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David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of 16 January 2002, Official Report, column 367W, on pensioner poverty, how many pensioners are living in poverty in the Midlothian constituency. 
David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of 15 May 2002, Official Report, column 680W, on pension entitlement, how many cases have been referred to the (a) OPRA, (b) PAS and (c) pensions ombudsman since 1997. 
Mr. McCartney: The Pensions Advisory Service (PAS) and the pensions ombudsman can deal with inquiries or complaints that arise from the situation where a public sector employee has had their accrued pension entitlement withdrawn, but they do not keep records that would enable such cases to be individually identified. The Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority has no power to intervene against any employer that has lawfully withdrawn pension entitlements from employees.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what his estimate is of the cost in the next 12 months of the Budget changes to employers' national insurance contributions to (a) his Department,
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(b) agencies of his Department and (c) local government carrying out functions within the responsibility of his Department; 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer given by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, East (Mr. Smith), on 29 April 2002, Official Report, column 544W.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the estimated level of losses to fraud and corruption was in (a) his Department's Vote 1 budget and (b) his Department's Vote 2 budget for (i) 19992000 and (ii) 200001. 
Malcolm Wicks: In 19992000 the estimated level of loss to internal fraud recorded in the Department's Vote 1 Account was £210,000. Information on the estimated level of loss to external fraud is not available in the format requested.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of ordinary written questions for his Department were answered within a week of tabling in each month since June 2001; and what proportion of questions for named day received a substantive answer on that day in each month since June 2001. 
Maria Eagle: Since the House returned in October we have received double the number of the previous session and by the end of this session we anticipate having dealt with significantly more questions than in any of the last five years. This does of course have an impact on our ability to deal with questions speedily. We are confident that in deciding to table questions hon. Members take into account the impact of their requests on the ability of colleagues to secure answers to their inquiries. Many hon. Members secure information from other sources such as publications by the Department which are available in the Library.
|Number of questions received||Per cent. answered within five working days|
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|Number of questions received||Per cent. given a substantive answer on that day|
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the guidance notes prepared for his officials on answering written parliamentary questions, for what reason officials are advised to consider whether the question is friendly; whether considerations of friendliness affect the content of written replies; and if he will revise this guidance. 
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library the guidance provided to departmental civil servants for the preparation of written answers to parliamentary questions. 
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library a copy of the guidance for officials on answering parliamentary questions, (a) before and (b) after recent amendments. 
Mr. Andrew Smith: Guidance notes have been produced for many years to assist officials who help prepare answers to parliamentary questions. Until now they have been produced by officials without clearance by Ministers. The reference in the guidance notes to the question being "friendly" is not appropriate and has been deleted. I have also reviewed the guidance and some amendments have been made.
Maria Eagle: The Cabinet Office publishes a report to Parliament each year on the volumes of correspondence received by Departments. For information for 2001, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Leslie) on 24 May 2002, Official Report, column 677W. Copies of previous reports are available in the Library.
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Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much expenditure his Department has incurred in each year since 1997 on employing external consultants to deal with the press and public relations of his Department. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Department for Work and Pensions was formed in June 2001. Since that time there has been no expenditure on external press and PR consultants specifically to raise the profile of the Department, only to assist in the marketing of important Welfare to Work programmes such as New Deal and Age Positive.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the refurbishment projects that (a) are in progress and (b) will start within the next six months; and what action is being taken to ensure that these will procure certified timber. 
Malcolm Wicks: Within DWP there are over 100 refurbishment projects either in progress or likely to start within the next six months. The vast majority of these are connected with the introduction of Jobcentre plus and involve the refurbishment of offices to meet Jobcentre Plus requirements.
To ensure that these projects procure only certified timber that is obtained lawfully from sustainable sources we are following guidance issued by DEFRA. We have requested that documentary evidence be supplied to us by contractors to support all statements made concerning the supply of timber. We intend to audit such information to ensure compliance with Government policy.
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