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DVLA, Vehicle Inspectorate and Vehicle Certification Agency: Targets

Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: The key targets below have been set for the agencies. They are included in the agencies' business plans, which include management objectives, performance indicators and key tasks, where appropriate to the agencies' business. Copies of the business plans will be placed in the Library in due course.

The key targets for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency are to:


The key targets for the Vehicle Inspectorate are to:


    meet the requirements on levels and types of activity laid down in the memorandum of agreement on each road enforcement transport scheme;


    meet the quality and general effectiveness levels as specified in the business plan measures;


    improve customer service by extending the range of structured interviews and surveys, acting on the results and devising satisfaction indices;


    achieve an efficiency target (on the basis of an aggregated cost efficiency index) of 0 per cent;


    break even while achieving an average 6 per cent. rate of return on capital, over the period 1 April 1998 to 31 March 2003;


    improve staff awareness and satisfaction as measured through the annual survey;


    secure the long-term development of the organisation, in the context of the DVO Review, through the implementation of an information

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    systems strategy and progression of the MOT computerisation project.

The key targets for the Vehicle Certification Agency are to:


    achieve break-even or better on the commercial accounts whilst achieving at least a 6 per cent. rate of return on capital employed;


    ensure that at least 98 per cent. of approval certificates are issued error free;


    ensure that at least 98 per cent. of invoices are issued error free;


    audit at least 50 per cent. of VCA's approved type-approval procedures and 100 per cent. of the management system certification procedures, with all major non-compliances found having corrective action plans agreed within 30 working days at the most, with those plans being completed within the specified time.

Water Companies' Obligations

Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made towards the setting of price limits for water companies from 1 April 2000.[HL1729]

Baroness Hayman: The Director General of Water Services sent an open letter and accompanying paper Setting the Quality Framework to my right honourable friends the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions and the Secretary of State for Wales on 30 April, seeking guidance on the quality obligations to be placed on water companies in the period 2000 to 2005. Copies of the Director General's letter and accompanying paper have been placed in the Library of the House.

We expect also to receive advice on this issue from the Environment Agency in mid-May, which we shall take into account in formulating the guidance to the Director General. That advice will, similarly, be placed in the Library of the House.

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) will issue a consultation letter on 1 May, seeking the views of all those who have an interest in or involvement with the water industry on the issues raised in the Director General's letter and accompanying paper, and inviting the submission of reasoned arguments over the appropriate level of obligations to place on water companies, to be funded from customers' bills. We are keen to strike the right balance between investment to deliver desirable environmental and quality improvement and the level of water bills.

At this stage in the periodic review, costings have not been finalised. Further work will be needed to refine this information. There also remain uncertainties in relation both to the precise nature of some of the EU obligations that water companies will have to meet, as well as to the costings of possible obligations. Against that background, however, we shall seek to give guidance in

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the summer which is as clear as possible when responding to the Director General. We should welcome views on the issues raised in the Director General's letter and paper, which we shall take into account in providing guidance.

A copy of the DETR's consultation letter, which will seek comments by Friday 12 June, will be placed in the Library of the House.

NHS Pensions Agency: Key Targets

Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the key targets for 1998-99 for the NHS Pensions Agency.[HL1730]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): We have agreed the agency's key tasks and targets for 1998-99, and have placed copies in the Library.

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Public Analyst Services: Review

Baroness Rendell of Babergh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is progress on the review of Public Analyst services in England and Wales.[HL1615]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): The Government undertook to initiate a review in response to a recommendation in Professor James's report on the Food Standards Agency. My honourable friend the Minister of State (Mr. Rooker) announced on 23 April 1998 the terms of reference of the review, which will be undertaken by an independent review team under the chairmanship of Mr. Alan Turner OBE. Interested parties are invited to submit written evidence to the review team. We hope the review will be completed before the end of the year.

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