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Modernising Government Programme

21. Mr. Ian Bruce: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what progress has been made in the Modernising Government Programme to ensure that correspondence between hon. Members and Ministers can be electronic. [153324]

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Mr. Ian McCartney: Following the commitment given in the Modernising Government White Paper, all Departments now have a central email address to which hon. Members, and members of the public, can mail their correspondence. Details of Departments' email addresses can be found on each Department's website.

E-signatures

24. Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what progress has been made in implementing policy on the use of e-signatures. [153328]

Mr. Ian McCartney: Good progress has been made in implementing policy on the use of electronic signatures.

The electronic signature registration process on the Government Gateway, which provides an authentication mechanism for citizens and businesses using Government services, went live early in February 2001.

The Inland Revenue has introduced electronic filing of tax returns, and PAYE end of year returns, both certified by a form of electronic signature.

Customs and Excise is introducing electronic filing of VAT returns, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is introducing an electronic Area Aid Application service for farmers. Both these services will be available in March 2001 and will use electronic signatures.

Orders are planned under section 8 of the Electronic Communications Act 2000 to enable Departments to accept electronic signatures for various transactions. Examples are electronic conveyancing, the use of electronic signatures by general practitioners on electronic prescriptions and by Ministers on newly made Statutory Instruments transmitted electronically to HMSO.

Civil Service Posts (Relocation)

25. Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many Civil Service posts have been moved from London to the regions since May 1997. [153329]

Mr. Stringer: The information is not available in the form requested. In April 1997, there were 475,341 permanent Civil Service staff of whom 86,640 were working in London. By April 1999, of 460,039 permanent staff, 84,420 worked in London. The proportion of staff working in the capital has changed very little, from 18.2 per cent. to 18.4 per cent. over the same period.

Ministerial Visit (Iran)

26. Mr. Clapham: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will make a statement about her recent visit to Iran. [153330]

Marjorie Mowlam: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay).

Knowledge Network

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what has been the cost to the Government of the new Knowledge Network system; and if she will make a statement. [153404]

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Marjorie Mowlam: The cost to the Government of the new Knowledge Network system has been £3.6 million (GBP) to date.

Departmental Policies (Lincoln)

Gillian Merron: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Lincoln constituency, the effects on Lincoln of her Office's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [152984]

Mr. Stringer: The policy recommendations in Cabinet Office reports relate to England as a whole and it is therefore not possible to say what their specific impact is on a particular constituency. Additionally, any policy changes arising from Cabinet Office unit reports, such as the Social Exclusion Unit and the United Kingdom

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Anti-Drugs Co-ordination Unit, are implemented by the appropriate Government Department rather than by the Unit itself.

Departmental Policies (Lancaster and Wyre)

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Lancaster and Wyre constituency, the effects on Lancaster and Wyre of her Office's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [154689]

Mr. Stringer: The policy recommendations in Cabinet Office reports relate to England as a whole and it is therefore not possible to say what their specific impact is on a particular constituency. Additionally, any policy changes arising from Cabinet Office unit reports, such as the Social Exclusion Unit and the United Kingdom Anti-Drugs Co-ordination Unit, are implemented by the appropriate Government Department rather than by the Unit itself.