§ Mr. Matthew Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the progress made by his Department since 1999 in reducing sickness absence; what targets he has agreed with the Cabinet Office; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Wills
[holding answer 30 October 2000]: In 1999, the overall sickness absence rate in the Department for Education and Employment (including the Employment Service) was 10.6 days per staff year. We have agreed targets with the Cabinet Office to reduce this to 9.6 days by 2001, and 8.3 days by 2003. The Department is making significant efforts to meet these challenging targets.