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Prison Suicides

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prison suicides among (a) men and (b) women there were in prisons in England and Wales in the last 12 months. [68449]

Mr. Hilary Benn: There have been 87 self-inflicted deaths among prisoners in England and Wales during the last 12 months to 8 July 2002. Further information is given in the table.

Female PrisonersMale Prisoners
(aged 15–17)
Young offenders17
(aged 18–20)
(aged 21 and over)

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Police Sick Leave

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with the Chief Constable of Cheshire on the level of sick leave in the force; and if he will make a statement. [36506]

Mr. John Denham [holding answer 25 February 2002]: Sickness absence rates in Cheshire Constabulary in 2000–01 were as follows:

24 Jul 2002 : Column 1539W

Average days sick leave per person
Police Officers13.7
Support Staff15.8

I am informed by the Chief Constable of Cheshire that the force has recently improved sickness absence management procedures and are now seeing an improvement in sickness absence for both police officers and support staff.

In 1997 Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary published a report "Lost Time" about sickness absence in police forces. The Home Office has recently published "In Sickness and In Health: Reducing sickness absence in the police service', which reported the results of research into this subject. The reports made a number of recommendations to Chief Constables aimed at improving the management of sickness absence.

The Home Office is currently developing the Strategy for a Healthy Police Service, in consultation with the police service, which will help bring about substantial reductions in police sickness.


State Pension

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the level of the state pension since April 1998, in comparison with increases in (a) average earnings and (b) the retail price index. [71484]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 22 July 2002]: Since April 1998, the rate of basic state retirement pension has increased from £64.70 to £75.50, an increase of 17 per cent.

If we had uprated the basic state retirement pension in the same period:
(a) by average earnings, the increase would have been 19 per cent.;
(b) by RPI, the increase would have been 10 per cent.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the value would be of the 25 pence age addition to the retirement pension if it had been increased in each year since its introduction in line with (a) prices and (b) average earnings. [70233]

Mr. McCartney: The 25p age addition would be worth:
(a) £2.19 per week had it been up-rated in line with prices; and
(b) £3.77 per week had it been up-rated in line with earnings,

since its introduction in 1971.

These values relate to the value of the age addition for 2002–03.

However, it should be noted that since 2000 all pensioners aged over 75 receive free TV licences, currently worth £112 per year and of pensioners aged 80 or over, the poorest single pensioners are £1,000 a year better off, and couples almost £1,400 better off in real terms when compared with the 1997 system.

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1. The Office of National Statistics' "RPI: AI Items Index Table (table RP02)" has been used to up-rate in line with prices.
2. The Office of National Statistics' "Average Earnings Index for the Whole Economy" has been used to up-rate in line with earnings.

State Pension Credit

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the estimated administration costs are of the state pension credit in each of the next five full financial years; and what percentage this represents in each of the next five full financial years of the total estimated cost of the state pension credit. [69276]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 16 July 2002]: The Pension Service will be responsible for delivering Pension Credit along with Retirement Pension and other benefits for pensioners. Ultimately benefits will be delivered in a coordinated way so that administration is delivered as part of a seamless process.

The costs to The Pension Service of delivering Pension Credit over the period covered by the Spending Review 2002 settlement (2003–04 to 2005–06) are estimated at £670 million. 1

These are the costs of converting 1.8 million MIG cases and bringing on an additional 1 million Pension Credit cases. Steady state running costs will be set in future Spending Reviews.

Minimum Income Guarantee/Pension Credit programme expenditure will be £17.4 billion over the Spending Review period 2003–04 to 2005–06. Notes 2,3,4,5

1. These include the estimate of staff costs for processing Pension Credit and for supporting functions within The Pension Service. As The Pension Service continues to develop a more integrated approach to benefit services these costs will be subject to change. They exclude one-off implementation costs such as changes to the Department's IT systems and any apportionment of Departmental overheads.
2. The Minimum Income Guarantee will be replaced by the Pension Credit from October 2003.
3. Programme expenditure beyond the year 2005–06 is not available.
4. Costs are given in nominal terms.
5. Programme costs relate to Pension Credit only and do not include any additional Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit expenditure resulting from the introduction of Pension Credit.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many individual pensioners are represented by his target to pay pension credit to at least three million pensioner households by 2006. [71782]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 22 July 2002]: The PSA target, as published in the Spending Review 2002, is for 3 million pensioner households to be in receipt of Pension Credit by 2006. It is not possible to estimate with confidence the number of individual pensioners who will receive Pension Credit by 2006.

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Occupational Pensions

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of occupational pensions that are in independent trusteeship. [73133]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The information is not collected. Independent trustees can be appointed to pension schemes for a wide variety of reasons to on-going schemes and those where a sponsoring employer has become insolvent.

On 1 April 2002, we introduced regulations to help speed up the process of winding-up pension schemes and to increase the accountability of those involved in running schemes. Specifically, the measures include a requirement for; trustees to report to Opra within one month of their becoming aware that the scheme does not have an independent trustee; and the Insolvency Practitioner or Official Receiver to appoint an independent trustee within 3 months of becoming aware of the need for one.

Pension Payment

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of 26 March 2002, Official Report, column 1009W, on pension payment, (a) how many letters were sent out to people within four months of retirement age and (b) how many claim packages were filled out and returned as a result in each year since 1997. [66586]

Mr. McCartney: The information requested concerning the number of letters sent out to people within four months of pension age is detailed in the table. No statistics are kept of the number of claim forms that are filled out and returned as a result of the letters that are

24 Jul 2002 : Column 1542W

sent out four months in advance of pension age- claim forms can also be obtained via the Pension Service Website or from any of our Local Offices. Details of the number of claims to Retirement Pension that have been received in the relevant period(s) have been included in the table.

PeriodNo of lettersNo of claims Received
01.04.97 to 31.03.98571,970602,696
01.04.98 to 31.03.99568,264628,804
01.04.99 to 31.03.00563,395621,967
01.04.00 to 31.03.01581,416506,298
01.04.01 to 31.03.02655,308556,626


Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to what extent he has conformed to Criterion 6 of Cabinet Office guidelines on written consultations in relation to his consultation on the pension statement; and if he will make a statement. [54230]

Mr. McCartney: We aim to follow Cabinet Office guidance on all written consultation where appropriate.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what public consultations have been commenced by his Department since 1 April; and what the (a) closing date and (b) website address of each were. [72068]

Mr. McCartney: The titles, start and end dates of public consultations commenced by Department for Work and Pensions since 1 April 2002 are listed in the table. They can all be found on

Title of consultationStart DateEnd Date
Revised code of practice on for gathering of information as required in Social Security Fraud Act 20018 April 200220 April 2002
Consultation on Three Recommendations in the Myners' report—"Institutional Investment in the UK—a review"4 February 20023 May 2002
Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (OPRA) quinquennial review10 May 20022 August 2002
Measuring Child Poverty18 April 200210 July 2002
The future of the residential allowance component of Income Support, Minimum Income Guarantee, Jobseeker's Allowance22 May 200231 August 2002
Equality, Opportunity, and Independence for all (Race Relations Amendment Act)30 May 200230 September 2002

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