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16 Jun 1997 : Column WA99

Written Answers

Monday, 16th June 1997.

The Baltic States: Diplomatic Relations

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will review the manning of the British Embassies in Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius in the light of increasing diplomatic, economic and cultural activities between the United Kingdom and the Baltic States; and when the personnel will be in place in the respective embassies.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We recognise the importance of our strengthening bilateral relations with the Baltic States. We keep staffing at Posts under constant review, taking into account current priorities and available resources. Her Majesty's Government are committed to conducting a central spending review and departmental reviews to assess how to use resources better. We cannot prejudge the outcome.

CSA Performance Report

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the next set of CSA Performance--Statistical information (including figures on the requirement to co-operate) is to be placed in the Library of the House.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The latest report, which contained information for the period January to March 1997, is available in the Library.

The next edition, covering April-June 1997, should be available at the end of July.

Income Support Deductions

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to Table 9 of the Income Support Statistics Quarterly Enquiry (August 1996), what was the average number of deductions from income support among those included in the table, what was their combined average amount, and how many were subject to deductions totalling more than £15 per week.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The information requested is in the tables.

The tables include 408,000 claimants whose current benefit entitlement includes an amount for mortgage interest which is deducted at source and paid direct to the lender, at an average amount of £35.77 per week. If these deductions were omitted from the tables, the average number of deductions per claimant would increase from 1.4 to 1.5. This is because the majority of people whose mortgage interest is paid direct to the lender have only this one deduction. With deductions for current mortgage costs excluded, the average weekly amount deducted (all cases) would fall from £16.40 to £8.74, and the number with deductions of more than £15 would fall from 486,000 to 190,000.

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Deductions from Income Support--August 1996
Claimants with deductions by number and type of charges000's

Type of charge
Number of deductionsAllCurrent charges only Current charges and arrearsArrears only
7 or more--------
All claimants with deductions1,638816625197
Average number of deductions1.

Claimants with deductions by amount and type of charge000's and £ per week

Type of charge
Claimants with total weekly amount deductedAllCurrent charges onlyCurrent charges and arrearsArrears only
Less than or equal to £151,152621335197
More than £15486196290--
All amounts1,638816625197
Average weekly amount deducted (£)16.4014.7822.872.56


1. Deductions from income support and income-based jobseeker's allowance included in the table are for: housing costs, mortgage arrears (abolished from April 1997), rent (and service charge) arrears, fuel costs, water and sewerage charges, council tax/community charge arrears, unpaid fines, child support maintenance, repayment of Social Fund loans and recovery of overpayments of benefit.

2. "Current charges only" refers to deductions to meet only current consumption of fuel or water and/or current housing costs.

3. "Arrears only" refers to deductions to clear arrears or debts.

4. Each deduction type is counted only once. For example, a case with a current and an arrears deduction for electricity would be counted as one deduction and appear in the column headed "Current charges and arrears".

5. Excludes reductions of benefit for jobseeker's allowance sanctions and child support reduced benefit directions.

6. Figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand for caseload and to the nearest pence for average amounts. Due to rounding, the figures may not tally.


Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry--August 1996. 5 per cent. sample.

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The Scarman Trust: Inquiry Report

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Charity Commission will make available to the members of both Houses of Parliament a full report of the inquiry into the Scarman Trust (formerly the Charter 88 Trust), for consideration in connection with issues of constitutional reform.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Charity Commission does not normally prepare formal reports of its inquiries, and has not done so in this case.

The findings of the commission's inquiry, with which the trustees fully co-operated, were that there was not always a clear distinction between the trust's work and that of other organisations, illustrated by the fact that the report The Untouchables referred to in Lord Inglewood's reply to the noble Lord on 15 October 1996 (WA 213) had been incorrectly ascribed to the trust.

The commission will now work closely with the trust to ensure that any necessary changes to its structure take place. It will also examine carefully the trust's publications in the near future to ensure that they do not overstep the bounds of what is permissible for a charity.

Badger Control

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures to control badgers infected with tuberculosis are currently actively being pursued, and whether any such measures which had previously been pursued are currently suspended.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): Badgers, other than lactating sows, may be controlled in Great Britain when they are considered to be the likely origin of tuberculosis in a cattle herd. The method used for this purpose is humane shooting, following cage-trapping, by Ministry officials. The use of hydrogen cyanide gas for killing badgers ceased in 1980. Badgers are only removed from land grazed by cattle which reacted to the tuberculin test, or from the whole farm if no smaller area can be identified.

The new Government are leaving things as they are for the time being while we study the issue. So badger control is not being started in areas where it has not been undertaken in recent years. Control is continuing elsewhere.

Landfill Tax

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of annual revenue from the landfill tax after 1997.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): The annual revenue from landfill tax after 1997 is estimated at £450 million.

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Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What revenue has accumulated from the landfill tax since its introduction in October 1996.

Lord Simon of Highbury: To 31 May 1997, just under £200 million.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    By how much financial projects conducted by approved environment bodies have been assisted so far by the landfill tax scheme and whether this scheme will be continued.

Lord Simon of Highbury: ENTRUST, the scheme's regulator, has been notified by the environmental bodies of receipts of contributions under the scheme totalling some £1.5 million to date. The Government have no plans to discontinue the scheme.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have considered to what uses landfill tax rebates might be put and whether they will make an announcement on this subject.

Lord Simon of Highbury: The categories of "approved objects", contributions to the furtherance of which may qualify for credits of landfill tax, are laid out in Regulation 33 of the Landfill Tax Regulations 1996. The choice of which projects or bodies to support is a matter for those landfill site operators who make contributions. Providing it qualifies, the Government will refund 90 per cent. of any contribution as a landfill tax credit, up to a maximum of 20 per cent. of the contributor's annual landfill tax liability.

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