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6 Nov 1995 : Column WA181

Written Answers

Monday, 6th November 1995.

Earnings Top-up Scheme: Proposals

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will announce their further plans for earnings top-up—the proposed pilot benefit for working people without dependent children.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The Secretary of State has today announced his decisions on the eight areas in which the earnings top-up pilot scheme will operate from October 1996. He has also placed in the Vote Office the draft rules of the scheme.

The rules setting out the scheme list by postcode the eight pilot areas in which earnings top-up will be paid; four at a higher rate (Scheme B) and four at a lower rate (Scheme A). The two benefit rates are intended to test the relative effectiveness of different levels of assistance in meeting the aim of the scheme; to help lower-paid people to move into work and be better off there.

The areas have been selected from an original shortlist using wholly objective criteria related to unemployment rates, vacancy rates, population density and operational feasibility. They are areas from which we expect to be able to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of this approach if extended nationally.

The eight pilot areas

Scheme A (Lower Rate): These pilot areas will give an estimated average weekly boost to income of £16 for single people under 25, and £24 for couples:


    Newcastle upon Tyne TTWA 1 , including parts of Stanley, Consett, Newburn, Gateshead, Shields Road, Felling, West Moor, Blaydon-on-Tyne, Cramlington, Whitley Bay, Wallsend, North Shields, and Prudhoe.

Castleford and Pontefract TTWA, including parts of Knottingley, and Normanton;


    Wakefield and Dewsbury TTWA, including parts of South Elmsall, Hemsworth, and Batley;


    Barnsley TTWA, including part of Wombwell, and Hoyland.


    Southend TTWA, including parts of Brentwood, Rayleigh, Burnham-on-Crouch, Basildon, Canvey Island, Stanford-le-Hope, Grays, and Tilbury.


    Bangor and Caernarfon TTWA, including parts of Penygross and Beaumaris;


    Conwy and Colwyn TTWA, including parts of Colwyn Bay, Llanwrst, and Landudno;


    Denbigh TTWA;


    Dolgellau and Barmouth TTWA;


    Holyhead TTWA, including parts of Llangefni and Amlwch;


    Shotton; Flint and Rhyl TTWA, including parts of Mold and Holywell;

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    Wrexham TTWA, including parts of Cefnmawr and Llangollen.

Scheme B (Higher Rate): These pilot areas will give an estimated average weekly boost to income of £18 for single people under 25, and £25 for couples:


    Sunderland TTWA, including parts of Birtley, Chester-le-Street, Houghton-Le-Spring, Peterlee, East Boldon, and Washington.


    Doncaster TTWA, including parts of Thorne.


    Bournemouth TTWA, including parts of Wimbourne, Christchurch, and Ringwood.


    Perth and Crieff TTWA;


    Dumbarton TTWA, including parts of Alexandria, and Helensburgh;


    Stirling TTWA.

We expect that about 20,000 people will benefit from the earnings top-up pilot. The four areas which have been selected as controls for the evaluation of the pilot are:


    Middlesbrough TTWA;


    Hartlepoole and Stockton-on-Tees TTWA;


    Rotherham and Mexborough TTWA;


    Worksop TTWA;


    Southampton and Isle of Wight TTWA;


    Blaenau Gwent and Abergavenny TTWA;


    Brecon TTWA;


    Llandeilo TTWA;


    Llanelli TTWA;


    Monmouth TTWA;


    Pontypool and Cwmbran TTWA.

Notes:

1 TTWA = Travel to work area. These are areas in which 75 per cent. of the population working in the area also live there, and vice versa.

The rules of the scheme will be published in final form once there has been an opportunity for Parliament to consider the proposals.

Long-term Unemployed: Men

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of the 862,000 long-term unemployed are men.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Eighty two per cent. (unadjusted claimant unemployment July 1995).

Tax Threshold (P11D Form)

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to raise the earnings threshold of £8,500 p.a. at which a P11D Form is mandatory for tax purposes.

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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I cannot anticipate my right honourable friend's Budget statement.

Somalia: US Costs

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much in reimbursement funds has the United States asked from the United Nations for its participation in the United Nations exercise it initiated and controlled in Somalia (not excluding the costs of the construction projects contracted for with the United States firms) and whether these sums have been paid by the United Nations to the United States.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The UN secretariat advises that the amount claimed by the US Government in respect of US involvement in UN operations in Somalia from May 1993 was 62,589,748 dollars and that claimed by US companies was 29,629,500 dollars. The amount paid out to the US government was 60,718,045 dollars. US companies have been paid in full.

Sri Lanka

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

    Whether they have altered their assessment in Sri Lanka since 9 June when the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mr. Baldry, stated the Government's policy in another place (H.C. Deb. col. 474).

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We continue to believe that a lasting solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka can only be achieved through peaceful negotiation. We welcome the Sri Lanka Government's initiative in proposing a wide ranging devolution package as the basis for negotiation. We hope that talks on a sustainable settlement will be resumed. We have called on both the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties and to protect the civilian population in the current conflict.

Algeria: Political Unrest

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

    Whether they have altered their assessment of the political and human rights situation in Algeria since 3 July when the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Baroness Chalker of Wallasey, outlined the Government's position in a written question by Lord Judd (WA. 67).

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Her Majesty's Government have not altered their assessment of the political and human rights situation in Algeria.

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Nigeria

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

    Whether they have altered their assessment of the political and human rights system in Nigeria since 6 July when the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Baroness Chalker of Wallasey, outlined the Government's position in a written question by Lord Judd (WA89).

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities that General Abacha's three year timetable for a return to civilian democratic rule is too long, and the importance of a rapid resumption of political activity leading to free and fair elections. We have also made clear our deep concern about abuses of human rights. We deplore the imposition of long prison sentences on the alleged coup plotters and the death sentences on Mr. Saro-Wiwa and others following a flawed judicial process.

Peru and Ecuador: Arms Sales

Lord Mountevans asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on arms sales to Peru and Ecuador following the outbreak of fighting in January in the long-standing border dispute.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Government's policy is to support sales of UK defence equipment where this is compatible with our political, strategic and security interests. At all times, we have followed our established and public practice of considering individual sales to Peru and Ecuador on a case by case basis, in accordance with the international guide-lines to which we are committed. We shall continue to process applications on a case by case basis. Some licence applications for the export of military equipment were not approved during the period of heightened tension between Peru and Ecuador. The recent reduction in tension between the two countries is encouraging.

Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether in the brochure issued by Knight Frank & Rutley for the sale of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, the words "if new development is proposed, indicative sketch drawing of the proposed alterations, together with any new build" indicate that they are prepared to entertain either "new development" or "new build" or both should be submitted.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): The Government wish to encourage innovative but sustainable and appropriate uses for the Royal Naval College and its peripheral buildings. There may be scope for some new build or development of the site but only in accordance

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with the statutory planning constraints associated with the use and maintenance of a Grade 1 listed building and ancient monument, together with other restrictions that the Secretary of State for Defence may wish to impose as sole trustee and landlord.


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