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18 Dec 2003 : Column 1038Wcontinued
Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average household water bill was in (a) England and (b) each English region in each financial year since 199697. 
Mr. Morley: Water bills and sewerage bills are set separately by each water and sewerage company and water company in England and Wales. The boundaries of these companies do not conform to the boundaries between England and Wales nor to the boundaries between English regions. It is therefore not possible to provide the information on exactly the basis sought.
|Average household water bill||Average household sewerage bill|
|Water and sewerage companies|
|Essex and Suffolk||116||120||127||129||107||112||111||113|
|Water only companies|
|Bournemouth and W. Hampshire||94||97||103||102||99||98||101||102|
|Folkestone and Dover||114||118||116||117||118||125||125||135|
|Sutton and East Surrey||136||135||139||134||112||120||121||126|
18 Dec 2003 : Column 1039W
John Barrett: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission how many and what percentage of House of Commons staff contribute to a charity through the Give as You Earn scheme; how much money is donated to charity per month by staff through the scheme; and what steps the Commission is taking to encourage greater participation in the scheme by staff. 
Sir Archy Kirkwood: 59 members of staff currently contribute to charity under the Give as You Earn scheme. This represents 3.6 per cent. of permanent staff on the payroll. The amount contributed in November was £1,467.13. The Board of Management encourages charitable giving, and details of how to contribute through GAYE are set out in the staff handbook. The last significant promotional activity was in 19992000 when the Charities Aid Foundation visited staff to encourage them to take up GAYE.
Ms Hewitt: The Government is taking action to make it easier for women who have been discriminated against to take up equal pay cases with their employers. This includes the introduction of a questionnaire procedure that will help resolve matters in the workplace and measures to simplify and speed up equal pay tribunal
18 Dec 2003 : Column 1040W
procedures. The equal pay questionnaire came into effect on 6 April 2003 and enables individuals to request key information from their employers right at the start when they are deciding whether to bring a case. The frequent lack of transparency on pay has helped perpetuate the gender pay gap. The questionnaire will help individuals, often women, to establish whether they actually are being paid less than their comparators and, if so, why. Establishing the key facts quickly could encourage the issues to be settled without resort to tribunal, benefiting both employers and employees. We are looking at further ways to speed up and simplify complex equal value cases and will be consulting on proposals shortly. The Government also believes that carrying out an equal pay review should be good business practice for every employer and has developed a number of initiatives to help them, including funding the Equal Opportunities Commission to develop equal pay tool kits.
John Barrett: To ask the Minister for Women what discussions she has had with trade unions regarding the formulation of a development plan to tackle gender pay discrimination in the workplace. 
Ms Hewitt: As a Government, we are committed to working in partnership with the trade union movement and others to tackle the barriers facing women in the workplace and reduce the gender pay gap. We provided additional funding of £151,867 (on top of an initial £145,000) to trade unions, for training representatives in equal pay issues in the workplace. The trade unions were fully consulted on the pay reviews of Civil Service Departments and supported the comprehensive guidance issued by the Cabinet Office. The Cabinet Office continues to have an open dialogue with the trades unions on progress across the Civil Service. We have a target that the Government will work with businesses and trade unions, the Equal Opportunities Commission and Opportunity Now towards ensuring that 35 per cent of large organisations have done pay reviews by 2006. We have provided the EOC with funds to take a sectoral approach to promoting equal pay reviews. We are also promoting pay reviews through the
18 Dec 2003 : Column 1041W
Castle Awards, now incorporated in the 100 Best Companies To Work For, to recognise steps taken by employers of all sizes and in all sectors to promote equality of opportunity between men and women and to address the issues of pay inequality.
Ms Hewitt: Business investment fell by 3.5 per cent. in 2002, following a combined 32 per cent. rise between 1997 and 2001. A number of investments planned for 2002 were deferred. The unexpected severity of the global economic slowdown in 2001 and added uncertainty in 2002 impacted on investment and business confidence across industrialised countries.
Ms Hewitt: I refer to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle) on 20 November, Official Report, column 1438W. The Government does not have statistics on the numbers of jobs outsourced abroad. Importantly, estimates such jobs take no account of the inflows of jobs created through the UK's success in international markets.
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