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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 1 November 2004


Sickness Absence (Civil Service)

The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Ruth Kelly): The report "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service 2003" prepared for the Cabinet Office by Aon Limited shows that the headline figure for the average level of sickness absence was 10.0 days per staff year. This represents a 0.2 days per staff year increase over the equivalent figure of 9.8 days set out in the report for 2002. The report contains a comprehensive analysis of the 2003 figures by department/agency. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Departments have established service delivery agreements, which contain their individual targets for reducing sickness absence. Overall, the civil service was targeted to reduce sickness absence by 30 per cent. (to 7.2 days per staff year) by 2003 against the 1998 baseline. In July 2004 my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced a review into the extent of short and long-term sickness within the civil service, and the results of that are due to be published shortly. Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office is continuing to work with other departments and agencies as they take forward their plans to reduce sickness absence.


Efficiency Technical Notes

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Paul Boateng) : In the spending review White Paper "2004 Spending Review: New Public Spending Plans 2005–2008" (Cm 6237), and following Sir Peter Gershon's independent review of public sector efficiency, the Government announced the publication of departmental efficiency technical notes (ETNs). Departments are now publishing these ETNs on their websites, in line with the end of October deadline. Links to the ETNs can be found at www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/performancedocs/.


Representation of the People Order

The Minister for Local and Regional Government (Mr. Nick Raynsford): We have today launched a short consultation paper on the increase to the maximum limits of candidates' election expenses for ward elections and elections by liverymen in common hall in the City of London.
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Copies of the consultation paper are available in the House Library.

Comments are invited by 29 November.


Police Fund

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Ian Pearson): I have today placed in the Library a copy of the report produced by John Steele CB OBE TD DL following his review of the Northern Ireland Police Fund. The Government accept the recommendations in principle and will work with the Police Fund on the implementation process.

Copies of the report have been placed in the Library of both Houses.


Committee on Standards in Public Life

The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair): I am pleased to announce that I appointed Lloyd Clarke and the right hon. Baroness Jay of Paddington to the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

Lloyd Clarke replaces Baroness Neuberger of Primrose Hill who stood down from the Committee in April 2004. Baroness Jay takes up appointment as the Labour party nominee in succession to my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) who is stepping down from the Committee following completion of his first term of appointment. Both appointments are effective from 1 November 2004 and are for three years in the first instance.

I would like to thank Baroness Neuberger and my right hon. Friend for their contribution to the work of the Committee during the past three years.


Regional Development Agencies

The Minister for Industry and the Regions (Jacqui Smith): As part of a rolling programme of appointments, I have decided to appoint five new members to East of England Development Agency and South East England Development Agency. The new appointees will take up their positions on 14 December 2004 and their names are set out below.

The new board members will replace members whose terms of office end in December this year and will bring experience from business, local authorities, rural affairs, trade unions and education.

Decisions on the appointments have been made following open competition in accordance with the guidelines set down in the Commissioner for Public Appointments' code of practice, and following consultation with key national and regional players.
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Celia Cameron

Sheila Childerhouse

Paul Burall


Prof. William Wakeham

Imtiaz Farookhi


Working Time Regulations (Road Transport)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. David Jamieson): Draft regulations and formal guidance implementing the Road Transport (Working Time) Directive (2002/15/EC) have today been published. A short six-week consultation exercise has been launched seeking views on both documents. This follows a full consultation exercise earlier this year on how the directive should be implemented. We are placing copies of the documents in the Libraries of both Houses.

The regulations will provide extra protection for drivers and crew of heavy goods and public service vehicles, who carry out road transport activities covered by the EU Drivers' Hours Rules—Regulation (EEC) 3820/85. The main provisions of the regulations include:

As announced on 29 April 2009, the draft UK regulations implement the following:

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In addition, under the draft Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations:

Formal guidance for industry on the draft legislation, including the definitions (notably, working time and periods of availability) and occasional drivers is also available.


Disability and Carers Service

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Alan Johnson): On 27 January 2004 as part of the Department's wider programme of reform, the then Secretary of State announced that the disability and carers service (DCS) would be assigned formal executive agency status. Work to establish the agency is now complete. It will retain its current title, the disability and carers service, and is launched from today with Terry Moran appointed as chief executive.

The role of DCS is to support disabled people and carers by providing a customer-focused service that delivers disability and carer benefits efficiently. These benefits comprise disability living allowance, attendance allowance, carer's allowance and vaccine damage payments.

The 2004–05 targets for the DCS are contained within the disability and carers directorate business plan, a copy of which is available in the Library. Accountabilities for the DCS align with those of other departmental agencies and are set out within the departmental framework.

DCS will embark on a significant programme of change by putting the experience of its customers at the heart of its plans to transform the service.

I am confident that these changes will benefit the customers served by the DCS and support our agenda for improvements in public service generally and also achieve greater efficiency.