HC Deb 11 November 1991 vol 198 cc347-8W
41. Mr. Ian Bruce

To ask the Minister for the Civil Service if he will make a statement on the achievements of the next steps agencies.

Mr. Renton

Next steps is progressing well. We are today publishing the 1991 annual review on next steps agencies together with the Government reply to the seventh report of the Treasury and Civil Service Committee. The annual review shows agencies meeting and beating targets for quality of service, financial performance and efficiency and gives many instances of improved service to customers.

Mr. Cash

To ask the Minister for the Civil Service when the Government intend to reply to the Treasury and Civil Service Committee's seventh report of Session 1990–91, on the next steps initiative; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Renton

The Government are today publishing, as Cm 1761, the reply to the Treasury and Civil Service Committee's latest report on next steps.

The Government are able to report further good progress in implementing next steps, with 56 agencies now established and 32 more announced candidates. Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue are moving towards full operation on next steps lines. In all, by next April over half the civil service should be covered, and some 70 agencies due to be established by next July. The Government are committed to completing the coverage as far as practicable by the end of 1993. Details of all existing agencies are set out in the second annual review of next steps, published today as Cm 1760, which also sets out their targets and the results they are achieving.

The Government welcome the Committee's continuing endorsement of next steps, its recognition of the substantial progress that has been made, and its constructive recommendations. The Government remain firmly committed to taking forward this major programme of change, to making the reforms durable, and to ensuring that they deliver all the benefits of which they are capable. Next steps is leading to a more effective and adaptable civil service, with all its traditional values of propriety and impartiality intact, but better attuned to deliver the high-quality public services for which the citizen increasingly looks.