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Mr. Allan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for the development of e-procurement in Government purchasing. [55940]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Office of Government Commerce is currently running pilot projects in e-procurement in seven Departments aimed at learning about the issues arising from the deployment of e-procurement systems. This information, together with the lessons learned from the recently concluded e-tendering pilot, will allow Government to make a full assessment of the options that will work best and ensure value for money. Plans for further development of e-procurement in Government purchasing will be announced later this year.

Committee Mandates

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the mandate of the Contact Committee European economic interest grouping is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if he will list the items currently under its consideration; if he will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if he will make a statement. [56767]

Ms Hewitt: I have been asked to reply.

The mandate of the European Economic Interest Grouping Contact Committee is set out at article 42 of the Council Regulation of 25 July 1985 on the European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG) (2137/85/EEC). Its functions are as follows:

The committee has not met in the last 12 months and, consequently, there have been no costs incurred by the Department associated with the work of the committee and there are no on-going issues subject to its

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consideration. The UK would be represented in meetings of the committee by officials and lawyers of the Department.

Parliamentary Advisers

Mr. Beith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the (a) names and (b) responsibilities are of parliamentary advisers appointed to serve his Department. [56982]

Ruth Kelly: Treasury Ministers have made no such appointments.

Customs and Excise

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue has been collected by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise from Customs (Import) duty and VAT charges paid by United Kingdom recipients of postal packages sent from countries outwith the EU in each year since 1995. [58060]

Mr. Boateng: It is not possible to provide the requested estimates due to lack of data on these specific transactions.

Private Members' Bills

Mr. McWalter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many written representations he has received from hon. Members in support of the (a) Industrial and Provident Societies Bill and (b) Employee Share Scheme Bill. [57549]

Ruth Kelly: The Treasury received 177 written representations from hon. Members in support of the Industrial and Provident Societies Bill and six in support of the Employee Share Schemes Bill.

National Insurance (Scotland)

Mr. Weir: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the total cost to Scotland's (a) health trusts and (b) local authorities of the payment of the revenue in employees' national insurance in the year 2002–03. [57496]

Dawn Primarolo: The cost of national insurance contributions to these employers will remain similar between 2001–02 and 2002–03.

Oil and Gas Industry (Taxation)

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the value is of the threshold of profitability referred to in paragraph five of the paper he published as part of his letter to the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Sir Robert Smith) of 8 May. [57932]

Dawn Primarolo: The threshold of profitability referred to in the paper is not a cash figure. It is based on a measure of profitability expressed as the ratio of net present value to the pre-tax cost of the investment. The precise threshold of this ratio up to which net present value of projects is improved depends on various factors such as the discount rate used by the investor. But in general, projects below the threshold are likely to be the more marginal ones; those above threshold the more economically attractive ones.

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Tax Credits

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many families are expected to be eligible for the increased children's tax credit because they have a child born during 2001–02. [58762]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms Walley) on 15 January 2002, Official Report, column 244W.

Voluntary Sports Clubs

Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what sports are not eligible for the Inland Revenue tax exemptions and charitable status for voluntary sports clubs; and if he will make a statement. [58659]

Mr. Boateng: Clubs eligible for the Inland Revenue scheme will be determined by the national sports councils. Clubs eligible for charitable status will be those that meet the criteria of 'the promotion of community participation in healthy recreation by the provision of facilities for the playing of particular sports'.

Environmental Taxes

Mr. Key: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans the Government have to review UK environmental taxes and their impact both on (a) business and (b) the environment. [58538]

Mr. Boateng: The Government keeps all taxation policy under review and publishes updated estimates of the environmental impacts of taxation in the pre-Budget report and the Budget each year.


Non-governmental Organisations

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list non-governmental organisations operating in the south west region that receive public funds from his Department; and what amount of annual funding they received in the most recent year for which figures are available. [39193]

Mr. McCartney: There are no non-governmental organisations operating in the south west region that receive funds from the Department for Work and Pensions.


Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects a reply to be sent to the letters to the Minister of State for Pensions dated 31 October 2001 and 2 July 2001 concerning Mrs. Anita Stamp of Mayland. [45492]

Mr. McCartney: The response was issued on 9 April 2002 with an apology for the delay which was due to an administrative error. The particular circumstances that gave rise to this delay have been fully reviewed and the related procedural arrangements have been strengthened to prevent a recurrence.

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Medical Services Contract

Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what further progress has been made on formalising the extension of the medical services contract with SchlumbergerSema. [59161]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Department reviewed the performance of SchlumbergerSema against a series of performance targets and other contractual obligations to be met by 31 March 2002 and has confirmed the contract extension to August 2005.

The agreement with SchlumbergerSema contained a total of 45 key performance targets. These targets, in each of the three contract packages, covered the following areas:

SchlumbergerSema met 43 out of the 45 targets set by 31 March and met the remaining 2 targets during April 2002.

In addition to the key performance targets, the contract contains a number of other performance measures, the vast majority of which are now being achieved. Performance is formally monitored on a monthly basis. If performance falls below agreed targets remedial action is taken, including the application of financial remedies where appropriate.

During 2000 (prior to the Department setting targets relating to contract extension) the Department set four challenging targets where tangible improvement in medical quality was required. These were:

Within six months to reduce by 10 per cent. the proportion of "C grade" medical reports which fail to meet the Department's standards; and within one year to reduce the proportion of "C grade" reports across all benefits to less than 5 per cent.

Within one year to demonstrate improvement in compliance with the agreed medical scrutiny guidelines for Incapacity Benefit claims so that the proportion of non-compliant reports is less than 5 per cent.

Within one year to deliver training to all doctors covering: the assessment of people with mental health problems; behaviours, attitudes and sensitivities for dealing with people with disabilities; and distress- avoiding techniques for the examination of people with musculo-skeletal conditions.

Within two years to improve customer satisfaction rates to at least 90 per cent.

These service targets have all been met. The agreement to extend the Contract contains a further set of quality improvement measures, including even more challenging

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measures relating to the quality of medical reports, together with new a doctor capability measure and a new complaints target.

Additionally, the agreement commits SchlumbergerSema to a programme of doctor recruitment and requires them to deliver a number of other important initiatives. These include:

National implementation of the "Did Not Attend" initiative which will reduce the number of claimants who are given an appointment but fail to attend. Results from the pilot undertaken show significant reductions and this new process will be rolled out across all Medical Service Centres by the end of June 2002.

National implementation of "Evidence Based Medicine" which aims to secure more consistency in conducting medical examinations and to improve the quality of medical reports by using fully researched medical protocols for examination supported by an IT application.

Piloting a new approach to evidence gathering where Doctors advising on Incapacity Benefit claims will have access to relevant medical information from the claimant's General Practitioner case notes.

Contractual milestones for the remaining life of the extended contract have been agreed for each of the key improvement projects underway, supported by financial remedies for failure to deliver against key milestones. The Department, through joint Project and Programme Boards, will continue to monitor closely the progress of each project.

The Department has also secured a range of other contractual improvements including greater cost transparency to underpin future commercial negotiations.

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