§ Mr. Malcolm Bruce
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the latest absenteeism rates for each of his Departments, agencies and related public bodies; and what is his estimate of the total cost of this level of absenteeism to public funds in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Dewar
[holding answer 8 February 1999]: The published sickness absence rates for the Scottish Office and my other departments/agencies, for the latest available year (1997), are shown in the table. These figures are extracted from a published report on sickness absence patterns across the Civil Service. The report for 1997 has recently been released. Information on absence rates for Non-Departmental Public Bodies is not held centrally.
Working days absence per staff year in The Scottish Office 1997 Total The Scottish Office (including its executive agencies other than SPS) 8.4 Scottish Prison Service Agency 10.9
Working days absence per staff year in other departments/agencies of the Secretary of State for Scotland 1997 Total Scottish Record Office 9.9 General Register Office for Scotland 7.2 Scottish Courts Administration 7.8 Scottish Courts Service 15.5 Registers of Scotland 12.0
The published report does not estimate the staff costs of sickness at a departmental level—the estimated total cost in 1997 across the Civil Service was £404 million. Estimates for each department above could be produced only at disproportionate cost.
The Scottish Office is developing proposals in response to the 1998 Cabinet Office Report "Working Well Together—Managing Attendance in the Public Sector" to introduce best practice. Targets for reductions in absence rates will be set in line with the recommendations in the report.