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Timeplan

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if her Department is reviewing Timeplan's licence to operate. [36603]

Alan Johnson: I have been asked to reply.

The requirement for employment agencies to be licensed was removed by the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994. I shall shortly be putting forward proposals for revised employment agency regulations that will greatly strengthen the requirements on agencies supplying teachers and others who work with vulnerable people.

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SOLICITOR-GENERAL

Royal Commissions

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will list the Royal Commissions undertaken since 1978, the terms of reference and the total costs for each one. [35962]

Mr. Leslie: I have been asked to reply.

Four Royal Commissions have been established since 1978. These are as follows:


The terms of reference are set out in the published reports and can be found in the Library of the House.

Details of costs are not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

WORK AND PENSIONS

Public Appointments

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people from Warrington, North he has appointed to non-departmental public bodies since 1997. [39452]

Mr. McCartney: My right hon. Friend has appointed no one from the Warrington area to non-departmental public bodies since 1997.

Pensions

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of public sector employees are in (a) funded occupational pension schemes, (b) non-funded schemes and (c) neither. [40113]

Mr. McCartney: The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent representations he has received on the operation of section 67 of the Pensions Act 1995; and whether this will fall within the scope of the Pickering Review. [39999]

Mr. McCartney: The Pickering Simplification Review is a comprehensive re-evaluation of private pensions legislation, and section 67 of the Pensions Act 1995 is included in the report's remit. The review has held an extensive consultation exercise, which has generated a considerable number of submissions. These submissions have highlighted a number of areas of pensions law, including section 67 of the Pensions Act 1995.

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many retirement pensioners are resident abroad, broken down separately for each country with more than five per cent. of the total, and for the remainder collectively; and if he will indicate for each country separately whether a reciprocal payment agreement is in place. [40689]

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Mr. McCartney: The information requested is in the table. There are reciprocal agreements with Spain, Republic of Ireland and the USA, as well as some countries included in "Other" in the table.

Number of people in receipt of retirement pension overseas in each country with more than five per cent. of the total at 30 September 2001
thousand

CountryRP recipients
Total874.0
Australia223.0
Canada142.5
Republic of Ireland89.6
Spain45.6
USA113.8
Other259.6

Notes:

1. Figures exclude Northern Ireland and Channel Islands cases.

2. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 100 and are shown in thousands.

3. Based on a 5 per cent. sample from the Pension Strategy Computer System at 30 September 2001.


SERPS (Publicity)

Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what further plans he has to publicise the rule changes to inherited SERPS. [40938]

Mr. McCartney: We have taken a series of steps to ensure people are made aware of the remedial measures we have taken to rectify the problems created by the failure to publicise adequately the 1986 legislative changes to Inherited SERPS.

These measures, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced to the House on 29 November 2000, and which subsequently became law on 20 March 2001, were: to postpone any change to the rules on inherited SERPS until October this year; ensure existing pensioners, and people due to reach state pension age before this October were not affected by the change; and phase the reduction for people within 10 years of state pension age—allowing them time to plan ahead.

During the course of last year, the Department wrote to all existing pensioners, and those whose state pension age falls before 5 October 2002 to reassure them that, in the event of their death, the new rules on Inherited SERPS will not affect their spouses.

We are now going further to ensure that people understand the changes. From 11 March, the Department will start writing to some 5½ million people within 10 years of state pension age—those who, under the new rules, can pass on between a maximum of 90 per cent. and 60 per cent. of their SERPS to a surviving spouse.

The letter, and the accompanying leaflet, will not only explain how the changes may affect them, but will also give them the opportunity to request an estimate of the SERPS they can pass on, and impartial information on financial planning.

In addition, from August this year, we will run a media campaign to further disseminate information on the changes to the public at large.

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We have taken action to ensure that the Department's staff are aware of the new rules, and the Department will also provide a dedicated helpline 0845 600 6116 or textphone 0845 602 1913 to answer further queries and provide information to members of the public.

Fraud and Error

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the proportion of claims for the children's premium in income support and jobseeker's allowance which have been (a) fraudulent and (b) incorrect. [25988]

Mr. McCartney [pursuant to his reply, 4 February 2002, c. 757W]: There is not a "children's premium" in income support or jobseeker's allowance. People claiming either benefit may claim for dependent members of their household. The latest information on the levels of fraud and error from claiming incorrectly for the number and type of dependents is in the report "Fraud and Error in Claims for Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance from April 2000 to March 2001" a copy of which is available in the Library. However, it is not possible to disaggregate the number of cases in which fraud and error is attributable solely to incorrect claims for dependent children.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

Volunteers

Bob Russell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many members of his staff in each of the past two years have been granted a day's paid leave to work as a volunteer; and if he will make a statement. [39731]

Mr. Leslie: A survey of Cabinet Office staff in 2001 indicated that at least 4.7 per cent. of staff undertook a wide range of voluntary activities. Records of special paid leave are not held centrally, however, and it is therefore not possible to say how many applications for special paid leave were specifically for volunteering.

Cabinet Office has always supported the civil service tradition of allowing both paid and unpaid leave for voluntary public duties, and the Department's provisions allow staff the opportunity to do voluntary work of any kind on at least one day a year without loss of pay.

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Civil Servants

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister further to his answer of 7 February 2002, Official Report, column 1130W, on civil service entrants, what is being done to publicise the fast stream development programme to students at institutions of higher education other than Oxford and Cambridge. [38313]

Mr. Leslie: Action taken to publicise the fast stream development programme to students at universities other than Oxford and Cambridge has included the following:








Dr. Kumar: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister at which graduate fairs the fast stream development programme was publicised last year. [38314]

Mr. Leslie: The fast stream development programme was publicised last year at the following graduate recruitment careers fairs:

FairDate (2001)Student visitors
University of Central Lancashire Graduate Fair6 June800
Gradunet Virtual Fair14 June200
University of Newcastle Careers Fair18 June1,400
University of Manchester and UMIST Graduate Fair21 June3,000
University of Birmingham Graduate Fair22 and 23 June8,362
University of London Careers Service Recruitment Fair27 and 28 June11,527
Diversity UK—Ethnic Minority Fair, London31 July and 1 August1,500
Manchester Diversity Fair17 October1,500
Sheffield Universities Recruitment Fairs24 October4,500
University of St. Andrews Graduate Fair, Fife24 October850
University of Aberdeen Recruitment Fair1 November800
University of Teesside's Careers Fair2 November950
ACFF Diversity Fair, London13 November2,200
University of Dundee Graduate Fair14 November900
Napier University Recruitment Fair, Edinburgh14 November830
University of Birmingham Graduate Fair6 and 7 November5,157
University of Manchester and UMIST Graduate Fair13 and 14 November2,729
University of London Careers Service Recruitment Fair5 and 6 December7,000

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Dr. Kumar: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what is being done to make the senior civil service more representative of the population; and how this is publicised across Government. [38316]

Mr. Leslie: The latest figures for October 2001 released on 21 February show that the civil service is making progress on tackling under-representation at senior levels:


Individual Departments and agencies have specific initiatives in place to tackle under-representation at senior levels. These are supported by a number of central initiatives, all of which are publicised widely across Government.

In June 2001, the Cabinet Office launched the Elevator Partnerships, as a pilot informal mentoring scheme for women. The aim of the scheme is partnership between 50 senior women and 50 junior women who appear to be static in career terms, with the aim of encouraging career confidence.

All Departments were given the opportunity to participate in the pilot. An evaluation of the pilot in the summer will be used to encourage Departments to set up similar schemes.

The Cabinet Office has launched "Pathways", a central development programme targeted at minority ethnic staff with the potential to rise to senior levels. There is an annual trawl across all Departments for participants and there is a page dedicated to the scheme on the civil service website.

There is also an annual bursary scheme for disabled civil servants who have the potential to reach a senior management position (at least Grade 7) in the civil service. The scheme provides access and funding for training opportunities and personal development. Applications are invited annually through advertisements in Government publications.


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