To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations the Treasury has made to the European Court of Justice in respect of VAT on bridge tolls and the impact that will have on the case of the Tamar Bridge. 
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the additional revenue from applying value added tax at 17.5 per cent. on existing toll charges. 
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the opinion of the Advocate-General of the European Court of Justice, dated 27 January, concerning Case C-359/97 (Commission v. European Communities), if he will estimate the proceeds that will accrue to the Exchequer per year from the application of the standard rate of VAT to roads, tunnels and bridges. 
The United Kingdom's relief from VAT for all toll charges has been vigorously defended throughout the proceedings before the European Court of Justice.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the Tamar Bridge Joint Committee was consulted during preparation for the ECJ court case concerning value added tax on toll charges. 
[holding answer 17 July 2000]: The Tamar Bridge Joint Committee was invited to a meeting hosted by HM Customs and Excise on 19 May 1998, at which the case was fully discussed. Thereafter, the Tamar Bridge Joint Committee was on the mailing list for Customs' written updates on the case.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in how many parliamentary constituencies (a) the employment rate has gone down and (b) both the employment rate and unemployment rate have gone down, in the past (i) six months, (ii) one year and (iii) two years and (iv) three years; and if he will give the source for each statistic. 
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Miss Melanie Johnson
[holding answer 18 July 2000]: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to write to my right hon. Friend.
Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Field dated 28 July 2000:
As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent question about employment and unemployment rates in parliamentary constituencies. (131182).
Information on economic activity at parliamentary constituency level can be derived on an annual basis from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which is National Statistics' main source of labour market data on individuals. The latest estimates cover the year from March 1998 to February 1999. These show that the employment rate in 274 our of 659 constituencies was lower than in the year from March 1997 in February 1998. In 238 constituencies the rate was lower than in the year from March 1996 to February 1997, the earliest period for which estimates are available.
National Statistics' preferred measure of unemployment is the International Labour Organisation (ILO) unemployment rate, derived from the LFS. As with any sample survey LFS estimates are subject to sampling variability. The smaller the estimate, the larger the variability relative to the size of the estimate. Unfortunately analyses of unemployment at parliamentary constituency level only provide reliable estimates for a small proportion of constituencies. So it is not possible from the LFS to provide a total of those constituencies where both employment and unemployment have fallen.
People aged 16 or over are classed as in employment by the LFS if they have done at least one hour of paid work (as an employee or self-employed) in the week prior to their LFS interview or if they have a job that they are temporarily away from. People who do unpaid work in a family business and people on Government- supported training and employment programmes are also included according to the International Labour Organisation convention.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list all the (a) task forces, (b) action teams, (c) policy reviews and (d) other temporary advisory bodies with external members currently in existence within his Department; and on what date each body (i) was set up and (ii) is expected to terminate. 
Miss Melanie Johnson:
I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to him by the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, on 27 July 2000, Official Report, column 799W.
Mr. Matthew Taylor:
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the level of absenteeism was in (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its related public bodies in the last year for which figures are available; what his estimate is of the total cost of this level of absenteeism to public funds in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
[holding answer 18 July 2000]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 11 May 2000, Official Report, column 434W. The latest published departmental statistics on sickness absence were given in the report "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service 1998" prepared by BMI Health Service Ltd.
Information on costs for the last five years is not available on a departmental basis and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
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In line with the work on reducing absence following the July 1998 report "Managing Attendance in the Public Sector", the civil service has a whole as a target to reduce absence by 20 per cent. by 2001 and 30 per cent. by 2003.
Mr. John M. Taylor:
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer under what powers researchers may be informed of personal details from closed decennial Census forms; and what limits are placed on the use of information from the 1971 to 1991 Census forms. 
Miss Melanie Johnson:
The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.
Letter from Len Cook to Mr. John Taylor, dated 28 July 2000:
As National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking under what powers researchers may be informed of personal details from closed decennial Census forms; and what limits are placed on the use of information from the 1971 to 1991 Census forms (131722).
Under the provisions of Section 8(2) the Census Act 1920 as amended by the Census (Confidentiality) Act 1991, it is an offence for the Registrar General or any person who is either under the control of, or a supplier of any services to, the Registrar General to disclose any personal census information without lawful authority. Strict safeguards are maintained to protect the confidentiality of personal census information handled by persons either working for the Registrar General or providing services on his behalf. All such persons are required to make signed undertakings to fulfil the obligations required under the provisions of the Act and any Regulations made under the Act.
Information under the 1971 to 1991 Census returns may be published as reports to Parliament or abstracts under the provisions of Section 4 of the Census Act. Confidentiality thresholds are applied to the population of small areas below which no census information other than simple headcounts is made available. Other measures are taken to minimise the risk of inadvertent disclosure of information about identifiable individuals or households.
Pursuant to Section 5 of the Census Act, a number of researchers are permitted to come to ONS to undertake statistical analyses of census information regarding the number and condition of the population from the Longitudinal Study. They may only work on projects that have previously been approved by the Longitudinal Study Research Board and may only access Study data under supervised conditions on the ONS site. Such data do not contain details of names and addresses. The only outputs allowed are tables of aggregated data and statistics at a level that precludes identification of individuals or households. Hence no information which identifies individuals or households may be released from ONS premises at any time.
The Office for National Statistics maintains a confidentiality policy of only providing access to data from those records for which it is responsible that conforms to the provisions of both data protection and freedom on information legislation.
Mr. Matthew Taylor:
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what data he compiles concerning monthly backlogs of tax returns; and if he will make a statement. 
The Management Information Systems of the Inland Revenue provide information of the number of Self Assessment Tax Returns issued; received; sent back; waiting to be processed; and processed.
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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many households with children who had below half average income would have had incomes above that threshold in (a) 1997, (b) 1998 and (c) 1999 if the April 1998 rates of child benefit had been raised for all children in the family by 50 per cent. and linked with earnings; and what the net extra cost would have been for (i) 1998-99 and (ii) 1999-2000 after allowing for (A) the increases made by the Government in (1) child benefit and (2) WFTC and (B) changes in benefits for lone parents. 
The simulation model used in the Treasury cannot easily be used to look back historically at what would have happened in specific years under different policies.