HC Deb 25 March 1988 vol 130 cc264-5W
Mr. Couchman

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information has been given to the staff of the driver and vehicle licensing directorate about the consequences of the proposed change to executive agency status.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

We are anxious that the staff in DVLD are given full information on the proposal so that they are not unnecessarily concerned about its implications. In common with the rest of the Department on 18 February, the day of the Prime Minister's announcement, DVLD staff received a message on the changes from the permanent secretary. They also received a personal message from the director and subsequently more detailed information in the form of a question and answer brief in the DVLD house journal. Staff will also be kept informed of any further development in this way. The content of the question and answer briefing is as follows.

Q1. What changes will be made at DVLD? A1. The main changes at DVLD will be in the way the Directorate is financed, in its accounting systems, and in increased responsibility for personnel management The changes will all be aimed at giving the Directorate greater freedom to manage its own operations and to achieve results. Ways of enabling staff to share in the benefits of improved performance resulting from the new agency status may also be possible. It is too early to be more specific. Q2. Why has DVLD been identified as a candidate for possible Executive Agency status? A2. DVLD is already a relatively autonomous unit within DTp. It is a large scale unit with unique executive functions. It already has many of the features of an executive agency. It has approved annual plans and administers the bulk of its expenditure and staffing under extensive delegated powers from the Department. It agrees with and reports to the Department on its performance targets. It has a very good record on improving customer service and of reducing its operating costs. The adoption of executive agency status should help consolidate these achievements and provide more freedom for DVLD to deliver the results required of it. Q3. Will the staff of the new agencies remain subject to civil service pay and conditions? Will there be any redundancies as a result of further improvement in efficiency? A3. Staff in the proposed DTp agencies would remain civil servants with appropriate nationally agreed pay scales. No changes are intended at present in basic conditions of service. The Trade Unions would be fully consulted should any changes in terms and conditions of service be contemplated in the future. DVLD's workload is currently increasing at 4 per cent. per year and it is anticipated that this will absorb any staff released through efficiency improvements. Q4. If it goes ahead will any work move from Swansea? A4. There may be some changes at the margins as much to do with work moving to DVLD as work moving away. Q5. What will happen to the VROs? A5. The VROs will be included in the proposed agency along with DVLC and DVOIT. Q6. Will agency staff have the freedom to move back to the Department? A6. Transfer arrangements for staff between agencies and their parent and other Departments will be retained. There would be some change in personnel management responsibilities exercised by DVLD but overall the present degree of freedom should remain the same. Q7. Will the DVLD workload change as a result of these proposals? A7. DVLDs workload is forecast to increase at 4 per cent. per annum and no changes are foreseen as a direct result of the proposed change in status. Q8. Will DVOIT be included in the new agency? A8. The current intention is that it should but its future status will be subject to review in the light of the operational framework agreed upon for the proposed DVLC agency. Q9. Does the proposal imply criticism of DVLD? A9. Rather the reverse. The proposals build on the considerable achievements of the Directorate by giving it more freedom to run it own affairs. Q10. What about personnel management of VRO staff? A10. This will be reviewed to see what the most sensible arrangement would be. There will be no significant changes in the level of service provided. Q11. Have staff been informed of this development? A11. All DVLD staff have received messages from the Permanent Secretary and the Director. The Departmental and local TUS have been informed. Q12. When will DVLD become an executive agency? A12. Decisions have still to he taken on whether or not DVLD should become an executive agency. If a decision is taken in favour a great deal will have to be done and this will inevitably take some time. Q13. How will the new DVLD agency affect the local Trade Unions? A13. It is not expected that there will be any immediate changes to the local TUS structure if the DVLD agency is set up but the position will need to be kept under review by both sides in the light of experience with the new organisation. Q14. What will determine whether DVLD becomes an executive agency? A14. If Ministers consider that changes in the form of Departmental and Treasury control, together with a reduction in Ministerial involvement in day to day operations, would give agency management the opportunity to improve the efficiency of their operations.

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