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Social Security (Income Support Claims and Payments) Amendment Regulations

Baroness Hollis of Heigham asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): We will monitor carefully the effect of the Social Security (Income Support Claims and Payments) Amendment Regulations (S.I. 1613/1995) to ensure that an appropriate balance is maintained between public and private provision. Data from the Income Support Computer System will be analysed at the earliest opportunity and we will continue to monitor the availability and cost of mortgage protection insurance.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Help with the interest payments on a loan that is taken out to adapt a dwelling for the special needs of a disabled person receiving Income Support is available under paragraph 16 of Schedule 3 to the Income Support (General)

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Regulations. Paragraph 4(8) does not apply to loans that are taken out for repairs and improvements to the home.

Income Support and Mortgage Protection

Baroness Hollis of Heigham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the procedure where a person claiming income support has been refused payment under a mortgage protection policy on the ground that they had a pre-existing medical condition; and what guidance has been issued to (a) Benefits Agency Adjudication Officers and (b) the Benefits Agency Medical Service concerning such a situation.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: When a person who is claiming income support, including assistance with the interest on a mortgage, has a claim for payment under a mortgage protection policy refused by their insurer because they are suffering from a pre-existing medical condition, they must inform the Benefits Agency of this decision. Any new housing costs for which they are claiming assistance will then be treated as existing housing costs and assistance will be awarded at 50 per cent. from week 9 and 100 per cent. from week 27, instead of at 100 per cent. from the 40th week.

Guidance issued to Adjudication Officers covers the award of benefit in this way and instructs them to copy the papers relating to the insurer's decision to the policy section dealing with medical matters. These medical experts will examine the decisions to ascertain that insurers are not abusing this easement. Any queries will be taken up directly with the insurer by officials. The claimant will continue to receive help with his loan, and will not be required to pursue the matter with the insurer.

Armistice Day: Two-Minute Silence

The Earl of Kimberley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have made representations to the BBC and ITV about their decisions not to stop transmission for two minutes at 11 am on Armistice Day in view of the fact that Sky News did so stop.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): No. The Royal British Legion made clear that the two-minute silence on the anniversary of Armistice Day was to be voluntary. Broadcast coverage over the weekend was admirably extensive, including the BBC's coverage of the Cenotaph ceremony on Remembrance Sunday, the day officially established for paying respect to Britain's war dead, and the Legion's Festival of Remembrance on 11 November.

Mr. Nicholas Soames

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

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    Whether the views expressed by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Mr. Nicholas Soames MP, during interviews on the "Newsnight" programme on 20 November and BBC Radio 4 "Today" programme on 21 November concerning the conduct of members of the Royal Family and on the Monarchy, represented government policy.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): Mr. Soames made it clear that he was speaking in a personal capacity.

M.1: Extension to Central London

Lord Howell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they propose to continue the M.1 motorway south into central London as was originally planned.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The

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Government have no plans at present to extend the M.1 south into central London.

Marriage, Divorce and Mediation: Survey of Public Attitudes

Viscount St. Davids asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the MORI survey Public Attitudes to Marriage, Divorce and Family Mediation will be made available in full.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): The survey was conducted as part of the detailed process of consultation on the divorce reform proposals. The results of the survey were considered in the White Paper Looking to the Future--Mediation and the Ground for Divorce (reference Cm 2799), published in April this year, and were included in the summary of the consultation analysis published at the same time. The survey has been made available in full today, and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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