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Museum Visits: Studies

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Museums and Galleries Commission (MGC) has carried out a public opinion survey concerning those aspects of museums which most interest visitors and in recent months has carried out qualitative research into the experiences of children on their visits and also those of ethnic minorities. The first two studies have been published and the third will be available shortly.

These studies are part of an ongoing programme of research into museum visits. The quality of a person's experience when visiting a museum or gallery is of fundamental importance and will continue to be looked at very closely.

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UK Civil Servants Working in the European Commission

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In respect of each ministry or department involved how many civil servants in the administrative grade are, whether on secondment or otherwise, performing duties in the European Commission and in which directorates.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Most UK civil servants performing duties in the European Commission are seconded as detached national experts (DNEs), of which there are currently 105. In addition, there are currently 15 UK civil servants on short term placement within the European Commission. There is also a small number of UK civil servants who are fulfilling roles within the Commission as temporary agents. Most obtain special leave (unpaid) from their departments in order to undertake these temporary contracts. No figures are available for people who fall into this category. UK civil servants seconded as detached national experts or on short term placement are listed below by department (or ministry) and directorate within the European Commission:

    Cabinet Office

    DGII 1

    Department for Education and Employment

    DGV 5

    DGXXII 2

    Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

    DGI 1

    DGIII 2

    DGVII 3

    DGX 2

    DGXI 1


    Department of Health

    DGIII 3

    DGV 1

    DGVII 1

    Department for International Development

    DGIa 1

    DGIb 3

    DGII 1

    DGVIII 6

    DGXII 1

    DGXVI 1


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    Department of Social Security

    DGV 1

    DGIX 1



    Department of Trade and Industry

    DGI 3

    DGIa 3

    DGIII 1

    DGIV 3

    DGXII 1

    DGXIII 1

    DGXIV 1

    DGXV 2

    DGXVII 1

    DGXXI 1



    Employment Agency

    DGXI 2


    Foreign and Commonwealth Office

    DGIa 2

    DGII 1

    DGXVII 1


    HM Customs and Excise

    DGXIX 1

    DGXXI 8


    HM Treasury

    DGII 2

    DGIV 1

    DGXX 1



    Health and Safety Executive

    DGIII 1

    DGV 1

    DGXI 3

    DGXII 1

    Home Office


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    Inland Revenue

    DGXIV 1

    DGXV 2


    Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

    DGI 1

    DGVI 4

    DGVIII 1

    DGXIV 1

    Ministry of Defence

    DGVII 1


    National Audit Office

    DGIX 1

    DGXX 1

    Northern Ireland Civil Service

    DGVI 1

    DGVII 1

    DGXVI 1

    Office of Fair Trading

    DGIV 2

    Scottish Office

    DGXI 1

    DGXVII 1


European Commission: Staff Assignments

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In respect of each member state of the European Union what is the number of their respective nationals working at A grade in each directorate of the European Commission.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It is for the European Commission to provide information about the staff it employs and the way in which it assigns them. The European Commission does not normally supply information about staffing levels. However, some recent figures have been made available relating to administrative (A grade) officials. These set out the position as at 5 May 1996 (below). The most senior category is A1, the most junior A8.

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A1A2A3A4A5A6A7 A8Total
United Kingdom720661221194611220512

Tax Credits for Students

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their proposed Earned Income Tax Credit will be available to full-time students who take part-time employment.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Her Majesty's Government are considering introducing a "Working Family Tax Credit" which would build on the successful elements of Family Credit and be paid through the wage packet. The Government are considering all the options for their potential design and delivery.

Alcohol and Tobacco Smuggling

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many detections of smuggling of alcohol and tobacco have been recorded in each of the last three years.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: In the past three financial years, Customs made the following numbers of detections of smuggled alcohol and tobacco goods:


EMU Accession Date

Lord Tanlaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether potential inward investors to the United Kingdom are made aware of an approximate date for entry into the Economic and Monetary Union; and an approximate date for harmonisation of British Standard Time (BST) with Central European Time (CET).

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: As the Chancellor said in his statement of 27 October 1997, it is sensible for

12 Jan 1998 : Column WA143

business and the country to plan on the basis that, in this Parliament, we will not enter a single currency.

But, if the single currency is successful and the economic case for joining is clear and unambiguous, then the Government believe that Britain should be part of it. We need to prepare intensively during this Parliament, so that Britain will be in a position to make a decision to join EMU, should the Government, Parliament and the people so decide, early in the next Parliament.

I understand from my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Home Affairs that there are no present plans for the United Kingdom to move to Central European Time.

Economic and Monetary Union

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are prepared to make available funds to non-party and cross-party organisations seeking to engage in public debate on economic and monetary union and to put alternative views to those of the Government and European Commission.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government have no plans to make funds available to any non-party or cross-party organisations seeking to engage in public debate on economic and monetary union.

Benefit Integrity Project

Lord Ashley of Stoke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many additional interviewers for the benefit integrity project they have appointed and how many more will be appointed;

    What restrictions have been given to interviewers on the benefit integrity project and whether target figures for savings have been given or suggested;

    How many disabled people have been interviewed since the benefit integrity project began and what proportion have had their benefits cut or removed;

    How much money disabled people have lost and the Government gained since the benefit integrity project began; and

    What steps have been taken under the benefit integrity project to assess the amount of under claiming and under payment and with what results.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): One of our key aims is to rebuild integrity in, and public support for, the social security system and the way in which public money is spent. We need to focus on those who are properly entitled to benefit. This is why we have set up the benefit integrity project. The administration of the benefit integrity project is a matter for Peter Mathison, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the noble Lord.

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Letter to Lord Ashley of Stoke from the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency, Mr. Peter Mathison, dated 19 December 1997.

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions regarding the benefit integrity project (BIP).

The BIP was set up in April 1997 using existing staff from within the agency. The BIP is conducting a programme of visits to people receiving disability living allowance (DLA) at the higher rate of mobility combined with the highest rate of care. To undertake these visits the Benefits Agency (BA) currently employs 99 staff located in 10 disability benefit centres (DBC's) in England and Scotland. In Wales, 31 staff located at BA district offices have been trained to undertake the visits, as part of their duties. There are plans to increase the number of staff at Bootle DBC by one.

The role of BIP visiting officers is to obtain an up to date, factual statement of circumstances from the disabled person; they play no direct part in the adjudication process. therefore, they have not been set targets for savings. It is important to stress that BIP is a measure designed to address incorrectness within DLA rather than stopping benefit. Adjudication officers are required to make the correct decision on any case they handle and have no financial target to achieve.

As at 30 November 1997, the number of people interviewed since the BIP began is 5,348 of whom 10.62 per cent. (568) have had their benefit reduced or disallowed entirely. A further 22,163 people have been dealt with by postal enquiry of whom 13.19 per cent. (2,923) have had their benefit reduced or disallowed entirely.

As at 30 November 1997, the total amount of weekly benefit payments identified as incorrect has resulted in reductions amounting to £150,603.00 per week and increases amounting to £10,744.80 per week.

The BIP is only looking at DLA awards of the higher rate mobility component combined with the highest or middle rate of the care component, thus the scope for increasing awards is limited. However, any evidence obtained from DLA customers which indicates an increased need is placed before the adjudication officer and where appropriate that award is increased. To date 657 awards of middle rate care have been increased to highest rate care--amounting to £10,744.80 per week. There has been no assessment of the total amount of under claiming and under payment under BIP.

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