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Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what average time is taken by the Immigration Appellate Authority to determine (a) an asylum appeal and (b) a non-asylum immigration appeal. 
Jane Kennedy: The average time taken by the Immigration Appellate Authority, from receipt to determination in the period 1 April 2000 to 31 January 2001, is 15.4 weeks for an asylum appeal and 22.1 weeks for a non-asylum appeal.
Mr. Burnett: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what action he proposes to take where magistrates courts are closed before an appeal against closure is concluded. [R] 
Jane Kennedy: Magistrates courts committees are responsible for the provision of an efficient and effective service to court users. It is for the local magistrates courts committee to make decisions on all accommodation matters, including where cases are listed.
Mr. Burnett: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what the cost was of the alterations carried out over the last two years to the Justices Chief Executives Unit at Liskeard, Cornwall; and what further costs are planned.[R] 
Jane Kennedy: Cornwall county council, the lead authority for the Devon and Cornwall magistrates courts committee, advise that the capital cost of the alterations including professional fees is £127,093. No further capital costs are expected.
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Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department on how many occasions during his tenure as Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) visited India; and how many of these visits were (a) on Government business and (b) at the expense of the Hindujas or one of their companies or foundations. 
Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to her answers of 1 February 2001, Official Report, column 299W, and 29 January 2001, Official Report, column 71W, on entertainment expenses, if the Lord Chancellor was the only Government Minister who spoke at the function; and if she will place a copy of the invitation to that function in the Library. 
Jane Kennedy: My noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor and the Minister for Europe, my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz), both spoke at the function. The Lord Chancellor does not recall any other speeches except the opening remarks by SP Hinduja. A copy of the Lord Chancellor's invitation to the function is not available. Invitation cards are routinely disposed of after one year.
Mr. Flynn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost would be to the Exchequer of increasing the basic state pension to £90 for a single person and £135 for a couple; and what consequent increases there would be in receipts of (a) direct and (b) indirect tax revenue. 
|Savings in income-related benefits||+1.7|
|Increased direct tax revenue||+0.8|
|Cost net of IRBs and tax||-5.0|
(41) +ve is an Exchequer yield
1. Costs are rounded to the nearest £100 million. They exclude expenditure on bereavement benefits.
2. Gross costs were supplied by the Government Actuary's Department. Cost net of income-related benefit savings were estimated by DSS using the Policy Simulation Model. Direct tax revenue was estimated by the Inland Revenue from a survey of personal incomes.
3. It is difficult to assess the impact of higher pensions on indirect taxes. This would require detailed behavioural assumptions about changes in consumption patterns and would be unlikely to capture the effects accurately.
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Mr. Flynn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the estimated effect on (a) GDP, (b) tax revenue and (c) savings in benefits if persons in the age groups (i) 45 to 49, (ii) 50 to 54, (iii) 55 to 59, (iv) 60 to 65, (v) 65 to 70 and (vi) over 70 years had the same employment rates as those in the age group 40 to 45 years. 
Dawn Primarolo: Age discrimination in employment has adverse economic consequences, but it is not possible to produce reliable quantitative estimates of its impact on GDP or tax revenue in the absence of hard measures of the extent of age discrimination and its impact on employment. The Government are opposed to age discrimination and have committed to introduce legislation to deal with it after careful discussion with the representatives of both business and employees.
Mr. Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the policy of the Inland Revenue is with respect to those claimants of tax credits who state that they are being paid less than the hourly minimum wage. 
Under the arrangements between the two Departments, the Inland Revenue investigates all complaints made to it by workers and third parties about non-payment of the minimum wage. The Department also conducts a programme of targeted investigations arising from information obtained from other internal and external sources, including Working Families Tax Credit claims.
Mr. Maclean: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many calls have been received by the Inland Revenue's Working Families Tax Credit helpline; and what his assessment is of its capacity to deal effectively with its work load. 
Mr. Maclean: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to improve the service offered by the Inland Revenue's Working Families Tax Credit helpline, and if he will make a statement on its effectiveness. 
Dawn Primarolo: The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) helpline gives advice to WFTC applicants and their representatives. As with any helpline, the aim is continuous improvement in the light of customer
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feedback. Customer surveys regularly show that callers find WFTC helpline staff courteous, knowledgeable and helpful.
Mr. Maclean: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to ensure that advice given by staff on the Inland Revenue's working families' tax credit helpline is accurate and consistent. 
Mr. Coaker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received from the Law Society about changes in practice with respect to the photocopying of death certificates; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Cox: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Tooting parliamentary constituency, the effect of his Department's policies and actions since 1 May 1997 on this constituency. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: Tooting, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, is benefiting from the long-term action we have taken to build economic stability and secure high and stable levels of growth and employment. Since the general election, claimant unemployment in the constituency has fallen by 2,298, or 55 per cent., youth unemployment is down by 85 per cent., and long-term unemployment has fallen by 77 per cent.
Macro-economic stability is being complemented at the micro-economic level by the Government's policies to ease the transition from welfare into work and to make work pay. To the end of November 2000, the New Deal for 18 to 24-year-olds had helped 1,029 young people in the Tooting constituency gain valuable skills and experience--413 (40 per cent.) of whom had moved into employment. The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC), introduced in October 1999, is helping to make work pay for low and middle-income families. In August 2000, 900 families in the constituency were benefiting from WFTC.
The Government are also committed to developing policies which enable all pensioners to share in the country's rising prosperity. As a result of the recent pre-Budget report, all pensioners, including 10,000 in Tooting, will receive an above-inflation increase in the basic state pension from April 2001. Single pensioners will receive an extra £5 a week and couples will receive
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an extra £8 a week. All pensioners aged 75 or over have also been entitled to a free TV licence since November 2000--including around 6,600 in Tooting.
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