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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.
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.
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.
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 20032004 to be placed in the Library of both Houses. The Chief Executive for DMETA will be Rear Admiral Peter Kidner.
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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.
Ensure the application of Defence Systems Approach to Training (DSAT) to a minimum of 65 per cent. of DMETA courses within Financial Year 200304 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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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 200304 are as follows:
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Quality of Service
(ii) To answer 98.5 per cent. of written correspondence within 10 working days
(iii) To deliver 90 per cent. of records requested by users for consultation in the reading rooms in accordance with specified time targets
(iv) To supply 98.5 per cent. of copy orders in accordance with the specified targets and standards
(v) To answer 85 per cent. of telephone calls within 20 seconds
(vi) To keep 98.5 per cent. of appointments which visitors have made with us within 10 minutes
(ii) targeting under-achieving departments and developing action plans to accelerate progress
(iii) delivering a programme of workshops to support the action plans.
(ii) To commence the first stage of the project to redesign PROCAT public interface screens in order to improve their usability, partly based on the finds of the usability evaluation exercise completed in 200203
(iii) To broaden the ethnic, cultural and social mix of school groups visiting the National Archives by organising 10 workshops in partnership with the Tower of London and Cross River Partnership. * More information on these and other key targets is published in the Corporate and Business Plans.
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