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MPs' Briefing Sessions

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Jim Knight): On 20 October my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House of Commons announced a series of dates for briefing sessions on the work of Government Departments for new Members of Parliament, Official Report, column 63WS.

DEFRA has arranged two further sessions: Monday 12 December for Rural Affairs issues and Tuesday 10 January 2006 for Environment issues. Due to unforeseen circumstances the original briefing session on 24 January 2006 has had to be postponed. A new date will be announced as soon as possible.

Hon. Members should contact Deirdre Kennedy, Parliamentary Clerk at DEFRA on 0207 238 5455 to register an interest in attending.


Vehicle Register

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Dr. Stephen Ladyman): I will shortly be launching a review of the provisions (Regulation 27 of the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulation 2002 (S.I. 2002/2742) which replaced previous similar provisions), under which data is released from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency's vehicle register. The provisions governing the release of this data have, in effect, been in place and worked effectively for over 40 years. When these provisions were originally introduced they did not envisage the introduction of electronic databases, the large number of vehicles now on the roads, or the range of bodies now requesting access.
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Concerns have also recently been raised about the breadth of organisations that have access to the register. For these reasons, I will publish a consultation paper early in the New Year which will review the purpose, scope and operation of the release of data from the vehicle register.


Performance Targets

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. John Hutton): I am pleased to be able to announce today performance targets in respect of the customer-facing businesses of the Department for Work and Pensions.

In line with the Department's Public Service Agreement we are committed to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our services. In order to demonstrate this, our businesses aim to achieve published unit cost targets.

The Child Support Agency target was published in its 2005–06 Agency Business Plan. The table below sets out our 2005–06 targets for Jobcentre Plus, the Pension Service and the Disability and Carers Service together with the published targets and actual unit costs for 2004–05.
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Actual £Target £Target £
Jobcentre PlusBenefitprocessing28.0728.18
1 31.00 1 28.24
1 216.78 1 217.03
The Pension ServiceCost percustomer25.0724.00
2 28.56 2 25.50
Disability and Careers ServiceCost percustomercontact133.17132.15131.56

1. Jobcentre Plus revised the methodology of calculation for the 2005–06 target as a result of an allocation process that more accurately identifies the costs for benefit processing and job broking. The 2004–05 target has been recalculated on the same basis to enable comparison with the 2005–06. The increase from restated 2004–05 target to 2005–06 is explained by a small increase in expenditure on Employment Programmes, which is a reflection of the focus during 2005–06 on harder to help clients.
2. With improvements in management information, and a levelling off in Pension Credit load, the Pension Service decided that the methodology for calculating unit costs should be changed, removing the double counting of customers entitled to both State Pension and Pension Credit. This resulted in a lower average.