HC Deb 21 May 1996 vol 278 c93
12. Mr. Charles Kennedy

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he expects to be able to announce the outcome of this year's review into the cold weather payments monitoring stations. [28816]

Mr. Roger Evans

A comprehensive review is currently under way. Any proposals to change the existing weather stations or postcode links will be laid before the House in the autumn.

Mr. Kennedy

As a part of that review, will the Minister give me at least an interim update on what has happened since we last met vis-a-vis the Tiree weather station trigger point and those parts of my constituency that are currently adversely affected? Is he more optimistic or more pessimistic since we last spoke?

Mr. Evans

Tempted though I am to answer the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I cannot do so. He came to see me and, like many other hon. Members, made representations, all of which will be most carefully considered.

Mr. Bill Walker

When my hon. Friend is conducting his review, will he remember that there are parts of the United Kingdom that are colder than others, and that those parts are not always in the most northern extremes? Therefore, one must remember that people who suffer, suffer equally badly, regardless of where they are, if the temperature is low.

Mr. Evans

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I should emphasise that weather stations are chosen in consultation with the Meterological Office, using its judgment and expert climatological experience.

Mrs. Ewing

The Minister will remember that, in his response to a parliamentary question, he said that it normally took 63 per cent. more fuel to heat a gas-fired house in Braemar than to heat such a house in Bristol. When considering the replacement of weather monitoring stations, will he take into account the prevailing weather conditions, which include wind-chill factors and damp and are not solely related to cold snaps during the winter? Will he also accept the recommendations of the all-party warm homes group?

Mr. Evans

I shall take into account all representations that are made, but the wind-chill factor is a rather difficult element to reflect in a national scheme.

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