HC Deb 17 December 1985 vol 89 cc104-5W
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what financial targets he has set the Ordnance Survey for the financial year which ends on 31 March 1986; and when they were set.

Mrs. Rumbold

After several months of discussion, the following targets have been set:

  1. 1. to recover 35 per cent. of the total cost of core activities;
  2. 2. to maximise revenue on commercial activities arid to recover not less than 110 per cent. of total costs of that category;
  3. 3. to recover 100 per cent. of the total cost of both public sector repayment and overseas business categories.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has yet set a financial target for the Ordnance Survey for the financial years beginning on 1 April 1986, 1 April 1987 and 1 April 1988.

Mrs. Rumbold

Targets for the three years to March 1989 are currently under discussion and an announcement will be made when they are finalised.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about future arrangements for the management of the Ordnance Survey.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

Following discussion with the Ordnance Survey advisory board I have decided to set up a management board for the Ordnance Survey composed of executive and non-executive directors. It will replace the present advisory board. The advisory board agreed that a management board was the most suitable structure for the Ordnance Survey, but recommended that the new management board should have an independent chairman. After careful consideration, I have concluded that in the case of the Ordnance Survey this would create needless problems of accountability to Ministers and Parliament. I have therefore decided that the Director General, who is the accounting officer, should be chairman of the management board and report directly to Ministers as at present. In this way the chain of command and responsibilities remain clear and unaltered. The executive directors will be five Ordnance Survey senior managers.

I am pleased to announce that Mrs. Jean Denton, Mr. David Feeny and Professor Jean Millar have agreed to serve as independent non-executive directors of Ordnance Survey. They will bring valuable private sector experience into the management of Ordnance Survey. They will also have direct access to departmental Ministers as necessary.

The management board will be primarily responsible for reviewing policy, planning and the monitoring of performance in order to ensure that Ordnance Survey:

  1. 1. continues to flourish as an efficient and cost-effective organisation, satisfying current and future user needs;
  2. 2. meets the financial objectives set by the Secretary of State;
  3. 3. reduces Exchequer support by increased involvement in the commercial market place;
  4. 4. remains in the forefront of technological change.

Ministers, however, will continue to have final responsibility for ensuring that Ordnance Survey gives value for money and is set challenging and realistic performance targets.

In particular, one of the early matters which the board will consider will be the creation of a sub-committee, composed of independent and Ordnance Survey members, to advise generally on scientific and technical matters, and with particular reference to the needs of digital mapping. Such a group was recommended by the advisory board and accepted by Ordnance Survey.

I believe the new arrangements will provide Ordnance Survey with better strategic direction and will contribute to the sound development of the organisation. I would like finally to express my gratitude to the members of the advisory board for their good work and advice over the past three years, and to thank them for their services.