Examination of Witnesses(Questions 280-299)|
MP, MR ED
THURSDAY 18 JULY 2002
280. There is no target?
(Mr Brown) The Home Office has increased the number
of people who are removed.
281. I think you will find there is no target.
Chancellor, can I just pick up one other thing you said. You said
earlier on that you were not running a command and control economy
and that you were not trying to devolve. Are you aware that your
Government is running something called a National School Fruit
(Mr Brown) Yes, I am. Can I say as far as the asylum
target is concerned, the Home Office, it is on page 14 of the
Public Service Agreement.
282. Is it still 30,000 a year?
(Mr Brown) It is there. No.
283. Is it still 30,000?
(Mr Brown) Sorry. Actually the target is set out in
paragraph seven. If you would like me to read it to you I will
but it is quite detailed.
284. What is the number?
(Mr Brown) What it says is to focus the asylum system
on those genuinely fleeing from persecution, including by a fast
turnaround of unfounded cases, ensuring by 2004 that 75 per cent
of substantive asylum applications are decided within two months
and that a proportion including final appeal are decided within
six months and enforcing the immigration laws more effectively
by removing a greater proportion of failed asylum seekers. That
is to deal with both those people who are to have their appeal,
those who have had their appeal and those who are to be removed.
On the Children's Food Scheme
285. Can I just come back on that first point.
You have just confirmed the target of 30,000 has been removed.
(Mr Brown) My point to you is that 75 per cent of
substantive asylum applications have to be decided within two
months, including final appeal, and that a proportion are decided
within six months. Then obviously those who do not pass that are
to be removed. That is the target that has been set by the Home
286. This is a new target. On the National School
Fruit Scheme, you said you were not running a command and control
economy but you have set up a scheme to deliver a piece of school
fruit to every child under eight to every school in this country.
Why should Whitehall be doing that?
(Mr Brown) I know about the Glasgow scheme and that
was not decided by us in the Treasury, and certainly was not decided
by the Department of Health. As I understand it, it was decided
in Glasgow by the local council but obviously if you feel there
is another way that has been chosen to run it, but my experience
is the Glasgow scheme is a local authority scheme. It was a Private-Public
Partnership. It was between Glasgow and a number of the food chain
stores. If you like I shall write you a further letter on these
matters. I do not think there is any getting away from the fact
that was a local scheme. Now, should it go national, the experience
and the success may suggest it should and I believe that the Department
of Health wants to do this.
287. You may want to write to us on that, Chancellor.
(Mr Brown) I am happy to. 
288. The fact is it is a national scheme piloted
(Mr Brown) Yes. These, of course, as you would be
the first to agree, are matters not for the Treasury because we
have not decided on the fruit scheme. It may be as part of the
Department of Health's work in relation to health it wishes to
put some of its resources into preventative health, and that would
be a matter for the Department of Health. There has been no centrally
driven decision, certainly, from the Treasury on this. As I say,
my own experience of this is in Scotland where I may say it has
been extremely successful in both nutrition and in encouraging
attention by kids in the school classes. You may wish to see the
evidence of that.
289. You are taking credit for the pilot if
it works but you are not taking responsibility if it does not.
(Mr Brown) I am not taking credit for the pilot because
I was not involved in setting the pilot, I just know of its existence.
It was a local initiative. It was very successful. In fact it
was, as I say, a Public-Private Partnership. I would have thought
the whole Committee would want to welcome these initiatives when
they are successful like that.
290. Chancellor, on these fiddled PSA targets,
there were 43 per cent of your 1998 PSA targets not met by June
2002. Clearly departments are missing the PSA targets, we understand
that. What I would like to try and understand is when you were
making funding allocations in this Spending Review, did you punish
departments who failed to meet their PSAs when you were deciding
their funding allocation because otherwise your system of controls
is not worth the paper it is printed on, is it?
(Mr Brown) No, we did decide our priorities on the
basis of what we thought would be successful in the next round.
291. The question wasto repeat itdepartments
which have missed their PSA targets in the last two years, were
they adversely affected when it came to their funding allocation
in this Spending Review for missing those PSA targets? Were they
not or were they?
(Mr Brown) Absolutely. When we decide as to whether
resources go to particular departments in particular areas we
bear in mind both the record of success and our estimate of what
value for money would be achieved. Again these are matters for
the departments themselves but it is quite clear in education
that what has been achieved in primary schools can also be achieved
in secondary schools and therefore more resources going into secondary
schools was a good policy which I believe most of us would want
292. You are talking about rewarding success
of the allocation. I am talking about punishing failure. Professor
Colin Talbot said there was no evidence of any department being
adversely affected in their allocations as a result of missing
PSA targets. Can you give me an example of a department that has
failed against PSAs being adversely affected when you were dishing
out the money this time? Can you give me an example of a department?
(Mr Brown) It is very difficult to give an answer
to a question when you speak over me the minute I start to answer
293. Give me the name of a department.
(Mr Brown) What I said to you was that the priorities
for this Spending Review were decided on the basis of what we
thought had been successful in the past and what would give us
value for money in the future. That is the way in which I would
think you would want to make decisions. Equally, we have decided
in this review on a process of reform within the public services,
and departments to get their money have signed up and jointly
agreed with the Treasury a process of reform. I listed many of
the reforms on Monday when I announced the Spending Review, including
how we would deal with failing schools and how we would deal with
failing colleges and failing institutions and services, what we
would do to reward institutions which were successful and how
we would improve the system of local inspection.
294. You have talked about reward, I am talking
about punishing failure when it came to the funding allocation.
Now in the time since the last CSR in deciding what you are going
to allocate in this Spending Review, can you name a single department
that has had its funding allocation adversely affected because
it has missed its PSA targets? Give me the name of a department
and I will be a happy man.
(Mr Brown) That is not the point I am making to you.
Mr Ruffley: No. It is my point. What
is the answer?
Chairman: Give the Chancellor an opportunity
(Mr Brown) If you take schools, there are a large
number of schools which are regarded as failing schools which
during the course of the last few years have been taken over or
have been closed down or have been reopened as city academies.
Mr Ruffley: This is pathetic.
(Mr Brown) Where an education institution has been
failing action has been taken. Equally, in this new spending round
we are going to be far tougher where there are failing institutions.
Where there are institutions where it is clear that reforms are
not being made by the head teacher in charge, there will be, as
Estelle Morris said in the House of Commons yesterday, the provision
for these schools to be taken over by neighbouring schools, for
there to be mergers as well as for the creation of city academies.
It is not true that we have failed to deal with failing institutions
in these areas where they have existed but the process will continue
because the demands and the standards that are being set by the
Education Department are higher than they were in the last round
and equally the measures they are taking to both penalise failure
and to reward success are stronger. I must point out to you that
we must not penalise the children because a school is failing.
It is our duty, also, to provide education for everyone and the
idea that we should close the school and leave no provision whatsoever
for the children would be totally anathema to the whole of the
Mr Ruffley: That had nothing to do with
the question I asked. I think everyone here knows the question
I was asking you and you have declined to answer it properly.
295. Can I follow up on this issue. You did
say earlier in your introductory comments that as far as the PSAs
were concerned transparency is crucial to this whole process.
In your view, what proportion of the PSAs that you set in 1998
have now been met across government?
(Mr Brown) The PSAs we set in 1998 were for the years
to 2002 and some of them, for example the education ones, will
depend on the 2000 school results
296. What proportion have been met across government?
(Mr Brown) What is going to happen, just so that you
are absolutely clear about this as well, is there will be departmental
reports by the departments concerned. They will tell you how they
have performed in relation to the targets that go right through
to 2002. When these report we will bring them all together and
obviously we will be reporting to the Committee.
297. Do you not think, in all seriousness, that
it is very feeble that back in 1998 you told us that you were
giving departments a load of money, you expected in return for
that that they deliver on their targets and you would be closely
monitoring this and pounding them if they did not deliver, and
here we are four years later and we have not got, it seems, an
idea of what proportion of these targets across government have
(Mr Brown) What is said is that 87 per cent of these
have been met but these are recorded in the departmental reports
and what will happen is these departmental reports will bring
us up to date for the year ending 2002, they will publish their
reports, and the debate can continue from there. I think the Committee
is under some misapprehension. There was a Comprehensive Spending
Review of 1998 and we set propositions until 2002. Then there
was a Spending Review in 2000. We made some changes there and
we set our targets through to 2004. It is for the individual departments
298. Who has measured the 87 per cent because
it is very different not only to the figures you have heard from
Mr Ruffley but the figures we have received from Parliamentary
Answers from departments which show that more like a third to
40 per cent have been missed.
(Mr Brown) You are misunderstanding the point. Some
targets are set to 2004, some are set to 2006, and some are set
299. Who has measured that 87 per cent of the
targets have been met? Is that the Treasury's estimate?
(Mr Brown) What is going to happen is that the departmental
reports will be published and then a final reckoning can be made.
6 Ev. 47. Back