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Analogue Television

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what advice she has (a) received and (b) plans to seek about when the conditions that need to be fulfilled before the analogue television signal is switched off might be fulfilled. [33331]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 4 February 2002]: I have received no advice about a specific date though I have made clear that the target 2006–10 is challenging. I expect to seek advice in the light of the work set out in the Digital Television Action Plan.

Ministerial Meetings

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list the meetings which (a) she and (b) other Ministers in her Department have had with representatives of broadcasters since 8 June 2001, stating for each meeting the (i) date on which it took place, (ii) the broadcasters represented at the meeting and (iii) primary purpose. [33319]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 4 February 2002]: My ministerial colleagues and I have met many representatives from the broadcasting industry in the course of our duties since 8 June 2001 as part of the process of policy development and analysis. All such contacts are conducted in accordance with the Ministerial Code, the Civil Service Code and Guidance for Civil Servants: Contacts with Lobbyists. Some of these discussions take place on a confidential basis and in order to preserves this confidentiality it is not the normal practice of Governments to release details of specific meetings with private individuals or companies.

Digital Television

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to her answer of 17 December 2001, Official Report, column 37W, on digitally originated graphics, if she will make an assessment of the (a) benefits and (b) disadvantages to television viewers and television owners of the use of on-screen digitally originated graphics, other than electronic programme guides, to identify and promote (i) television channels, (ii) programme strands, (iii) internet links and (iv) other programmes. [33308]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 4 February 2002]: I have no current plans to do so, but if the hon. Member would like to write explaining any particular issue he would like me to consider, I would be happy to do so.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the (a) benefits and (b) disadvantages to consumers of receiving digital television by (i) digital terrestrial, (ii) digital satellite and (iii) digital cable. [33318]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 4 February 2002]: My Department keeps all technologies under review.


Outsourcing (IS/IT Services)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 6 December 2001, Official Report, column 514W, on outsourcing, what the estimated size is of the reduced cost to his Department from the outsourcing of IS and IT services. [30140]

Mr. McCartney: The Department first outsourced its IT data centre and mainframe operations in 1995, and subsequently outsourced the development and maintenance of its IT systems in 2000. Costs and benefits associated with the outsourcing of all of these IS/IT services were forecast on the basis of initial planning assumptions known at the time that the contract was let. A prudent approach was taken in the calculations in terms of spending on IT systems development and maintenance, and data centre and mainframe operational services.

Based on these factors, a positive net present value was delivered representing a reduction of 3 per cent. in costs over the life of the contract. However, a fuller assessment of the actual financial impact of outsourcing is not available, since the contract is only in its early stages.

Additionally, this contract cannot be viewed within the context of cost reduction alone. Various non-financial factors were also of considerable importance in the decision to proceed with strategic outsourcing. In particular, the transfer of high levels of risk associated with new IT development to the service provider.

Income Support

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what amount of rental income is disregarded from income support calculations when heating is included in the rent of a sub-tenant. [34372]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The disregard will increase from £9.25 to £9.40 from April 2002, and this will be included in the Up-rating Order which will shortly be laid before the House. I regret that the list of rates that was published

5 Feb 2002 : Column 823W

in November 2000 and November 2001 gave incorrect rates for April 2001 and April 2002. The correct rates are included in the legislation and reflect movements in fuel prices.

Disability Living Allowance

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of disability living allowance benefits appeals were won by claimants after the medical examination in (a) the West Midlands and (b) the UK in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [30738]

Maria Eagle: Disability living allowance appeals cleared at hearing in Great Britain and those processed through the Appeals Service's Birmingham regional centre during the period 1 October 2000 to 30 September 2001:

Great BritainBirmingham regional centre
Cleared at hearing(8)90,9358,330
Found in favour46,7703,595
Percentage found in appelant's favour51.443.2

(8) Includes both oral and paper hearings


All figures are subject to change as more up to date data become available. Figures are rounded to the nearest five.


100 per cent. download of the Generic Appeals Processing System

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of claimants for disability living allowance have been refused benefit after they have been receiving disability living allowance for (a) one year, (b) five years, (c) 10 years and (d) 20 years since medical testing was introduced. [30742]

Maria Eagle: Information is not available in the form requested. Since its inception in 1992, decisions about entitlement to DLA have been made on the basis of all the available evidence about a severely disabled person's care and/or mobility needs. In some cases, this evidence includes a report from the claimant's general practitioner or from an examining doctor, but there is no "medical test" which determines entitlement.

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many representations he has received over the last 12 months about the Benefits Agency's use of inadequately qualified and experienced doctors to assess disabled living allowance applicants; and if he will make a statement. [30971]

Maria Eagle: Information on representations received regarding inadequately qualified and experienced doctors undertaking examinations for disability living allowance is not collected. The Department takes steps to ensure that only doctors with appropriate experience and qualifications conduct such examinations.

The chief medical adviser must approve all such doctors. There are strict recruitment criteria and doctors must undertake prescribed training and demonstrate competence in these examinations. Ongoing approval is subject to satisfactory performance and attendance at an agreed programme of continued medical education. Complaints are taken into account in determining performance.

5 Feb 2002 : Column 824W

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what was the average time taken for a review of disability living allowance in the last 12 months. [33638]

Maria Eagle: Reviews of disability living allowance (DLA) were replaced by Reconsiderations under the system of decision making and appeals introduced from October 1999.

The average clearance time for DLA Reconsiderations in the year to December 2001 was 38.9 days.

Departmental Leave Entitlement

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what has been the average annual leave entitlement of staff in his Department in each of the last four years. [31740]

Mr. McCartney: The two main elements of DWP formed in June 2001 are the former DSS and ES. The average annual leave entitlements outside the Senior Civil Service over the last four years within those organisations have been as follows:

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