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(34) Up to and including February 2002
18 Mar 2002 : Column 153W
Malcolm Wicks: The former Department of Social Security and the Employment Services agreed in 2001 to undertake equal pay reviews to determine whether our current pay policies directly or indirectly discriminate against any groups of employees and provide risks in relation to equal pay.
Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the number of pensioners eligible to receive the minimum income guarantee; how many pensioners are in receipt of the minimum income guarantee; and what is the average amount received in Warrington, South. 
Malcolm Wicks: Estimates of the number of people eligible for the minimum income guarantee are not available below national level. As at November 2001 there were 2,800 minimum income guarantee claimants in parliamentary constituency of Warrington, South, receiving an average weekly amount of £51.65.
|Mid-Dorset and North Poole||1,400|
Income Support Statistics Quarterly Enquiries November 2001
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(c) 31 December 1999, (d) 31 December 2000 and (e) 31 December 2001; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 12 March 2002]: The Department for Work and Pensions is a new Department therefore figures have been supplied from Employment Services and DSS legacy systems. Information is readily available for the last four years, data prior to this could be supplied only at disproportional cost.
|139,820||31 December 1998|
|131,539||31 December 1999|
|130,799||31 December 2000|
|134,489||31 December 2001|
Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many appointments to public bodies have been made through his Department (a) from April 2000 to March 2001 and (b) since 31 March 2001; and how many of these were (i) men and (ii) women. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 12 March 2002]: The number of men and women appointed, or re-appointed, by Ministers in this Department to bodies sponsored by this Department during the periods in question is as follows:
|1 April 200031 March 2001||7||10|
|1 April 200128 February 2002||17||13|
Appointment and re-appointments to the Appeals Service are not included as these are the responsibility of the Lord Chancellor.
Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 23 January 2002, Official Report, columns 85152W, on stolen equipment, what criminal proceedings have been undertaken for cases of theft against his Department, stating in each case (a) whether the proceedings (i) led to a criminal conviction and (ii) were unsuccessful, (b) the cost incurred by his Department in pursuing a conviction and (c) the value of items recovered; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Department does not hold centrally information regarding criminal proceedings, or any follow-up actions, which have been undertaken in cases of theft against the Department. Any incident of break-in is always referred to the police for investigation. Some information may be recorded locally, on a case by case basis, but meaningful retrieval would be impractical within timeframes and costs.
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During a four year period from 1 May 1997 to 31 March 2001 the Department have referred 52 cases of internal fraud for consideration of criminal proceedings. Of these 52, 50 cases were successfully brought to prosecution. Although the theft of official equipment is taken very seriously, there are no records during this period of cases of internal theft of official equipment where prosecution was deemed appropriate.
However within the current Treasury year 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002, there has been one successful investigation for theft of official equipment. Following referral for consideration of formal criminal proceedings, the outcome was successful in achieving a conviction. The offender being found guilty and a sentence of 60 hours community service imposed and a compensation order of £250.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many disabled adults have been affected by (a) the rules under which disability living allowance is withdrawn after a person has been in hospital for four weeks and (b) the cumulative effect of short periods of hospitalisation in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many carers have had invalid care allowance removed as result of the adult for whom they care having (a) their disability living allowance removed and (b) having their attendance allowance removed, as a consequence of hospitalisation in each of the last three years; 
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners have been affected by (a) the rules under which attendance allowance is withdrawn after a person has been in hospital for four weeks and (b) the cumulative effect of short stays in hospital in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what mechanisms he proposes to prevent companies from winding up, closing down and fundamentally changing pension schemes without the approval of members; 
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(3) if he will examine incentives and initiatives which might be introduced to support the continuation of final salary schemes; 
(4) if he will introduce legislation to create an obligation on companies to consult fund members and their unions about proposed changes in pension arrangements and to provide full financial information. 
Malcolm Wicks: Occupational pension schemes are provided voluntarily by employers, and they are therefore free to decide whether to continue to provide such pensions in the future. The legislation that is in place is to ensure that the pension rights that individuals have already built up in schemes are protected.
Accounting rules are the responsibility of the Accounting Standards Board which is independent of Government. The Government have already announced proposals to replace the minimum funding requirement (MFR) with a long-term scheme specific funding standard in the context of a regime of transparency and disclosure, with additional measures to strengthen security. This will be taken forward as soon as parliamentary time is available. Meanwhile the Government announced a package of changes on 26 February to improve the way the MFR operates in the period leading up to its replacement, and increase protection for pension scheme members where an employer decides to wind a scheme up voluntarily.
We have asked Alan Pickering and Ron Sandler, in two separate studies to review the regulation and operation of the pensions, and the wider market of savings products, including final salary schemes. Alan Pickering will report, with recommendations for reform, in June and Ron Sandler will also report around that time.
The Government will then set out its proposals, which will build on the reforms put in place since 1998, and on which it will consult, to simplify the regulatory system, to look at how the Government and employers encourage and support pension savings, and to make sure that the most appropriate incentives for savings in retirement are in place.
We have already announced last month an interim package of measures to improve the way the minimum funding requirement works, which will reduce compliance costs for employers with defined benefit pension schemes.
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