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The civil service continues to make progress on increasing the numbers of women at senior levels. In the top 600 posts, the proportion of women has increased from 12.7 per cent. in 1998 to 21.2 per cent. in October 2001. In the senior civil service as a whole, the proportion has increased from 17.6 per cent. to 25.3 per cent. over the same period.
Ms Hewitt: Surveys carried out when drawing up the Green Paper on work and parents (published December 2000) showed that most employers identified benefits from flexible working. We have since continued to compile extensive case study evidence which demonstrate that employers can see real business benefits by implementing flexible working patterns. Our campaign is based on what shrewd employers are already doing, because of their own business needs.
Ms Hewitt: While it is not my role to offer such guidance to public authorities, I do of course continue to work with others to ensure that women are encouraged to train for managerial positions and progress to senior and managerial positions in our public authorities. The Centre
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Ms Hewitt: The pay gap between men and women currently stands at 18 per cent, down from 20 per cent. in 1997. In the financial services sector, the gap has reduced from 30 per cent. to 29 per cent. over the same time period. The Government are taking a number of steps to reduce the pay gap further. As well as the introduction of the National Minimum Wage and the provisions in the Employment Bill, the Fair Pay Champions and Castle Awards, are helping to spread good practice on equal pay. All Government Departments are committed to carrying out a pay review by March 2003.
Ms Hewitt: The Government is committed through its National Childcare Strategy to ensuring that accessible, affordable and quality childcare is available in every neighbourhood. There has been a substantial expansion in childcare nationwide and with a wide range of providers, ensuring real choice for parents. 497,000 new childcare places have been created since 1997, benefiting over 906,000 children and on track to meeting the Government's target of creating new places for 1.6 million children by 2004.
Ms Hewitt: The Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002 allows political parties to use positive measures, in certain circumstances, when selecting candidates to stand for existing UK elections.
We are keen for political parties to make full use of this legislation, and I will continue to press for them to do so. We stated in the regional government white paper, 'Your Region, Your Choice: Revitalising the English Regions', that we propose to apply the provisions of the Act to elections for regional assemblies.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Prime Minister how many staff have been employed at No. 10 Downing Street in each year from 197980 to 200203, broken down by Department; what the total annual staff cost was in each year; and if he will make a statement. 
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199899: £4.9 million
19992000: £5.9 million
200001: £6.9 million.
The Prime Minister: The Government's position on these invitations is as set out in a letter of 5 July 2002 from the Secretary of the Cabinet to the Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. A copy of the letter has been placed in the Library of the House.
Ms Walley: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will make a statement on the outcome of his investigations into the concerns raised by Greenpeace on timber procurement in respect of the 22 Whitehall project. 
The report shows that timber for the 22 Whitehall project was not procured in line with the Government's policy of seeking to procure timber from legal and sustainable sources. This has led to the procurement of sapele timber, for which there is no independent certification of sustainability available, from forests in Central Africa.
The report also sets out a number of actions that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Office of Government Commerce will be taking to improve the Government's adherence to the policy on timber procurement. The Cabinet Office is also taking a number of steps to improve its own domestic position on timber procurement.
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms Walley) for her interest in the issue of timber procurement. The specific case of the 22 Whitehall project has highlighted a significant level of confusion associated with the terminology used in connection with the specification of timber in contracts. This clearly has implications across Government Departments as employers of contractors, and among contractors themselves. The actions set out in the report published today reflect the importance the Government attaches to improving its position on the issue of timber procurement. The Government
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Sue Doughty: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what proportion of waste produced in his Department was (a) recycled, (b) composted and (c) re-used, broken down into (i) paper, (ii) plastics, (iii) aluminium cans and (iv) other in each year since 1997; what plans there are to increase these proportions; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Alexander: Figures for the proportion of waste recycled for the period September/October 2000 to 31 March 2001 is published in the Third Greening Government Annual Report. Data prior to that period are not available. Figures for 200102 will be shown in the first Sustainable Development in Government Questionnaire 2002 (previously Greening Government Annual Report) which is due to be published later this year.
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was in each year since 1997; what proportion of energy was generated from renewable sources; and if he will make a statement. 
I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) on 3 July 2002, Official Report, columns 38487W. Figures prior to 199798 are not available.
Since 1 October 2001 over 75 per cent. of the power used across the Cabinet Office's central London estate is being generated from renewable energy sources which are exempt from the climate change levy.
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