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Prison Governors

Andrew Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what targets are set for the length of time taken by Her Majesty's prison governors to reply to letters from (a) hon. Members and (b) the public; and if the Governor of HMP Strangeways has met these targets. [4964]

Beverley Hughes: The target is for 95 per cent. of letters to be answered within 20 working days in both cases. In the last three months, the Governor of Manchester prison has met this target with 95.6 per cent. of correspondence answered within 20 working days. This represents a marked improvement on the establishment's performance for the year 2000–01.

Criminals (Litter and Graffiti)

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to require criminals to clear away litter and graffiti as reparation for their offences. [5451]

Beverley Hughes: Many offenders are already required to clear away litter and graffiti as part of the work done on community punishment orders and community punishment and rehabilitation orders.

Immigration Officials

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with the French authorities regarding the removal of immigration officials from the ports of Dieppe and Cherbourg; and if he will make a statement. [5842]

Angela Eagle: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 25 June 2001, Official Report, column 52W.

Visa Refusals

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were refused visitors visas by British High Commission offices in (a) Pakistan, (b) India and (c) Sri Lanka during the last 12 months. [6372]

Mr. Bradshaw: I have been asked to reply.

The total number of visitor visa applications refused between June 2000 to May 2001 are as follows:


Statistics for June 2001 are not yet available.

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WORK AND PENSIONS

Widowed Parent's Allowance

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many widowers whose spouses died prior to 9 April are estimated to be eligible for the new widowed parent's allowance; how many claim forms have been sent to this group of widowers; how many claim forms have been returned; and how many of these widowers already have the allowance. [371]

Malcolm Wicks: To ensure that as many men as possible were able to claim widowed parent's allowance from the outset, the Department identified over 11,000 potential male beneficiaries from the child benefit computer system and sent them claim forms in March 2001. In addition, the Department has placed articles advertising the benefit in targeted magazines. Local Benefits Agency offices have also issued forms direct to men widowed before 9 April on request. Information on the number of men who have successfully claimed widowed parent's allowance is not yet available.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many women claimed incapacity

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benefit in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and what percentage this represents of the total claims. [1475]

Malcolm Wicks: Information on the number of claims for incapacity benefit is not available by gender.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what is the average time to complete a review of incapacity benefit; and if he will make a statement on the factors underlying delays and the availability of clinicians to conduct reviews [3620]

Malcolm Wicks: The medical assessment procedure involves several stages including gathering information from the claimant and their GP or other health care professional and arranging and carrying out examinations.

The most recent study of a sample of cases found that on average the whole process took 11.4 weeks where entitlement was confirmed and 17.5 weeks where benefit was withdrawn.

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the (a) duration of claim and (b) type of incapacitation, of those receiving incapacity benefit; and if he will place the results in the Library. [4810]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is in the table.

Average durations of claims for incapacity benefit current at 31 March 2000

DiagnosisAverage duration (days)
All Diagnoses2,280
Recipients without any diagnosis code on the system1,308
Certain Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (A00—B99)1,782
Neoplasms (C00—D48)1,194
Diseases of the Blood and Blood forming organs and certain diseases involving the immune mechanism (D50—D89)2,290
Endocrine, Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases (E00—E90)2,627
Mental and Behavioural Disorders (F00—F99)2,415
Diseases of the Nervous System (G00—G99)3,038
Diseases of the Eye and Adnexa (H00—H59)2,851
Diseases of the Ear and Mastoid Process (H60—H95)2,213
Diseases of the Circulatory System (I00—I99)2,308
Diseases of the Respiratory System (J00—J99)2,533
Diseases of the Digestive System (K00—K93)2,245
Diseases of the Skin and Subcutaneous System (L00—L99)1,913
Diseases of the Musculoskeletal system and Connective Tissue (M00—M99)2,183
Diseases of the Genitourinary System (N00—N99)1,985
Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Puerperium (O00—O99)467
Certain Conditions Originating in the Perinatal Period (P00—P96)0
Congenital Malformations, Deformations and Chromasomal Abnormalities (Q00—Q99)4,586
Symptoms, Signs and Abnormal Clinical and Laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified (R00—R99)2,322
Injury, Poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes (S00—U22)1,701
Factors influencing Health Status and Contact with Health Services (Z00—Z99)2,088

Notes:

1. These figures are based on a 1 per cent. sample of claims to benefit on 31 March 2000.

2. These figures represent the average duration of a claim to Incapacity Benefit current at 31 March 2000.

3. All diagnoses are coded using the International Classification of Diseases, 10 Edition (ICD10), published by a World Health Organisation. The codes in brackets following each description refer to the ICD codes within that group.


Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the 20 parliamentary constituencies with the (a) highest economic inactivity rate, (b) highest unemployment rate, (c) highest proportion of people of working age claiming incapacity benefit and (d) lowest employment rate, indicating the rates in each case. [5215]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 19 July 2001]: The information is not available in the format requested.

NIRS 2

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will estimate the number of pensioners who are currently receiving incorrect payments in respect of (a) the state retirement pension and (b) SERPS that have been caused by problems with the NIRS 2 computer system; [356]

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Mr. McCartney: I will write to the hon. Member.

SERPS

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost is of writing to pensioners about their entitlement to inherited SERPS; if all the letters have now been sent out; and if he will place a copy of the letter in the Library. [2264]

Mr. McCartney: A letter was issued in February and March 2001 to inform pensioners of the changes in inherited SERPS and to reassure them that they will be unaffected by the changes. It was sent to approximately 8.3 million pensioner households. The cost of sending the letter was £1,887,126. A copy of the letter was placed in the Library on 29 January.

A second letter is scheduled to be issued later this summer to approximately 1.3 million people who will also be unaffected by the changes in inherited SERPS. These are people who have reached state pension age since the first letter was issued and also those who will reach state pension age by 5 October 2002. The estimated cost of sending this letter is £560,000. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Library before this letter goes out.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library (a) a copy of the letter informing pensioners that they are unaffected by the changes in entitlement to inherited SERPS and (b) a copy of the letter informing people that they might be affected by the changes that are being issued by his Department. [3148]

Mr. McCartney: A letter was issued in February and March 2001 to inform pensioners of the changes in inherited SERPS and to reassure them that they will be unaffected by the changes. It was sent to approximately 8.3 million pensioner households. A copy of the letter has been placed in the Library.

A second letter is scheduled to be issued later this summer to approximately 1.3 million people who will also be unaffected by the changes in inherited SERPS. These are people who have reached state pension age since the first letter was issued and also those who will reach state pension age by 5 October 2002. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Library.

A further letter is to be issued to 5.25 million people who will be affected by the reduction in SERPS on the sliding scale. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Library.


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