§ Mr. Mitchell
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the approximate annual income derived from the operation of the hospital downrating rule, as it applies to reductions in the state pension after six weeks as a hospital in-patient, and the approximate annual cost of administering the hospital downrating rule on state pensions. 
§ Mr. Rooker
There is no income derived from the operation of the hospital downrating rule. Under rules that have been in existence since 1948, Social Security benefits are downrated after stays of six weeks in NHS hospitals and further reduced after 52 weeks, This is to prevent duplicate provision from public funds. The costs of abolishing the hospital downrating rules in respect of State Retirement Pension are estimated to be about £60 million a year. The information requested on administration costs is not available.
1. Based on a 5 per cent. sample of data from the Pensions Strategy Computer System March 2000.
2. It is assumed that the information drawn at the date of the sample is representative of the year as a whole.