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Civil Service Training and Development: White Paper

The Earl of Lauderdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): The Government have presented to Parliament today its White Paper, Development and Training for Civil Servants: a Framework for Action. Also, copies of tables detailing progress in the Civil Service towards gaining Investors in People status have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

The Government place great importance on increasing the skills of the UK workforce in order to meet the challenges set out in the recent Competitiveness White Paper (Cm 3300). The Civil Service has a vital role to play in delivering national competitiveness. This White Paper published today sets out a framework for achieving this necessary step change in training and development in the Civil Service.

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The White Paper has three key themes:

    a strengthened commitment to the achievement of the Investors in People Standard across the Civil Service;

    a drive to raise the levels of skills and awareness of civil servants; and

    an emphasis on civil servants taking responsibility for their own development and careers in a supportive partnership between top managers, line managers and the individual.

In addition to key targets being centrally monitored for initiatives in the Senior Civil Service and its feeder grades, departments and agencies will be required to draw up action plans with their own stretching targets in the specific areas listed in the White Paper. There will be an annual progress report to Ministers on the collective performance of the Civil Service, which will be published.

The proposals in the White Paper will strengthen the Civil Service and will give greater opportunities to individual civil servants. This White Paper is an important step in ensuring that the Civil Service is fully equipped to face the challenges of the future.

Lots Road/Cremorne Road: New Traffic Lights

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Department of Transport have been consulted about the traffic lights at the junction of Lots Road and Cremorne Road, London SW and, if so, whether they are in favour.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, as part of their Local Plan for Priority (Red) Routes, have proposed the introduction of traffic signals at the currently uncontrolled junction of Lots Road with A3220 Cremorne Road, a red route. The Local Plan has been approved by the Traffic Director for London (appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport), who is responsible for co-ordinating the introduction of the red route network.

Second Severn Crossing: M.5 Interchange

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why, given the length of time taken for the planning and construction of the new Severn bridge, the M.5 interchange has not yet opened; what is the length of delay; and whether the contractors will face any penalties for that delay.

Viscount Goschen: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, to write to my noble friend.

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Letter to Lord Brougham and Vaux from the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, dated 1st July 1996.

As you know, the Secretary of State for Transport has asked me to reply to your recent parliamentary Question asking about the expected opening date of the M.5 Interchange and whether the contractors will face any penalties for the delay.

There have been delays during construction of M.4 and M.49 caused by exceptionally wet weather, late diversion of services and some design changes. In order that work could be concentrated on M.4 to enable it to be ready for the opening of the Second Severn Crossing on 5th June, the completion date for M.49 was extended. The current contract completion date is 22nd July.

We will need to consider where the responsibility for the delay lies and I am sure you will appreciate that I cannot comment at this stage for fear of prejudicing our position. However, there are penalty clauses in the contract and these will be applied, if appropriate.

Broadcasting Licensing to Exclude Political Activities

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will confirm the statement attributed to the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr. Jeremy Hanley, MP, in Al-Hayyat on 18th June 1996, that the Government are currently studying the possibility of making changes in the law because of the effect of the activities of dissidents from overseas on the relationships between Britain and friendly countries in the light of technological developments in the fields of media and communications and how it would be possible in principle to restrict the use of means of communications, or the nature of the material transmitted, for "dissidents" only, without violating the principle of equality before the law.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): The Broadcasting Act 1990 already disqualifies bodies having political connections from holding broadcasting licences. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State announced on 25th March that the Government intended to introduce amendments to the Broadcasting Bill which would reinforce the duty and powers of the broadcasting regulators to satisfy themselves that organisations applying for licences had no political objectives. These amendments, which were accepted in Committee in another place on 13th June, in addition create a new offence of providing false information in relation to a licence application, and provide a power to suspend satellite broadcasting licences where programmes contain material likely to encourage or incite to crime or to lead to disorder.

Noble Lords will have the opportunity to consider these provisions when the Broadcasting Bill returns to this House having completed its passage in another place.

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