To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff in the Department have been on long-term sick leave in each of the last two years. 
I would refer the hon. Member to my earlier reply of 30 April 2003, Official Report, column 383W.Responsibility for attendance matters within the Central Science Laboratory Agency, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, the Rural Payments Agency and the Centre for the Environmental Fisheries and Aquaculture Science Agency has been delegated to the Agency Chief Executives and I have asked them to reply direct. The Pesticides Safety Directorate and Veterinary Medicines Directorate Agency are covered by the Departmental response.
Letter from Peter Greig-Smith to Mr. Bercow, dated May 2003:
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has asked me to reply to your question regarding how many staff were on long term sick leave in each of the last two years. I am replying on behalf of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS).
For CEFAS staff, a review of point of 60 days (ie 2 months or more) is used to define long term absence. During the past 2 years, the numbers of staff on long term absence were as follows:
CEFAS has successfully introduced a scheme for 'Return to Workplace' interviews and is fully committed to managing attendance effectively. We are on target for achieving the reduced levels of sickness absence we have set out for the Agency.
Letter from Steven Edwards to Mr. Bercow dated May 2003:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question regarding how many staff in her Department have been on longterm sick leave in each of the last two years.
There is no central definition of what constitutes long-term sick absence. VLA has adopted a pro-active stance to monitoring attendance with earlier and speedier referrals to the Occupational Physician.
The following figures cover staff within VLA for absences beginning in the years listed:
VLA is committed 10 the effective management of sickness absence and to meeting sickness absence reduction targets.
Letter from Professor Mike Roberts to Mr. Bercow dated May 2003:
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has asked me to reply, with respect to the Central Science Laboratory, to your question concerning how many staff were on long-term sick leave in each of the last two years.
I would refer the Honourable Member to my letter of 15 April 2003 in response to parliamentary Question No. 2668 which contained details of CSL's long-term sick absence for each of the last five years.
Letter from Johnston McNeill to Mr. Bercow dated 23 May 2003:
I have been asked to respond directly to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning long term sick leave.
Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many staff in her Department have been on long term sick leave in each of the last two years.
Information on the number of staff who have been on long term sick leave in each of the last two years is not available for the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).
RPA is a relatively new organisation formed in October 2001. RPA is still developing a computerised Personnel System to provide sickness absence data of the kind requested. Specific information on numbers of staff on long term sick leave could only be obtained at disproportionate administrative cost and time.
RPA is committed to managing sickness absence effectively and to meeting internal performance targets for reducing sickness absence for 2003–04.
RPA has developed n sickness absence management policy and procedures, that includes a revised strategy for managing long term sickness absence, 'or implementation from June 2003.
RPA also acts responsibly to the legal obligation to provide a safe working environment for employees and is committed to meeting targets for reducing the number of working days lost generally due to work related injuries and illness, arising from the government's Revitalising Health and Safety initiative.