§ Mr. Soames
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what further progress he has made towards the implementation in his Department of the recommendations in the efficiency unit's report entitled, "Improving Management in Government: The Next Step"; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Parkinson
I am today establishing three further executive agencies in my Department: the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA). I am delegating clear responsibilities for improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and customer services to the chief executives. Those delegations are set out in the agencies' published framework documents; I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Library.
Each year, I shall set these agencies demanding financial and service targets, and those targets will be published in annual business plans. I have arranged for copies of the 1990–91 business plans to be placed in the Library. The agencies will also publish annual reports; again copies will be put in the Library.
DVLA has some 5,500 staff, the majority based at its headquarters in Swansea. It is responsible for the registration and licensing of vehicles and drivers, and for the collection and enforcement of vehicle excise duty. Following an open competition I am appointing Mr. 386W Stephen Curtis, formerly chief executive of Companies House, to be DVLA's first chief executive. DSA is responsible for the testing of drivers and driving instructors. Most of its 2,000 staff are driving examiners, who conduct driving tests from the nationwide network of driving test centres. I am appointing Dr. Christopher Woodman to be DSA's first chief executive. VCA is a small specialised organisation less than 100 strong, which is responsible for testing new models of vehicles and vehicle parts for conformity to specific safety and environmental standards. Most of its staff are based at its headquarters in Bristol. I am appointing Mr. Derek Harvey as VCA's first chief executive.
I wish the chief executives and their staffs every success for the future. I am confident that the enhanced responsibilities which they will have in the areas of finance, contracts and personnel, will enable them to meet their twin objectives of providing yet further improvements in service to the public while giving better value for money.
Where hon. or right hon. Members have queries about matters relating to the operation of those agencies, I hope they will write in the first instance to the chief executives. I and my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for roads and traffic will of course continue to deal with questions of policy or where there is dissatisfaction with an agency's reply.