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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government have today issued guidance to civil servants on their role and conduct during the devolution referendum campaigns. The guidance provides a generic set of principles which individual departments can incorporate into guidance tailored to their particular needs and situations. It stresses that civil servants should conduct themselves in accordance with the Civil Service Code, and is based on the need to maintain the political impartiality of the Civil Service and to ensure that public resources are not used for party political purposes. Copies of the guidance have been placed in the libraries of both Houses of Parliament, and are also available from the Vote Office.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Chancellor set out the Government's view on the Bank of England's recent decision to increase interest rates in the other place on 10 July (Official Report, col. 1056). He explained that the Bank of England agreed with him that if a cycle of boom and bust is to be prevented, inflationary pressures in the economy must be brought under control.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Figures analysing government expenditure by country in the UK are published in the Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 1997-98, Cm 3601. The following figures taken from table 7.1 give identified general government expenditure per head in each country for 1995-96, the latest year for which figures are available.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): It is not possible to disaggregate the numbers without entitlement to a jobseeker's allowance in the categories requested. Those in the "nil" column will have been entitled to national insurance credits. There will have been a further proportion who made no claim for income-based jobseekeer's allowance, but numbers in this category are not available. The jobseeker's allowance payments system (JSAPS) gives a breakdown of the reasons for an actual award of income-based jobseeker's allowance ceasing. When conversion is completed in October 1997, and all cases have been transferred to JSAPS, the QSE will have information on all terminated income-based jobseeker's allowance claims.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The Government are committed to reviewing all the main areas of insecurity affecting pensioners. The key objectives of the review will be that pensioners should have an adequate income in retirement, that they should share fairly in rising national prosperity, and that public finances should be both sustainable and affordable.
It is estimated that the number of people who do not receive a full category A basic state pension is 3.5 million; 91 per cent. of whom are women. Of these around 2 million women receive pensions based wholly or partly on their husband's contributions. Many of these are likely to have elected to pay contributions at a reduced rate that did not earn them entitlement to their own pension.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The Government are committed to developing a national childcare strategy which will plan provision to match requirements of the modern labour market and provide the genuine help needed by parents to balance the demands of family and working life.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Government are determined to ensure that the United Kingdom's asylum policy is fully in keeping with its commitment to human rights both at home and abroad.
All asylum applications are assessed on their individual merits in accordance with the criteria set out in the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Those meeting the criteria for recognition as a refugee are granted asylum.
In addition, exceptional leave to remain may be granted in cases where a person does not qualify for asylum under the Convention but there are, nevertheless, compelling humanitarian reasons for not enforcing the removal of that person from the United Kingdom.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Charity Commission investigated the complaint about the report entitled The Untouchables, which was incorrectly ascribed to the Scarman Trust. This raised questions about links between the charity and three other organisations: the Democratic Audit of the University of Essex, Charter 88, and Charter 88 Publications Limited. It was also found that a number of other publications have been produced by the charity in association with the Democratic Audit.
Whilst occasioning some confusion, such a collaborative approach to the achievement of a charity's objects is not unusual and does not in itself give rise to any particular cause for concern. I understand that the charity is taking steps to ensure that it maintains a proper independence from Charter 88.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The transfer has resulted in a speedier processing of valid applications both through the provision of comprehensive information to the caseworker and the initiation in May 1997 of a process and "fast track" decision taking there. Under the new system the caseworker who decides on the validity of an application also decides at the same time the merits of the application where possible. As a result, in June, of 5,707 applications passed as valid, 1,417
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