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Student Loans Helpline

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blackstone: The average length of time to respond to each incoming call on the Student Loans Company's helpline is currently about two minutes. Delays may be longer at peak time. The company is now in its peak processing period and expects the volume of incoming calls to start dropping shortly: this will lead to a quicker response time to calls.

Head of Defence Export Services

Lord Morris of Castle Morris asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): We are announcing today that the Prime Minister has approved the appointment of Mr. Tony Edwards as the next Head of Defence Export Services in succession to Sir Charles Masefield. Mr. Edwards, who will be seconded to the Ministry of Defence from TI Group plc, will formally take up appointment on 14 December 1998 when Sir Charles Masefield, who has been seconded to the Ministry from British Aerospace, will take up a new appointment in industry.

Mr. Edwards will receive a salary from the Ministry of Defence of £165,000 a year plus an annual performance related bonus of up to £15,000. In addition, the Defence Industries Council, acting on behalf of the defence industry as a whole, will provide a top-up element so that Mr. Edwards' basic remuneration package will remain on a par with what he is currently receiving from TI Group plc.

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NHS Director of Counter Fraud Services

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the new NHS Fraud Supremo has yet developed a strategy; if so, what are its key targets; and when it will be published.[HL3668]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): The new National Health Service Director of Counter Fraud Services, who took up his post on 1 September, has been developing a comprehensive, integrated and professional counter fraud strategy. This document will be published shortly and will contain details of targets.

"Delivering for women: Progress so far"

Baroness Mallalieu asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish a report on the progress made on issues affecting women since May 1997.[HL3801]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): We have published our report, Delivering for women: Progress so far. This charts what has been achieved in the first 18 months of this Government to improve the lives of women. Copies of this report have been placed in the Libraries of the House, together with two research documents, Researching Women's Attitudes and Tackling Violence Against Women which summarises reported action already taken by local authorities to protect women from violence. In addition I have, together with my right honourable friends the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, issued new guidelines on policy appraisal for equal treatment to relevant officials throughout government. Copies of this have also been placed in the Libraries of the House.

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Real Earnings Growth: Average Annual Rate

Lord McCarthy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the average annual rate of real earnings growth in each year since 1985 of employees in the following categories--

    (a) public sector employees covered by each of the separate pay review bodies;

    (b) public sector employees not covered by pay review:

    The civil service; education (including further education and higher education); prisons; the fire service; local authority manual and non-manual workers; NHS manual, non-manual and managerial staff (if available); and other relevant categories;

    (c) private sector employees in the following categories:

    Male manual workers, female manual workers, male non-manual workers, female non-manual workers.[HL3600]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Director of the Office for National Statistics. I have asked him to reply.

Letter to Lord McCarthy from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Mr. T. Holt, dated 10 November 1998.

As the Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to reply to your recent parliamentary question on the average annual rate of real earnings growth. I apologise for the delay in replying to you. This was due to the complex nature of the question.

In the attached table, I have provided information from the New Earnings Survey for each year from 1990 to 1998. The change in occupational coding prior to 1990 prevents the production of consistent analyses for earlier years.

For the growth of earnings in real terms please refer to the RPI index in the ONS Business Monitor MM23, a copy of which is in the House Library.

New Earnings Survey, April 1990 to 1998 (GB) Employees on adult rates, whose pay for the survey period was unaffected by absence.
Percentage increase in gross weekly earnings. Matched sample.

Percentage increase
Question (a)--public sector employees covered by each of the separate pay review bodies
Doctors and dentists------
Nursing staff, midwives etc.14.710.
School teachers16.315.
Senior salaries----------4.14.7--
Question (b)--public sector employees not covered by pay review
Civil Service11.613.
Fire service13.
Local authority manuals9.
Local authority non-manuals13.
NHS manuals8.
NHS non-manuals14.
NHS managers--
Question (c)--private sector employees
Non-manual males11.
Manual males4.
Non-manual females14.
Manual females5.

(1) Including further and higher education.

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VAT Top Rate in Member States

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will state the top rate of value added tax in each country of the European Union, indicating in each case the range of goods and services to which it applies.[HL3722]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The top rate of VAT in each member state of the European Union is its

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standard rate. The current standard rates, which apply to most goods and services, are set out in the following table.

Standard rates of VAT in EU Member States

EC Member StateStandard rate of VAT (%)

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VAT Grouping and Universities

Lord Thomas of Macclesfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following the consultation process which ended on 30 September, whether the proposals from Customs and Excise regarding VAT grouping treatment will be so modified that the potentially damaging effect on the activities of universities will be eliminated.[HL3709]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The consultation exercise on VAT grouping is at the stage where taxpayers' representations are being analysed and evaluated. No decisions have yet been made on which, if any, of the options contained in the consultation paper will be adopted. The views of universities are being taken fully into account as part of this process.

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