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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 9 January 2001


Minimum Funding Requirement

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what progress is being made on the review of the minimum funding requirement; and if he will make a statement. [144495]

Mr. Rooker: A wide ranging consultation paper was issued on 14 September 2000 asking for comment by 31 January 2001. We will then study the responses received and consider the best way forward.

Disability Living Allowance

Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what arrangements have been made to process claims for higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance in respect of three and four-year-old children; and if he will make a statement. [144851]

Mr. Bayley: Due to take place from 9 April under the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act, the extension of the higher rate mobility component to three and four-year-olds is expected to benefit 6,000 children in the first year and more in the future. Most children likely to benefit will already be receiving the Care Component of Disability Living Allowance. This means they are already known to the Department and arrangements have been made to write in every case to the person who deals with the child's benefit to invite them to apply for the higher rate mobility component. Once details of a child's mobility needs are known to the Department, then depending on the circumstances of each case, they could be entitled to an extra £38.65 per week and access in some cases to the Motability scheme.

Winter Fuel Payments

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many people have received all the backdated winter fuel payments to which they are entitled; [143157]

Mr. Rooker: Latest information shows that around one million people, of whom around 980,000 are men, have chosen to claim for past winters and around one million payments have been made, of which around 975,000 have

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been to men. Almost one million claims were received before 3 November and approximately 50,000 since that date.

We are unable to give precise figures as claims are still being received and processed. It is up to the individual to choose whether to claim payments for past winters. The information campaign, which has been running since April, aimed to ensure that existing and potential customers know about the changes to the scheme and what to do to get a payment.

Sheltered Housing

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if the very sheltered housing scheme is intended to provide a replacement for Housing Benefit. [144187]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 8 January 2001]: Housing Benefit is available to help people on low incomes, including those tenants living in sheltered or very sheltered accommodation to meet their housing costs (ie rent and accommodation-related service charges). Housing Benefit will also continue to help meet service charges for lower-level support until April 2003. From this date, the various funding streams will be drawn together and these support services will instead be met from a single budget--Supporting People--which will be managed by local authorities together with probation services. Service charges for more intensive personal support, including personal care, remain ineligible for Housing Benefit.

Minimum Income Guarantee

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many pensioners have applied (a) successfully and (b) unsuccessfully for the minimum income guarantee since the start of the take-up campaign in each Benefit Agency area. [143524]

Mr. Rooker: The effect of the minimum income guarantee take up campaign will not be known until it comes to a conclusion. There are thousands more claims in the pipeline, and the effects of the last stage of the campaign will impact on claims processed up to January next year.


St. Helena

Dr. Marek: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to her answer of 13 December 2000, Official Report, column 135W, on St. Helena, if she will place in the Library a copy of the draft report resulting from the study of options for sea and air access to St. Helena. [144572]

Clare Short: This is a matter for the St. Helena Government.

Departmental Projects

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list the projects undertaken for her Department by (a) outside consultants,

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(b) academic researchers and (c) university departments since 1 May 1997, giving the total expenditure incurred in each category. [144082]

Clare Short: DFID draws widely on the range of consultancy expertise in order to deliver our development programme.

Since 1 May 1997 DFID has awarded over 7,200 contracts with a value of some £1,043 million. I am placing a list of these contracts in the Library of the House.

Information on the total expenditure classified by consultants, academic researchers or university departments is not available without disproportionate cost.

GATS Negotiations

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on her Department's role in the current GATS negotiations. [143086]

Clare Short: My Department is helping to build the capacity of developing countries to participate effectively in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) negotiations. DFID is contributing to a World Bank Programme on Trade in Services, providing data and information to help developing countries formulate policy for the negotiations. In addition, officials are in the process of drawing up specific proposals to support representatives of developing countries in Geneva responsible for the trade in services issues.

My officials also work closely with other Whitehall Departments to ensure that UK and EU policy on trade in services has a strong development dimension. A successful outcome from the current negotiations on the GATS would offer a number of benefits for developing countries. They could potentially increase their income from individual service sectors, for example, tourism. In addition, progress on issues such as the "movement of persons" (the ability for nationals to work overseas for a temporary period) would offer developing countries new opportunities for export of services. Increased competition in the provision of domestic services which support a country's basic infrastructure, e.g. banking, transport and telecommunications, will contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction in developing countries.

The current negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) offer developing countries the potential to gain access to new markets overseas and to benefit from more efficient and competitive services at home. Developing countries are particularly interested in the liberalisation of sectors where they have the greatest export potential; at present tourism services and movement of persons (i.e. the ability for personnel to spend some time overseas for the purposes of providing a specific service).

We are helping developing countries to participate in the new GATS negotiations, so that world trade in services better contributes to their economic growth and thereby the elimination of poverty.

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Type 45 Destroyers

Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of (a) the prime contractors' proposals for the procurement of the first batch of Type 45 destroyers, (b) the implications of these proposals for the investment plans of companies involved in procurement of the first batch and (c) how the proposals will affect the delivery of a competitive procurement strategy for follow-on Type 45s. [143918]

Dr. Moonie: I refer my hon. Friend to the answers I gave to him and to the hon. Members for Eastleigh (Mr. Chidgey), for Salisbury (Mr. Key) and for Truro (Mr. Taylor) on 21 December 2000, Official Report, columns 248-51W, to which I have nothing to add.

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proposal he has received from BAe Systems Marine for an alternative shipbuilding strategy for the Type 45 destroyer programme; if this proposal involves a partnership strategy without competition for downstream batches of the class; and if he intends to sign a DFM contract with BAe Systems before a decision has been taken to accept this proposal. [144038]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 8 January 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to him and to the hon. Members for Salisbury (Mr. Key), and for Truro (Mr. Taylor) and my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Dr. Whitehead) on 21 December 2000, Official Report, columns 248-51W, to which I have nothing to add.

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