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Departmental Education and Training

Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to ensure the effectiveness of education and training for individuals in his Department. [93152]

Mr. George Robertson: We made clear in the Strategic Defence Review the importance that we attach to education and training for all those who work in the Ministry of Defence, in line with our policy for people and the Government's commitment to lifelong learning and education.

Education and training must be tailored to meet operational and organisation needs and delivered to the right people, at the right time and in the most cost-effective manner.

With this in mind, I am ordering a wide-ranging, fundamental study of education and individual training in my Department. It will commence in September 1999 and is likely to take 18 months to complete. The aim will be to consider how education and training can most

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effectively meet the Department's requirements for timeliness, quality, value for money, doctrine and operational effectiveness, until at least the year 2010.

This study will involve both the Armed Forces and civilians in the Department. It will seek opportunities for further joint Service education and training and greater synergy between education and training provided for Service and civilian personnel. It will also take into account best commercial practice.

The first phase will be a scoping study lasting approximately 6 months. It will be headed by Mr. David Fisher. This will lead into the main study which will last for approximately 12 months and be headed by Rear Admiral Jonathan Band in the rank of Vice Admiral.

I am placing a copy of the terms of reference for the scoping study in the Library of the House.


Mr. Alan Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the average time for a substantive reply to be sent to hon. Members' correspondence; what proportion takes more than (a) four weeks, (b) six weeks and (c) eight weeks; and what is his estimate of the number of letters received in a year from hon. Members. [92449]

Mr. Spellar: I refer my right hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office to my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Gillian Merron) on 11 June 1999, Official Report, columns 403-06, which sets out performance against departmental targets for answering correspondence from right hon. and hon. Members, in the 1998 calendar year. More detailed information about the percentage of correspondence replied to within the time scales specified could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Search and Rescue

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the cost in each of the last five years of his Department's search and rescue capability in the UK. [80713]

Mr. Doug Henderson [pursuant to his reply, 16 April 1999, c. 371]: I regret to inform the hon. Member that the answer I gave was incorrect. The net cost of Search and Rescue (SAR) to my Department in the last five years is as follows:

Year£ million

Figures are not readily available for financial year 1994-95, although they are not expected to differ substantially from 1995-96 (appropriately reduced to take account of inflation). The figures include the cost of spares, personnel, fuel and other support costs for all primary SAR assets, that is, RAF SAR helicopters, the RAF Mountain Rescue Service and the Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Centre. However, figures for assets that perform SAR as part of their wider duties, such as RN helicopters and the RAF Nimrod, cannot be readily identified and are not included.

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Market Research

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list the title and purpose of each item of market and opinion research commissioned by or through his Department, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies since May 1997 stating in each case whether or not the results were published. [89690]

Mr. Chris Smith [holding answer 5 July 1999]: The Government are committed to consulting and involving the public to help inform both policy formulation and the delivery of better quality public services. Responsive public services are an important part of the Modernising Government initiative.

My Department, Agency and sponsored bodies conduct/commission market or opinion research only when it is justified by the needs of the policy or programme and do so in the most economical, efficient and effective way to achieve the purpose.

Details of the individual pieces of market or opinion research have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

BBC Internet Service

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations he has received from the BBC regarding the provision of a free BBC internet access service; and if he will make a statement. [91432]

Mr. Chris Smith [holding answer 15 July 1999]: I have received no representations from the BBC on the provision of a BBC internet access service. The BBC has, however, explained that BBC Worldwide has reached agreement with Scottish Power Telecommunications for the supply of services, including internet connectivity, other internet based services, and a telephone support service. The service supplied by Scottish Power Telecommunications will be provided to the public by BBC Worldwide under its own brands. I have been assured that this is a wholly commercial arrangement with no licence fee funding and that the BBC's commercial policy and fair trading guidelines will apply in full.

Public Bodies

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list the non-departmental public bodies in existence on 1 May 1997 that (a) have been disbanded, indicating when they were disbanded, (b) will be disbanded in the next 12 months, (c) have had their functions transferred to (i) another non-departmental public body and (ii) a democratically elected body, (d) have been renamed but continue to perform a similar role and (e) have been unchanged; if he will indicate in (c)(ii) the relevant successor body; what new non-departmental public bodies

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have been established since 1 May 1997; and how many non-departmental public bodies his Department currently is responsible for. [90672]

Mr. Chris Smith [holding answer 19 July 1999]: The Government are committed to keeping the number of NDPBs to a minimum and to ensuring that those which remain are open, accountable and effective. Many of the new NDPBs established since 1 May 1997 are essential in helping the Government deliver their Manifesto commitments.

As a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Department announced a streamlining of the delivery mechanisms which will result in the restructuring of certain bodies my Department sponsors including in the areas of film, architecture and museums, libraries and archives. This restructuring is currently taking place, although some aspects are subject to legislation.

The answer is as follows:

    (b) Library and Information Commission

    Museums and Galleries Commission

    Royal Fine Art Commission

    Advisory Council on Libraries (subject to legislation)

    (c)(i) Royal Commission on Historical Monuments in England merged administratively with English Heritage with effect from 1 April 1999;

The Crafts Council ceased to be directly sponsored by my Department with effect from 1 April 1999.

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council will be established no later than 1 April 2000 replacing the Museums and Galleries Commission and the Library and Information Commission.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment will be established during 1999-2000 taking on the functions of the Royal Fine Art Commission.

The Film Council will be established during 1999-2000 taking on some of the functions of the British Film Institute. The British Film Institute will cease to be directly sponsored by my Department with effect from 1 April 2000.

Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites to be transferred to English Heritage (subject to legislation).

    New Millennium Experience Company (formerly Millennium Central Ltd.) 2

    English Tourism Council (formerly the English Tourist Board)

    (c) Details of all other NDPBs in existence on 1 May 1997 sponsored by this department are listed in "Public Bodies 1998".

The following NDPBs have been established since 1 May 1997:

    (ii) New Opportunities Fund

    (iii) Football Taskforce (to be disbanded during 1999)

    (iv) Historic Royal Palaces (formerly the Historic Royal Palaces Agency)

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My Department is responsible for 53 public bodies which includes executive and advisory NDPBs and public corporations.

    1 The Treasure Trove Reviewing Committee was reconstituted as the Treasure Valuation Committee in September as a result of the Treasure Act 1996.

    2 Millennium Central Ltd. was reconstituted as the New Millennium Experience Company following the review of the Millennium Dome Project by the Government during May and June 1997.

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