§ Mr. Kirkwood
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many calls have been received by the benefit fraud hotline and how many(a) investigations and (b) convictions these calls have stimulated; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Heald
The national benefit fraud hotline has received in excess of 125,000 calls up to 12 December 1996.
Preliminary results are only now emerging and show that cases referred for fraud investigation from these calls have so far resulted in 11,180 completed investigations for fraud, and 14,762 investigations in progress up to 30 November. Fraud investigations take some time to follow through, depending on the complexity of the investigation. Therefore in time the volume and rate of investigations completed will increase until a steady state is achieved.
Whilst a number of cases are being prepared for prosecution, as yet none has reached the stage of a court hearing.