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Public Service Agreements

Mr. Laws: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his Department's responsibilities are in relation to (a) setting and monitoring the public service agreements of Government Departments and (b) holding each Department to account; and if he will make a statement. [1630]

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his Department's responsibilities in respect of the monitoring of the performance of Departments against targets set out in public service agreements. [1937]

The Deputy Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 3 July 2001, Official Report, column 95W.

Performance and Innovation Unit

Llew Smith: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list those seconded to the Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit to work on the current study of renewable energy, indicating in each case their qualifications. [1768]

Mr. Leslie: There are seven secondees and two external advisers working in the Performance and Innovation Unit on the current study of resource productivity and renewable energy.

The Performance and Innovation Unit undertakes a wide search to select the most suitably qualified secondees for its projects and while it is current government practice not to disclose information on individual qualifications, details of those seconded to this particular project are on the Performance and Innovation Unit website.

They are:

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Social Exclusion Unit

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his assessment is of the impact to date of the Social Exclusion Unit; and if he will make a statement. [2131]

The Deputy Prime Minister: The Social Exclusion Unit was set up by the Prime Minister to provide solutions to specific social exclusion problems. It has completed reports on reducing truancy and school exclusions, cutting teenage pregnancy rates, reducing numbers of rough sleepers and of 16 to 18-year-olds not in training, work or education, as well as co-ordinating the work of 18 Policy Action Teams and developing the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal.

The initial review of the unit in 1999 found the quality of its reports to be exceptional and its working practices to be a strength. There is now concrete evidence that the implementation of the unit's policies is making a significant impact on the ground.

Examples include falling rates of permanent exclusion from school (down by nearly a third in 1999–2000 compared with 1996–97) and reduced numbers sleeping rough (down by more than a third since 1998). 1999 teenage pregnancy rates for under-16s and under-18s dropped on the previous year (down 7 per cent. and 4 per cent. respectively). Fewer teenage parents were out of training, learning or work last year compared with the previous four. And the 10 to 20 year strategy for England's poorest neighbourhoods is now being implemented by the new Neighbourhood Renewal Unit.

The unit is currently working on four projects—on reducing rates of reoffending among ex-prisoners, on young runaways, on improving the educational attainment of children in care, and on transport and social exclusion.

Regional Co-ordination Unit

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the purpose of the Regional Co-ordination Unit. [1433]

The Deputy Prime Minister: The Regional Co-ordination Unit's Action Plan published in October 2000 identified four key areas where the Government needed to take a new approach to developing and implementing regional policy: better co-ordination of area-based initiatives; involvement of Government offices more directly in policy-making; making the Government

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offices the key representatives of Government in the regions; and establishing the Regional Co-ordination Unit as the unified head office for the Government offices.

The Regional Co-ordination Unit is taking forward action in these four areas in liaison with the Government offices and Government Departments.


Legal Services Ombudsman

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when she will publish the annual report of the Legal Services Ombudsman for 2000–01. [3805]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Legal Services Ombudsman has today published her 10th annual report and copies have been placed in the Libraries of the Houses.

1911 Decennial Census

Mr. John Taylor: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many hon. Members have made representations to the Lord Chancellor this year to use his powers to open the 1911 Decennial Census records in 2002; and what the Lord Chancellor's response has been. [2826]

Ms Rosie Winterton: This year, the Lord Chancellor has received no letters from hon. Members concerning the 1911 Decennial Census records.


Private Finance Initiative

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 4 July 2001, Official Report, column 169W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws), on the private finance initiative, if he will place a copy of the National Audit Office study concerning the private finance initiative in the Library. [3419]

Mr. Andrew Smith: I am sorry that my written answer of 4 July to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) contained an inadvertent error. I mistakenly referred to a NAO report on PFI and value for money, when the information concerned was in fact set out in references to NAO value-for-money studies in the Arthur Andersen report that looked at value for money drivers in the private finance initiative. This report was published in January 2000.

The Arthur Andersen report referred to all 11 reports on specific UK PFI projects that the NAO had produced by the end of 1999. Seven of these NAO reports judged the projects value for money against a public sector comparator (PSC). Three of the 11 projects did not have a PSC: in two cases, they pre-dated the relevant Treasury guidance on the preparation of PSCs; in the third case, the inception of the project pre-dated the Treasury guidance, and no formal PSC was prepared but an internal value for money appraisal was undertaken. One report was not a NAO value-for-money study, so did not examine the PSC.

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Analysis of the seven NAO reports that did compare costs against a PSC showed an average PFI cost saving of 20 per cent.

Crown Estate Commissioners

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assistance the Crown Estate Commissioners have afforded to Ipswich borough council in their appeal to the High Court in respect of their right to levy mooring charges. [1867]

Mr. Andrew Smith: While the Crown Estate has, at the council's request, provided some historic information about its own mooring charges, it has afforded no assistance, financial or otherwise, to the council in the preparation of its case to the Court of Appeal. The Crown Estate has, however, sought leave to intervene in the hearing in its own right, given its legitimate interest in the matters of principle raised by the case.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what expenditure the Crown Estate Commissioners have incurred in each of the last 10 years in maintenance of the Lymington river bed and foreshore. [1868]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Crown Estate owns the foreshore and bed of the tidal stretch of the river, but has no statutory duty to maintain it and no expenditure has been committed. Maintenance of the river bed and foreshore is the responsibility of the Lymington harbour commissioners, who manage the river as a small trust port in accordance with the Lymington Pier and Harbour Order 1951. The Crown has assisted the harbour commissioners in fulfilling their duties, by granting the commissioners a lease of the foreshore and bed of the river.

Child Poverty

Ms Buck: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the impact on the numbers of children in poverty in (a) lone parent families and (b) couples with children, resulting from an increase in the threshold level of income at which Working Families Tax Credit starts to be withdrawn to (i) £120, (ii) £150 and (iii) £200. [1563]

Dawn Primarolo: It is not possible to measure accurately the impact on child poverty of individual changes to the tax and benefit system. The margins of error surrounding these estimates are too large. Taken as a whole, the personal tax and benefit measures introduced over the last Parliament will have lifted over 1.2 million children out of relative poverty.

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