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3 May 2006 : Column 1633W—continued

Equal Pay

John Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps are being taken by the Government to close the gender pay gap in the Civil Service. [65627]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Government recognise that it is good employer practice to ensure that pay and conditions of service are fair and free from any form of gender bias. It demonstrated its commitment to addressing the gender pay gap by requiring every department and agency to undertake an equal pay review and prepare an action plan in 2003.

Cabinet Office encourages departments to monitor progress against their action plans and review their pay systems following implementation of annual pay awards. Departments should also carry out full equality proofing of their reward policies every three years. Where there is evidence of pay inequalities, departments are expected to address the inequalities in an appropriate manner.

The Cabinet Office also undertook an equal pay review for the Senior Civil Service (SCS) in 2002 which has been re-examined each year since then as part of the Government's evidence to the Senior Salaries Review Body.
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The Government are committed to ensuring that pay systems in the public sector are fair and non discriminatory, reflecting the contribution of the individual.

Ministerial Travel

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister without Portfolio what mileage was undertaken in February by the car allocated to the Minister Without Portfolio. [65221]

Mr. McCartney: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 29 March 2006, Official Report, column 1032W.

Office of Public Service Reform

Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the changes in Government policy that resulted from recommendations of the Office of Public Service Reform. [65225]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Office of Public Service Reform (OPSR) initiated a wide range of public service improvement work, relating in particular to customer focus, much of which is now being used in Departments. More specifically OPSR was responsible for:

Parliamentary Accountability

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister without Portfolio if he will set out the steps he takes to ensure parliamentary accountability for his actions. [65269]

Mr. McCartney: In accordance with the requirements of the Ministerial Code, it is for Ministers in charge of Departments to answer questions on the work of their Departments. In line with the practices of previous administrations, I do not have a slot on the rota for oral questions as I am not in charge of a Department.

Written questions which are relevant to my ministerial responsibilities are for me to answer in the normal way.
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Parliamentary Questions

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister without Portfolio for what reasons written parliamentary questions tabled to him by the hon. Member for Lewes on 22 March were answered by the Parliamentary Secretary in the Cabinet Office. [65252]

Mr. McCartney: This was due to an administrative error.

I have written to the hon. Member today to apologise for the error and the Official Reporter will be asked to correct the Official Report.

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister without Portfolio if he will make a statement on his practices in respect of written parliamentary questions tabled to him for answer. [65253]

Mr. McCartney: I respond to written parliamentary questions in accordance with the requirements of the Ministerial Code.
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Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the total number of arson attacks was for the 100 (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in Northern Ireland with the (i) highest and (ii) lowest percentage of children receiving free school meals in each of the past 10 years. [66091]

Angela E. Smith: The information on the number of arson attacks in schools refer to those with the highest and lowest percentages of pupils with free school meal entitlement. This was used instead of pupils receiving free school meals, as entitlement is a better measure of need. The information on the number of arson attacks in the past 10 years is not available. The Education and Library Boards have provided the following information for maintained and controlled schools for the years 2002–03 to 2005–06.

Post Prim42552041

The information for voluntary grammar and grant maintained integrated schools in the form requested is not readily available and is being requested. I will write to you with the information as soon as possible.

Average Annual Industrial Wages

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the ratio was of average annual industrial wage levels to average terrace house prices in Northern Ireland between 1995 and 2005. [65710]

Mr. Hanson: There is no official estimate available for the average sale price of terrace properties in Northern Ireland during this period. Published figures on the sale price of new terrace properties (including town houses) are provided in Table 1.

The average gross annual earnings 1 in Northern Ireland for all employees (i.e. full and part-time) working in the manufacturing sector according to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) are provided in Table 2.
Table 1

Average sale price of new terrace properties (£000)

Table 2

Mean gross annual earnings in the NI Manufacturing Sector (£000(15))

(15) Please note that the above information relates to employees on adult rates who have been in the same job for more than a year.
(16) Implementation of Office for National Statistics (ONS) recommendations to improve the quality of the survey have resulted in a discontinuity with earlier data from 2004 (see the ONS Review of Distribution of Earnings Statistics report at
(17) ASHE statistics prior to 1997 are currently not available (n/a).
1. Estimates of the average sale price of existing terrace properties (2002–05) are being produced, but are not currently available.
2. The figures shown on average sale price of new terrace properties are taken from NI Housing Statistics, but this taken in isolation does not represent the housing market for terrace properties. In particular, new terrace houses are more expensive than new semi-detached houses, whereas the same is not believed to be true for existing properties.
3. In the granting of mortgages, lenders take account of the entire income of the purchaser(s), including the income of partners, which may be earned in the non-industrial sector.
1. The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) is a UK wide survey that provides a wide range of information on hourly, weekly and annual earnings by gender, work patterns, industry and occupation inter alia. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) carry out ASHE in Great Britain and it is carried out by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) in Northern Ireland.
2. ASHE is a sample survey and uses the Inland Revenue's PA YE system as the main sampling frame. To improve coverage and hence make the survey more representative, supplementary information was collected since 2004 on businesses not registered for VAT and for people who changed or started new jobs between the sample selection and the survey reference period. The improvements have caused a discontinuity with earlier available data (1997–2003) when no supplementary data was collected. The data on earnings is obtained not from the employees, but from their employers under the authority of the Statistics of Trade and Employment (Northern Ireland) Order 1988. Information collected is treated as strictly confidential and is used only for statistical purposes.
3. A recent National Statistics review of earnings statistics recommended that median values (the figure below which 50 per cent. of values fall) are used in preference to mean values (the sum divided by the number of values) when reporting earnings. The mean and the median measure different things and can both be appropriate measures depending on what the user is trying to measure. The mean measures the average amount earned by individuals but in a skew distribution such as earnings this measure is susceptible to small numbers of very high earners, whereas the median measures the amount earned by the individual in the middle of a ranked distribution. However, in this instance the mean values have been used to ensure equivalence with the average used to report on house prices in the response.

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