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Domestic Violence Policy: Interdepartmental Co-ordination

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The Ministerial Committee on Domestic Violence has not been reconstituted since the election. The Cabinet Committee on Home and Social Affairs and its sub-committees, including the Sub-Committee on Women's Issues, are responsible for the co-ordination of policy on all aspects of home and social affairs. Lead responsibility for the issue of domestic violence lies with the Home Office, and my honourable friend the Minister of State, Home Office liaises as appropriate with colleagues across government. As Minister for Women I am responsible for the Women's Unit, which works closely with other government departments across all government policy areas, including violence. The Women's Unit and the Home Office will be publishing jointly a document on all forms of violence against women this summer.

Millennium Bug

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 20 April (WA 156) when they will publish the latest results of the market research tracking public perception of the Millennium bug.[HL2549]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Copies of the executive summaries of the February and March tracking research have today been placed in the Libraries of the House. The results are broadly consistent with the results for January, showing that concern among the public on this issue is still low. The results also show that those questioned are looking beyond the impact of the bug on computers and are now considering the wider effects.

The Learning Age: Responses

Lord Dormand of Easington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish a summary of the responses to the Green Paper, The Learning Age.[HL2522]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): We received about 3,000 thoughtful and constructive responses to The Learning Age. They supported our vision of the learning society and our proposals for achieving it.

A document summarising the responses is now available and I am placing copies in the Library.

M.74: Emergency Telephone and Hazard Lights

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the cost to public funds of rectifying the design faults of the emergency telephone and hazard lights on the M.74 road south of Glasgow; what

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    compensation has been claimed from those responsible; and what reprimands or employment terminations have been applied to those who caused this added public expenditure.[HL2358]

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The estimated cost of rectifying the design faults of the emergency telephone and hazard lights on the M.74 road south of Glasgow is likely to vary between £15 and £50 per affected site. The total number of sites affected has still to be established.

No compensation has been claimed from those responsible and no reprimands or employment terminations have been applied to those involved in the installation, as it was not deemed appropriate in the circumstances.

From 1 July 1999 this will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

Disability Living Allowance: Over-65s

Lord Robertson of Oakridge asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will review the present situation whereby a person aged 65 or over can neither be granted the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance for the first time nor can move to a higher level of the mobility component of the DLA.[HL2365]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The help available with the extra costs of disability for people disabled later in life has been discussed with groups representing disabled people. The discussions followed through our commitment in the Green Paper: New ambitions for our country: A Contract for Welfare to review the present gateways to the benefit.

We have made a number of changes to the financial support available for elderly people, including those who are disabled. These include the introduction of a guaranteed minimum income for pensioners from April 1999 by increasing income support for the poorest pensioners by three times the normal price uprating and an increase in the level of winter fuel payment which means that from next winter every eligible pensioner household will receive £100. In addition, my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has committed us to a minimum guarantee on tax. No pensioner whose income falls below a specified level will pay income tax.

Help with transport costs for disabled people is already available, for example through the disabled person's railcard. Local authorities also have discretionary power to make special transport provision for disabled people, including elderly people. In addition we have announced our intention to introduce a national

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standard minimum for concessionary fare schemes for people of pension age. It will require each local authority to make available at least half-fares on buses for all pensioners on purchase of a £5 annual bus pass.

Social Security Tribunals: Mileage Allowances

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) What are the maximum expenses per mile available for an applicant who attends a social security tribunal and needs to use a car for the journey; and (b) what are the maximum expenses per mile available for tribunal service staff in the same circumstances; and what are the reasons for the discrepancy.[HL2376]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: If an appellant is unfit to travel by public transport because, for example, of age or infirmity or where public transport is not available and he or she needs to use a car, he or she may, with the prior agreement of the Independent Tribunal Service, claim for the use of a taxi or private hire car. Otherwise, the rate of expenses per mile available for an appellant who attends a social security appeal tribunal and uses a car for the journey is 7.5p per mile.

The maximum expenses per mile available for tribunal service staff who attend a social security appeal tribunal and need to use a car for the journey is 40p per mile for up to 4,000 miles in one financial year. For any additional mileage the rate is 22.5p.

The rate set for appellants is intended to cover the actual fuel costs of making a one-off journey to attend a tribunal. The rate is advised by the Departmental Transport Office, is reviewed regularly and is based on current national market prices of fuel. The rate for staff includes a proportion of standing costs such as depreciation, insurance, road tax and all running costs such as fuel, servicing and repairs attributable to business miles travelled. The rate of 22.5p per mile is based on the average mileage costs of various forms of public transport.

SERPS: Spouses' Benefits

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by Baroness Hollis of Heigham on 4 May (H.L. Deb., col. 545), what are their reasons for believing that the Social Security Act 1986 is compatible with Article 1 of the First Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights in changing spouses' benefits under SERPS so as to cut back accrued rights.[HL2362]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: We do not believe that the reduction in SERPS deprives anyone of a possession within the meaning of Article 1 of the first protocol to the convention.

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Aircraft: Cabin Ventilation

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which types of passenger aircraft belonging to United Kingdom passenger airlines use 100 per cent fresh air to ventilate their cabins; and which aircraft use a blend of fresh air and used air in which up to 50 per cent of the air so used is recirculated in the cabins.[HL2430]

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Aircraft types belonging to UK passenger airlines which use 100 per cent. fresh air to ventilate the cabin are:

    Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) DC10

    Lockheed L1011 Tristar

    Boeing 727 all series

    Boeing 737-100 and -200

    Fokker 27

    BAe 1-11

    BAe ATP

    BAe 748

    Jetstream 31 early series

    Jetstream 41

    BAe/Aerospatiale Concorde

    Canadair RJ

Aircraft types which recirculate air in the cabin ventilation system are:

    Boeing 737-300 and later series

    Boeing 747 all series

    Boeing 757 all series

    Boeing 767 all series

    Boeing 777 all series

    Airbus A319/320/321 all series

    Airbus A300 all series

    Airbus A330/340 all series

    Fokker 50

    Fokker 70/100

    De Haviland Canada Dash 8

    Saab 340

    ATR 42

    ATR 72

    BAe 146

    BAe Jetstream 31 later series

    Embraer 145

    Dornier 328

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