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Human Rights Act

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cases have been brought against his Department under the Human Rights Act 1998; and what has been the cost in (a) legal fees to defend cases and (b) compensation payments. [45064]

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Mr. Nicholas Brown: We do not collect central records of all cases in which the Human Rights Act 1998 is relied on. Human rights are now integrated in the general law and are rarely the sole basis for a challenge.

We do not collect separate information centrally about the costs to public funds, legal fees or compensation payments in cases which include a human rights issue. In most cases it will be difficult to single out associated costs relating to the human rights element.

Departmental Contracts

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the 30 largest contracts awarded by his Department from (a) May 1997 to April 1998, (b) May 1998 to April 1999, (c) May 1999 to April 2000, (d) May 2000 to April 2001 and (e) May 2001 to the latest date for which figures are available, stating in each case the values of the contracts and the companies with which the contracts were placed. [43670]

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the 30 largest contracts awarded by his Department from (a) May 1997 to April

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1998, (b) May 1998 to April 1999, (c) May 1999 to April 2000, (d) May 2000 to April 2001 and (e) May 2001 to the latest date, indicating in each case the values of the contracts and the companies with which the contracts were placed. [38725]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 28 February 2002]: The Department for Work and Pensions was formed in June 2001. The information requested on contracts let by the ex-Employment Service and ex-Department of Social Security is not held centrally in the new Department and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

The Department for Work and Pensions lets a large number of contracts in a year, most of which are for low value purchases let by distributed units. The cost of collecting and analysing information on centrally let deals since the department was formed is provided in the table. The table includes a range of commercial deals including framework agreements under which individual contracts can be let at set terms, conditions and prices. Contract value are not provided because of commercial confidentiality.

Awards between May 2001 and February 2002 by value

Contract or AgreementSupplier (current name)
IS/IT distribution, implementation and disposal services (DIDS) business allocation under ACCORDArcway (BT led consortium)
Rail travel booking services frameworkQjump
Travel services frameworkLonsdale Travel
Desktop stationery framework (2 suppliers)Banner Business Systems
Guilbert UK Ltd
Computer consumables framework (3 suppliers)Banner Business Systems
Guilbert UK Ltd
Orion Media Marketing and Supplies
Paper framework (5 suppliers)Banner Business Systems
Bunzl Fine Paper
Guilbert UK Ltd
Premier Paper
Glenmore Business Papers
Vehicle leasing frameworkArval PHH
Envelopes frameworkBanner Business Systems

Social Fund

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what his assessment is of (a) the incidence of fraud in Social Fund applications and (b) the cost of such fraud in the last 12 months for which figures are available; [51045]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 18 April 2002]: The information requested is not available.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the understanding of Social Fund applicants of (i) the conditions of eligibility for each of the Social Fund payments and (ii) the basis on which decisions are taken relating to their Social Fund payments. [51047]

Malcolm Wicks: In 1999–2000 research was commissioned from the Personal Finance Research Centre at the university of Bristol which explored customers' views of the application process for the new Social Fund budgeting loan scheme introduced in April 1999. The research report was published 1 in the autumn of 2000 and confirmed that the sample of users welcomed the new budgeting loan scheme for its easier access and quicker decisions.


Benefits Agency

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Benefits Agency offices in England where the public attend have no security grilles. [31715]

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Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Benefits Agency ceased to exist at the end of March 2002. All the social security offices within the new Jobcentre Plus network which previously belonged to the Benefits Agency network where the public attend have security screens.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of prosecutions brought as a result of investigations carried out by the Benefits Agency resulted in convictions in each year since 1997. [45330]

Malcolm Wicks: In each year since 1997, over 98 per cent. of prosecutions brought by the Benefits Agency have resulted in convictions.



Departmental Expenditure (Publications)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the expenditure of his Department on newspapers, magazines and periodicals in each of the last four years. [30087]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Department for Work and Pensions was formed in June 2001 from the former Department of Social Security and parts of the Department for Education and Employment.

The expenditure by the new Department for Work and Pensions between June 2001 and the end of March 2002 on newspapers, magazines and periodicals was £96,368.15.

Publicity Expenditure

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the total real terms expenditure of his Department, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies on publicity in each of the years (a) 1997–98, (b) 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000, (d) 2000–01 and (e) 2001–02 (i) to date and (ii) as estimated for the whole of the present year; and if he will break these figures down to indicate expenditure on (A) advertising and (B) press and public relations. [36172]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Jobcentre Plus

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions further to his answer to the hon. Member for Hertsmere of 14 February 2002, Official Report, column 633W, on Jobcentre Plus offices, when he expects to receive the report from the Health and Safety Executive on Jobcentre Plus offices; and if he will publish it. [40201]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have written to the Department's Director of Human Resources following the HSE's inspection of three Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices. A copy of this letter has been placed in the Library.

The Director of Human Resources has met with representatives of the HSE to discuss the issues raised and has, in conjunction with the chief executive of Jobcentre

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Plus, taken steps to ensure that these issues are dealt with effectively. A copy of his reply has also been placed in the Library.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans the Government have to increase security at the new Jobcentre Plus centres; and if he will make a statement. [51232]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Fifty six integrated Jobcentre Plus offices are already open and operating effectively—with positive feedback from staff and customers. For each of these offices a full health and safety risk assessment has been conducted and its recommendations implemented in full. These risk assessments have also been reviewed in the light of experience of live operations.

The measures implemented to support the safety of staff and improved customer service as a result of the risk assessments include:

Closed circuit television;

Better management in each office to avoid difficult situations building up, for example floor managers to greet customers and guide them through their visit;

Where recommended by risk assessments, security guards with clear instructions as to when to intervene;

In each pathfinder area screened facilities to deal with situations likely to give rise to particular risk;

A clear zero tolerance policy under which determined action will be taken against, anyone threatening or abusing Jobcentre Plus staff.


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