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Employer Pensions Task Force

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. Andrew Smith): Today, I am pleased to announce that Sir Peter Davis, Group Chief Executive of J Sainsbury PLC has agreed to chair an Employer Task Force on Pensions.

A vital part of the proposals set out in our pensions Green Paper "Simplicity, security and choice: Working and saving for retirement", Cm 5677, is the renewal of the partnership between individuals, employers the financial services industries and Government.

There is no doubt that the people retiring today with the best pension have been helped to do so by their employer. We want the Task Force to help build on that success and encourage more employers large and small to recognise the value of good pension provisions and to identify and promote good practice in providing and promoting pensions. The Task Force will also provide advice to me on the role of the employer in the pensions partnership.

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With the appointment of Sir Peter Davis we are putting the right leadership in place to fulfil this remit. His extensive business experience will be a valuable asset in helping to make a success of future pension provision.

I will be considering comments in response to consultation on the Green Paper on the Task Force, and will report back to the House on the wider membership, terms of reference and timetable in due course.

Jobcentre Plus

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. Andrew Smith): I am delighted to be able to announce that as part of the development of the service provided to working age people, we will be opening a Jobcentre Plus contact centre at the site of the former ITV Digital operation in Pembroke Dock, West Wales. This new venture will create 250 new jobs and will not only offer a major boost to the area but will also help Jobcentre Plus in our aim of delivering a modern, efficient service.


Diplomatic Representation (Africa)

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): Changing strategic priorities require the Foreign and Commonwealth Office constantly to adapt and amend its pattern of representation overseas. In order to free resources to strengthen the UK's diplomatic network in other parts of the world now more critical for UK interests, I have decided to make the following adjustments to our diplomatic representation in West Africa. With effect from early summer, the Embassy in Bamako will be closed. We intend to retain a UK office there. Given the importance the UK attaches to stability and peace in the Mano River region, we intend to open a one-person office in Monrovia later this year, and upgrade our office in Conakry to an Embassy.


Defence Medical Education and Training Agency

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Dr. Lewis Moonie): In line with the recommendation of the Medical Quinquennial Review (MQR), which I announced on 11 April 2002, the Defence Medical Education and Training Agency (DMETA) will be established on 1 April 2003. I will arrange for copies of the new Agency's Framework Document, Corporate Plan and Key Targets for 2003–2004 to be placed in the Library of both Houses. The Chief Executive for DMETA will be Rear Admiral Peter Kidner.

On formation, the new Agency will subsume the existing Defence Medical Training Organisation (DMTO). The Defence Secondary Care Agency (DSCA) will be disestablished on 31 March 2003 with its

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responsibility for training and placement of Service medical personnel transferring to DMETA. Responsibility for commissioning secondary care for Service personnel will transfer to a new Healthcare Directorate within the Defence Medical Services Department (DMSD), formerly the Surgeon General's Department. The overseas hospitals in Cyprus and Gibraltar will transfer to the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) by 1 April 2005, but during the interim period DMSD will have responsibility.

DMETA will make available nominated Secondary Care personnel for deployments and exercises, and deliver appropriate medical, dental and military training and education to specified standards to meet the operational requirement. It will bring together Defence medical education and training including the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM), the Defence Deanery, the five Ministry of Defence Hospital Units and the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court.

Key Targets have been set for 2003–04 to provide a balanced, challenging but achievable package covering the full range of DMETA's areas of business. These are:


Key Target 1—Deployable Personnel

To meet 100 per cent. of the Commander in Chiefs' requirement for Secondary Care personnel for operational deployments, major exercises and collective training.

Key Target 2—Training Success (Quality and Quantity)

Key Target 3—Academic Success (Timeliness)

To maintain the index of average time taken for trainees to pass through to the end of Phase II training at less than 1.05.

Key Target 4—Defence Systems Approach to Training

Ensure the application of Defence Systems Approach to Training (DSAT) to a minimum of 65 per cent. of DMETA courses within Financial Year 2003–04 and thereafter achieve a year on year improvement of 15 per cent. until a steady state of at least 95 per cent. is achieved.

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Key Target 5—Efficiency

Ensure the efficient rationalisation and usage of the current DMETA estate, reducing the agreed Balance Sheet value of the estate as at 1 April 2003 by at least 50 per cent. by 2010, thereby reducing the cost of training.


In respect of the Defence Dental Agency, the MQR recommended that it should continue in its present form except that it would lose some training functions to the new DMETA. It also recommended that the DDA should develop more challenging targets including a new system of Dental Risk (DR) categorisation. This has now been achieved and the Key Targets for the DDA for 2003–04 are as follows:


Key Target 1—The Operational Requirement

To meet 100 per cent. of the Commander in Chief's requirements for DDA personnel for operational deployments, major exercises and collective training.

Key Target 2—Dental Risk

To achieve 90 per cent. of all Service personnel in Dental Risk categories A and B by 31 March 2004.

Key Targets 3—Treatment Needs

To reduce the Treatment Need Index for each Service to the following: RN at or below 400; Army at or below 600; RAF at or below 330 by 31 March 2004.

Key Target 4—Military Training

To ensure that 80 per cent. of all DDA personnel, whose medical category permits, achieve their Service's annual individual, mandatory, military training.


National Archives

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Ms Rosie Winterton):

The National ArchivesKey Performance Indicators 2003–04* Efficiency

KPI 1—Unit Costs of Key Activities

KPI 1A—Selecting and preserving the public records per metre: To ensure that the unit cost does not rise above £96.00.

KPI 1B—Giving Access Onsite: To ensure that the unit cost per information transaction with customers onsite does not exceed £9.90.

KPI 1C—Giving Access Online: To ensure that the unit cost per information transaction with customers online does not exceed £0.11.

KPI 2—Backlog of records in departments reported as being over 30 years old and awaiting review: To reduce the backlog, assessed in January 2003 as 2165 metres, by 247 metres.

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Quality of Service

KPI 3—The achievement of Public Service Standards:

(A) to achieve the Public Service Standard Targets for the National Archives as follows:-

(B) to carry out three onsite satisfaction surveys and to achieve assessments of "good" or "excellent" from 90 per cent. of those expressing a view; to carry out three online satisfaction surveys and to achieve assessments of "good" or "excellent" from 80 per cent. of those expressing a view.

Income Generation

KPI 4—To increase revenue generated by commercial activity to £1,000,000

Modernising Government

KPI 5—Electronic Records Management:

To support other government departments in achieving the government target for electronic records management by 2004 by:

KPI 6—Electronic Service Delivery:

To develop digital access to popular records so that 60,000 digital record images are delivered to customers

KPI 7—To raise an awareness of the NA's holdings among under-represented groups in our user profile by means of a rigorous social inclusion programme the chief components of which are:

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