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Volume 205: debated on Friday 13 March 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what plans he has to alter current financial arrangements for his Department's agencies;(2) if it is his policy for the Passport Agency and the Forensic Science Service eventually to operate as trading funds.

It is the policy of the Department for the two agencies to operate as trading funds as soon as they have gained sufficient experience and developed appropriate systems. In each case, work is in hand to develop improved financial and management information system.The proposed target date for establishing the United Kingdom Passport Agency as a trading fund is 1 April 1994. Achieving this will depend on the successful development of the agency's new computerised accounting system.The Forensic Science Service is aiming to introduce in 1992–93 an integrated IT system to support its business activities, and progress has been made in moving to a business-like basis of operation. But the further development necessary to enable the FSS to operate successfully as a trading fund is likely to take at least another three to four years.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has any plans to establish any executive agencies in 1992–93, apart from the Fire Service College.

I have no plans to establish any other new agencies during the coming financial year, but, as I said in answer to a question from my hon. Friend yesterday at column 592, I intend that the Prison Service should become an executive agency from 1 April 1993. A number of other areas of the Department are also being considered as potential agencies.