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I fully support the aims of the International Year of Volunteers. Everyone benefits from volunteering and the Prime Minister has issued a challenge to employers to give their employees paid time off to work in the community.
My Department fully intends to take up the Prime Minister's challenge. An article to be published in the staff newspaper early in the new year will announce that all staff have the right to take one day's paid special leave per year to take part in voluntary activities in their community. This is in addition to the provisions that already exist to allow staff paid time off for voluntary activities.
Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 30 October 2000, Official Report, column 228W, on deregulation, what progress his Department has made in identifying the statement referred to and the evidence on which it is based. 
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Ms Hewitt: The statement to which I now understand this and the previous question refers is that "Government continues to reduce the burdens caused by too much regulation." It appears in two publications published by the Small Business Service--"Setting up in Business: A Guide to Regulatory Requirements" and "Employing Staff: A Guide to Regulatory Requirements." It also appears on the Small Business Service website.
There is considerable evidence for the statement. For example, the Government have increased the threshold below which small companies may opt to dispense with having their annual accounts audited from a turnover of £350,000 to a turnover of £1,000,000. This measure alone will produce annual savings of around £90 million for about 75,000 companies. In addition, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his pre-budget statement has proposed a major overhaul of the VAT system to reduce the administrative burden on small firms. The Federation of Small Businesses said it was
Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is (a) the current and (b) the forecast level of restitution payments in each of the EU countries in respect of sugar export. 
The following table provides details of export refunds on sugar in each member state for 1998-99. The Commission's latest estimate for the EU's 2000-01 budget is 1,210 million euros for the EU as a whole. No forecast figures per member state are available, as the breakdown of expenditure depends on the port of export.
|Member state||Expenditure on export refunds 1998-99 (million euro)||Percentage by member state|
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Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from the British sugar industry regarding the proposed new sugar regime; and if he will make a statement. 
As at 10 November written responses to the Ministry's consultation letter of 6 October have been received from British Sugar plc and the Tenant Farmers Association. In addition, a wide range of interests participated in a consultation meeting on 23 October. Copies of the written comments will in due course be made available in the Ministry's library at Whitehall Place.
Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of the total UK consumption of sugar is satisfied by (a) home production, (b) imports from former colonies and (c) other sources. 
The following table indicates the proportion of the total UK consumption of sugar satisfied by each source for the July 1999 to June 2000 marketing year. Home sugar beet production refers to sugar produced within quota only, and does not include over-quota sugar.
|Source||Proportion of UK consumption|
|a) Home sugar beet production||53|
|b) African, Caribbean, Pacific States and India||40|
|c) Other sources||7|
Ms Hodge [holding answer 31 October 2000]: Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service agency under its Chief Executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
As the Employment Service is an Executive Agency, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment has asked Leigh Lewis to reply to your question concerning the steps being taken to inform small and medium sized enterprises of the Access to Work scheme. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to Mr Lewis as Chief Executive of the Agency. I am replying on his behalf.
In answer to your specific question, it is encouraging to know that half of the employees who apply for support from the Access to Work scheme work for organisations which employ fewer than 500 people. The Employment Service already invests around £300,000 per year in marketing and publicising its disability services and programmes, through a variety of media including external advertising, exhibitions and marketing events, video and information leaflets, which are available through all Jobcentres. This includes leaflets specifically aimed at employers. Our own promotion is reinforced by a wide range of other organisations, particularly in the
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voluntary sector, who represent disabled people. We collaborate with them to help publicise Access to Work and our other support for disabled people and employers seeking to employ people with disabilities.
I am also pleased to be able to tell you that the Employment Service is relaunching its website this autumn. This relaunch will include fuller information about disability services, including much more information about Access to Work for employers and individuals.
Our promotion of the Access to Work scheme is reflected in growing demand for it. In round figures, 13,000 disabled people were supported in 97-98, 16,000 in 98-99, and 21,000 in 99-2000.
I hope this is helpful.
Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the progress made by his Department since 1999 in reducing sickness absence; what targets he has agreed with the Cabinet Office; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Wills [holding answer 30 October 2000]: In 1999, the overall sickness absence rate in the Department for Education and Employment (including the Employment Service) was 10.6 days per staff year. We have agreed targets with the Cabinet Office to reduce this to 9.6 days by 2001, and 8.3 days by 2003. The Department is making significant efforts to meet these challenging targets.
Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list by (a) authority and (b) as a total, the results of the asset management plan condition data surveys, breaking the data down according to each of the four levels of priority, as required by the Department. 
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many clients of the New Deal in Hendon in each New Deal category have (a) found a job, (b) found a subsidised job, (c) found training and (d) found work on an environmental task force. 
|Type of option||Number|
|Full time education/training||148|
|Environment task force||8|
|Total into options||206|
|Number into jobs||347|
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