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Protecting Vulnerable Workers, Supporting Good Employers

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): The Government are publishing today our strategy to protect vulnerable workers and support good employers. The document sets out the Government's commitments on employment relations policy.

The Government have combined social justice and economic efficiency, showing that fairness and decent minimum standards are not barriers to jobs and growth. The Government have helped millions of people back into work at the same time as providing a step change in the minimum standards people are entitled to expect in the workplace.
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The Government are honouring our manifesto commitments and are providing certainty about our programme of domestic employment legislation.

Copies of the document have been placed in the Library together with the regulatory impact assessment.


Crossrail (Tunnelling Strategy)

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Alistair Darling): The Government are aware of the concerns that have been expressed by the London borough of Tower Hamlets and others in the borough about the impacts of Crossrail in Tower Hamlets. Many of those concerns centre on the works proposed in the Bill in and around Hanbury street to use a site for launching tunnel boring machines and associated works at Pedley street and Mile End Park for removal of excavated material.

After many months of detailed work with Cross London Rail Links (CLRL) and Transport for London, a solution has been identified that should significantly reduce the implications of Crossrail works for the local community.

The work carried out by CLRL has involved a fundamental review of its tunnelling strategy. CLRL has concluded that by a major recasting of the construction programme it is possible to accommodate the major part of the tunnelling activities from the two tunnel boring machine launch sites already proposed at Royal Oak in west London and between Canary Wharf and Custom House in the Docklands area of east London. As a result Crossrail would not need to launch tunnel boring machines from Hanbury Street in east London.

The new tunnelling strategy will significantly reduce the environmental impacts of Crossrail construction in the borough of Tower Hamlets, and we believe they would be positive overall for London. There would be no need for the works between Hanbury street and Pedley street or the conveyor along the Great Eastern main line. Mile End Park would not be needed as a site for stockpiling excavated material. A shaft will still need to be constructed at Hanbury street for ventilation and intervention, but this will be a much smaller structure involving less work and so reducing disruption to the local community. I have asked CLRL urgently to consider these residual impacts so that they can be further ameliorated. An environmental assessment of the alternative strategy will be published in due course.

LRL's assessment is that constructing the central Crossrail tunnel in this new way will not increase overall the project's programme or budget.

LRL will in due course write to all affected petitioners setting out the details of the alternative tunnelling strategy and the implications for Hanbury street. This will happen in good time for hearings on these issues in the Bill Select Committee.

Driver, Vehicle and Operator Group

The Minister of State for Transport (Dr. Stephen Ladyman): I am announcing today the Secretary of State's targets for 2006–07 in respect of the Driver, Vehicle and Operator Group.
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My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Alistair Darling), has set a range of high-level targets for the 2006–07 year on behalf of the agencies within the Driver, Vehicle and Operator Group: the Driving Standards Agency, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the Vehicle Certification Agency and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. They are included in the agencies' business plans together with their associated measures. The plans also include a range of management targets, performance indicators and key tasks which are appropriate to the agencies' businesses and which reflect the wider DVO change agenda. Copies of the business plans will be placed in the Library shortly.

The key targets for the Driving Standards Agency are:

Secretary of State Targets

Appointments available within nine weeks at 90 per cent. of permanent car driving test centres by 31 March 2006.

In order to provide off road motorcycle test facilities to comply with EU requirements to have 20 multi-purpose test centres operational by 31 March 2007.

To achieve candidate satisfaction with the overall service received at 90 per cent. or better.

Improve driving standards of new drivers.

Improve standards of professional lorry and bus drivers.

Improve driving standards of existing drivers.

In order to raise the standards of tuition and to prevent unqualified ADIs giving instruction to learner drivers, from January 2007 remove ADIs from the Register who failed to pass the HPT by 31 December 2006.

Maximise staff productivity—Have no more than 10 per cent. of non-productive examiner time during 2006–07.

Maximise electronic take-up—Develop electronic services to provide greater choice and achieve 60 per cent. of theory test bookings and 50 per cent. of car practical test bookings being made on-line by 31 March 2007.

Deliver value for money plan improvements by March 2007.

The key targets for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency are:

Secretary of State Targets

Maintain or improve on the standard of services to the customer.

Maintain or improve customer satisfaction at the 2005–06 level of 88 per cent.

Deliver customer choice for operational services through increasing the number of inbound services available via electronic channels.

Maintain 97.5 per cent. of current vehicle keepers as the level to be successfully traced from the record.

Work with the Insurance Industry to deliver enforcement of insurance from the record (subject to implementation of the Road Safety Bill).

By 31 January 2007

Reduce VED evasion loss to 2.9 per cent.
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Reduce the number of persistent evaders of VED from the June 2002 figure by 50 per cent.

Deliver the benefits agreed in the value for money plan:

Financial VfM gain;

Reduction in workforce;

Delivery of additional VED;

Delivery of additional net income from Sale of Marks and income from Cherished Transfers.

Deliver a programme of e-service capability across the consumer, commercial and business sectors.

The key targets for the Vehicle Certification Agency are:

Secretary of State Targets

To be the class leader in acceptance of type approval certificates by other authorities.

Improve customer satisfaction rating in core MSC market sector.

Development of consumer information for secondary safety systems.

Target new emerging manufacturing markets to ensure that products fully meet EU standards.

Develop capability for virtual testing, and conduct one parallel virtual/physical test.

Carry out and enforce an annual programme of in-service emissions testing.

Achieve a surplus on a full cost basis and deliver benefits consistent with the value for money plan.

Increase utilisation by an additional three percentage points.

The key targets for the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency are:

Secretary of State Targets

To maintain or improve customer satisfaction at 2005–06 levels.

To improve the consistency of VOSA's vehicle testing service across the country.

To contribute to making journeys more reliable on the strategic road network, improving road safety and minimising congestion, by working in partnership with the Highways Agency and targeting "at risk" vehicles.

To contribute to improved road safety by reducing the administrative burden of commercial operation and increasingly targeting enforcement on non-compliant vehicles and drivers.

To deliver VOSA's value for money plan.

Increase the take-up of electronic services available to customers.

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