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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. 
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|
28 Jul 2000 : Column: 1031W
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. 
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.
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. 
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.
28 Jul 2000 : Column: 1032W
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. 
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. 
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.
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'.
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. 
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
28 Jul 2000 : Column: 1033W
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. 
|Paris||February 1999||Meeting Finance Ministry officials|
|Frankfurt||March 1999||Visit to ECB|
|Bonn||June 1999||Meeting Finance Ministry officials|
|Rome||November 1999||Meeting Finance Ministry officials|
|Dublin||February 2000||Economic conference|
|Paris||June 2000||OECD Working Party 3|
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