§ Mr. Luce
No further agencies have been established, but on 17 May my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security announced that he had decided that virtually all the operational tasks of his Department should be given agency status with clear target dates for when those agencies should be launched. I expect more agencies to be set up before the summer recess.
§ Mr. Key
That is good news. Will my right hon. Friend tell the House what improvements he is considering in training for the management and delivery of services to the public? However, will he also consider the implications for the many staff who face a considerable period of uncertainty in the agency programme, such as those at the aircraft and armaments experimental establishment at Boscombe Down, about which no decision has yet been made on agency status?
§ Mr. Luce
My hon. Friend is right to stress the importance of those developments. Part of their purpose is to ensure improved performance and better management of the service and services to the public, and I believe that those aims will be achieved. In the announcement of all the agencies, plenty of time is being given. In the case of the largest agency—the benefit service—which involves 70,000 people, the change will not be made until spring 1991. That will give plenty of time to look at the future and to plan the staff required.