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Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Earl Howe: In considering the suitability of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich as a potential site for the Joint Service Command and Staff College, we took full account of the availability of the adjacent. Dreadnought Seamen's Hospital and the Devonport Nurses Home.

Mr. Eric Heath

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): Mr. Eric Heath is a minor in need of care and protection. He is not in a position to make reasoned decisions about his future and to support himself. The young people whose cases were raised in the debate of 20th October 1994 were of an age to make reasoned decisions about their way of life and able to support themselves without reliance upon the British taxpayer.

Post Office Reward Scheme

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The Post Office reward scheme offers a financial incentive to Post Office clerks to prevent the fraudulent encashment of order books and girocheques, beyond their contractual obligation to the Benefits Agency (BA).

The Post Office reward scheme was introduced on a national basis in October 1995, following a limited trial in the Birmingham area, and a wider trial in the Midlands area.

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Since the national scheme began, 16,339 rewards have been paid. The standard reward is £10, although there is the option to make an award of £25 for exceptional cases, for example where a Post Office clerk has taken action which leads to a prosecution. Eight rewards of £25 have been paid.

The face value of the order books and giro cheques recovered to 29th February 1996 is £8,156,288.

A number of procedures have been put in place to ensure that rewards are properly paid:

(1)The reward application form must be accompanied by the order book or giro cheque when it is received by the BA.

(2) The application form and order book or giro cheque are checked by local BA fraud investigation staff prior to acceptance of the application. Applications are considered under various criteria, which are known by both

Post Office clerks and BA staff. Once checked the application forms are sent to a central

BA rewards centre.

(3) Payment is made from the centre, where the application forms are checked again on receipt. The forms are also subject to further random security and management checks during the recording and payment authorisation processes. The rewards scheme itself is also subject to scrutiny by the BA internal audit unit.

Benefit Fraud Allegations: Telephone Referral

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, further to paragraph 3 of the Government's reply to the Fifth Report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Social Security, they accept that free telephone referral lines "to make it easier for the public to pass on information about people they believe to be defrauding benefits" may be used for motives of malice as well as for the pubic interest, and whether they will therefore give an undertaking that claimants will not have their benefit stopped as a result of such information until further investigation has been undertaken.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The department is aware that some allegations of benefit fraud against claimants may be made maliciously. It is not the department's policy to stop benefit until an investigation has been undertaken, and evidence which could affect the amount of benefit has been established.

Housing Benefit: Anti-Fraud Work

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to paragraph 13 of the Fifth Report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Social Security, they will give details of the financial incentive scheme for local authorities to encourage them to undertake anti-fraud work in housing benefit,

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    and what monitoring systems are in place to ensure that these incentives operate only for information which is true.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Since 1993, the Department of Social Security has provided practical encouragement for local authorities' anti-fraud efforts by providing a framework whereby local authorities have been able to earn additional subsidy, through good performance in detecting fraud against housing benefit and council tax benefit, as measured against performance thresholds set by this department. A system of penalties is also in place for those authorities who are failing in their duty to protect public funds.

From April, the level of additional subsidy which local authorities receive on fraud savings in excess of their thresholds will be raised from 20 pence in the pound to 25 pence. For those authorities who are achieving savings of less than 50 per cent. of their performance threshold the rate of penalty will be increased to £1 in the pound.

The Audit Commission (Accounts Commission in Scotland) have primary responsibility for auditing local authority fraud savings totals. Every authority is subject to a detailed annual audit of their subsidy claims by independent district auditors. The department works closely with these organisations and provides guidance and advice as appropriate.

House of Lords Staff: Location

Lord Marlesford asked The Chairman of Committees:

    Whether he will give a breakdown of the numbers of the permanent staff employed on any form of administration by the House of Lords who are located (a) in the Palace of Westminster, (b) in other parts of the Borough of Westminster, (c) in parts of London outside Westminster and (d) outside London.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): Permanent staff employed on any form of administration by the House of Lords (including posts shared with the House of Commons but excluding the Parliamentary Works Directorate, housemaids and Lords refreshment department catering grades) are located as follows:

(a) Palace of Westminster--210

(b) Other parts of the City of Westminster--44

(c) and (d) In parts of London outside Westminster; and outside London--0.

Mental Health Services

Lord Mottistone asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which are the 33 health authorities, referred to in the Statement on Mental Health on 20th February 1996 (H.L. Deb., col 992), which could not complete their plans for delivering a comprehensive service until after 1996-97 financial year; and which

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    "Water Tower" mental hospitals are providing in-patient services for residents of those 33 health authorities.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The health authorities are listed in the Review of the Purchasing of Mental Health Services by Health Authorities in England, copies of which are available in the Library. Information on the health authorities of origin for patients receiving in-patient services in "Water Tower" mental hospitals is not available centrally.

British Citizens in Foreign Prisons

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many (a) British citizens and (b) citizens of territories for which the United Kingdom has responsibility, are held in foreign prisons, indicating the numbers of each country.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We have responsibility for 2,029 persons currently being held in prison overseas. 1,638 are British citizens, 170 have other forms of British nationality, two are British protected persons, 51 hold Hong Kong certificates of identity and 168 are citizens of unrepresented Commonwealth countries. The breakdown by countries is as follows:

CountryNumber held
Algeria1 commonwealth citizen
Andorra3 British citizens (BCs)
Antigua2 BCs
Argentina4 BCs and 2 commonwealth citizens
Aruba1 BC
Australia43 BCs, 4 British Dependent Territories citizens (BDTCs) and 3 Hong Kong certificate of identity holders (HKCOIs)
Austria12 BCs and 10 BDTCs
Barbados2 BDTCs
Bangladesh1 BC and 2 BDTCs
Belgium37 BCs, 2 BDTCs and 2 commonwealth citizens
Botswana2 BCs
Brazil21 BCs and 3 commonwealth citizens
Bulgaria2 BCs
Cameroon1 BC
Canada21 BCs and 2 BDTCs
Chile1 BC
China3 BCs and 3 BDTCs
Colombia2 BCs and 1 commonwealth citizen
Cuba2 commonwealth citizens
Cyprus9 BCs
Czech Republic2 BCs
Denmark17 BCs
Djibouti1 BC
Dominican Republic1 BC
Ecuador3 BCs
Egypt1 BC and 1 British overseas citizen (BOC)
Falkland Islands1 commonwealth citizen
Finland2 BCs
France296 BCs, 1 BDTC, 1 BOC and 25 commonwealth citizens
French Guyana1 BC
Gambia1 BC
Germany121 BCs, 3 BDTCs and 2 HKCOIs
Greece11 BCs, 2 BDTCs and 18 commonwealth citizens
Guyana1 BC
Hong Kong7 BCs and 1 BOC
Iceland1 BC
India30 BCs and 1 British subject (BS)
Indonesia1 commonwealth citizen
Ireland12 BCs
Israel8 BCs and 1 commonwealth citizen
Italy10 BCs, 1 BDTC and 4 commonwealth citizens
Jamaica6 BCs
Japan17 BCs, 4 BDTCs, 1 HKCOI and 1 commonwealth citizen
Kenya3 BCs
Korea2 BCs and 7 BDTCs
Latvia2 BCs
Lebanon2 BCs
Libya2 BCs
Luxembourg1 BDTC
Macao1 BC
Malaysia1 BDTC
Malta2 BCs
Mexico1 BC, 2 BOCs and 1 commonwealth citizen
Morocco35 BCs, 2 BDTCs and 6 commonwealth citizens
Mozambique1 BC
Nepal4 BCs
Netherlands36 BCs, 2 BDTCs and 1 commonwealth citizen
Netherlands Antilles2 commonwealth citizens
New Zealand11 BCs
Nigeria2 BCs
Norway14 BCs and 4 HKCOIs
Oman1 BC
Pakistan4 BCs
Papua New Guinea1 BC
Peru3 BCs
Philippines5 BCs, 6 BDTCs, 2 British Nationals (Overseas) (BN(O)s), 8 HKCOIs and 1 commonwealth citizen
Poland1 BC
Portugal14 BCs and 8 commonwealth citizens
Qatar3 BCs
Romania1 BC
Russia1 BC
St. Kitts1 BC
St. Lucia1 BC
St. Vincent2 BCs
Sao Tome1 BC
Singapore4 BCs, 5 BDTCs and 2 commonwealth citizens
South Africa23 BCs
Spain361 BCs, 9 BDTCs, 1 British Protected Person (BPP) and 33 commonwealth citizens
Sri Lanka6 BCs
Sweden17 BCs, 1 BDTC and 1 commonwealth citizen
Switzerland23 BCs, 2 BDTCs and 1 BOC
Taiwan5 BCs and 1 commonwealth citizen
Tanzania1 BC and 1 BOC
Thailand40 BCs, 67 BDTCs, 2 BN(O)s, 37 HKCOIs and 23 commonwealth citizens
Trinidad1 BC
Tunisia1 BC
Turkey9 BCs and 5 commonwealth citizens
Turks and Caicos1 BC
UAE14 BCs and 2 commonwealth citizens
United States250 BCs, 16 BDTCs, 4 HKCOIs and 7 commonwealth citizens
Venezuela3 BCs
Vietnam1 BDTC, 2 BN(O)s, 1 BPP and 4 HKCOIs
Yemen1 commonwealth citizen
Yugoslavia4 BCs
Zaire1 BC
Zimbabwe3 BCs

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