Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will take steps to ensure that the time taken to deal with hon. Members' correspondence is reduced to 21 days within the next six months ;
(2) if he will set targets for dealing with hon. Members' correspondence more expeditiously ;
(3) if he will issue guidance to hon. Members as to the manner in which they can assist inquiries to his Department to be dealt with more quickly.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Guidance is issued regularly to those of our staff who are involved in preparing draft replies to right hon. and hon. Members' correspondence. This guidance indicates the high priority to be given to this work. The volume of correspondence is, however, large. In the last year we received 41,500 letters concerning social security. We recognise the importance which, rightly, hon. Members attach to the quality and speed of the service provided to them and we, therefore, monitor and seek to improve it. In many of the instances in which there is a significant delay before we are able to give a substantive reply this is because it is necessary to contact one of our local or central offices, or a local authority, for further information on individual constituents. For this reason, it was suggested to all hon. Members in September 1987 that they take up directly with local offices complaints and queries relating to the circumstances of individual constituents. That advice emphasised that it was not intended to diminish ministerial responsibility ; in particular, it was accepted that hon. Members would want to raise with Ministers any cases where they felt dissatisfied with the results of their inquiries at local level or which raised general issues of policy or perhaps serious complaints about local administration or conduct. I am pleased to endorse that advice.
Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the cost of (a) preparing, (b) printing and (c) distributing his brochure entitled, "Our Business is Service" ; how many copies of the brochure were produced ; and what steps his Department took to ascertain the need for such a publication.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The brochure "Our Business is Service" is an essential tool for the future management of social security. It sets out a clear definition of our intentions for the service. In drawing up the definition, we took account of survey evidence of the views of both staff and customers. With the definition now in place, our customers can know what service we aim to provide and our staff know clearly what is expected of them.
The cost of printing the brochure was £31,000 and of distributing it £11,000. A total of 150,000 copies were
Column 750produced. Preparation of material for the brochure was part of the normal duties of the staff concerned and has not been costed separately.
Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what arrangements exist for the provision of invalidity benefits to all categories of dental staff affected by occupational disease ; what is the level of benefits ; and how they are calculated.
Mr. Scott : When they are sick and incapable of work, dental staff qualify for invalidity benefit under the same rules that apply to all employed and self-employed people. Invalidity pension becomes payable when sickness benefit and/or statutory sick pay has been paid for 28 weeks and incapacity is still continuing. It consists of a basic flat rate amount, currently £43.60 per week, plus an earnings-related element based on the claimant's earnings on which he has paid national insurance contributions since April 1978. Increases for an adult or child dependants are payable as appropriate. In addition, an invalidity allowance based on the claimant's age when his incapacity began may also be payable. Where there is title to both the invalidity allowance and the additional earnings -related pension, an amount equal to the higher of the two amounts is payable. The cause of incapacity for work does not affect either the title to or level of invalidity benefit.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the net income of pensioners in the United Kingdom in each of the following percentiles of pensioner income : (a) 10th, (b) 25th, (c) 50th, (d) 75th, (e) 90th.
|Weekly net income |£ (at 1986 prices) --------------------------------------------------------- Lowest 10 per cent. |51.35 25 per cent. |57.65 50 per cent. |63.05 75 per cent. |68.40 90 per cent. |76.25 Source: Family Expenditure Survey 1986. <1> A pensioner tax unit is a single person of state pension age or a couple where the man is of state pension age. <2> The pensioner income distribution is divided into sections using equivalised net income.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of United Kingdom pensioners have no other income other than their state retirement pensions, and what information he has as to the comparable figures for other European Community countries.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Just under 20 per cent. of retirement pensioners have no other source of income than state benefits. I regret that comparable information for other European Community countries is not available.
Column 751Source : Family Expenditure Survey 1986.
Note 1 : the data cannot be broken down further to provide the proportion of pensioners' income derived from the basic state pension.
Vaccine damage payments scheme Awards made in each year 1979-89 Year |Awards made ------------------------------------ 1979 |349 1980 |255 1981 |74 1982 |43 1983 |42 1984 |29 1985 |26 1986 |15 1987 |10 1988 |4 <1>1989 |- <1> To 30 April 1989.
Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many vaccine damage payments were made in 1984 and in each subsequent year ; and if he will categorise these according to the age of the child, when vaccination took place, the year of vaccination, and the nature of the vaccination.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : I refer the right hon. Member to my replies to him on 23 March at column 772, on 18 April at column 132, on 25 April at column 496, and on 19 May at columns 327-28. Twenty-nine payments were awarded in 1984 under the provisions of the Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979. Details are in the table.
Vaccine damage payments scheme Awards made in 1984 by age of child at date of vaccination; year of vaccination and type of vaccination |Type of vaccination cited|Age at date of |Year vaccine was given |on the claim form |vaccination (months) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. |Pertussis | 3 to 6 |1969 2. |Pertussis | 3 to 6 |1969 3. |Pertussis | 3 to 6 |1982 4. |Polio | 9 to 12 |1959 5. |Pertussis | 3 to 6 |1980 6. |Triple/Polio | 3 to 6 |1971 7. |Pertussis | 3 to 6 |1981 8. |Triple/Pertussis/Polio | 3 to 6 |1982 9. |Pertussis | 3 to 6 |1980 10. |Measles |12 to 15 |1981 11. |Tetanus/Diphtheria/Polio | 3 to 6 |1978 12. |Triple/Polio |15 to 18 |1973 13. |Pertussis | 6 to 9 |1975 14. |Pertussis | 3 to 6 |1981 |Diphtheria/Tetanus/ 15. |Pertussis | 6 to 9 |1982 16. |Pertussis | 6 to 9 |1980 17. |Pertussis | 3 to 6 |1953 18. |Tetanus | 3 to 6 |1982 19. |Triple | 6 to 9 |1974 20. |Polio | 3 to 6 |1981 21. |Pertussis | 3 to 6 |1982 22. |Pertussis | 6 to 9 |1965 23. |Triple | 6 to 12 |1976 24. |Pertussis | 3 to 6 |1971 25. |Triple | 3 to 6 |1981 26. |Pertussis | 3 to 6 |1981 27. |Triple/Polio/Pertussis | 0 to 3 |1982 28. |Pertussis | 3 to 6 |1960 29. |Diphtheria/Tetanus/Polio | 2 years |1982
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will place in the Library details of each major publicity campaign mounted by his Department in 1985-86 and each successive year, including in each case the objectives of the campaign, the intended audience and the outcome of the monitoring of the achievement of the intended objectives, and national research conducted for him by the Central Office of Information together with a note of the intended objectives in the campaigns in 1989- 90.
Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 2 May 1989] : There has been only one major publicity campaign mounted by the Department since its separation from the Department of Health in July 1988. The objective of the campaign was to encourage take-up of family credit by working families with children. Initial research conducted at the outset is available in the Library. The campaign is still in progress until the end of June.
Prior to July 1988 campaigns were the responsibility of the Department of Health and Social Security. Major campaigns relating to social security subjects and their audience objectives in the period were :
Reform of Social Security advertising and publicity campaign January 1987-- the £1,530,450 cost includes press advertising and the production and distribution of information packs. The objective was principally to reach professional advisers and carers to apply for information packs. The intended audience were professional advisers, carers and those concerned with general welfare schemes.
Family credit advertising campaign April 1988 to June 1988--the cost of £3,117,000 includes press and television. The objective was to promote take-up of the new family credit benefit.
The intended audience were working families who may now qualify for family credit, but who currently are not receiving family income supplement, and those who are already receiving family income supplement and are to be reassured that they will be automatically transferred to family credit after April 5 1988.
Information on the outcome of monitoring and the achievement of objectives is not available in the form requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Intended objectives of other campaigns in 1989-90 are as follows : Enhanced Pensioner Premiums--July to September 1989. The objective is to create awareness of the increases in payment, to reassure those who receive the payment automatically and to motivate those entitled who would not otherwise receive payment to request an application form.
Announcement of New National Insurance Rates--September 1989. The objective is to make employers and employees aware of the changes in structure of national
Column 753insurance contributions which come into effect on 5 October and to make married women paying reduced rate contributions aware of the implications.
Sir Ian Gilmour : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish figures showing the anticipated effects of the Housing Act 1988 and the community charge on the housing benefit caseload in 1990- 91, distinguishing between the number of (a) families and (b) persons affected.
Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 4 May 1989] : The effects of the 1988 Housing Act will unfold gradually over time and it is not possible to project the likely effect in any particular year. We estimate that one in four of those liable for community charge in Great Britain will benefit from the effective help given by the rebate scheme.
Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list for the Department of Social Security local offices of Eston, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Stockton what statistical information he has as to the different reasons given to applicants by social fund officers for nil awards in respect of applications for community care grants.
Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 17 May 1989] : Provisional information is provided in the table, which gives the number of times that a reason for decision is used by social fund officers for determining a nil award for community care grants.
An application can be refused for more than one reason. The total number of decisions used will be equal to or greater than the number of applications refused. Information on the numbers of applications processed and awards is available in the Library.
Local office Reason for decision |Eston |Hartlepool |Middlesbrough |Redcar |Stockton ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Savings over £500 meet the full cost |3 |3 |7 |5 |3 Not in receipt of IS and unlikely to qualify |30 |72 |88 |56 |136 Item(s) excluded by Direction |11 |26 |42 |30 |49 Applicant excluded by Direction<1> |11 |10 |67 |0 |260 Applied for less than £30 |9 |18 |23 |14 |24 Adjusted amount less than £30 |0 |2 |2 |2 |4 Previous application and decision for the item |10 |22 |40 |8 |65 Help available from another source |6 |9 |8 |5 |13 Priority too low to meet from the budget |8 |25 |124 |162 |17 Alternative available to the whole application |1 |4 |11 |1 |2 Others not covered above |248 |350 |829 |182 |588 <1> When the general criteria for awarding a Community Care Grant (Direction 4) is not satisfied, the decision has usually been entered as "Others". In the case of Stockton, some of these have been included here.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications are currently waiting to be processed at each passport office ; what action is being taken to eliminate the backlog ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Renton : It is estimated that some 500,000 applications for passport services are at the various stages of processing within the six United Kingdom passport offices. Applications are being processed at a rate of around 75,000 a week, according to the applicant's travel requirements, with priority being given to urgent cases. A sharp increase in demand early this year has led to a general increase in processing times. Staff at Glasgow and Liverpool are adapting to a new computerised system of passport issuing, and accommodation changes at other offices have also affected output. Additional staff have been employed to help deal with the backlog, and a system of free two-year extensions to the life of expired passports submitted for replacement has been introduced at Liverpool to help relieve the immediate problem there.
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many passports sent to the Liverpool office for renewal have now been extended for two years as announced in his oral answer to the hon. Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack) of 11 May, Official Report, column 978 ; and what effect this has had on turnaround times.
Mr. Renton : Some 3,000 passports have been extended under these arrangements since the measure was put into effect on 19 May. The work load on the main passport-issuing system has been reduced by a corresponding amount, but it is too early to measure the impact of the new procedure on overall turnround times. The demand for passports is now at its peak, and priority is being given to urgent applications, and those showing an early date of travel.
Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many passports were issued by the Glasgow passport office in each of the five years prior to full computerisation of the passport issuing computer system ; and how many passports he estimates will be issued in its first full year of operation.
Mr. Renton [holding answer 25 May 1989] : The Glasgow passport office began computerised operation in August 1988. The number of passports issued during the preceding five calendar years is as follows :
New passports Year |Number ------------------------ 1983 |182,386 1984 |146,123 1985 |137,098 1986 |159,954 1987 |159,723
It is estimated that some 189,000 new passports will be issued from Glasgow during the first full year of computerised operation up to the end of July 1989. This
Column 755includes postal applications transferred from the London passport office under the dispersal programme. The demand for passports is currently at its peak, and priority is being given to urgent applications, and those showing an early date of travel.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prison department establishments are unable to implement procedures in section C of the circular instruction 3/1987 on suicide prevention and have been authorised to make alternative arrangements ; and if he will name these establishments.
Mr. Hurd : Until 11 May a standing authorisation was in force for any establishment unable to comply in full with the screening procedures set out in section C of circular instruction 3/1987 to take alternative measures to identify inmates at risk of suicide. The number of establishments concerned varied over time. These arrangements, together with circular instruction 3/1987 itself, have now been superseded by the new procedures for the prevention of inmate suicides which I announced on 11 May at column 539, with which all establishments are expected to comply.
Ms. Richardson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in light of recent suicides by women in Risley, what steps he intends to take to improve the conditions and care for women in the Risley remand centre.
Mr. Hurd : Her Majesty's chief inspector of prisons found the conditions and the standard of care in the women's wing at Risley satisfactory, and considered the wing to be a credit to all its staff. I have no reasons to believe that shortcomings in conditions or care were the cause of the two recent cases of apparent suicide in that wing.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what reviews are being carried out in respect of young offenders who are being held on remand at Her Majesty's prison, Hull ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hurd : The governor is providing the regional director with periodic progress reports and regional office staff are visiting Hull every eight to 10 weeks to review progress. The deputy director general of the prison service visited the prison on 21 April and I visited it on 28 April. Improvements have been made to the regime and conditions on B wing and plans for further improvements are in hand.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make available to the legal advisers of Lorrain Esme Osman the request for extradition, received from Hong Kong, which led to the issue of authority to proceed dated 24 January 1986 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hurd : As my hon. Friend the Minister of State, the Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Mr. Patten) indicated to the hon. and learned Member on 18 May at column 255, it is not the practice to divulge communications about extradition cases which go beyond what the courts require for the consideration of the case.
Mr. Aitken : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in the light of legal submissions made before the House of Lords in The Scotsman case on 16 May, he has any plans to amend section 5 of the Official Secrets Act 1989 in order to make it an offence for a newspaper editor to publish information disclosed from a former Crown servant acting without authority ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hurd : I have no plans to amend the Official Secrets Act 1989. Under section 5(1)(a)(iii) of the 1989 Act, the offence of publishing information resulting from an unauthorised disclosure already applies where the information was disclosed by a person to whom it was entrusted on terms requiring it to be held in confidence or in circumstances in which it could reasonably be expected to be so held, if the person who entrusted the information was a Crown servant or Government contractor, whether or not the person to whom it was entrusted was himself a Crown servant at the time.
Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) on how many occasions in each of the last five years electronic surveillance visual devices have been authorised for use in the Metropolitan police and in each of the provincial police forces ; (2) on how many occasions since the introduction of the guidelines on the use of equipment in police surveillance operations authorisation to use electronic surveillance listening and visual devices in the Metropolitan police has been given by officers other than the chief officer ;
(3) on how many occasions in each of the last five years electronic surveillance listening devices have been authorised for use in the Metropolitan police and in each of the provincial police forces.
Column 757accordance with the guidelines issued on 19 December 1984. The guidelines cover, inter alia, the principles governing the authorisation of such equipment. In particular the use of listening devices requires the personal authority of the chief constable, or of an assistant chief constable in a case where there is a degree of consent by one of the parties subject to the surveillance. The guidelines also make clear the arrangements for records of the authorisation of surveillance equipment to be kept by individual police forces. No statistics are kept centrally.
Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what control he exercises over the provincial police forces' use of electronic surveillance listening and visual devices other than that exercised by Her Majesty's inspectors of constabulary.
Mr. Hurd : The guidelines issued on 19 December 1984, governing the use of equipment in police surveillance operations, apply to the Metropolitan police and to other police forces in England and Wales.
Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he intends to review the guidelines on the use of equipment in police surveillance operations in view of the technological advances that have taken place in electronic surveillance listening and visual devices since 1984.
Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he receives regular reports from (a) Her Majesty's inspectors of constabulary and (b) the force inspectorate on the use by police forces of electronic surveillance listening and visual devices.
Mr. Hurd : As part of their regular programme of inspection visits, Her Majesty's inspectors of constabulary satisfy themselves that the use of equipment in police surveillance operations follows the guidelines issued on 19 December 1984. I receive annual inspection reports covering this and other matters.
Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which Home Office organisations or agencies use electronic surveillance listening and visual devices other than the Metropolitan and provincial police forces.
Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he has any plans to control the sale to the general public of dogs trained to attack and bite human beings with or without command ;
(2) if he will establish a review committee to bring forward recommendations on the stricter control of dogs.
Column 758officers of police concerning the increasing use of dogs to protect premises subject to police raids ; and if he has any plans to introduce measures to assist police in overcoming this problem.
Mr. Hurd : I have had no discussions with chief officers of police about this matter. Section 1 of the Guard Dogs Act 1975 makes it an offence to use a guard dog at any premises unless a handler, who is capable of controlling the dog, is present on the premises and the dog is under his control at all times, except while another handler has control over the dog or while the dog is secured so that it is not at liberty to go freely about the premises.
I have no plans to introduce further measures to control guard dogs.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which proposals of the interdepartmental working group of Home Office and DHSS officials on mentally disturbed offenders in the prison system in England and Wales have been implemented ; and what is the timetable for implementation of the remaining proposals.
Mr. Hurd : The Government welcomed the report of this working group, which laid a valuable base from which the two Departments are able to develop an improved response to the needs of mentally disorded people who come into conflict with the law.
All 16 recommendations were accepted by the Goverment. Work on the first recommendation has been completed with the revision of chapter 12 of the Home Office booklet for the courts on the treatment of offenders--"The Sentence of the Court"--a new edition of which is in the course of preparation. Information for the courts on the provision of places for the mentally disordered in a range of hospitals is being assembled and it is hoped thereby to implement recommendation 2 in the coming months. Recommendation 14 will be implemented in part shortly with the finalising and issue of revised prison department instructions which will include encouragement to medical officers to invite their counterparts in the community to visit and make personal assessments in suitable cases as to the continuing care of the mentally disturbed following release from prison. The subjects of recommendations 13, 15 and 16 call for continuing attention over time which it is firmly intended they shall receive on, respectively, the development of comprehensive secure provision in the community ; stimulation of professional awareness of the range of requirements ; and the improvement of co-ordination and communication between policy makers and service providers. The remaining recommendations have been implemented.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if, during her meeting with the Prime Minister of Italy on 28 April, she discussed the forthcoming fourth review conference of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if, during her meeting with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands on 29 April she discussed (a) the first preparatory committee for the 1990 non-proliferation treaty review conference, (b) ways of strengthening the treaty membership and (c) present problems with compliance with non-proliferation treaty article VI on nuclear and conventional disarmament.
non-proliferation treaty are regularly discussed with the Netherlands at official level.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if, during her visit to Luxembourg in April, she raised the matter of the forthcoming fourth review conference of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and ways in which further states can be encouraged to accede to the treaty, with Ministers of the Grand Duchy.
non-proliferation treaty are regularly discussed with Luxembourg at official level.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if, pursuant to her reply on representations recently made to her on the nuclear deterrent, Official Report, 11 May, column 489, she will list those (a) in favour and (b) against nuclear weapons set out in the representations ; and if she will set out the reasons given by those representations opposed to United Kingdom retention of nuclear weapons.
The Prime Minister : A detailed breakdown of such representations could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The British electorate has consistently endorsed NATO's policy of deterrence based on a mix of nuclear and conventional weapons, and the maintenance of an independent British strategic deterrent.
Mr. Robin Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he expects an adequate database to have been constructed and able to provide information on take-up rates for cervical screening call and recall services.
Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what proportion of domestic sewage in Wales enters the sea untreated ; and what information he has as to comparable figures for other European countries.