§ Mr. Malcolm Bruce
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will estimate the rates of absenteeism in his(a) Department, (b) agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies, for (i) 1995–96, (ii) 1996–97 and (iii) 1997–98 to date; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Tony Lloyd
[holding answer 5 February 1998]: Statistics about sick absence in the FCO will be available later this year and could not be provided now except at disproportionate cost. While the FCO has always collected data on sick absence for individual monitoring and pay purposes, the system has been computerised only since the beginning of 1997. Since then we have been keying in back data from January 1994 which will allow us to make comparisons with previous years, to identify any patterns and to benchmark against other organisations. Software to generate statistical reports of staff absences during a specified period (including the lengths of absences and the number of staff who have taken sick absence, broken down by grade and post) will be developed and tested this year.
My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State, Baroness Symons, will send the hon. Member sick absence statistics for the FCO as soon as they are available.