HC Deb 24 June 1996 vol 280 cc4-5
5. Mr. Harry Greenway

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to increase competition between Government Departments in respect of increasing efficiency; if he will institute suitable rewards for the most successful; and if he will make a statement. [32608]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service (Mr. David Willetts)

The Government will continue using competition to improve the efficiency of public services. The rewards, which will be for everyone to share, are better-quality and more cost-effective services for users and improved value for money for taxpayers.

Mr. Greenway

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply, which I warmly welcome. Would it not be nice to give Departments an incentive to improve in the way that they need to, can and will? What about a few sides of good British beef for those Departments that do really well?

Mr. Willetts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that ingenious suggestion. Any ideas for improving the quality of public services, especially from Conservative Members, will be carefully considered.

Mr. Gunnell

If the Government are so committed to the efficiency of their Departments and believe that efficiency exists, why are the targets that have been set for many Departments for the current year below the level of efficiency reached last year? Are the Government attempting to cook their own books?

Mr. Willetts

There is no question of cooking the books. Every year, we set targets that are credible and take account of the Department's performance in the previous year. We are always pressing for improvements on the previous year's performance.

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