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Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will call for a report from the chief constable of Humberside police on the review of Operation Pre-empt; and if he will make a statement; 
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(3) how many persons of Irish origin, descent or background (a) reside and (b) work in the Humberside police area; 
(4) how many persons of Irish origin, descent or background in the Humberside police area are the subject of the files maintained by Special Branch; 
(5) if he will list those police authorities which operate a scheme similar or analogous to Operation Pre-empt developed in the Humberside police area; 
(6) how many files Special Branch maintains on persons of Irish origin, descent or background and how many notifications of Irish persons have been passed on to Special Branch from each police authority area. 
Mr. Straw: Operation Pre-empt was limited to the Humberside police area and was an operational matter for the Humberside police. I understand that the chief constable asked for a review of the policy. As a result of this review the operation was withdrawn on 12 December.
The Government fully support the police in work to counter terrorism. The basis for this work is whether there is any information or intelligence which might link an individual to a terrorist organisation or activity, and not the nationality of those involved.
Mr. Bayley: We believe that people with long-term illnesses should have the support to remain in work. The Inland Revenue has introduced a Disabled Person's Tax Credit (DPTC) Fast-Track to make it financially possible for sick and disabled people to stay in work. This allows people who become long-term sick or disabled while they
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are in work to receive DPTC on their return to work where they need to move to a job with lower pay (e.g. because of reduced hours).
This Department is also working with the Department for Education and Employment and the Department of Health to implement, from next year, a series of Job Retention and Rehabilitation pilots to test the effectiveness of better co-ordinated, earlier work-focused interventions by health and employment services in helping people to stay in work.
22. Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the importance of benefits advice workers in maximising take-up of benefits among those who are entitled to them. 
Mr. Rooker: We recognise the importance of advice workers in encouraging take-up. As part of our MIG take-up campaign we are working closely with local authorities and voluntary organisations to ensure that pensioners get the help they need.
Angela Eagle: The Verification Framework secures the gateway onto Housing Benefit by defining the minimum standards for collecting evidence before a claim can be paid. When operated efficiently by local authorities, it
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The first evaluation reports, on the voluntary stage of ONE, were published on 30 November. These reports indicate support for the service and a positive experience of claiming for those participating. There is also evidence that early intervention is helping clients move into work in the short and longer term.
Angela Eagle: We continue to invest to help local authorities root out Housing Benefit fraud. We have provided over £100 million since 1998 so that local authorities can implement the Verification Framework which protects the gateway to benefit by setting out minimum standards for collecting evidence before claims are paid.
Over 350 councils are now using the Royal Mail scheme to stop benefit cheques being re-directed from the address they have been claimed for. Our £2 million programme to make better use of IT has given 404 local authorities on-line access to essential benefit information held on departmental systems, reducing the scope for fraud and error.
We are now building on this through the integrated inquiry service, which will give authorities access to further information to help combat fraud, including the Department's database of National Insurance numbers.
We are working with 10 local authorities to pilot a single fraud hotline from January 2001, allowing the public to report suspected Housing Benefit fraud as well as suspicions of other benefit fraud. Our new anti-fraud incentive scheme is being phased in from next April and will make the gateway to Housing Benefit more secure, putting the focus on prevention as well as detection. The new scheme sets out the anti-fraud activities we expect local authorities to undertake, and it introduces new financial rewards for authorities that act to prevent fraud from happening in the first place.
30. Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what measures his Department will take in respect of local authorities which have a poor record for addressing Housing Benefit fraud. 
Angela Eagle: The Benefit Fraud Inspectorate is evaluating councils' performance in delivering Housing Benefit and helping them overcome weaknesses in their administration and in tackling fraud and error. Nearly 80 Inspectorate reports have been published so far. Where the Inspectorate finds evidence of service failings we
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expect councils to act immediately to put matters right. If they do not, we will use our powers to direct them on the standards they are to achieve, and by when. To date we have made one such direction, to Northampton Borough Council in August 2000.
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