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Press Officers

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many press officers were employed in his Department in (a) May 1997, (b) January 1998, (c) January 1999 and (d) January 2000; and what the total expenditure on press officers by his Department was in each of the years concerned. [132766]

Miss Melanie Johnson: For the number of press officers employed by the Treasury, I refer the hon. Gentleman to my reply of 17 May 2000, Official Report, column 183W, to the right hon. Member for Kensington and Chelsea (Mr. Portillo). As to expenditure, due to staff changes it is not possible to provide accurate figures for May 1997 on a consistent basis. However, basic salary costs for Treasury press officers for the years 1998, 1999 and 2000 to date are as follows:


Press officer basic salary costs
2000 (to date)53,470

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Departmental Staff

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer 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. [131426]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 25 July 2000]: On 1 April 2000 the gap between staff in post and planned demand in the Treasury was 72 around 8 per cent. of posts. The monthly cost of employing civil servants in those posts is estimated at £155k. In the week beginning 3 April 2000 there were 27 temporary agency staff in the Treasury, around 3 per cent. of the total, filling vacant posts or covering for staff in posts that were temporary vacant through maternity leave, annual leave or sickness absence. The amounts that were paid by the Treasury to supply temporary staff for each month in the Financial Year 1999-2000 are provided in the following table. The budget for payments to supply temporary staff in 2000-01 is £461,829k.

Payments by HM Treasury to employment agencies for temporary staff 1999-2000

April 199948,097.49
May 199950,012.29
June 199935,705.49
July 199956,455.82
August 199953,718.22
September 199930,724.74
October 199938,390.13
November 199965,374.01
December 199943,657.45
January 200062,621.93
February 200065,252.66
March 200095,497.48


Mr. Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much money was available to ENTRUST for distribution in the last year for which figures are available; how much was actually distributed; and how much was spent on overheads. [131664]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 26 July 2000]: In the financial year 1998-99, the last year for which figures are available, landfill site operators made contributions totalling £76 million directly to environmental bodies approved under the landfill tax environmental bodies credit scheme. ENTRUST charge a 2 per cent. administration fee on contributions received by the bodies to cover its expenses in regulating the scheme, but ENTRUST does not itself receive or distribute site operators' funds.

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Endowment Mortgages

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take action to help householders experiencing shortfalls on endowment mortgages due to bad advice; and if he will make a statement. [133365]

Miss Melanie Johnson: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Edwards) on 23 May 2000, Official Report, columns 415-16W.

Office for National Statistics

Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how the Office for National Statistics performed against its key targets in 1999-2000. [133415]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Office for National Statistics; performance is described in the Agency's Annual Report and Accounts which is being laid before the House today.

Currency Transaction Tax

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to contribute to the study into the concept of a currency transaction tax, as agreed at the recent special session of the United Nations General Assembly on Social Development; and if he will make a statement. [132297]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 27 July 2000]: The Special Session agreed to undertake an analysis of proposals for developing new and innovative sources of funding for social development. One of these proposals is likely to be a tax on international currency transactions. The Government will keep in touch with the UN study as it progresses. We expect that UK Government and non-government organisations will be able to contribute to the UN analysis.

Demographic Statistics

Mr. Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will estimate how many men will turn 65 years in each of the next 10 years; [132973]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answers 27 July 2000]: The information requested is available from the House of Commons Library's Statistics Resource Unit on a copy of a CD-ROM, named '1998-based national population projections'.

VAT (Charities)

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on relieving charities of some or all of the costs of VAT on transactions directly related to their charitable objectives. [132911]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 27 July 2000]: Charities already benefit from a range of special VAT reliefs. Systems for relieving charities' irrecoverable VAT were given very careful consideration during the recent Review of Charity Taxation. In the Review's consultation

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document, published in March 1999, the Government made it clear that for reasons of principle and cost these were not ideas that it wished to pursue.

Permanent Secretary (Official Business)

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the visits outside Britain made by his Department's Permanent Secretary on official business since 1 January 1999, indicating the date and purpose of the visit in each case. [133275]

Dawn Primarolo: The information is as follows:

ParisFebruary 1999Meeting Finance Ministry officials
FrankfurtMarch 1999Visit to ECB
BonnJune 1999Meeting Finance Ministry officials
RomeNovember 1999Meeting Finance Ministry officials
DublinFebruary 2000Economic conference
ParisJune 2000OECD Working Party 3

Family Incomes

Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many employees resident in the Wrekin have benefited from the introduction of the national minimum wage. [133193]

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. Peter Bradley, dated 28 July 2000:

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