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26 Jan 2004 : Column 110W—continued

Green Minister

Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what work his Department's Green Minister has undertaken in the last three months. [150874]

John Healey: As the Treasury's Green Minister, I am committed to 'greening' the Department's operations, to integrating environmental considerations across policy areas, and to improving the economic analysis underpinning the Government's environmental initiatives.

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In the last three months, as the Treasury's Green Minister my work has included membership of the Ministerial Sub-Committee on Green Ministers and the Sustainable Development Taskforce, and meetings with representatives of non-governmental organisations and other key stakeholders on topics ranging from climate change to waste to aviation.

I have written to senior officials responsible for sustainable development in each of the Chancellor's Departments and agencies to stress the importance attached to ensuring that appropriate priority and commitment are given to meeting the Government's sustainable development objectives and targets, and I led a meeting of the Working Group of responsible officials from across each of these Departments and agencies in October.

In addition, the development of a range of environmental policy measures, including those announced in the pre-Budget report (PBR) on 10 December 2003 (Cm 6042), is my responsibility. The measures contributing to the Government's sustainable development strategy set out in PBR 2003 include:

As I confirmed in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Rothwell (Mr. Challen) on 13 November 2003, Official Report, column 408, all Government Departments will be required to consider sustainable development as part of the 2004 spending review process, as they were in 2002.

Information Technology

Mr. Allan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the extent to which information technology procurement has improved as a result of the Gateway review process. [150927]

Mr. Boateng: Quantitative assessment of the Gateway process is provided to OGC's Supervisory Board three times yearly. In addition, the National Audit Office are currently compiling details of the value for money benefits to projects of the OGC Gateway review process.

This assessment shows that use of the OGC Gateway process leads to a significant improvement in likelihood of success for all procurement projects and programmes—including IT-enabled—and this improvement is particularly marked where the process is applied to projects or programmes in their early stages.

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Inland Revenue

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what section of the Inland Revenue is responsible for co-ordinating the activities of the Inland Revenue in relation to people with disabilities. [150411]

Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue co-ordinates its activities in relation to people with disabilities through two sections: services for taxpayers with disabilities are co-ordinated by a team in Service Delivery; the Human Resources section co-ordinates activities and services relating to the employment of people with disabilities. The Inland Revenue also has a full time specialist disability adviser who supports both areas and works with external disability organisations.

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to appoint a disabilities champion to take responsibility for the Inland Revenue's service delivery to people with disabilities. [150412]

Dawn Primarolo: A member of the Board of the Commissioner of the Inland Revenue has already been appointed as a consumer champion and as such covers a wide range of service delivery areas, including service to people with disabilities.

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received in relation to the definition of an incapacitated person used in tax and VAT legislation; and if he will make a statement. [150413]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government have received a number of representations on a wide variety of subjects, including a report from the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group on disability and the tax system, which included representations on this specific issue.

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures are taken by the Inland Revenue to advertise home visits for those with disabilities (a) in leaflets and (b) on the Inland Revenue website. [150414]

Dawn Primarolo: Inland Revenue are currently developing a strategy to promote their home visits arrangements to the target groups that will include information on the internet and in leaflets.

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Inland Revenue has a disabilities helpline; and if he will make a statement. [150416]

Dawn Primarolo: At present the Inland Revenue has no plans to establish a disabilities helpline. Advisers in our telephone contact centres are trained to deal with telephone calls from the full range of our taxpayers. We believe that this approach provides the flexibility to respond to the differing requirements of our taxpayers base.

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether all Inland Revenue offices have textphone or similar communication aids. [150418]

Dawn Primarolo: All Inland Revenue Enquiry Offices are registered with the BTTypetalk service.

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Mr. Goodman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what equipment is available in Inland Revenue offices open to the public for those with hearing difficulties. [150419]

Dawn Primarolo: When last audited in early 2002, out of a total of 323 of Inland Revenue Enquiry Offices providing a face to face service, 86 per cent. had portable loop systems and 27 per cent. of them had fixed induction loop systems. We are in the process of carrying out another audit.

In spring 2003 Inland Revenue introduced a set of national standards for their Enquiry Offices specifying that they be equipped with a fixed and portable induction loop system, and a crystal listening device. They are progressing to all of their Enquiry Centres meeting this standard.

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what training is given to frontline Inland Revenue staff in dealing with people with disabilities. [150422]

Dawn Primarolo: All new members of staff receive disability awareness material as part of the Inland Revenue's induction process.

During the last three years over 90 per cent. of staff have received diversity awareness training which includes disability related issues.

In addition, individual staff are nominated for training courses according to the requirements of their role and 22,752 staff have attended a training course specifically covering disability issues over the last three years.

Inward Migration

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on progress in establishing an appropriate method for measuring net migration into the UK. [150333]

Ruth Kelly: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mrs. Claire Curtis-Thomas, dated 26 January 2004:

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