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Universal Primary Education

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what response she has made to Oxfam's campaign for universal primary education; and if she will make a statement. [114190]

Clare Short: I welcome the focus that Oxfam--and The Guardian "Read the World" campaign--have placed on raising awareness of the plight of the 125 million children who are not in school. Educational opportunity for all, especially at the primary level, is both a fundamental human right and a precondition for progress in development and the reduction of poverty. Our White Paper on International Development, published in 1997, committed us to seek to mobilise the international community to meet the international development targets which include universal primary education by 2015 and gender equity in primary and secondary education by 2005. In our bilateral programmes substantial resources are allocated to education for the achievement of these targets.

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Four things need to be done if these targets are to be met. First, we need a real and sustained commitment by the Governments of developing countries to securing universal primary education. Secondly, we need to address the issue of resourcing for education. There is a clear need to increase the level of resources that developing country Governments commit to primary and basic education. And development agencies should allocate significant additional resources where Governments have developed well-focused education strategies. Thirdly, we need to shift from a projects-based approach to a sector-wide approach to basic and primary education, and we need to pull together the work of all the different development donors around a focused, agreed strategy drawn up by the Government of the country concerned.

The fourth thing we need to do is link education policy with the wider development strategy of the country, including policies on health, sanitation, livelihoods and rural transport.

This is the agenda that I will be taking to the World Education Forum in Dakar next month, which I will attend on behalf of the British Government. The Dakar meeting provides an important opportunity for Governments, development agencies and non- governmental organisations--from North and South--to recommit themselves to Education for All (including the achievement of universal primary education by 2015, and gender equality in primary and secondary education by 2005).


McKenzie Friends

30. Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Solicitor-General what recent discussions he has had regarding McKenzie Friends with other Government Departments. [113402]

The Solicitor-General: As hon. Members may know, a McKenzie Friend is someone who attends a court hearing with a litigant in person. The friend can assist that litigant in person in conducting their case but is not formally representing them and is not entitled to address the court on their behalf. The use of McKenzie Friends is part of the operation of the Court Service and therefore primarily the concern of the Lord Chancellor's Department. I personally have not had any recent discussions with other Government Departments on this subject.

Justice System (Reform)

Mr. Geraint Davies: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement on the progress of joint working by the CPS, police and courts to reduce the average time taken between suspects being charged to being convicted or found not guilty. [113407]

The Solicitor-General: The CPS is continuing to work closely with the police and courts to improve performance. Measures include: advance disclosure in every early hearing case; a reduction in the number of adjournments after first hearings; more lawyer time spent on preparing for trials through the deployment of designated caseworkers to deal with straightforward guilty

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pleas; a reduction in duplication and delay by co-locating CPS lawyers in police criminal justice file preparation units.

Government Legal Service

Mr. Marshall-Andrews: To ask the Solicitor-General what proportion of lawyers in the Government Legal Service are women. [113400]

The Solicitor-General: The proportion of women lawyers in the Government Legal Service is around 49 per cent.


Naval Recruiting and Training Agency

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list (a) those targets of the Naval Recruiting and Training agency for 1998-99 which (i) were and (ii) were not achieved, giving the factors affecting the outcome in each case and (b) action taken by the agency to improve target achievement performance in 1999-2000; and if he will make a statement. [111760]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 6 March 2000]: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Naval Recruiting and Training Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to the right hon. and learned Member.

Letter from John Chadwick to Mr. Menzies Campbell, dated 1 March 2000:

    I am pleased to report that the NRTA achieved 6 of the 8 Key Targets set against it in 1998-99. Details of the outcomes, the principal factors affecting them, and measures taken to improve performance further in the current financial year, are at Annex A.

    FY98-99 NRTA Key Targets

    Targets Achieved

    KT2--To obtain a Customer Satisfaction Rating of a least 90%.

    94% of feedback forms received from employers of ex-NRTA trainees indicated that the training received had satisfactorily fitted the trainee for his or her subsequent employment.

    The principal factor behind this achievement is the fact that the RN Systems Approach to Training produces training courses which focus accurately on the skills and knowledge required by the trainee to be effective in his or her operational role.

    The target was raised to 95% for 99-00. At Min(AF)'s office's request, it is now described as "Fitness for Purpose" rather than "Customer Satisfaction".

    KT3--To maintain success rates of 95% in Career Training and 97% in examined Pre-joining Training.

    Achieved with success rates of 97% and 99% respectively.

    The principal factors are the generally strong motivation of the trainees to succeed in their RN careers, and the fact that, wherever appropriate, training is delivered by uniformed staff who have themselves carried out, at sea, the tasks towards which the training is directed.

    To seek further improvement in these success rates would not be cost-effective as some residual failure due to trainee attitude or aptitude is inevitable. Nonetheless, the target remains key as a drop in the success rate is likely to be the first indicator of any loss in training quality.

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    KT5--To retain tasked capacity while operating NRTA within its 1998-99 cash allocation of £233M, a reduction of £7M (3%) from 1997-98 figures.

    Assessment of achievement against this target is complicated by in-year adjustments to the programme and the cash allocation and in-year requirements for additional savings. After adjustment for these factors, the final outturn was 0.6% over the final allocation of £238M, within the Department's ± 1% tolerance.

    It remains the Agency's intention to replace this target with a more focused measurement of efficiency in due course.

    KT6--To break even over the year in respect of the partnering arrangement with Flagship Training Ltd.

    The final figure showed a net benefit of £2.3M.

    The break-even target anticipated significant startup costs and contingencies linked with the transfer of the first tranche of Service Provision activities, which were expected to cancel out the gains from Income Generation. In the event, these costs did not arise and the target was achieved quite easily.

    In the light of the increasing momentum of this Public Private Partnering arrangement, a very challenging target of £8.1M net benefit was set for 99-00.

    KT7--To review the NRTA's Corporate Information Systems Strategy and produce a supporting Action Plan for its implementation, by 31 March 1999.

    The March Agency Management Board meeting endorsed the conclusions, recommendations and action plan produced by the review of the Corporate Information Systems Strategy. The review aligned the Information Systems strategy to the business needs of the Agency, encompassing the changes brought about by the transfer of the management of Administration Information Systems to Flagship and aligning it with the Information Systems strategies of the wider naval and MOD community.

    No follow-on target was set for 99-00.

    KT8--To include satisfactory dummy auditable accounts in the Agency Annual Report for Financial Year 97-98, in preparation for meeting the Treasury Accounts Direction by including fully audited accounts for FY 98-99 in the following year's Report.

    Achieved on publication of the Report.

    The Treasury Accounts Direction was not received in respect of FY 98-99. Min(AF)'s Office directed that this target should not be rolled forward for 99-00.

    98-99 Targets not Achieved

    KT1--To deliver personnel to the trained strength (or to other training organisations) within 10% variance from the tasked requirement.

    The final variance figure was -12%.

    Although this target was narrowly missed performance against it was again improved compared with outcomes of -16% in 97-98, and -26% in 96-97.

    The principal factors contributing to the outcome were the high requirement against which the variance is calculated, which has increased fourfold since 1994, a difficult recruiting climate, and the wastage of personnel from training pipelines which are running at full capacity.

    In 99-00, recruiting performance has improved substantially, including the particularly difficult area of Engineer Officers where a number of initiatives are showing signs of success. However, the length of some of the training pipelines means that this improvement will not be fully reflected in the 99-00 delivery figures.

    Wastage remains a difficult area. Failures during training are being reduced by backclassing and remedial training with many trainees achieving the required standards. However, although allowed for when setting the recruiting targets, other forms of wastage (medical, administrative and voluntary) are unpredictable.

    The target has been tightened to 5% for 99-00.

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    KT4--To increase the strength of the RNR to at least 3100.

    The strength of the RNR on 31 March 1999 was 2,962, up from 2,862 on 31 March 1998.

    The principal factor in this shortfall was a downturn in recruiting following the good results in the previous year, which probably resulted in an over-optimistic target. In 98-99 an initiative to improve RNR recruiting was agreed whereby new satellite training units would be set up in areas previously without an RNR presence. To date, 2 are in operation (Dundee and Oxford) and further sites are being investigated.

    The target for 99-00 has been redefined to measure the more critical indicator of the variance of the RNR Trained Strength from the Total Requirement.

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