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Departmental Report

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the component sub-units of each unit listed on pages 10 and 11 of HM Treasury's departmental report; and if he will make a statement. [44381]

Ruth Kelly: The teams listed on pages 10 and 11 of HM Treasury's departmental report show the lowest formal units of organisation in the Department.


Mr. Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he intends to implement the changes to VAT for small business announced in his March 2001 Budget speech. [44370]

Mr. Boateng: As the Chancellor announced in his pre-Budget report on 27 November 2001, the measures not already in place will be introduced as part of Budget 2002.

Alcohol Smuggling

Mrs. Irene Adams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures he plans to introduce to help reduce smuggling of alcohol into the United Kingdom. [43938]

Mr. Boateng: On 27 November the Government announced as part of the pre-Budget report that Customs activity tackling cross-channel passenger smuggling of alcohol and tobacco has had a dramatic impact. Revenue losses in 2001 from this form of smuggling have reduced by 76 per cent. compared to 2000, with cross-channel passenger smuggling of beer almost eliminated and wine and spirits more than halved.

Building on these successes, and those of its wider efforts to tackle tobacco smuggling, the Government published alongside the PBR a paper "Tackling Indirect Tax Fraud". It sets out the strategic principles that underlie the Government's approach to tackling fraud and outlines the steps being taken to tackle other forms of fraud and smuggling in the alcohol sector.

Economic Deprivation (UK)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the areas within the UK that suffer from economic deprivation. [43922]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Details of the most deprived areas in England are published in the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions' Indices of Deprivation 2000, which are available at http://

19 Mar 2002 : Column 214W and in the Library. The Indices of Deprivation 2000 are measures of deprivation for every ward and local authority area in England. They combine a number of indicators which cover a range of domains (income, employment, health deprivation and disability, education, skills and training, housing and geographical access to services) into a single deprivation score for each area. Responsibility for measuring deprivation in Scotland and Wales is devolved to the Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales respectively.

Ministerial Answers

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average length of time taken to answer letters to Ministers has been in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [43947]

Mr. Boateng: Within all the Chancellor's Departments the average time taken to reply to letters in 2001 was 22 working days. This compares to 24 days in 2000 and 31 days in 1999.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many answers to parliamentary questions are more than (a) two weeks and (b) three months outstanding; and if he will make a statement. [43928]

Mr. Boateng: As at 18 March, 3,340 of the 3,453 written questions tabled to the Treasury in the present Session had been answered substantively. 2,612 of the questions tabled (75.6 per cent.) had received replies on or before the due date for answering. Of the 113 questions which had not been answered, 28 were more than two weeks overdue, four were more than three months late, and in 52 cases the dates by which answers were due had not yet been reached.

Departmental Contracts

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the 30 largest contracts awarded by his Department from (a) May 1997 to April 1998, (b) May 1998 to April 1999, (c) May 1999 to April 2000, (d) May 2000 to April 2001 and (e) May 2001 to the latest date for which figures are available, stating in each case the values of the contracts and the companies with which the contracts were placed. [43678]

Ruth Kelly: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given to the hon. Member for North Tayside (Mr. Wishart) on 28 February 2002, Official Report, column 1433W.

Electronic Tendering Service

Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the result of the electronic tendering service pilot. [45055]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Further to my answer of 17 December to my hon. Friend the Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire Official Report column 26W, the Office of Government Commerce has now completed its e-tendering pilot scheme, run to assess the possible future establishment of an approved e-tendering system for use across government.

19 Mar 2002 : Column 215W

Tested across ten central government departments, the information gathered from the e-tendering pilot scheme has provided valuable experience and knowledge. In the light of the fact that the pilot did not fully meet all its operational objectives, the Government will not roll out the scheme.

19 Mar 2002 : Column 216W

The knowledge gained from the pilot will, along with feedback from other e-procurement pilots now underway, allow government to make a full assessment of the technological options that will work best and ensure value for money. Plans for adopting this technology will be announced later this year.

19 Mar 2002 : Column 217W



Territorial Forces

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many members of staff of his Department are members of the Territorial forces; and if he has a strategy to encourage members of staff to become members of the Territorial forces. [44063]

Dr. Whitehead: The DTLR does not keep a centralised record of those members of staff who are members of the Territorial forces.

My Department supports staff who wish to be members of the Territorial forces and provides special leave in order for staff to undertake appropriate training. It will also consider releasing staff who are asked to volunteer for a period of mobilised service.

Departmental Policies

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what criteria he adopts in determining whether (a) to monitor and (b) to research the effects of changing departmental policies. [43354]

Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 14 March 2002]: Almost all policy development work will involve elements of appraising the evidence base, assessing the likely impact and evaluating the outcome. The Department also has in place a formal programme of policy evaluation, focusing on areas where:

Individual projects are brought together in a five-year rolling programme which will meet the Department's service delivery agreement (SDA) target to deliver a programme of policy evaluation covering all the Department's major policies by March 2004.

The Department will also play a full role in meeting the Government's manifesto commitment to review the working and impact of major pieces of regulation within three years of implementation.

Press Office

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many people his Department's press office employs; and how many press officers have left his Department since 7 June 2001. [40212]

Mr. Byers: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I have given today to hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) [ref 40104].

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) how many (a) full-time and (b) part-time employees in his Department's press office (i) there were in June 2001 and (ii) there are at present; [40104]

19 Mar 2002 : Column 218W

Mr. Byers [holding answer 4 March 2002]: At the creation of the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions in June 2001 the press office employed: 27 full-time press officers; and two part-time press officers. Currently there are: 28 full-time press officers; and one part-time press officer.

Detailed information on the numbers of permanent civil servants employed in departmental press offices during the financial year 1997–98 were provided in a memorandum dated 16 June 1998 to the Select Committee on Public Administration and published in its report on the Government Information and Communication Service (HC770) in July 1998. A copy is in the Library of the House.

Since 7 June 2001, the number of press officers recruited on a permanent basis were nine full-time and one part-time. In addition, two press officers have also been employed on a short-term contract basis.

Eight press officers (all full-time permanent staff) were transferred to the newly created DEFRA following the Machinery of Government changes that led to the creation of DTLR in June 2001.

Other Machinery of Government changes involving the creation of DTLR, and affecting press officer staffing, were negligible in resource terms and did not involve any staff transfers.

The majority of people leaving the DTLR press office have transferred to other Government Departments or agencies in order to gain wider experience to progress their career. It is not Government policy to comment upon the reasons for the departures of individuals.

These figures do not include administrative staff who provide a pooled support service to the Directorate of Communication (of which the press office is only a part).

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