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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Correction to Oral Answer

The Minister for the Middle East (Dr. Kim Howells): My noble Friend Lord Triesman of Tottenham has made the following written ministerial statement.

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On 22 February, Official Report, column 1241 during the Lords debate on Iraq, in response to a question by my noble Friend Baroness Gould of Potternewton, I said that ‘the review of the constitution is due to end on 15 May 2007, and I assure my noble Friend that the removal of article 41 indeed remains one of our objectives’.

I should have said that the Constitutional Review Committee, which was formed on 15 November 2006, is due to present its proposed amendments for the Council of Representative’s consideration by mid-May 2007, and that while there is no stipulated time frame for the whole review process, Iraq’s political party leaders have committed to completing the constitutional review process, including the required referendum, within a year of the review committee forming. We are making clear to the Government of Iraq that article 41 must be implemented in a way that does not contravene the various human rights provisions in the Iraqi constitution. I apologise to my noble Friend and to the House for this inadvertent error.

We are also supporting Iraqi women’s groups with concerns about the impact of the constitution—helping them make their voices heard. We will continue to press the Government of Iraq about the important role of women in society and to develop policies and laws in line with the constitution which states that all people should be treated equally irrespective of gender, race or ethnicity.


Modernising Medical Careers

The Secretary of State for Health (Ms Patricia Hewitt): In my statement to the House on 19 March 2007, Official Report, col 557-8, I set out the background to the review of the new national recruitment and selection process for doctors in postgraduate training. I outlined the decisions that had been made by the review group up to that date. As the review group continued to meet last week, the purpose of this statement is to provide a further update on progress.

The review group issued a further statement on 22 March. This said:

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This represents a reasonable way forward to meet both the aspirations of junior doctors and the timetable for making appointments for August. I therefore regret the fact that the British Medical Association representatives have withdrawn from the group. Despite this, the important work of the review group will continue and I would encourage the British Medical Association representatives to come back to the table to ensure that all stakeholders can work together to take forward a workable solution to these issues.

I am glad to note that the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges supports this revised approach. They believe that with the work of the review group it offers the most equitable and practical solution available.

The timetable for the group's work is very tight and the next two weeks will see important progress. Applicants, consultants, employers and all those with a stake in the process will be anxious to be kept informed of progress. I trust that the House will understand if we continue to issue updates on important developments during the recess.

As ever, I am very grateful to Professor Douglas and his colleagues for their continuing work on the review group. We will publish the group's final report once it is completed.


Driver, Vehicle and Operator Group and Government Car Despatch Agency

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Dr. Stephen Ladyman): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has set a range of high-level targets for the 2007-08 year on behalf of the agencies within the Driver, Vehicle and Operator Group; the Driving Standards Agency, the Driver and
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Vehicle Licensing Agency, the Vehicle Certification Agency and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency and on behalf of the Government Car Despatch 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. Copies of the business plans will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses shortly.

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The key targets for the Driving Standards Agency are: (1)

Appointments available within 9 weeks at 90% of permanent car driving test centres.

To achieve candidate satisfaction with the overall service received at 90% or above.

Improve standards of new drivers

Deliver 6,000 Arrive Alive presentations to include 10% targeted at special needs groups such as young offenders, older drivers and people with disabilities.

Improve standards of professional drivers:

To have 10 training courses accredited as suitable for lorry drivers CPC Periodic Training and 30 for bus and coach drivers by 31 March 2008

Contribute to the Government's Motorcycle Strategy by

Populating the new Post Test Motorcycle Register with qualified and quality assured motorcycle instructors/trainers and make it available to the public by 31 March 2008 so they can make an informed choice of trainer/instructor.

Delivering an interactive Ultimate Biking Skills DVD to retail, aimed at improving a resource for qualified motorcyclists to improve riding and safety

Develop a national network of test centres to enable off-road tests for motorcyclists, with a milestone target for March 2008 of 40% of customers being within 45 minutes/20 miles of such a centre.

To initiate 3 new pilot projects aimed at improving driver education and training and raising standards of high risk groups such as novice drivers.

To progress to conclusion 250 investigations in relation to impersonation/ID fraud and actively seek prosecutions where applicable.

Electronic take-up - Achieve 64% of theory test bookings and 64% of car practical test bookings being made on-line by 31 March 2008.

Deliver the value for money plan targets for 2007-08 (£6m).

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

Maintain or improve customer satisfaction at a rate of 90%

The annual DVLA Customer Satisfaction Survey

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

Achieve target for at least 16 of the 18 major service deliver measures.

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

Maintain volume of existing inbound services available that could be completed electronically, at 64% of the total inbound service volume by 2008.

Deliver the facility for customers to purchase personalised registration numbers online.

Complete the system build enabling vehicles to be tracked through the motor trade.

Deliver the facility for driving licence holders to electronically:

Renew their driving licence at 70

Notify a change of address

Request duplicate licence

Request a new-style licence.

Gershon Efficiency - Deliver the benefits agreed in the DVO Value for Money Plan:

1. Revenue expenditure gain

2. Workforce change

3. Increase in VED collected

4. Increase the net income realised from the sale of personalised registration numbers and income from cherished transfers

The running rate to achieve the final 2007-08 VfM targets are:

1. A total of £50 m compared to the baseline as at 1 April 2004.

2. Reduce the number of FTE posts by 575 compared with the I April 2004 figure,

3. Achieve a level of at least £70m above the 2002-03 Roadside Survey result.

4. A £5m increase compared to the baseline as at 1st April 2004.

To deliver a programme of e-service capability across the consumer commercial and business sectors.

Volume of inbound services delivered electronically is at least 30% of the inbound volume available electronically by March 2008.

Accurate Records - Vehicles Register: Maintain 97.5% of current vehicle keepers as the level to be successfully traced from the record.

Accuracy Survey 2007.

Drivers and Vehicles Registers—The data sets needed for an intended purpose are accurate.

To achieve complete accuracy in at least 97.5% of vehicle registration documents input.

To achieve complete accuracy in at least 97% of driving applications input.

Enforcement - Reduce VED evasion to 2.5% by December 2007 [This target is subject to review].

The Annual Roadside Survey.

Continue to work with Transport for London in the delivery of their Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy.

Support Transport for London in their work to introduce the London Low Emission Zone by their due date.

The key targets for the Vehicle Certification Agency are:

To provide a class-leading service in type approval and certification

90% turnaround of system and component type approval certificates within 9 working days

95% of appraisal reports on our technical performance from independent panel members deemed to have no critical defects.

Expand consistency of processes and standards across the global network..

Maintain (or improve) customer satisfaction levels.

Existing customer survey processes to be run in 2007-08 and maintain at least 4/5 score (Very Good).

To ensure the continued integrity of VGA’s approvals.

Carry out a programme of Conformity of Production inspections.

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

Increase number of certificates issued by VCA in China and India by 10% on 2006-07.

To monitor compliance of safety critical vehicle systems and components in the UK marketplace to meet EU standards.

Complete the test programme to be agreed with TTS/CFU/MIU.

Delivery of recommendations made in the VCA/TTS report on the use of virtual tools.

Delivery in Ql of final VCA/TTS report.

Identify VCA tools and techniques by December 2007

Formulate forward programme by December 2007.

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

Complete programme by March 2008.

Improve utilisation year on year.

Increase utilisation by an additional 2% points. (Aim is 65% by 2010/11 - 2% points is targeted to achieve 60% in 2007-08).

To achieve a surplus on a full cost basis and deliver benefits consistent with the Value for Money plan.

To achieve £50k surplus on a full costs basis.

Deliver the benefits consistent in the Value for Money Plan maintaining at least £450k of cost savings and efficiency and effectiveness improvements.

Invest £100k in professional skills and capability development.

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

Maintain or improve customer satisfaction.

To improve on the previous year's achievement, or maintain satisfaction at or above 90%.

Increase range of electronic services available to customers.

Delivered portfolio of information services:

Operator compliance Risk Score reports.

Test History Maintenance reports.

Vehicle Encounter reports.

On-line vehicle test bookings service available to commercial customers.

Improve the consistency of vehicle testing services across the country.

I/3rd reduction in the variation of the initial test fail rates from 2006-07 national average whilst maintaining quality test standards.

Improve the quality and consistency of the private vehicle testing service to the public,

Delivered a risk based enforcement system to target the serious and serially non-compliant Vehicle Testing Stations (VTS).

Contribute to improved road safety through better targeting on non-compliant vehicles and drivers.

65% improvement in targeting of enforcement action at the roadside compared with 2004-05.

35% increase in the number of dangerous vehicles and drivers being taken off the road compared with 2004-05.

Contribute to more reliable journeys on the strategic road network, improved road safety, minimised congestion.

20% increase in volumes of checks nationally on 'at risk' goods vehicles on international journeys compared with 2006-07.

Reduce the burden of commercial operation.

Implemented DfT plan for licensing reform.

Delivered DfT plan for Graduated Fixed Penalties and Deposits.

Deliver modernised support services to Traffic Commissioners.

80% of new Service Level Agreement measures with Traffic Commissioners achieved.

Deliver final year of VOSA's 4-year Value for Money Plan.

4 year cumulative plan delivered:

£13.3m cost saving.

469 gross headcount reduction*.

16% increase in effectiveness.

* 109 can be redirected into front-line enforcement activity

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

69% overall take-up achieved for existing e-services.

The key targets for the Government Car and Despatch Agency are:

To break even on an accruals basis

To maintain a high level of customer satisfaction through the following:

To maintain a Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) score at least at 2005-06 levels of 86.7%

To maintain accreditation for ISO 9001

To reduce the environmental impact of the Agency

By March 2008 to reduce the average tailpipe emissions of the Government fleet by 5% compared with March 2007 levels

To increase the use of alternative engine and fuel technology in GCDA vehicles by 10% by March 2008 against 2006-07 levels

To reduce the administrative charges to customers by 2% against 2006-2007.

(1 )Secretary of State Targets (target measures are italicised)

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