The strategy describes the opportunity provided by technology to transform the business of Government and how that opportunity might be seized. The strategy was commissioned by the Prime Minister to provide overall technology leadership for Government in three areas. First, the transformation of public services for the benefit of citizens, businesses, taxpayers and frontline staff. Secondly, the efficiency of the corporate services and infrastructure of Government organisations, thus freeing resources for the front-line. Thirdly, the steps necessary to achieve more professional and effective delivery of technology-enabled business change within Government.
The strategy focuses upon the core themes that each public sector organisation needs to develop into actions for its area of responsibility, and on the supporting actions to be taken across Government as a whole.
Copies of the strategy have been placed in the Library. A full set of supporting material is available via the Cabinet Office website at: www.cio.gov.uk. The Government have invited comments on the strategy by 3 February 2006.
The Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harriet Harman): My right hon. and noble Friend, the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, has made the following written statement in the other place today:
Achieving a more diverse judiciary is one of my key priorities. Public confidence in the justice system requires that our judges continue to be of the highest quality, appointed solely on merit following a rigorous selection process. To be confident we continue to appoint the best, we need to draw on the widest possible pool of those with the right skills and qualities. This means reaching out to a wider range of potential candidates. A judiciary which comprises a range of experiences and perspectives will continue to be in touch with the communities it serves.
Since July, my Department has made substantial progress in our work to encourage a wider range of people to apply for judicial appointment by improving the information offered to potential candidates. In particular:
There is still much to do. There is an untapped pool of potential judicial talent, particularly among solicitors, and my Department, in partnership with the Law Society, is looking at how that might be harnessed. There is little point, however, in encouraging people to apply for appointment if judicial life itself is difficult to fit in with domestic commitments. I have already taken action to address this issue: many salaried judges are now able to work part-time, and I recently approved the appointment of the first-ever job-share arrangement for a salaried post. I expect much of our work in the coming months to focus on making the judicial role better suited to a more diverse judiciary.
I am therefore introducing a career break scheme for the judiciary, to assist judges in accommodating personal responsibilities, commitments or outside interests. Further details, including the commencement date, will be announced shortly, but I expect the scheme to be up and running early in the new year.
I believe that permitting judges to return to legal practice after they cease to hold judicial office would have a significant impact on diversity by encouraging a more diverse range of people to consider applying for judicial appointment. Changing current policy to permit return to practice would encourage lawyers to consider judicial office earlier in their careers. I am minded to go ahead with this change for judges below High Court level, but before making a final decision I will ask the Judges' Council for their views on the matter. I shall also need to consider what conditions and safeguards should apply where judges do return to practice, and whether it would also be appropriate to permit those who have served at the level of High Court Judge and above to return to practice. I expect to consult stakeholders on these issues in the near future.
My Department is also taking forward work to reduce or remove altogether barriers faced by disabled judges and potential candidates. Finally, because I believe it is important for judges to be able to progress over time to more senior judicial posts, I am launching a pilot scheme in the North East whereby Circuit Judges will act as mentors to District Judges who wish to consider applying for a more senior post. Mentors will be identified and trained over the coming months.
This package of improvements will complement the steps already taken in recent months to increase the diversity of the judiciary, and will provide the new Judicial Appointments Commission with a solid base on which to build when it starts work next April."
The Secretary of State for Defence (John Reid): I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Lord Young of Norwood Green for a three-year term of office as a member of the Armed Forces' Pay Review Body commencing March 2006. This appointment has been conducted in accordance with the guidance of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
The Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning (Bill Rammell): As stated in my written statement to Parliament on 20 July, I am able to inform the House that the Secretary of State for Education and Skills has today published Sir Alan Langlands' report examining the gateways to the professions, along with the Government's response.
Sir Alan Langlands was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills last year, following the debate on the Higher Education Bill, to act as an independent person to oversee the report. The announcement about his appointment and the terms of reference was made in a statement to the House on 12 February 2004. Sir Alan was asked to examine how the public sector and the professions can sustain and improve recruitment opportunities for graduates, especially those who do not qualify for the full £3,000 support that will be available in grants and bursaries under our plans to introduce variable fees from 2006. He was asked to put forward recommendations on actions that can be taken by employing organisations to provide clear and accessible gateways for all graduates who want to pursue such careers and which will benefit the recruitment needs of these sectors.
In welcoming Sir Alan's report and its recommendations, I would stress that there has never been a better time for students from poorer backgrounds to enter higher education. We expect that 55 per cent. of all new full time students will qualify for a full or partial grant, and further help will be available by way of bursaries from higher education institutions. This means that the poorest students will have a minimum of £3,000 in non repayable support.
In accepting Sir Alan's recommendations we are also supporting the strong sense of partnership which he wishes to encourage. We will therefore create a development fund to carry work forward across the recommendations. Up to £6 million will be made available over the next three years to support collaborative projects in the key areas suggested by Sir Alan.
We have also committed to the establishment of a forum for sharing and developing recruitment and retention strategies. The forum will be key in helping to take forward Sir Alan's recommendations and in addressing the issues raised in his report.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|