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26 Mar 2002 : Column 1012W
what the most recent available figure is for each constituency in England. 
|Child Benefit claims processing||95 per cent. completed in 36 days|
|Child Benefit claims accuracy||98 per cent.|
|Child Benefit change of circumstances||95 per cent. completed in 14 days|
|Child Benefit change of circumstances accuracy||96.5 per cent.|
|Guardians Allowance claims processing||95 per cent. completed in 80 days|
|Teleserviceproportion of available calls answered||90 per cent.|
|Appeals processed||92 per cent. completed in 90 days|
Mr. Nicholas Brown: Entitlement to Retirement Pension begins with the pay-day on or following the pensioner's 60th or 65th birthday. Changes in entitlement, for example a decrease because of a prolonged stay in hospital, also takes effect from the pay-day following the change in circumstances. The same rule applies with the termination of the award. The principle of paying Retirement Pension in whole weeks stems from the fact that the benefit is traditionally paid in advance.
Mr John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what was the (a) percentage and number of rail journeys undertaken on first class tickets, (b) average cost of a first class journey by rail and (c) total cost of rail travel in each of the past four years broken down by grade of civil servant. 
Malcolm Wicks: The information requested for the percentage, number and average cost of first class journeys is not available. As part of their terms and conditions of employment, first class tickets are available for senior staff undertaking long business journeys or working en route. The department has a contract with an external agent for the provision of rail tickets over #15. Over each of the last three calendar years (19992001) the department has purchased an average of #7.2 million worth of tickets.
(3) whether his Department was consulted about the planned timescale for the introduction of FRS17;
(4) when he was first informed by the Accounting Standards Board about the planned adoption of FRS17;
(5) whether his Department consulted employers concerning the introduction by the Accounting Standards Board of FRS17 prior to its implementation; on what dates; and what the contents of those consultations were; 
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(6) what representations his Department made to Accounting Standards Board concerning the introduction of FRS17. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 27 February 2002]: FRS17 is an accounting standard introduced by the Accounting Standards Board (ASB) which is entirely independent of Government. Financial reporting standards are introduced after a long period of public consultation which offers an opportunity for those with an interest to make representations to the ASB.
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There are many factors tending to increase the costs and risks faced by employers who choose to offer defined benefit occupational pension schemes including longer life expectancy and lower expected future investment returns. It is not possible to isolate the effects of FRS17 from these other factors.