§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many days were lost owing to sickness absence by staff in his Department in each of the last four years. 
§ Jane Kennedy
The Northern Ireland Office is committed to the effective management of sick absence and our current Service Delivery Agreement (SDA) sets out our proposal to reduce average sickness absence rates for Home Civil Servants (HCS) during the planning period as follows:
Average sick absence targets (HCS staff) Target Baseline (1998) 6.5 absences per staff year 2001–02 15.2 absences per staff year 2002–03 24.9 absences per staff year 2003–04 34.6 absences per staff year 1 20 per cent. saving 2 225 per cent. saving 3 30 per cent. saving
It will seek reductions of a similar order for the larger Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) group in the Department in conjunction with other Northern Ireland Departments.
Within the last four years sick absence data are available only for 1998 and 1999. The figures are as follows:
- 1999: 8.0 absences per staff year
- 1998: 6.5 absences per staff year.
Figures are not available in a comparable format for the NICS staff group.