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Written Statements

Volume 412: debated on Friday 11 April 2003

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Written Ministerial Statements

Friday 11 April 2003

Deputy Prime Minister

Ordnance Survey Business Plan 2003–06

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
(Mr. Tony McNulty)

Following Ministerial endorsement of the Ordnance Survey Corporate Business Plan 2003–06, the following Agency performance targets have been set for the financial year 2003–04:Ordnance Survey will report externally against a set of Agency Performance Monitors (APMs) as required of all Executives Agencies in government:1. To achieve a trading surplus before interest, dividends and exceptional items of £4.7 million for the financial year April 2003 to March 2004.2. To achieve an efficiency gain in our data collection activity averaging 4 per cent. per annum over the period April 2003 to March 2006.3. 99.6 per cent. of significant real world features are represented in the database within six months of completion.4. To achieve an increase in business with customers transacted through our e-channels:

7.5 per cent. for large and medium scales mapping products in the OS Options portfolio, ordered through the OS Options internet-based product delivery technology; and
5 per cent. for small scales mapping products ordered through the OS Leisure Map shop on the Ordnance Survey Web-site.

5. To continuously improve the timeliness of the supply of our data to customers with a success rate not lower than 90 per cent.

6. To reduce carbon emissions from Ordnance Survey Headquarters by 25 per cent. against the base year of 2000–01.

These targets reflect Ordnance Survey's continuing commitment to customers, improved value for money for all of its stakeholders, and commitment to Government policies.

Queen Elizabeth Ii Conference Centre

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
(Mr. Christopher Leslie)

Key Performance Targets have been agreed for the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre for the period 1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004.The agency's principal financial target for 2003–04 is to achieve a minimum dividend payment to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of £700,000.An operational target has been set to achieve combined room occupancy of 470 days in the three key conference areas within the centre.

The agency also has the following quality of service targets:

Overall score for value for money satisfaction of 90 per cent.
The number of complaints received to be less than two per 100 events.
An average response time when answering complaints of less than four working days.

Local E-Government, E-Voting And The Invest To Save Budget: Special Grant Report

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
(Mr. Christopher Leslie)

I have today laid before the House a Special Grant Report (No. 121), which contains powers to pay grant to local authorities under the Government's Local e-Government Programme and the Invest to Save Budget.The Report contains the following elements:

Nearly £2 million of funding to support six innovative local authority projects under the Invest to Save Budget;
£23 million of funding under the Local e-Government Programme to support six National Projects;
£26 million to support 82 Shared Service Delivery Partnerships. These Partnerships will enable authorities to work together to deliver information and services in a more citizen-focussed way, improving access and removing barriers to working between organisations;
£18.3 million of funding to support an enhanced programme of 18 e-Voting Pilots for the May 2003 elections, which are expected to involve up to 1.4 million electors; and
£8.7 million to provide a Local e-Government Support Programme, including work to be undertaken by the IDeA's Strategic Support Unit, and work to identify barriers to implementation particularly of the National Project building blocks, such as the National Land and Property Gazetteer.

Taken together, these projects will help drive forward the e-agenda and help all local authorities in England meet the 2005 target for e-enabling 100 per cent. of their services.


Army Trained Strength Figures (Correction)

A computer coding error has been identified in Army strength figures prepared by the Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA) since 1 April 2001. From that date a number of untrained soldiers have been recorded against the trained Army strength. As a result Army strength figures previously announced and included in DASA publications have overstated the trained strength of the Army during that period. However, the combined strength of trained and untrained personnel has been correctly reported in all publications. It is the breakdown between trained and untrained strength that is affected by this problem.As at 1 February 2003, whole Army strength (comprising UK Trained Army Personnel, Gurkhas and Full Time Reserve Service) stood at 101,750. Army recruitment and retention initiatives are producing gains to whole Army strength in line with forecasts. The trend over the past twelve months has been encouraging with Army strength increasing by over 1,300 trained personnel. A table comparing the figures issued in error with the corrected figures follows:

Whole Army Strength (April 2001—February 2003)—Previously Published and Corrected Figures
1 Apr 01UKTAP96,28596,280
1 May 01UKTAP96,08396,060
1 Jun 01UKTAP96,00395,980
1 Jul 01UKTAP95,86495,820
1 Aug 01UKTAP95,86395,780
1 Sep 01UKTAP96,04995,920
1 Oct 01UKTAP96,26195,970
1 Nov 01UKTAP96,25595,900
1 Dec 01UKTAP96,32096,000
1 Jan 02UKTAP96,37396,040
1 Feb 02UKTAP96,44995,980
1 Mar 02UKTAP96,42895,980
1 Apr 02UKTAP96,50796,020
1 May 02UKTAP96,88096,330
1 Jun 02UKTAP97,05096,430
1 Jul 02UKTAP97,09096,500
1 Aug 02UKTAP96,97096,360
Whole Army Strength (April 2001—February 2003)—Previously Published and Corrected Figures
1 Sep 02UKTAP97,16096,590
1 Oct 02UKTAP97,48096,780
1 Nov 02UKTAP97,54096,880
1 Dec 02UKTAP97,63096,840
1 Jan 03UKTAP98,18097,200
1 Feb 03UKTAP97,220
Rounding to the nearest 10 introduced in May 2002. Due to the rounding methods used totals may not always equal the sum of the parts.

Defence Estates Stewardship Report 2002

The Ministry of Defence today launches its Stewardship Report on the Defence Estate 2002.The Department published "In Trust & On Trust—A Strategy for the Defence Estate" in 2000 containing aims and objectives for the future management of the estate. One of the commitments made was that the MOD would report annually on its progress towards meeting these aims and the launch of the Stewardship Report on the Defence Estate 2002 continues that commitment.Copies of the Report will be placed in both Libraries of the House.

Iraq: Force Level Adjustments

As the pattern of coalition operations in Iraq changes, it will be possible for a number of units to proceed with other tasking or return to the United Kingdom.I am delighted to confirm our participation in Exercise Flying Fish under the Five Power Defence Arrangements with forces from Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand. HMS Marlborough and HMS Liverpool together with RFA Grey Rover have been released from operations in the Middle East and will now proceed to the Far East. The Government attache great importance to this long-planned deployment which sends a clear signal demonstrating our continuing commitment to the FPDA and the wider security of the region as a whole.Other maritime assets will be released as appropriate, for return to the UK or onward deployment. On current plans, HMS Ark Royal with elements of her Group will shortly leave the Joint Operations Area and start their return passage to the UK. Significant maritime forces will remain in the Gulf to continue important continuing tasks, including mine clearance operations, logistic support and force protection.We also continue to keep our requirements in the land and air environments under review. We envisage that a number of fixed wing and rotary aircraft can be withdrawn in the near future, starting with the return of Tornado F3 aircraft over the next few days. In the near term, the medical capacity in the region means that we can now withdraw 33 Field Hospital and RFA Argus. 34 Field Hospital and 202 Field Hospital (Volunteer) will remain in the Gulf region for the time being.It is our policy to deploy personnel on operations for no longer than is necessary to achieve our military objectives. We will therefore continue to adjust our forces deployed to the Gulf as appropriate, withdrawing units whose tasks are complete, and in due course replacing those whose tasks continue. For example, elements of 101 Logistics Brigade will replace their counterparts in 102 Logistics Brigade during early May. We will inform the House of any major roulements. As previously stated, we have no plans to deploy significant additional forces.


Commission For Integrated Transport

In accordance with protocols governing the review of Government Advisory Bodies, I am today announcing a review of the Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT).The review will examine the role of both CfIT and the Motorists Forum. It will consider the extent to which both have fulfilled their remits. It will consider the extent to which those remits remain correct and relevant in light of developments since both were established. It will consider the case for changes to the remit or working practices of either body. And, in line with established procedure, it will consider the extent to which these bodies remain relevant and necessary to the delivery of Government Policy.

Charles Rice, an Executive Director of the Main Board of P&O, has been appointed to lead the review. We expect the review to be completed later this year and, subject to the nature of its findings, to institute any changes deemed necessary by the end of the year.

Home Department

Historical Abuse Investigations

The Government today publishes "Historical Abuse Investigations: Government Response to the Committee's Fourth Report of Session 2001–02".The Government are grateful to the Home Affairs Committee for their hard work in tackling the difficult subject of historical child abuse, which resulted in the publication of the Committee's report, "The Investigation of Past Cases of Abuse in Children's Homes" in October 2002.We know that this subject arouses strong feelings, and that many of the central issues are widely disputed. We feel that the Committee has done well to consider all points of view.The passage of time, the serious nature of the allegations and the long-term damage done to victims means that proper safeguards must be observed in the chain of evidence gathering. We must be sure that investigations minimise the risk to the innocent, particularly given the nature of evidence that most convictions rely on.There is clearly no dispute that police must investigate such crimes to the fullest, despite the inevitable difficulty of investigating allegations that refer to events that may have occurred many years ago.New guidance has been issued by the Government and the Association of Chief Police Officers in the past 12 months on the investigation of historic abuse cases in order to provide a sound and transparent framework for conducting investigations. This includes a range of safeguards to ensure that evidence gathering is scrutinised for potentially false or malicious allegations.Copies will be placed in the Library.