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Mr. Darling: The 1999-2000 annual reports and accounts for the Benefits Agency (HC 640), Child Support Agency (HC 658), Information Technology Services Agency (HC 680) and War Pensions Agency (HC 615) have been laid before Parliament today.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if the anti-fraud targets announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review are (a) in addition to or (b) instead of, the existing Benefits Agency Security Control Programme. 
Mr. Rooker: We are now measuring the level of fraud and error by means of a monthly rolling programme of reviews in each Benefits Agency area. A regular, random sample of cases is investigated thoroughly to establish how much fraud and error they contain.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many unfilled vacancies for permanent staff his Department has; what percentage of staff positions in his Department are vacant; what the monthly cost would be to his Department of employing civil servants in these positions; how many and what percentage of staff his Department employs on a temporary basis through employment agencies; how much his Department paid employment agencies to supply temporary staff in each of the last 12 months; and how much he expects to pay employment agencies to supply temporary staff in each of the next 12 months. 
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|Number of unfilled vacancies||1,187|
|Percentage of total staff||1.39|
|Monthly cost of employing civil servants in these positions||1,370,070.00|
The numbers of staff the Department employs on a temporary basis through Employment Agencies can vary from day to day. For example, during May 2000, the equivalent of 22 staff were employed, which represents 0.03 per cent. of the Department's staff.
|Month||Total payments to employment agencies|
It is not possible to predict with any certainty what payments will be made to Employment Agencies for each of the next twelve months. It is expected that the amounts and numbers of staff involved will be similar to those detailed above.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will assess which statistics from the Households Below Average Income series could robustly be produced on a quarterly basis. 
Mr. Bayley: The Department's statisticians have not made a detailed assessment of whether any Households Below Average Income (HBAI) statistics could be robustly produced on a quarterly basis. However, past experience raises doubts as to whether any robust results could be produced on a quarterly basis.
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Mr. Bayley: It is not possible to make estimates at a local level of the numbers of children who will be taken out of poverty. However, children in Shrewsbury and Atcham will benefit from the range of measures we have announced which will lift 1.2 million children out of poverty by the end of this Parliament.
The Solicitor-General: No records are kept of how many court days are occupied in hearing extradition cases, although applications for judicial review in such cases have occupied the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court for 13 whole or part days this year.
Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she plans to issue the consultation document on the implementation of the COMA recommendations on the addition of folic acid to flour. 
Yvette Cooper: The United Kingdom Health Departments and the Food Standards Agency have today published a joint public consultation document on the report from the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy which concluded that all flour should be fortified with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. The consultation period runs until 31 October 2000. The document is available in the Library and on the internet at www.doh.gov.uk/folicacid.
Ms Stuart: Following consultation with interested organisations, the board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) approved at its meeting on 20 July the following performance targets for the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) for 2000-01:
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A copy of the consultation package, summary of responses and details of the assessment of these targets have been placed in the Library. They are also available on the FSA website at www.foodstandards.gov.uk.
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