§ Mr. Hawkins
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the forthcoming finance, management and policy review of the valuation tribunal service. 
§ Sir Paul Beresford
As part of the Government's programme of regular five-yearly finance, management and policy reviews of non-departmental public bodies, my Department will conduct a thorough review of the valuation tribunal service beginning on 5 December. The first stage of the review will take the form of a prior options study. This will assess the extent to which the functions that the valuation tribunal service performs are necessary for the achievement of the Government's policies, and whether there is scope for privatising, contracting out or transferring all, or part, of its functions to another body.
The progress made by the valuation tribunal service since the previous review in 1992 will be examined and the results of that examination and of the prior options study will inform a detailed review of the service's policy and financial management systems. To minimise the uncertainty that the prior options study will cause, I expect this part of the review to be completed within six months. The time required for the more detailed review cannot be foreseen, but I would expect it also to last no longer than six months.
In carrying out the study, my Department will consult widely with all parties with an interest in the work of the valuation tribunal service.