HC Deb 02 February 1996 vol 270 cc954-5W
Mr. Gordon Prentice

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what studies the efficiency unit has undertaken since 1994; and if he will make a statement on its findings. [12603]

Mr. Willetts

Since 1994, the efficiency unit has undertaken two multi-departmental efficiency scrutinies: resource management systems and construction procurement by Government, and participated in the following single Department scrutinies:

  • Department of Employment: Training Enterprise Councils;
  • Department for Education: Burdens of Bureaucracy on Schools;
  • Home Office: Burdens of Bureaucracy in the Context of the Criminal Justice System;
  • Department of Health: Burdens of Bureaucracy in General Practice;
  • Department of Transport: Traffic Area Offices;
  • 955
  • Inland Revenue: Scrutiny on Charging;
  • Overseas Development Administration: Delegated Authority for Bilateral Financial Commitments;
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Burdens of Bureaucracy on Farmers (in progress);
  • Department of Health: Burdens of Bureaucracy on Hospital Trusts and Health Authorities (in progress).

The unit is currently carrying out a review of the competing for quality initiative and a review of objective setting and monitoring in executive non-departmental public bodies. It is normal practice for scrutiny reports to be published.

Individual members of the efficiency unit have also worked with officials from other Departments to contribute to a range of individual studies and reviews including fundamental expenditure reviews and senior management reviews.

The efficiency unit's scrutiny programme continues to deliver value-for-money solutions across a wide range of issues. Since 1979, the scrutiny technique has proved its worth as a catalyst for improvement, resulting in better management, less bureaucracy and real cost savings. As an example, the first tranche of the burdens of bureaucracy scrutinies, whose reports were published in 1995, looked at paperwork imposed on the police and the courts, GPs and teachers. Recommendations from the reports will, on implementation, result in annual cost savings for the police of £30 million; 15 million fewer forms will need to be completed by busy GPs; and, teachers will receive 10 million fewer pieces of paper.

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