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The figure given for 1997-98 reflects the low advertising activity carried out in the immediate post election period and subsequent review of Departmental policies. The figures for 1998-99 and 1999-2000 are consistent with the amounts spent on advertising in the five years prior to 1997-98.
Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will conduct an analysis of the comparative position of pensioners in (a) the UK and (b) other EU states; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Rooker: Analyses of the comparative position of pensioners in the UK, in terms of income, are included in the publications "Households Below Average Income" 1994-95 to 1997-98 and "The Pensioners' Incomes Series" 1997-98, both of which are available in the Library.
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Aspects of pensioner income and poverty in different EU states are covered in selected papers in the "Statistics in Focus" series, published by Eurostat. Copies are held in the Library. There are no plans for the Department to conduct a separate analysis of the comparative position of pensioners in other EU states.
Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on (a) the special needs of people affected by epilepsy in applying for Disability Living Allowance and (b) Government proposals to improve the application process relating to them. 
Mr. Bayley: Eligibility for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is based on a person's needs, and not on recognition of their specific medical condition. People with epilepsy, as with other potentially disabling conditions, are therefore asked by the Benefits Agency to state their care and mobility needs arising from their condition when completing a DLA claim form. Decision makers are given information on the care and mobility needs arising from disabilities, including epilepsy, in the "Disability Handbook", which is compiled by senior doctors in the Department and approved and monitored by the Disability Living Allowance Advisory Board. People claiming DLA are also able to make free calls to the Benefits Inquiry Line to help them with their application.
It is particularly important, given the potentially vulnerable nature of claimants and their carers, that the application process for disability benefits is as straightforward and sensitive as possible. In consultation with a small group of disability organisations, we are trialling improved ways of gathering the information we need to deal with claims. This includes visiting claimants in their homes, to help us get a clearer picture of their disability and how it affects them.
Angela Eagle: The gross discretionary Social Fund budget increases each year, mainly through the recycling of loan repayments. Since the fund started, almost 17 million loans worth over £3 billion have been made for a net cost of £492 million.
Details of the discretionary Social Fund budget for 2000-01 are available in the written answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North and Fleetwood (Mrs. Humble) on 3 April 2000, Official Report, column 339W.
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|Pensioners with dependants||100|
1. Pensioners-are defined as where the claimant, and/or partner are aged 60 or over.
2. Pensioners with dependants--are defined as pensioners with dependants aged 18 or under.
3. Figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample and are rounded to the nearest 100. They are therefore subject to a degree of sampling error.
4. Figures under 500 are based on very few sample cases and so subject to a higher degree of sampling error and so should only be used as a guide to the current situation.
Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry, February 2000
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 8 June 2000, Official Report, column 324W, on opinion research, what steps have been taken to ensure that his Department makes such results publicly available in the form required by paragraph 19 of the Cabinet Office Guidelines into Public Attitudes and Opinion Research. 
The Communications Directorate of the Department commissions research to develop and evaluate publicity campaigns or to inform other presentational issues. All reports are either placed in the Library or are available on request. If a report is not available, this may be because the full research has not yet been completed (ie reports not yet finalised by contractors, or the fieldwork is still in progress) or findings are still being employed to inform the communications activity.
Mr. Rooker: We have now received the report from the Faculty and Institute of Actuaries on the review of the minimum funding requirement and are considering it. We will be consulting on any proposals for change.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proposals he has to compensate widowers following the recent ruling of the European Court of Human Rights declaring Widows Benefit to be discriminatory. 
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Angela Eagle: There has been no such ruling from the European Court of Human Rights. The ECHR's published judgments on two cases explained that, having reached a friendly settlement, these cases have been struck out of the list.
Mr. Maclennan: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many parliamentary questions were tabled to his Department between 19 October 1999 and 20 April which requested information, pursuant to his previous answers. 
Mr. Vaz [holding answer 19 June 2000]: We do not have reliable statistics on the volume of Serbian or Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) grain exports to Iraq, Libya and Syria. However, according to official FRY figures, FRY exports to all developing countries represent only 7.3 per cent. of total exports and are unlikely to do much to reduce the FRY's growing trade deficit. We do not believe that stocks available for export are high.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the matters currently decided by the Department of Health which could be determined by a qualified majority vote in the EU if the Draft Treaty of Nice is agreed. 
Mr. Vaz [holding answer 19 June 2000]: Extension of QMV is on the agenda of the Intergovernmental Conference, but we are still at a relatively early stage in the negotiations. There is no draft Treaty. The Commission has put forward its opinion on the IGC, but Treaty change is a matter for the member states. The Presidency report to the European Council in Feira outlined areas for discussion in the second half of this year. However, except for the rules of procedure of the European Courts, no area has yet attracted consensus for a move to QMV.
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