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Written Answers

Tuesday, 1st July 1997.

Public Record Office: Performance Targets

Lord Evans of Parkside asked Her Majesty's Government:

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    What are the key performance targets for the Public Record Office executive agency for 1997-98.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The following table sets out the key performance targets that I have set for the Public Record Office for 1997-98.

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Public Record Office Key Performance Indicators and Targets 1997-98

Unit costs of key activities:
(a) record accessions;Reduce by 37.55 1 to £1.68.
(b) providing record storage space per linear metre;Limit increase to 0.93 1 , i.e. to £67.52.
(c) making documents available to users per document; Reduce by 23.38 1 to £3.90.
(d) providing Census reader services per reader visit; Reduce by 17.68 1 to £4.33.
(e) providing document reader services per reader visit; Reduce by 16.95 1 to £37.24.
(f) providing remote user information services per contact. Reduce by 42.10 1 to £26.38.
Backlog of records reported by departments as being over 30 years old and awaiting review. Reduce by 1,200 metres.
The timely destruction of records not worthy of preservation. Departments to have in place key features of records management, as specified in the PRO Manual of Records Administration.
Provision of acceptable storage conditions i.e. meeting the preservation and environmental standards recommended by BS 5454: 1989 Recommendations for storage and exhibition of documents (BSI 1989). Increase the proportion of records stored to the standards from 87.85 1 to 88.12 1 .
Management efficiency in running support services and projects. Reduce the running costs of the Office's support services as a proportion of overall running costs from 9.8 1 to 9.01 1 .
Quality of Service
Citizen's Charter Standards. Achieve the Charter Standards Targets.
Performance in achieving specified milestones towards strategic objectives. I. Carry out the quinquennial agency review of the office and implement its agreed recommendations to the required timetable.
II. Extend the office's opening hours by 29 1 .
III. Increase revenue by 13 1 against the 1996-97 target.

Notes: Fuller details of the agency's targets are given in its business plan, which is available from the Public Record Office. (1)Per cent.

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Partnership in the Workplace

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With reference to the statement in the Labour Party manifesto that one of the underlying causes of inflation, of low growth and of unemployment is "too little sense of common purpose in the workplace or across the nation", how they intend to demonstrate that this sense has increased during their term of office.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): Partnership in the workplace is a key element in stimulating a sense of common purpose, encouraging the workforce to be more committed and making British industry more competitive. The Government are already demonstrating how they intend to develop social partnership at all levels--for example, by signing the Social Chapter and introducing basic minimum standards and by promoting a spread of ownership and the concepts of employee share ownership plans and co-operatives.

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Housing Benefit: Local Reference Rent

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the local reference rents used for the calculation of housing benefit, and whether they will make these details available to the general public.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The local reference rent is determined on a case by case basis by independent rent officers. Where the local reference rent is used to calculate housing benefit, the claimant is made aware of the figure, which is, generally, the average cost of similar sized property in the locality in which the claimant lives. The rent officers use evidence of non-housing benefit rents in making this determination. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions produces rent officer statistics quarterly. These give mean local reference rents, by registration area, in England and Wales for the various sizes of

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dwelling. This publication is available for purchase by the general public. A copy has been placed in the Library.

Social Security Benefit Disentitlement

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware of any research publications which shed light on the experience of people disentitled to means-tested social security benefits for reasons other than sufficiency of means.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: As part of the evaluation of Jobseeker's Allowance, the department has recently published findings from a major survey, carried out before the introduction of the benefit, on the circumstances, attitudes and labour market experiences of unemployed claimants (DSS Research Report No. 62, Unemployment and Jobseeking). This includes information about claimants who were disqualified or disallowed benefit. In addition, a smaller qualitative study of claimants disqualified or disallowed from unemployment-related benefits was undertaken before the introduction of JSA. We expect to publish findings shortly. A similar study will be carried out to shed light on the attitudes and decision-making of claimants and jobseekers who were sanctioned under the JSA regime. We are undertaking a programme of monitoring and evaluation of JSA in order to ensure that it contributes to our objectives to provide work incentives, to reduce poverty and welfare dependency and to strike a new balance between rights and responsibilities.

Youth Training Allowances: Ministerial Responsibility

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which Ministers are accountable for decisions on whether to update the youth training allowance and the youth training bridging allowance.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): I am responsible for the youth training bridging allowance overall, and for the youth training allowance in England. Responsibility for the youth training allowance in Scotland and Wales lies with the respective Secretaries of State.

Police Information Technology Organisation

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to implement Part IV of the Police Act 1997.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): We intend to bring Part IV of the Police Act 1997, which

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establishes the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO) as an executive Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB), into force in two stages. In the autumn we will appoint the Board of PITO and confer on it the necessary powers to bring to fruition the preparations required to establish the NDPB. The board will then take on its statutory functions in respect of police information technology and procurement with effect for 1 April 1998. PITO's new status will bring the police service into the heart of decision making and lead to the improved delivery of cost-effective and timely information technology systems. PITO was set up, in April 1996, on an interim basis as part of the Home Office. We are today publishing the organisation's first annual report, copies of which are available in the Library.

Charity Commission Inquiries: Publication of Reports

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What criteria the Charity Commission use in deciding whether to prepare formal reports of particular inquiries; how many formal reports have been prepared for each of the years 1987-1997; how many of these formal reports have been published; and where they are available for inspection.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Charity Commission has the discretion to report the results of an inquiry as it sees fit. It reports annually inquiries of general interest in the Annual Report it submits to the Secretary of State. In the years 1987-1997, 34 cases were reported in this way. In addition, two inquiry reports have been published separately. In some cases summaries of findings of inquiries are also released to the press. No record has been kept of the number of times this has been done since 1987. The presumption on which the commission proceeds is that the outcome of inquiries is of concern to the trustees of the charity, any complainants and other people directly interested. The findings are given wider publicity where issues of public interest arise or where previous publicity makes it appropriate.

Crime Projections

The Earl of Longford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What increase they estimate in the number of recorded crimes between 1997 and 2005.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: No such projections have been made and there are no plans to do so. This is because the relationships between actual crime, its reporting to and subsequent recording by the police have been found not to be consistent over time, while levels and patterns of crime appear to be influenced by a number of demographic and economic factors which are not easy to predict in the medium to longer term.

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