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Irradiated Foods

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what quantities of irradiated foods, other than herbs and spices, have been imported from (a) EU member states and (b) other countries for general sale since 2002. [205249]

Alun Michael: I have been asked to reply

HM Customs and Excise do not distinguish between irradiated and non-irradiated foods.

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what quantities of UK produced food have been transported to (a) EU member states and (b) other countries for irradiation treatment and then imported back into the UK since 2002. [205250]

Alun Michael: I have been asked to reply.

As HM Customs and Excise do not distinguish between irradiated and non-irradiated foods, it is not possible to determine whether exported foods are produced in the UK or imported, processed and then exported.

Lyons Review

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to ensure compliance by Government Departments with the proposals in the Lyons Review for relocation of public sector jobs, with particular reference to jobs in the oil and gas sectors. [207633]


 
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Mr. Boateng: The Lyons Review proposals are being taken forward as part of the Government's Efficiency Programme under the leadership of John Oughton. There are no proposals in the Lyons Review that specifically relate to the oil and gas sectors.

Mariners (National Insurance)

Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer under what circumstances employer's national insurance contributions are liable to be paid in respect of the earnings of mariners who are employed on UK-flagged vessels operated by offshore manning companies. [207689]

Dawn Primarolo: Employer's National Insurance Contributions are payable if the mariners are employed in inshore waters classified as A, B, C or D under the Merchant Shipping (Categorisation of Waters) Regulations 1992.

Paris Club

Harry Cohen: To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations the UK Government are making to non-Paris Club countries to (a) match and (b) exceed Paris Club commitments in terms of debt write-off; and if he will make a statement. [207267]

Mr. Boateng: The 21 November Paris Club agreement with Iraq contains a provision that requires Iraq to seek comparable treatment from all non-Paris Club creditors, including private creditors. The UK Government expects and encourages all creditors of Iraq to agree terms no less generous to Iraq than those delivered by the Paris Club.

Public Expenditure Survey

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library copies of all current public expenditure survey papers. [206700]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 21 December 2004]: All current extant public expenditure survey (PES) papers will be placed the Library of the House.

Royal Lodge, Windsor

Mr. Alan Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) bedrooms and (b) living rooms there are within the Royal Lodge, Windsor. [207143]

Mr. Timms: As a matter of principle, the Crown Estate does not disclose details of the composition of any private residencies on which it has granted leases, as this is considered to be a confidential matter between the Crown Estate and the lessee.

Sick Leave

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many days sick leave were taken by civil servants in the Department in each year since 1997; and what the sickness absence rate was in each year. [204520]

Mr. Timms: The information is as follows.
 
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(a) The number of sickness absence days taken by employees of Customs and Excise since 1997, and the sickness absence rate are:

Number of sickness absence days taken
Average working days sickness absence per staff
1997211,7408.9
1998222,5649.4
1999225,2359.6
2000206,4429.0
2001203,6068.7
2002207,2979,0
2003215,2529.2

(b) The number of sickness absence days taken by employees of the Inland Revenue since 1997 are:

Number of sickness absence days taken
Average working days sickness absence per staff
1997811,72311.9
1998550,95711.0
1999751,89311.5
2000690,00310.9
2001620,9879.5
2002689,12610.5
2003762,35010.8

(c) The number of sickness absence days taken by employees of the Treasury since 1997 are:

Number of sickness absence days taken
Average working days sickness absence per staff
19974,7144.9
19983,7833.9
19995,2585.5
20003,8263.9
20014,7384.7
20025,1964.4
20035,8925.2

The published information on average working days sickness absence covering the years 1997 to 2003 is derived from the Annual Report "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service" published by AON Limited, and formerly by Bioss and BMI Health Services. Actual number of days taken due to sickness absence is calculated by multiplying the average number of sickness absence days by number of staff years. Sickness absence targets for the department are reported on in the relevant departmental and annual reports.

HM Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue are in the midst of significant organisational change and currently working on formulating managing attendance policies and procedures for the new department, HM Revenue and Customs. It is anticipated that this will have a positive impact upon the current statistics.

Stolen Property

Mr. Osborne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many civil servants from his Department have (a) faced disciplinary proceedings as a result of
 
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allegations of theft, (b) been charged with theft and (c) been dismissed following theft allegations in each year since 1997. [206400]

Mr. Boateng: There have been no cases of civil servants in HM Treasury who have (a) faced disciplinary proceedings as a result of allegations of theft 1 (b) been charged with theft and (c) been dismissed following internal theft allegations in each year since 1997.

However, in 1997 one member of staff was charged and convicted of theft external to the Department. The individual was subsequently dismissed from Treasury employment following internal disciplinary procedure.

Tax Credits

Miss Begg: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many end of year tax credit overpayments have been identified by the Inland Revenue; [206251]

(2) how many requests not to recover tax overpayments the Inland Revenue has received in the last period for which figures are available; and how many requests have been processed; [206255]

(3) in how many cases the Inland Revenue has decided not to recover a tax credit overpayment in the last period for which figures are available; [206257]

(4) how many appeals have been lodged with the Inland Revenue with regard to tax credit (a) overpayments and (b) underpayments; and how many have been settled. [207304]

Dawn Primarolo: For the number of tax credit overpayments, I refer my hon. Friend to my reply to the hon. Members for Northavon (Mr. Webb) and for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on 15 November 2004, Official Report, columns 946–48W.

By the end of December 2004 about 78,000 taxpayers had returned Form TC846, or had otherwise been recorded as requesting the write-off of their overpayments on grounds of official error. About 41,000 requests had been decided by that date, and about 1,600 families had their overpayments written off for that reason.

To date the Inland Revenue has had to consider very few requests for overpayments to be written off on ground of inability to pay.

In addition, for the number of families whose overpayments arising from a software error are to be written off, I refer her to paragraph 2.10 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General attached to the Inland Revenue Report and Accounts for the year ending 31 March 2004.

Tax credit claimants can appeal against decisions which affect the value of their entitlement. Whether there is an overpayment or underpayment is irrelevant to the consideration of the appeal, and so records are not held of the number of appellants who had an overpayment or underpayment.
 
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