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Council Tax

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total value was of council tax benefit payments made in Scotland in each of the past three years. [48839]

Malcolm Wicks: The latest available information is in the table.

Total value of council tax benefit payments in Scotland

£ million


Figures are rounded to the nearest £ million.


Pre-Budget report, September 2001.

Child Benefit Centre (Tyne and Wear)

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of telephone calls to the Child Benefit Centre in Washington, Tyne and Wear were charged at (a) national and (b) local call rates in the last 12 months. [51787]

Malcolm Wicks: All telephone calls to the Child Benefit Centre over the last 12 months were charged at the national call rate.

Automated Credit Transfer

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Government will save following the introduction of automated credit transfer for the delivery of benefits payments from 2003; and how much money the Government provide to post offices for administering benefits payments. [53130]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 29 April 2002]: The move to payment directly into bank and building society accounts assures a safe, convenient, more modern and efficient way of paying benefits and pensions and will bring very substantial savings. Against this, we will incur some additional costs, including those to Post Office Ltd. for the provision of the new card account at the Post Office. The precise costs will depend on the number of card accounts.

War Veterans

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what pensions and benefits are available for war veterans. [52473]

Dr. Moonie: I have been asked to reply.

War veterans are entitled to claim the full range of benefits and pensions available to their civilian counterparts. In addition, war disablement pensions and armed forces pensions, in respect of ill health and retirement, are available to war veterans.

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Central Office of Information

Tim Loughton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) full-time and (b) part-time staff have been employed at the Central Office of Information in each year since 1997; and at what cost. [53260]

Mr. Leslie: Staffing details for Central Office of Information are set out in the table.

Full timePart timePart time FTE(36)Total FTE(36)Cost £000

(36) Full-time equivalents

Public Appointments

Mr. Allen: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many people since May 1997 have placed themselves on the register for public appointments maintained by the Cabinet Office; how many of these have received a public appointment since May 1997; and how many public appointments for which the above register is maintained have been made since May 1997. [52227]

Mr. Leslie: The Public Appointments Unit in the Cabinet Office is responsible for maintaining and developing the Government's central register of people who have expressed an interest in serving on a public body. The register is made available to Government Departments via the Government's secure intranet, and is a resource on which they may draw when carrying out the process of making a public appointment.

While the Public Appointments Unit does not itself make any appointments, it is consulted about several hundred appointments each year, though not approached about every opportunity that arises. Between 1 May 1997 and 24 April 2002, 2,515 people have been added to the register. The other information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Miss Begg: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his responsibilities relating to senior and public appointments; and what progress has been made towards the Cabinet Office Diversity in Public Appointments policy and targets. [48754]

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The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: Cabinet Office Ministers make appointments to the following bodies sponsored by the Cabinet Office and its agencies:

Appointments to the Equal Opportunities Commission which is sponsored by the Cabinet Office are made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

In addition the Minister for the Cabinet Office, in his capacity as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, makes appointments to the Advisory Committees on Justices of the Peace in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

"Public Bodies: Opening Up Public Appointments 2002–05" sets out for each Department specific targets for increasing diversity on the boards of the public bodies it sponsors and the action that will be taken to ensure that the targets are met and for monitoring progress. Copies of the publication are available in the Library of the House.


Matthew Taylor: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 10 March 2002, Official Report, column 432W, on sponsorship, if he will place in the Library a copy of the internal sponsorship guidelines circulated to Departments in March 1999. [46611]

Mr. Leslie: I have placed copies of the guidelines circulated to Departments in March 1999 in the Libraries of the House. These guidelines have been superseded by "Guidance to Departments on Sponsorship of Government Activities", published in July 2000, copies of which are also available in the House Libraries.

Ministerial Private Offices

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the running costs were of (a) his Ministers' private offices, separately identifying expenditure on staff, and (b) his Department in each year from May 1997 to the nearest date for which the information is available. [40982]

Mr. Leslie: The running costs of Ministers' private offices, the Cabinet Office parliamentary branch and the ministerial correspondence and support team for each financial year from May 1997 to 2001–02 are set out in the table.

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(a) Ministers' private offices, the Cabinet Office parliamentary branch and the ministerial correspondence and support team

Financial yearNumber of private officesPaybill (£)Other running costs (£)Net running costs (£)
May 1997 to 19983814,076348,9381,173,014

(37) Figures for 2001–02 are provisional and subject to audit

(b) Departmental expenditure

Information on the Cabinet Office's annual running costs is set out in its published appropriation accounts and resource accounts, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.


Meat Products

Mr. Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many incidents of spinal cord and other banned meat products have been detected in imported meat in the last three years. [46790]

Yvette Cooper: Since 1 January 2001 there have been 29 incidents involving the finding of specified risk material (SRM) in meat imported into the UK, of which 28 involved spinal cord. Prior to 1 October 2001, SRM cases were not recorded in a way that distinguished them from other breaches of import controls.

Government records of breaches of import controls relate to all products of animal origin detained at border inspection posts, and do not distinguish meat and meat products from other products of animal origin. Since 1 January 2000 there have been a total of 1,205 such breaches. These cases involved a variety of failings, including the absence of the necessary health mark, or the general deterioration of the meat during unsatisfactory means of transportation. Records prior to 2000 are not available.

The Food Standards Agency advises that the vast majority of consignments of meat imported into the UK fully meet the public health requirements for importation.

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