hr 19 min
Tuesday 17 January Environment Bill [HL]-Committee 10.08 p.m. 10.17 p.m. –0 hr 9 min
Thursday 19 January Environment Bill [HL]-Committee 10.11 p.m. 6.49 p.m. +3 hr 22 min
Wednesday 25 January Human Rights Bill [HL]-Committee 10.36 p.m. 9.04 p.m. +1 hr 32 min
Tuesday 31 January Environment Bill [HL]-Committee 1.05 a.m. 11.57 p.m. +1 hr 8 min
Thursday 2 February Environment Bill [HL]-Committee 10.53 p.m. 10.00 p.m. +0 hr 53 min
Tuesday 7 February Pensions Bill [HL]-Committee 10.12 p.m. 10.29 p.m. –0 hr 17 min
Thursday 9 February Environment Bill [HL]-Committee 11.10 p.m. 10.00 p.m. +1 hr 10 min
Monday 13 February Pensions Bill [HL]-Committee 11.01 p.m. 10.17 p.m. +0 hr 44 min
Tuesday 14 February Environment Bill [HL]-Committee 10.07 p.m. 10.39 p.m. –0 hr 32 min
Thursday 16 February Pensions Bill [HL]-Committee 10.29 p.m. 10.00 p.m. +0 hr 29 min
Monday 20 February Pensions Bill [HL]-Committee 10.31 p.m. 10.29 p.m. +0 hr 2 min
Thursday 2 March Environment Bill [HL]-Report 12 midnight 10.00 p.m. +2 hr 0 min
Tuesday 7 March Environment Bill [HL]-Report 12.05 a.m. 10.14 p.m. +1 hr 51 min
Thursday 9 March Environment Bill [HL]-Report 11.57 p.m. 7.47 p.m. +4 hr 10 min
Monday 13 March Pensions Bill [HL]-Report 12.23 a.m. 10.41 p.m. +1 hr 42 min
Tuesday 14 March Pensions Bill [HL]-Report 10.45 p.m. 11.52 p.m. –1 hr 7 min
Thursday 20 April Jobseekers Bill-Committee 11.01 p.m. 7.50 p.m. +3 hr 11 min
Tuesday 25 April Jobseekers Bill-Committee 11.36 p.m. 10.23 p.m. +1 hr 13 min
Thursday 11 May Jobseekers Bill-Committee on re-commitment 10.55 p.m. 8.24 p.m. +2 hr 31 min
Monday 15 May Jobseekers Bill-Report 10.29 p.m. 11.12 p.m. –0 hr 43 min
Tuesday 16 May Jobseekers Bill-Report 12.10 a.m. 7.41 p.m. +4 hr 29 min
Monday 22 May Home Energy Conservation Bill-Committee 10.32 p.m. 9.09 p.m. +1 hr 23 min
Tuesday 13 June Disability Discrimination Bill-Committee 12.28 a.m. 10.16 p.m. +2 hr 12 min
Thursday 15 June Disability Discrimination Bill-Committee 1.25 a.m. 7.14 p.m. +6 hr 11 min
Monday 19 June Child Support Bill-Committee 12.12 a.m. 10.13 p.m. +1 hr 59 min
Tuesday 20 June Child Support Bill-Committee 10.56 p.m 9.58 p.m. +0 hr 58 min
Wednesday 21 June Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Bill-Committee 10.42 p.m. 10.03 p.m. +0 hr 39 min
Thursday 22 June Gas Bill-Committee 10.23 p.m. 7.19 p.m. +3 hr 4 min

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27 Jun 1995 : Column WA49

Armed Forces: Serious Accident Procedures

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the average length of time between a serious accident occurring to a member of the Armed Forces during training and a Board of Inquiry being held; and whether they have any plans to accelerate the process.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): The decision to convene a Board of Inquiry is a matter for the chain of command as laid down in the appropriate Queen's Regulations for each Service. There are no plans to change these procedures. Information on the average length of time between a serious accident occurring and the convening of a Board of Inquiry could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the average length of time between a fatal accident to a member of the Armed Forces occurring during training and an inquest into the death.

Lord Henley: The decision to hold an inquest is a matter for Her Majesty's Coroner, over whom my department has no control. Information of the nature requested could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is average time between a serious accident occurring during training a member of the Armed Forces and payment of compensation to the Serviceman or his dependants.

Lord Henley: Service personnel have the same compensation rights against their employer as have civilians. As in civilian life, accidents at work would not necessarily generate a payment of compensation. The time between making a claim (which may be up to three years after the accident) and payment of any compensation varies from a few months in the simplest cases to several years in others. Where the seriousness of the injury precludes early settlement (because for example of continuing medical treatment) an interim payment may be made if liability is not in dispute. There is no evidence to suggest that my department is any slower to pay compensation than is the case with claims against employers in civil life.

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Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What standard procedures are in place to inform relatives of Servicemen seriously injured in accidents of the circumstances surrounding the accident.

Lord Henley: It is my department's policy to inform the next of kin of members of the Armed Forces who are killed or injured in the course of their duty as quickly and as fully as possible of the undisputed facts. Since December 1992, in recognition of the special position of next of kin, Service board of inquiry reports have been made available to the next of kin of deceased Service personnel, or to the individual in cases of serious permanent injury should they so request, subject only to the essential minimum of security requirements.

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