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Written Parliamentary Questions 28th October 2005

Benefits
Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the Government continue to provide benefits to meet the interest payments on a loan which had been taken out by a person now on benefits when an endowment policy accompanying a mortgage matures but does not provide sufficient funds to pay off the balance of that mortgage. (John Hemming)

A: Yes; the balance of any loan which originally qualified for help with interest payments would remain eligible for such help where part of the capital is repaid. (James Plaskitt, Under Secretary of State Department for Work and Pensions)

Encounter Reciept Pilot Schemes
Q: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which police authorities are operating pilot schemes of encounter receipts. (John Hemming)

A: We are not aware of any police authorities operating pilot schemes of encounter receipts.(Hazel Blears, Home Office Minister)

Telephone Nuisance
Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will press Ofcom to use its powers to prevent silent calls. (John Hemming)

A: I am confident that the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the independent regulator for the communications sector, will do everything in its power to prevent silent calls. Ofcom deriving its main powers and duties directly from statute rather than by delegation from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, so it is accountable to Parliament in its own right. The Government take the issue of silent calls very seriously because of the distress they cause to consumers. My officials are in regular contact with Ofcom and encourage us to use its powers effectively to the fullest extent.(Alun Michael, Department for Trade and Industry Minister)

Telephone Nuisance
Q: TTo ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what factors are affecting the timing of the publication by Ofcom of new guidance on reducing the level of telephone nuisance from predictive diallers.(John Hemming)

A: The timing of any announcement is the responsibility of the Office of Communications (Ofcom). Ofcom is the independent regulator for the communications sector, deriving its main powers and duties directly from statute rather than by delegation from the Secretary of State, and accountable to Parliament in its own right. My officials have asked the Chief Executive Officer of Ofcom to reply to the hon. Member and to send me a copy for his response. Copies of the Chief Executive's letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.(Alun Michael, Department for Trade and Industry Minister)

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