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Departmental Benchmarking

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his Department's response is to the recommendation of the NAO report on modern policy making that ongoing benchmarking of Departments should be undertaken. [43113]

Mr. Leslie: Benchmarking is a powerful tool to support performance improvement, which can be applied in a wide range of ways. One approach is to compare the performance of an organisation against an ideal, in order to identify areas for improvement. This approach has been adopted for he Departmental Change Programme, being developed by the Office of Public Services Reform in the Cabinet Office. Departments will be reviewed against a model of high performance, which includes a module on policy making, to inform he generation and implementation of an integrated change programme.

Centre for Management and Policy Studies

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many staff are employed in the Centre for Management and Policy Studies; what their roles are; and what liaison they undertake with other Departments. [43118]

Mr. Leslie: 366 staff are employed in the Centre for Management and Policy Studies (CMPS). This figure includes 261 staff from the Civil Service College which ceased to be an executive agency on 1 April 2000 and now is a directorate of CMPS.

The staff in CMPS work with other units in the Cabinet Office and Departments to help government to learn better, ensure that the civil service is cultivating the right skills and culture for effective delivery, and promote new ways of developing and delivering policy through the sharing of knowledge and evidence from here and abroad.

CMPS is also the largest single provider of open training programmes for Government.

Energy Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on energy costs incurred by his Department in each of the last 10 years. [42447]

Mr. Leslie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Alun Michael) on 19 March 2002, Official Report, column 268W.

Legal Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what legal costs have been incurred by his Department in each of the last four years. [34291]

The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: Estimated legal costs incurred by the Department over the last four years can be broken down as follows.

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£000
1997–9843
1998–9953
1999–200069
2000–01(9)173

(9) This includes expenditure of £111,500 incurred for residual HMSO liabilities, Security Facilities Division restructuring costs and Cross Cutting CMF—contractual work for the Government 'Gateway' project.


Catering Services

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the cost was of (a) in-house canteen and (b) other catering services provided by his Department in each of the last four years. [38924]

Mr. Leslie: For the financial year 2001–02, Eurest (formally known as Sutcliffe Catering) provide departmental in-house canteen services at an estimated cost of £161,000. In-house canteen costs for previous financial years are not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The expenditure figure of £161,000 does not include expenditure undertaken by the Centre for Management and Policy Studies, the Government Office for the Regions and the Central Office of Information as this information is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

European Union Directives

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the European Union directives and regulations relating to his Department that have been implemented in each of the last four years, specifying (a) the title and purpose of each, (b) the cost to public funds of each and (c) the cost to businesses of each. [39120]

The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: The Women and Equality Unit in the Cabinet Office has been responsible for implementing the Burden of Proof Directive (EC Directive 97/80/EC) . However, the relevant statutory instrument, which came into force on 12 October 2001, was laid before Parliament by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Minister for Women, who has overall responsibility for women and equality issues.

Directive 97/80/BC has effect in UK law by Council Directive 98/52/BC and is implemented in the UK through the Sex Discrimination (Indirect Discrimination And Burden of Proof) Regulations 2001. Its aim is to ensure that any measures implementing the principle of equal treatment are made more effective, thereby providing victims of sex discrimination with effective access to justice. The directive also defines the concept of indirect discrimination.

We do not hold cost information in the form requested in part (b) of the question and that information could be assembled only at disproportionate cost.

Departments are required to produce regulatory impact assessments (RIAs) for all proposals, including those originating in European legislation, likely to impose significant costs on business, charities or voluntary organisations. DTI prepared an RIA for the regulations in

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question, which showed the cost to an employer who is not discriminating should be nil. A copy of the RIA has been placed in the House Libraries.

Accommodation Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the cost was of hotel accommodation for departmental staff working away from home in each of the last four years. [41061]

Mr. Leslie: Estimated expenditure on hotel accommodation incurred by departmental staff while on official business since 1997 is as follows:

Year£000
1997–98132
1998–99122
1999–2000172
2000–01206

The Department is responsible for meeting the subsistence costs for staff who necessarily incur expenses while away from their office on official business. All hotel accommodation expenditure incurred meets the value for money criteria as set out in Chapter 9 of the Cabinet Office Management Code.

The rise in hotel accommodation expenditure is mainly a result of the Cabinet Office's widening span of responsibilities in recent years. There has been a corresponding rise in necessary travel on official business by an increased staff resource. See following table:

YearPercentage increase in staff numbers(10)
April 1997 to April 19983.4
April 1998 to April 199947.0
April 1999 to April 200012.0
April 2000 to April 20015.0

(10) Agencies staff numbers excluded


The increases in staff numbers have been in existing units whose roles have expanded and in new management units that have been introduced through new Government initiatives. In particular the increase between April 1998 and April 1999 is due to expansion of existing policy units such as the Social Exclusion Unit and Performance and Innovation Unit; and the transfer of units to the Cabinet Office such as the Women's Unit and the UK Anti-Drugs Co-ordination Unit.

EDUCATION AND SKILLS

Individual Learning Accounts

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will conduct a new tendering process for (a) advice on the shape of a new ILA scheme and (b) delivery of a new ILA scheme. [40317]

John Healey [holding answer 4 March 2002]: I confirmed to the House on 6 November 2002 that there will be a replacement for the ILA programme. We are currently using Segal Quince Wickstead to conduct a stakeholder consultation exercise seeking views on the shape and delivery mechanism of the new scheme. The

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new scheme will build on the strengths of the ILA and take into account the findings of the current consultation exercise which are due in early April. In relation to the delivery of the new scheme we are currently considering a number of options. We will announce our plans in due course.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills who her Department's advisers were on the establishment of the ILA; and what advice they gave on the need for validation on accreditation of learning providers. [37536]

John Healey: The Department appointed KPMG Consulting to assist in the design and development of the national framework of individual learning accounts. KPMG sought a range of views from stakeholders, including learning providers, to help inform the policy- making process of the Department.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many complaints about ILA money being illicitly drawn down were passed by Capita to her Department for investigation in each month since January 2000; how many of those investigations have been completed in each month; and how many of her staff worked on the investigation of complaints. [37538]

John Healey: The individual learning account national framework was launched in September 2000. Prior to the national framework launch, each Training and Enterprise Council had responsibility for the operational nature of the programme in their area. The Department does not hold complaint information during this period.

Between 4 September 2000 and 31 January 2002, the Individual Learning Account Centre received some 18,000 complaints, many stemming from issues relating to the operational policy of the programme. Of this number, some 8,000 complaints involved potential abuse of the programme and were referred by Capita to the Department for investigation. Included in the 8,000 are some 5,900 complaints received relating to money taken from an ILA account without the individual's knowledge or consent.

No monthly breakdown relating to complaints requiring investigation is available from commencement of the programme. All allegations about money being illicitly drawn down are followed up by the Department and where evidence of potential fraud is found the complaint is passed to the Department's Special Investigation Unit for further investigation and referral to the police if appropriate. One investigation has been completed. Currently, there are 37 staff involved in work relating to investigations.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many complaints involving potential fraud in the ILA scheme were received by her Department in each month since January 2000; and how many investigations of those complaints were (a) undertaken and (b) completed in each month. [37540]

John Healey: On the number of complaints received involving potential fraud in the ILA scheme, I refer to my answer given to Parliamentary Question 37538. All serious complaints are subject to follow-up and where evidence of potential fraud is found the complaint is passed to the Department's Special Investigation Unit

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(SIU). The SIU are currently dealing with 105 registered learning providers against whom 3804 complaints have been received. One further case was completed in February 2002. The table gives the information requested on investigations.

Cases logged
November 20001
July 20015
August 20019
October 20012
November 200130
December 20016
January 200231
February 200219
March 20023
Total106

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many complaints about the quality of ILA learning providers were received by her Department in each month since January 2000; and how many investigations of those complaints were (a) undertaken and (b) completed in each month. [37539]

John Healey: Information specific to the quality of learning is not collected separately. As at 31 January 2002, 517 complaints had been recorded, expressing dissatisfaction with learning providers and a further 47 relating to general learning provider issues. During the early months of the programme complaints were few and as such, no complaint categorisation system was put in place. The figures quoted are as a result of a system introduced in March 2001.

Complaints received about the quality of learning in themselves do not result in an investigation. Investigations are put in place to deal with potential abuses of the programme.


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