The agency will continue to achieve levels of customer satisfaction above 90 per cent. as a headline figure and will demonstrate continuing improvements in customer satisfaction through other measures.
The agency will reduce by 5 per cent. the ratio of internal costs over value for money improvements with the outturn for the same ratio in 200405 (excluding any new business e.g. Efficiency Review Initiatives).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. David Lammy): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, has made the following written ministerial statement in the other place yesterday, 22 March 2005.
"I am announcing today the intention, when I bring forward proposals for new legislation giving effect to the government's proposed reform package for legal services following Sir David Clementi's report, to bring the claims management company sector within the new statutory regulatory net. I anticipate this would be with a front-line regulator subject to oversight by the proposed new oversight regulator the Legal Services Board.
The Government's response to the Better Regulation Task Force's report Better Routes to Redress made it clear that claims management companies, which often largely deal with acquiring personal injury claims, sector must be properly regulated. Claim management companies are well known for their high-pressure selling, sharp practices and targeting of vulnerable people and a major driver in fuelling the perceptions of a compensation culture.
Claims management companies are currently relatively lightly regulated. There has been an attempt to introduce further voluntary regulation by a non-profit making body called the Claims Standards Council (CSC). The CSC has worked hard to produce comprehensive rules, consumer and commercial codes of practice and to secure the engagement of the companies working in the unregulated sector. However, claims management companies have failed to demonstrate anything like the commitment that I would hoped to have seen by now to clean up
For now I believe that we have the best opportunity to ensure consumers get a better deal through a combination of more rigorous use of existing protections and the introduction of compulsory insurance regulation via the FSA and the CSC's voluntary regulation initiative. For the future we will work towards developing and delivering the watertight statutory regulatory mechanism for claims management companies that is self evidently needed".
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. Christopher Leslie): Today the Government will publish their report "Establishing an Inspectorate for Justice and Community Safety". Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The proposals for consultation outlined in the report aim to introduce root and branch reform, changing the structure of inspection in the criminal justice system and enhancing the capacity for leadership and decision making.
Independent inspection in the criminal justice system plays an important role in improving services and holding organisations to account for their performance. In recent years every criminal justice agency has undergone reform to deliver improvements to services; it is essential that the inspection regime is reformed to support these changes.
The five justice inspectorates have done an excellent job in driving up performance. Therefore the Government propose to build on the current base of expertise and create an inspectorate for justice and community safety that continues the rigorous independent inspection of criminal justice agencies, including the treatment and conditions of those in custody, whilst broadening this to inspect across organisational boundaries to deliver a more joined up inspection system; an inspection regime that inspects the criminal justice process from end to end, supports the frontline by reducing unnecessary burden and bureaucracy and examines how the system can better deliver for those who come into contact with it.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell):
I have today published the report of the digital television project which sets out advice to Government on the process of digital switchover. The report is the culmination of nearly three years work by broadcasters, regulators and industry working with Government and other stakeholders. The report sets out a detailed strategy for achieving digital switchover and will help inform Government decisions about how and when to proceed with digital switchover.
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There are still important questions that need to be resolved before we can announce the final timetable for switchover. We are currently working with the BBC to assess the scope of assistance schemes to help vulnerable consumers through switchover. We will only confirm the timetable once all remaining issues relating to digital switchover are resolved and we are satisfied that the interests of consumers, especially the most vulnerable, are well protected.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): The House will wish to be aware that, as part of an internal restructuring of the Defence Logistics Organisation, the decision has been taken to disestablish the Warship Support Agency with effect from 1 April this year and to subsume its work in the new defence logistics structure.
The DLO restructuring is aimed at establishing the most effective and efficient organisation to support modern operations. In particular, we are seeking to achieve a clear customer focus, clarity of outputs and objectives, strong performance management, visibility of targets and performance and a strong governance regime in a way that is common across the whole of logistics support to the front line.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): With effect from 1 April 2005 the Medical Supplies Agency (MSA) will cease to hold agency status. This has been decided as a result of Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) restructuring proposals and the findings of the DLO/MSA integration review report.
Following the medical quinquennial review and the DLO/MSA integration review report, the ownership of the MSA transferred from the Surgeon General's Department (now the Defence Medical Services Department) to the DLO on 1 April 2002. The MSA is now integrated into the broad supply chain within the DLO. The MSA has ceased to be a storage and distribution organisation, has adopted DLO's business processes and has reduced in size. The MSA's role and business have undergone significant change and are no longer appropriate or large enough to justify agency status. I have therefore decided that agency status for the Medical Supplies Agency should cease and that the organisation should be retitled the Medical Supplies Integrated Project Team
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