§ Mr. Burns
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment she has made of the extent to which the backlog of appeals will be reduced by the provisions of the Social Security Bill. 
§ Mr. Keith Bradley
The Social Security Bill contains measures which will address the backlog of appeals. For example, the powers for the Commissioners to return supported appeals. In addition, tribunals and the Commissioners will not have to revise cases following a decision of the Commissioners and Courts in a lead case as they will be processed by the Agency.
Other measures will reduce the potential for backlogs to occur in the future. For example, the new disputes process will allow errors to be corrected quickly by the Department's Agencies and will reduce the number of cases that go to appeal. New powers to deal with meritless appeals and the more responsive composition of tribunals will speed up the handling of appeals as well.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will take personal responsibility for the administration of the appeals system, set and publish demanding targets to shorten the time it takes for appeals to be heard, and report on the results.