HC Deb 04 March 1994 vol 238 cc896-7W
Mr. Madden

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received from the European Commission and others regarding his proposal to introduce a test of habitual residence in the United Kingdom affecting EC nationals seeking work in the United Kingdom; how he proposes to introduce the test; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Burt

Representations have been invited by the Social Security Advisory Committee from organisations and individuals who have views on the proposed introduction of a test of hibitual residence into the income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit schemes. The test will be introduced by laying regulations before the House, together with a Command Paper addressing the issues raised by those representations. We have received no representations from the European Commission on this matter.

Ms. Coffey

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many inquiries have been received by the Child Support Agency from hon. Members on behalf of their constituents since its introduction; how many inquiries have received a full reply within(a) one month, (b) two months and (c) three and over; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Burt

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Ros Hepplewhite, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Ros Hepplewhite to Ms. Ann Coffey, dated 3 March 1994: I am replying to your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the number of enquiries received from Members of Parliament by the Child Support Agency. I am sorry, but the Agency does not collect statistics in the precise form in relation to clearance times which you have requested. I have received over 3,700 letters from Members of Parliament, and by 25 February, I had replied to over 1,900. Set out in the table below are the average clearance times for such correspondence:

Per cent.
Cleared 1–15 days 16.61
Cleared 16–20 days 8.66
Cleared 21–40 days 26.76
Cleared over 40 days 47.98

In addition, over 1,300 letters have been sent to Agency Centres. As you know, the Agency has set up a telephone help-line for Members of Parliament. From 13 December 1993, the date on which the service began, to 25 February 1994, we had received 663 calls. I hope you find this reply helpful.