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Ministerial Duties

David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will list for each week from Monday 23 July to Monday 8 October which departmental Ministers will be on duty (a) in the United Kingdom and (b) in London. [4899]

Mrs. Liddell: A Minister will be on duty throughout the summer break, in line with the requirements of the current Ministerial Code.

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WORK AND PENSIONS

Bereavement Payment

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if entitlement to bereavement payment in relation to persons abroad remains the same as that for widow's payment. [6037]

Malcolm Wicks: Yes. We shall shortly lay regulations (The Welfare Reform and Pensions (Persons Abroad: Benefits for Widows and Widowers) (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2001) amending the 1975 Persons Abroad regulations that restore the long established arrangements in the Widows Benefit scheme. These changes come into effect from 20 August 2001. Until then the few cases arising where the current Bereavement Benefit rules are not as we intended them to be from the outset in April this year will be dealt with in line with our original intention and the expenditure will be met by an extra-statutory arrangement.

Annual Reports

Paul Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the Employment Service annual report and accounts for 2000–01 will be laid before Parliament. [6038]

Mr. Darling: I have today laid before the House the Employment Service's annual report and accounts for 2000–2001 which gives full details of the Agency's performance and expenditure for that year.

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will publish the 2000–01 annual report and accounts for each of his agencies. [6039]

Mr. Darling: The 2000–2001 annual reports and accounts for the Benefits Agency (HC153), Child Support Agency (HC87), The Appeals Service (HC156) and War Pensions Agency (HC57) have been laid before Parliament today.

Social Security Fraud Act

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will publish for public consultation the draft Code of Practice governing the information gathering powers in the Social Security Fraud Act 2001. [6040]

Malcolm Wicks: The Social Security Fraud Act contains new powers for the Department and local authorities to obtain information from the private sector and some public sector organisations, to combat benefit fraud.

The Act makes provision for a statutory Code of Practice to govern the use of these powers. A draft Code was made available in the last Parliament and we now propose to conduct a formal public consultation exercise.

Copies of the Code will be sent to a wide range of interested parties, and it will be placed on the Department's website. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, and are available from the Vote Office. Respondents will have three months to respond.

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Occupational Pensions

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans there are to ensure that occupational pension schemes have independent chairmen. [4620]

Mr. McCartney: The Government are currently working on changes to the Pensions Act 1995 that will ensure that more members will have the opportunity to become trustees of their occupational pension scheme. We expect to introduce regulations during this parliamentary Session.

We have no plans to require the trustee boards of occupational pension schemes to have independent chairmen.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans there are to ensure that members of an occupational pension fund benefit from it in proportion to their contributions. [4621]

Mr. McCartney: The factors determining the benefits received by a member of an occupational pension fund differ depending on the type of scheme and the particular scheme rules.

The Trustees of an occupational pension scheme must use the scheme's assets to provide benefits for members in accordance with the scheme rules.

Non-state Pensions

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was contributed to non-state pensions in (a) 1999 and (b) 2000 adjusted in each case to 1997 price terms. [5222]

Mr. McCartney: The information requested is in the table.

The amount contributed to non-state pensions in each of the following years

Year£ billion
199965
200069

Notes:

1. Figures are in 1997 prices, rounded to the nearest billion

2. Figures represent the contributions of employers and employees to self-administered pension funds and the pensions business of insurance companies

Source:

MQ5 publication from the Office for National Statistics


Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of working age (a) men and (b) women were contributing to a non-state pension in (i) 1999–2000 and (ii) 2000–01. [5224]

Mr. McCartney: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table.

These figures are not directly comparable with the figures for preceding years due to a change in methodology of the Family Resources Survey.

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Proportion of working age people contributing to a non-state pension in 1999–2000

Percentage
Male63
Female54
All59

Notes:

1. Non-state pension refers to either an occupational or personal pension

2. Working age refers to all those aged between 20 and the state retirement age who are in work

3. The information is not available for the years 2000–01

Source:

The Family Resources Survey


English House Condition Survey

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of people aged 60 years or over live in a home that falls below the standard of decency set out in the English House Condition Survey. [5216]

Malcolm Wicks: The latest information can be found in "Opportunity for All, One Year on: making a difference" (Cm 4865). Copies of this report have been placed in the Library.

Household Incomes

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what percentage of children have lived in households with incomes (a) below 60 per cent. and (b) below 70 per cent. of median household incomes, before housing costs, in at least three out of the last four years; [4803]

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Malcolm Wicks: The information is contained in the Households Below Average Income 1994–95 to 1999–2000 report. Pages 59, 75 and 88 show the specific results for children, working age adults and pensioners respectively. Copies of the publication have been placed in the Library.


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