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Forensic Science Service

Volume 470: debated on Tuesday 8 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there is European legislation relating to the liberalisation of forensic science services. (173599)

[holding answer 13 December 2007]: There is no European legislation specifically on the liberalisation of forensic science services. The procurement of such services is, however, governed by the same European legislation as governs the procurement of publicly financed services in general, which requires bidding to be open to suppliers in all EU member states, except where certain national security conditions apply.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much has been spent on the Forensic Science Service since it acquired the status of a Government-owned company in 2006. (173600)

[holding answer 13 December 2007]: The Forensic Science Service has received no additional money from the Home Office since it was vested as a Government-owned company, other than through the provision of loans arranged prior to vesting and intended to support the transition from Executive Agency to GovCo. The loan in relation to their pension provision has been partially repaid, and the balance is expected to be paid by 2008-09. The Home Office receives interest on the outstanding loans and is eligible to receive dividends on its investment.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what performance targets were set for the Forensic Science Service (FSS) in (a) 2006 and (b) 2007; and how the FSS performed against its targets in the most recent year for which figures are available. (173601)

[holding answer 13 December 2007]: Since December 2005, the Forensic Science Service (FSS) has been established as a Government-owned company. It is no longer an Executive agency of the Home Office and thus no longer subject to the agency target setting regime. Its establishment as a Government-owned company was designed to provide the FSS with the freedom, flexibility, structures and resources to better respond to customer needs.

Therefore, the Home Office as its shareholder does not set the FSS detailed performance targets as such. Instead it agrees an overall strategic business plan with the FSS. The business plan covers such matters as trading and operational performance, but as the FSS now operates in a competitive market, the details are commercially confidential. The FSS published a report and accounts covering its financial performance for the period since changing status, in August 2007. This was filed at Companies House, and copies were placed in the Libraries of both Houses.