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CHILD SUPPORT ACT: RESPONSE TO COMMONS SELECT COMMITTEE REPORT

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: We are considering carefully the recent report of the Social Security Select Committee and expect to be in a position to make an announcement shortly.

SOCIAL SECURITY FRAUD

Lord Hooson asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The full extent of social security fraud between 1980 and 1993 is not known. Estimated savings by DSS/Benefits Agency fraud investigators in Great Britain since April 1987 and recoveries of benefit overpayments since 1991 are set out in the table. Earlier or more detailed information is not available.

Fraud Savings(1) Overpayment(2) Recoveries
£ million £ million
1987-88 196 --
1988-89 262 --
1989-90 309 --
1990-91 341 --
1991-92 447 24
1992-93 558 38
1993-94 654 80
(1) Includes fraud identified and stopped, but excludes fraud losses which remained undetected.

(2) Information relating to the amount of overpayments arising from fraud is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The figures provided included non-fraudulent overpayments where an adjudication officer has decided recovery is appropriate.


CIVIL SERVICE AND ARMED FORCES: NATIONAL EXTRACTION

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to their Answer of 7 December 1994 (HL Deb., col. WA97), whether they will publish special rules relating to national extraction (as distinct from nationality or residence) governing employment in the Civil Service, and the similar rules governing eligibility for service in the Armed Forces; and, if not, why not.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): The special rules relating to national extraction (as distinct from nationality or residence) governing employment in the Civil Service are set out in the numbered paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 of a two-page explanatory document which

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is already available and is issued in response to enquiries from the public. Copies of this document have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The following rules normally apply to recruits to the Armed Forces.

(a) At all times since birth they have been either Commonwealth citizens or citizens of the Irish Republic (see note below).

(b) They were born in a country which is (or then was) within the Commonwealth or in the Irish Republic.

(c) Each of their parents was born in such a country or in the Irish Republic and have always been, or (if deceased) always were, Commonwealth citizens or citizens of the Irish Republic.


    Note: In these rules the term "Commonwealth citizen" includes a British citizen, a British Dependent Territories citizen, a British overseas citizen a British subject under the British Nationality Act 1981 and a citizen of an independent Commonwealth country.


    The above rules apply to applicants to the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, officers and some non-commissioned specialisations in the Army. For most non-commissioned specialisations in the Army, the requirement at (c) above is not an essential qualification.

HUMBERSIDE: POLICING ARRANGEMENTS

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have decided the future policing arrangements for Humberside.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): My right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced in another place on 25 October (cols. 512-513) that he would consult the forces, police authorities and local authorities in the area on the future policing arrangements for Humberside and also ask Her Majesty's chief inspector of constabulary to report on the viability of a police force based on the boundaries of the four unitary authorities which will replace the county of Humberside.

The majority of those who responded favoured the retention of a separate Humberside police force. Her Majesty's chief inspector of constabulary considers that a force based on the boundaries of the four unitary authorities would be viable and efficient.

We have therefore decided that the Humberside force will be retained on those revised boundaries, with the area around Goole in the present district of Boothferry transferring to North Yorkshire.

The necessary provisions to give effect to this decision will be included in the order for the reorganisation of local government in the area.

SINGLE PARENTS IN THE ARMED FORCES: ACCOMMODATION AND ALLOWANCES

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made with the Ministry of Defence's review of the status of single parents in the Armed Forces.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): My department's review of the status of single parents serving in the Armed Forces is now complete. Its purpose has been to consider, against the background of changing social trends, whether the entitlement to Service Families' Accommodation and other related allowances, which currently applies only to married personnel and to lone parents whose marriages have ended in bereavement, divorce or separation, should be extended to single parents. The Armed Forces rightly continue to attach great importance to the place of marriage and the family in the Service community. We have concluded, however, that single parents should in future be eligible for the same entitlements as other lone parents. These new arrangements will take effect from 1 January 1995, and will place single parents who wish to remain in the Service in a better position to meet fully their Service commitments, at the same time as fulfilling their parental responsibilities.

RCDS VISIT TO KASHMIR AND BANGLADESH

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cost to public funds of a visit by a team from the Royal College of Defence Studies to Kashmir and the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh; what was the purpose of the visits and who participated in them; whether any similar visits have been by teams from the Royal College of Defence Studies since the beginning of 1992 and if so, whether they will list the visits, giving costs and the personnel involved in each of them, and whether they will place in the Library of the House of Lords the text of the letter sent by the head of the mission Rear Admiral T. J. England to the Chittagong Hill Tracts, to the Chairman of the Khagrachhari District Council and of any other letter written to persons who were met on these visits.

Lord Henley: The visit to Kashmir and the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh in September/October of this year formed part of a wider visit to the Indian sub-continent. This was one of a regular series of visits to South Asia by members of the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) to study the current political, socio-economic and military situations of countries in the region.

All the costs of this element of the 1994 tour were met by the host countries, with the exception of an internal return air journey and one night's hotel accommodation. The total cost of these for the British members of the party amounted to £994. Costs for overseas members of the team were borne by their own governments.

The RCDS party was 11 strong and included four overseas members. It was led by Rear Admiral England. The other members were drawn from the Armed Services of the UK and friendly states, the Ministry of Defence and Police Service, at Lieutenant Colonel to Brigadier level, or equivalent.

The letter sent to the Chairman of the Khagrachhari District Council was a handwritten note of thanks. It is

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normal practice for such a letter to be sent as a matter of courtesy to all those who host RCDS visits. No copies were taken.

No visits to the Chittagong Hill Tracts have been made since the beginning of 1992. Similar RCDS groups visited Kashmir in September 1992 and September 1993. Records of the cost of these visits are not held centrally but the funding arrangements were similar to those for the 1994 visit.

DEFENCE CONTRACTS: PAYMENTS TO COMPANIES

Lord Molloy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any payments are made to companies competing for defence contracts awarded by the Ministry of Defence.

Lord Henley: Payments are only made to contractors who win and successfully complete defence contracts.

SATELLITE INTELLIGENCE: PROVISIONS TO INTERNATIONAL BODIES

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking, and with what other governments, to ensure that the UN, the International Atomic Energy Authority, and other governments and organisations do not have to rely exclusively or substantially on satellite intelligence provided by the United States intelligence services.

Lord Henley: It is not our practice to comment on such matters.


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