Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100
TUESDAY 7 MARCH 2000
100. I hope this is part of the dialogue.
(Mrs Dunn) As my colleagues said, departments have
already sent in examples of what their Estimates would look like
to their select committee with the hope of stimulating a response
from the committee as to whether that was the right way to put
the information and whether they wanted more or less. We will
wait for you to come to us. The first stage was departments going
to their select committees.
101. This is your first stage.
(Mrs Dunn) This is about the second stage.
102. Perhaps we need to talk to our colleagues
on the Select Committee for Social Security because they have
only asked for four objectives to be analysed on a budget of £91.8
(Mrs Dunn) This is the second round of departments
showing the formats of their Estimates to their select committee.
(Mr Rayner) Can I try to explain the background to
this particular annex? What we tried to do on this occasion, as
on a previous occasion, in response to a request from the Committee,
was to show not just the format of the Estimates, nor just the
format of the accounts, but how for a real department this all
fits together. In each of these cases we have shown the format
of the Main Estimate, reflecting broadly what happened in the
cash world in the same year, and the format of the Supplementary
Estimates, again reflecting the changes that took place during
the course of the year, and then the basic format of the out-turn
statements, again consistent with the same run of figures. In
a sense, what we were trying to achieve was not to give a fully
comprehensive view of every part of every bit of those documents,
but to show how the various elements fit together. The other important
point to bear in mind is that, in terms of looking at out-turn,
Schedule 5 is not the only analysis. There are other analyses
in the supporting notes to the accounts, which reflect back to
the voted element of departmental expenditure, which are broken
down in considerable degree by subheadings, by spending sectors
and so on.
103. The whole point of Schedule 5 is to look
at objectives and an outcome. What you are talking about now is
items, the whole point is to approach this information from a
different perspective. If you are telling us that your information
is going to be based on an input basis that is not really what
we thought we were going to get from this. What we wanted, I thought,
from Parliament in Schedule 5 was a look at the objectives, the
targets, the outcomes, the outputs and to be able to see the money
that is spent on those. We do not want a reference to notes and
to input based information, what we want is detailed output information
so we can analyse it from that perspective.
(Mr Rayner) That is part of the overall picture. As
has been noted, one format may not fit every department. It may
be that in certain cases further analysis is helpful.
104. When you do this for the Treasury, which
is a department we will be looking atfrom a sub-committee
investigation it is our dutyI will be interested to know
how you are going to relate the thirty-two performance targets
in the Public Service Agreement for the Treasury to the expenditure
of the Treasury, partly because in the analysis I have done of
the Treasury performance targets I think twenty-six of the thirty-two
are meaningless; two have already been achieved; six are about
achieving trends, which are already in existence; five are seemingly
vague, where the Treasury judges whether it has met those targets
themselves; and five have no relationship to the objective itself.
Just to give an example, I am very interested as to how this schedule
is going to come about from the Public Service Agreements. You
have a target which is providing income guarantee of at least
£190 a week for working families by October 1999. That is
having a target to have a policy, it is not a target to deliver
anything. What I am trying to do is to look at what you published,
your Public Service Agreement, what you were trying to do and
see how you are going to account for that in Schedule 5?
(Mr Sharples) The point about Schedule 5 is it was
always intended as a breakdown of the resources used against objectives.
It was never intended to give a breakdown of resources against
a specific target. Its ambitions have always been limited. The
second point is that the Schedule 5 information has to be set
in the context of the wider information provided in the departmental
reports, which for each department provides a detailed functional
breakdown of where money is going on particular lines of activity,
and that information will continue to be available. The third
point is that in relation to the Treasury's PSA we do have quite
a lot of targets, more than most other departments. But I would
challenge the suggestion that most of them are meaningless, I
think each one does reflect an important part of the Treasury's
activity. The Treasury will be reviewing its targets, along with
other departments, in the course of this Spending Review. I think
it is likely that we will have a shorter list at the end of the
Review than we have at the moment.
(Mr Likierman) Can I answer you on a specific question
on how Schedule 5 will look? Schedule 5 will relate to the objectives,
which are a smaller number, say ten, and not therefore all PSA
105. They are a chosen list of objectives.
(Mr Likierman) They are a list of objectives which
are in the departmental report as far as I recall. What you will
then have is money numbers against those objectives.
106. Presumably there will be many objectives
where the money is actually spent. So, you may have one to maintain
high employment and to raise the rate of growth, that is not going
to relate to the expenditure, so we are not going to see that
on Schedule 5. What sort of objectives are we going to see in
(Mr Likierman) These are the objectives for the Treasury
as a whole and are already in the departmental report. There are
eleven in the departmental report. That is the analysis that you
see in Schedule 5, it will not be each PSA target.
107. You are drawing a distinction between PSA
objectives and the objectives in the departmental report?
(Mr Sharples) Perhaps I can clarify that. Each department
has a hierarchy. It starts with an aim at the top, which is a
broadbrush statement of what the department is trying to achieve.
Below that is a series of objectives, usually between half a dozen
and ten. And then against each objective it has a series of specific
targets which are intended to be a measurable statement of what
the department is seeking to achieve in pursuit of that objective.
It is a target we will be reporting on.
108. Just remind me, when will the Public Service
Agreements be published?
(Mr Sharples) The out-turn against those targets will
be published in departmental reports in April.
Chairman: We will be turning to that,
incidentally, when we can ask the kind of questions that Ed Davey
wants to. Thank you very much, I am very grateful.