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Volume 447: debated on Monday 5 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport who will monitor the BBC's efficiency targets. (73547)

[holding answer 25 May 2006]: As stated in the White Paper, the Government believe that one of the overriding duties of the Trust should be the effective stewardship of the licence fee on behalf of licence fee payers: making sure that it is spent with maximum effectiveness and efficiency and always providing value for money. It will be part of the Trust's role to secure and demonstrate continuing improvements in the BBC's efficiency, increasing the return provided by its commercial services and bearing down on the costs of proposed investments. The Government also welcome the proposal of the current Chairman of the BBC that the Trust should ask the NAO to consider the extent to which future "self-help" targets are being met and that the results of this work will also be reported to Parliament.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will require the BBC to submit a revision of its Red Book figures before making a decision on the licence fee. (73546)

[holding answer 25 May 2006]: The Government are currently conducting a funding review to determine the level of the licence fee to apply from April 2007. As part of this process the BBC has submitted an assessment of its future funding needs. That assessment made clear that projected costs in some areas would be subject to revision. The BBC has undertaken to make revisions to its assessment available to the Government as work progresses. The Government will announce the details of the settlement in due course.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she is taking to ensure the independence of the BBC Trust from (a) the Corporation and (b) the Government. (75061)

The new governance structure is designed to strengthen the BBC's independence from Government and will be reinforced by very clear separation between the Trust and the Executive Board. This clear separation will be achieved through the distinct and different roles of the Trust and Executive Board. The Trust's overarching responsibility will be to represent the interests of the licence fee payer. The new system will also deliver effective oversight of the Executive Board's activities by the Trust, in the public interest; at the same time, it will prevent micro-management of the executive Board's activities by the Trust in a way that would distract from the Trust's strategic role.