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Departmental Staff

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many unfilled vacancies for permanent staff her Department has; what percentage of staff positions in her Department are vacant; what the monthly cost would be to her Department of employing civil servants in these positions; how many and what percentage of staff her Department employs on a temporary basis through employment agencies; how much her Department paid employment agencies to supply temporary staff in each of the last 12 months; and how much she expects to pay employment agencies to supply temporary staff in each of the next 12 months. [131439]

Mr. Stringer: There are currently approximately 150 unfilled vacancies in my Department; this is approximately 8.5 per cent. of staff positions. The estimated monthly cost

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of filling these vacancies, based on average salaries per grade, including ERNIC and superannuation costs, is £339,237,00.

My Department currently employs 45 temporary staff. This represents 2.5 per cent. of total staff numbers.

In each of the last 12 months the amounts paid by my Department to employment agencies were as follows:

July 199993,793.63
August 1999114,958.87
September 1999126,714.45
October 1999111,927.39
November 1999108,047.59
December 199981,414.78
January 200097,304.51
February 2000146,355.06
March 2000203,174.28
April 200065,671.40
May 2000177,558.80
June 2000134,168.62

Estimates of my Department's expected payments to employment agencies to supply temporary staff in each of the next 12 months are not available and could be provided only at disproportionate costs.

Ministerial Travel

Mr. Pearson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will revise her guidance on ministerial travel to include the Rover 75 series in the makes and models of car available to the Government Car Service. [132293]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The Government Car and Despatch Agency is currently undertaking a thorough evaluation of the suitability of the Rover 75, along with other cars, as a model for use by the Government Car Service. The Agency's report is expected shortly.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many written parliamentary questions tabled to her

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Department between 19 October 1999 and 20 April 2000 have not received substantive answers, citing as the reason commercial or other confidentiality. [132463]

Mr. Stringer: Between 19 October 1999 and 20 April 2000, there have been no questions tabled to the Cabinet Office which did not receive substantive replies citing as the reason commercial or other confidentiality.

Service Standards

Mrs. Heal: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will make a statement on the performance of the main Departments and Agencies against the six service standards for central Government over the financial year 1999-2000. [133344]

Mr. Ian McCartney: I have arranged for a report on the performance of the main Departments and Agencies to be placed in the Libraries of the House. This is the first report on performance against the revised service standards announced in the Modernising Government White Paper, and reflects the Government's commitment to openness and to reporting transparently on our performance.

In most cases, Departments' performance in responding to correspondence from the public has improved over the past year, although performance varies widely and there is still room for improvement overall. Ministers are determined that performance should continue to improve through the introduction of new technology and the overhaul of outdated procedures. The performance of the main Departments and Agencies is summarised in the table.

Against the other standards, the report shows that visitors to public offices are usually seen within 10 minutes of their appointment, and that most visitors without an appointment are seen within the designated target. All Departments have at least one telephone inquiry point, and calls to designated numbers are usually answered promptly. Use of the internet is increasing rapidly and all the main Departments dealing with the public have websites, publicise their complaints procedure on-line, and, in most cases, are able to accept e-mailed inquiries. The report also shows some of the innovative ways in which Departments and Agencies are consulting their users and making their services more accessible.

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Department/AgencyTarget (working days)Total volumePercentage of responses within target(1)Target 2000-01 (working days)Agencies included in Departments return
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food(1)1572,2969215Yes
Cabinet Office155,7719915Yes
Crown Prosecution Service(1)10Not available8810n/a
Department for Culture, Media and Sport1828,8418118No
HM Customs and Excise10472,8069410n/a
Ministry of Defence(1)2010,2208420Yes
Department of Education and Employment1596,0099015No
Employment Service (Jobcentres(1)/Chief Executive Office)10/15Not available/84690/9710/15
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions15153,1598915No
Driving Standards Agency1527,0529915
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)15557,4839715
Highways Agency1528,3548315
Maritime and Coastguard Agency1535,8879215
Vehicle Inspectorate152,46910015
Foreign and Commonwealth Office2046,4808420No
Government Offices for the RegionsMaximum 15n/a80/9915n/a
Department of Health20(1)58,2874820No
Medicines Control Agency75,842937
NHS Pensions Agency2017,35510020
Home Office20223,9586420No
UK Passport Agency10105,8268110
HM Prison Service2072,0769420
Inland Revenue(1)20(1)--8415n/a
Intervention Board1014,0029210n/a
Lord Chancellor's Department206,0478820No
Court Service205,6069315
HM Land Registry5352,5001005
Department of Social Security2034,4466320No
Benefits Agency101,1047810
Child Support Agency10n/a6610
War Pensions Agency(1)10275,0009810
Department of Trade and Industry15102,3669615No
Companies House1035,000985
Employment Tribunal Service10363,0009710
Patent Office57,7821005
Insolvency Service15226,2909715
Radiocommunications Agency15200,3409815
HM Treasury1524,6713615No

(1) Performance has been rounded up or down to the nearest whole figure.

(1) MAFF's Regional Service Centres have a 10 working day target.

(1) Performance in responding to complaints only.

(1) Total volume covers public correspondence sent to Ministers or to the Department as a whole. It does not include correspondence sent direct to individual branches or units.

(1) Performance is measured by an independent research company sending a 'mystery letter' each quarter to each job centre (total of 4,000 letters a year). The company assesses the letters for quality as well as speed or reply.

(1) Correspondence received by the Ministerial Correspondence Unit.

(1) The Inland Revenue merged with the Contributions Agency (CA) in April 1999. Former CA staff are currently working a target of responding to 95 per cent. of customer inquiries (not just correspondence) within 20 working days. During the period of this report, they received some 53,000 inquiries and responded to 99 per cent. within target. All Inland Revenue staff are working towards a 15 day correspondence target for 2000-01.

(1) Inland Revenue offices received some 74,000,000 items of correspondence during the reporting period; however, this figure includes all internal post. There are no facilities for the collation of separate figures for external correspondence.

(1) Target for Chief executive's correspondence is 20 working days. During the reporting year, 762 items were received with 99 per cent. answered within target.

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Northern Ireland Departments and the NIO

Department/AgencyTarget (working days)Total volumePercentage of responses within target(1)Target 2000-01 (working days)
Department of Agriculture15109,27910015
Department for Social Development151759915
Department of Education154,2058915
Department of Environment158,5819115
Department of Finance and Personnel156,99510015
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment1521,0009815
Department for Regional Development1512,1139815
Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety151,48710015
Child Support Agency109359110
Driver and Vehicle Licensing314,7931003
Driver and Vehicle Testing Agency1567010015
Public Record Office142,9999914
Rate Collection Agency1056,1009610
Social Security Agency1519,8639610
Training and Employment Agency54,0001005
Northern Ireland Office154,3447915
Northern Ireland Prison Service151,8009615
Compensation Agency for Northern Ireland10213,0009610

(1) Performance has been rounded up or down to the nearest whole figure

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