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The Danube: Pollution

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: The Balkan Taskforce concluded that there is no evidence of an ecological catastrophe for the Danube, but that there is evidence of chronic, long-term pollution as a result of air strikes.

Although there are some serious "hot spots" where contamination, because of air strikes, had occurred, this was against the background of long-term chronic pollution due to inadequate environmental management throughout the Danube basin. A significant factor was the inadequate treatment and storage of hazardous waste in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia.

We will not assist with reconstruction of infrastructure in Serbia until there is a democratically elected government who comply with their international obligations. We are closely monitoring the case for humanitarian assistance.

11 Nov 1999 : Column WA237

Pensions: Additional Payments

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Hollis of Heigham on 1 November (WA 59-60), what is their global estimate of the current annual cost of paying the additional pension (SERPS) to persons whose entitlement arose between 1978 and 1986.[HL4533]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The estimated annual net cost in 1999-2000 of paying additional pension to retired people in respect of earnings accrued between financial years 1978-79 and 1985-86 inclusive is £3 billion.

Incapacity Benefit

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many appeals against the payment of incapacity benefit on the ground of failing the all work test have been made in each of the last four quarters; and[HL4631]

    How many of the appeals lodged in each of the last four quarters against the disallowance of incapacity benefit on the ground of failing the all work test have led to the reinstatment of the benefit before the appeal was heard; and[HL4632]

    How many incapacity benefit appeals relating to the all work test were heard in the last four quarters for which figures are available; and what percentage were decided in the appellant's favour where the appellant (a) attended the hearing but was not represented, (b) was represented but did not attend, (c) attended and was represented and (d) did not attend and was not represented; and[HL4633]

    How many incapacity benefit paper appeals relating to the all work test were processed in the last four quarters for which figures are available; and what percentage was decided in the claimant's favour.[HL4634]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The information is in the tables.

Incapacity Benefit "All Work Test" appeals for the four quarters of 1998

First quarter Second quarter
TotalIn appellant's favourTotalIn appellant's favour
New lodgements19,868--15,177--
Heard and decided15,8576,26615,5686,491
(39.5%)(41.7%)
Appellant only attended 4,2272,2054,1002,157
(52.2%)(52.6%)
Representative only attended 240138260132
(57.5%)(50.8%)
Both attended3,7232,5394,2812,890
(68.2%)(67.5%)
Not attended3,5018853,998968
(25.3%)(24.2%)
Paper appeals4,0254992,880342
(12.4%)(11.9%)
Lapsed on Review (1)947 773


11 Nov 1999 : Column WA238

Third quarter Fourth quarter
TotalIn appellant's favourTotalIn appellant's favour
New lodgements13,196--13,939--
Heard and decided16,6066,60414,4345,901
(39.8%)(40.9%)
Appellant only attended 4,9852,5314,3332,191
(50.8%)(50.6%)
Reprensentative only attended 277136237130
(49.1%)(54.9%)
Both attended4,8193,1774,3242,949
(65.9%)(68.2%)
Not attended2,8753762,181249
(13.1%)(11.4%)
Paper appeals3,6163823,286379
(10.6%)(11.5%)
Lapsed on Review (1)813848

Source:

100 per cent download from the Independent Tribunals Service computer system.

Note:

1. Cases lapsed on review are cases when the Adjudication Officer has reviewed the case before a tribunal has been arranged. This includes re-instatement of benefit as well as other outcome decisions.


Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Social Security (Incapacity Benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance) Amendment Regulations 1999 (S.I. 2226/1999) allow any latitude to Incapacity Benefit claimants whose incapacity is due to mental illness.[HL4521]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Where a claim for Incapacity Benefit or Jobseekers Allowance has been disallowed under section 19 of the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1997, which requires claimants to provide confirmation of their National Insurance number, the Social Security (Incapacity Benefit and Jobseekers Allowance) Amendment Regulations ensure that the days of disallowance are not treated as days of incapacity or days in a jobseeking period.

Claimants are asked to provide information to confirm their National Insurance number only in cases of doubt and the information is usually taken at interview in the local benefit office. Regard is always given to the individual circumstances of the case, recognising in particular that some vulnerable people may have difficulty in producing documents to prove their identity.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many medical examinations for the all work test for incapacity benefit have taken place in each of the last four quarters; and [HL4629]

    What is the sessional fee for doctors who undertake medical examinations for incapacity benefit; and how long it is since that fee was increased.[HL4630]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: This is a matter for Peter Mathison, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the noble Earl.

11 Nov 1999 : Column WA239

Letter from Mr. Alexis Cleveland, Acting Chief Executive, to Earl Russell, dated 11th November 1999.

The Secretary of State has asked Peter Mathison, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency, to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions. As Mr Mathison is currently on leave I am replying.

You asked how many medical examinations for the all work test for Incapacity Benefit (IB) have taken place in each of the last four quarters. Also, what is the sessional fee for doctors who undertake medical examinations for IB; and when was the fee increased.

Details of the number of medical examinations for the All Work Test for IB that have taken place in the last twelve months are shown in the attached appendix.

The sessional fee paid to doctors who undertake medical examinations for IB is £30.70 per hour. A standard session is three and a half hours, therefore, the total fee is £107.45 (3.5 x £30.70).

There has been no increase in the fee paid for IB examinations since they were introduced in 1995.

I hope this is helpful.

Appendix Medical Examinations for the all work test (AWT) for
incapacity benefit

QuarterNumber of AWT examinations
November 1998 to January 199944,217
February 1999 to April 199944,976
May 1999 to July 199941,288
August 1999 to October 199941,241
Total171,722

Housing Benefit: Tenant Farmers

Lord Grantchester asked Her Majetsy's Government:

    How many tenant farmers are claiming Housing Benefit.[HL4651]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The information is not available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Questions for Written Answer

Lord Cadman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why on 8 November over 250 Questions set down for Written Answer in this House remained unanswered; whether they will all be answered by the end of the Session; and, if not, why not.[HL4674]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Of the 252 unanswered questions on the Order Paper on 8 November only 44 were outside their time limit of a fortnight. Reasons for late answer vary from question to question, and are not held centrally. I will write to the noble Lord and place a copy in the

11 Nov 1999 : Column WA240

Libraries of the reasons for any outstanding unanswered written questions by the end of Session.

Civil Service: Performance Related Pay

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to introduce performance related pay into the Civil Service; and, if so, how, in terms of what, at what stage of policy implementation the peformance is to be evaluated, and by whom.[HL4584]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Performance related pay was first introduced into the Senior Civil Service in 1987 and to groups within the wider Civil Service in 1988. A condition of the delegation of pay to departments and agencies in 1996 required that all pay increases should be related to performance.

The 1999 Modernising Government White Paper described the Government's work on changes to current systems to ensure that pay is used more creatively to provide effective incentives--and minimise disincentives--for sustained high quality performance and particularly to encourage innovation, risk-taking, mobility, cross-cutting thinking collaborative working and service delivery. We are also looking for new ways of rewarding organisational performance and success-sharing in the Civil Service, for example, by using team bonuses or by linking rewards to the achievement of performance or efficiency improvements.


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