§ Mr. Crausby
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what action he is taking to increase the productivity and reduce the running costs of his Department. 
§ Ms Beverley Hughes
Delivering efficient and modern public services is a key part of the Government's agenda for improving productivity. Greater efficiency is being sought therefore within the public sector to ensure that the most effective results are obtained from available resources. The Department's Public Service Agreement (PSA), set out in "Public Services for the Future", Cm 4181, includes a range of measures for taking this forward, both within the Department itself and in other public sector bodies.
Those measures which will help raise the Department's own productivity are listed at pages 29–31 of Cm 4181 and include:Better quality services" reviews over a five year periodElectronic Government measures. The Department's target is that 87 per cent. of its business transactions should be capable of being 9W conducted electronically by 2002, subject to the private insurance industry and Post Office Counters Limited achieving their own individual targetssickness absence targets, and introducing measures to reduce the levels of sickness absencemeasures to reduce the incidence of fraudmeasures to improve procurement practicespecific productivity measures for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the Highways Agency, Planning Inspectorate, Health and Safety Commission and Executive, and DETR Central.
In addition, the 1999–2000 business plan for the Planning Inspectorate includes a target to generate a 3 per cent. efficiency improvement in the use of running costs compared with the previous year. The Highways Agency also has a series of performance indicators related to running costs, listed under key target 17 at Annex B of its business plan for 1999–2000 (copies of which are available in the Library of the House).
The Department's gross running costs provision for 1999–2000 to 2001–02 is set out in its PSA. The productivity measures listed above will enable the Department to increase the quantity and quality of outputs delivered by its running costs expenditure over this period.