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Alcohol Smuggling

Mr. Howard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people entering the UK were questioned by HM Customs and Excise in each of the last five years on suspicion of alcohol smuggling; how many were carrying more alcohol than the suggested guidelines for imports for personal use; and how many of these were allowed to enter the country on the grounds that the alcohol was for personal use. [22041]

Mr. Boateng: This information is not available in the format requested.

Customs carefully target their anti-smuggling activity on those thought likely to be smuggling, and have no interest in legitimate cross-border shoppers. Accordingly only a very small proportion of the 90 million travellers who enter the UK each year are stopped by customs officers. Indeed, in 2000–01 less than 0.2 per cent. of the estimated 14 million travellers through the channel ports had goods seized by customs. The majority of people entering the UK with goods in excess of the minimum indicative levels were able to satisfy customs that the goods were for their own personal use.

Amateur Sports Clubs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will announce his policy on charitable status for community amateur sports clubs. [22032]

Mr. Boateng: On 30 November 2001 the Charity Commission announced its decision to recognise as charitable:

Trader Fraud

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the cost to public funds of value-added tax missing trader fraud in each of the last four years. [22038]

11 Dec 2001 : Column: 774W

Mr. Boateng: I refer the hon. Gentleman to page 19 of the Customs and Excise paper "Measuring Indirect Tax Fraud" that was published on 27 November 2001 and a copy of which is in the Library of the House. This gives fraud estimates for 1999–2000 and 2000–01. There are no estimates for any earlier years.

Trade Balance

Mr. Hendry: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the balance of trade in (a) food products and (b) meat products for the last 12 months for which figures are available. [20774]

Mr. Morley: I have been asked to reply.

The table shows the value of UK trade in total food, feed and drink (including meat and meat preparations) between October 2000 and September 2001.

£ million

Meat and meat preparations2,727491
Dairy products and eggs1,282620
Fish and fish preparations1,404747
Cereals and cereal preparations1,2161,214
Fruit and vegetables4,230413
Sugar, sugar preparations and honey779362
Coffee, tea, cocoa and spices1,103605
Feedingstuffs for animals775298
Miscellaneous edible products838604
Alcoholic drinks2,8453,218
Oil seeds, oleaginous fruits, oils, fats and waxes836153


Figures are given on the 'Overseas Trade' basis. Exports are valued 'free on board' and imports are valued 'cost insurance freight'. Thus for imports into the UK, the cost of transportation between the port or place of despatch and the port of entry into the UK is included and as a result of the value of imports are overstated relative to exports by about 5 per cent.


HM Customs and Excise


Disability Living Allowance

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 23 November 2001, Official Report, column 539W, on winter fuel allowance, (1) by what factors and measures the (a) care and (b) mobility components of disability living allowance (i) were first and (ii) are calculated; [19918]

Mr. McCartney: Disability living allowance provides a contribution towards the generality of extra costs faced by severely disabled people as a result of their disabilities. The amounts payable are not based on calculations of the costs of specific items, and recipients are free to spend the benefit according to their own priorities and requirements.

11 Dec 2001 : Column: 775W

When the allowance was introduced in 1992, the highest and middle care components were set at the same weekly amounts as the higher and lower rates of attendance allowance, and the higher mobility component was set at the same weekly amount as the mobility allowance which it replaced. This was because the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys' major surveys of disabled people in Great Britain in the 1980s had found that those allowances were well directed towards the most common costly disabilities, and were more than sufficient to cover disability-related expenditure in most cases. For less severely disabled people, the lowest care component and the lower mobility component were set above the average weekly amount of disability-related expenditure found by the disability surveys. Since 1992, all components have been uprated annually in line with the movement in prices.

Parliamentary Ombudsman

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much has been paid in compensation in each year since 1997 as a result of cases related to his Department decided by the Parliamentary Ombudsman. [19506]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Comprehensive details of financial redress paid in cases where the Ombudsman has completed an investigation and issued a formal report are not held centrally. However, the following information has been extracted from such records as are available. Details for previous years are for the then DSS.

These figures exclude cases where a statutory resolution has been found.

YearAmount paid

(10) No figures are available

(11) Payments authorised between 1 April and 31 October 2001

The sums quoted are the total sums paid in cases investigated by the Ombudsman. Some of those payments were made prior to the Ombudsman's intervention under the Department's standing scheme for financial redress.

Random Assignment Evaluation

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how he intends to ensure informed consent to participation in random assignment for those with (a) learning disabilities and (b) mental health problems; [19497]

11 Dec 2001 : Column: 776W

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The new Jobcentre Plus service pathfinder offices opened in October and will be rolled out nationally from April 2002. As a result of the decision that this service would include mandatory work-focused meetings for new customers making claims to incapacity benefit, which would be a gateway for NDDP, it is no longer appropriate for random assignment to be used as one of the evaluation tools. We have therefore abandoned plans for its use. We are now reviewing options for alternative approaches.

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the study "A Review of the Use of Random Assignment" will be completed; and if he will place it in the Library. [19502]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: It is currently anticipated that the study called "A review of the use of social experiments" will be published in February 2002. This study covers random assignment methods. A copy will be placed in the House of Commons Library.

Pension Service

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement about the siting of the Phase 2 Pension Service locations. [22478]

Mr. McCartney: In my written answer on 4 July 2001, Official Report, column 195W, I announced plans for the new Pension Service and explained that it will offer a local service working in partnership with local authorities and voluntary organisations. To support the local service network, we will bring together the backroom processing in 26 locations rather than over 400 at present, allowing frontline staff to concentrate on dealing with customers.

At that time I also announced 19 of the first phase pension centre locations.

I am now pleased to announce that six additional new centres for the Pension Service have been secured in the Dearne Valley, Derby, Motherwell, Seaham, Stockport and York. In addition one of our existing social security offices in Norwich will become a pension centre.

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