HC Deb 10 January 2000 vol 342 c34W
Mr. Crausby

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action he is taking to increase the productivity and reduce the running costs of his Department. [103853]

Mr. Mandelson

My Department is fully committed to seeking efficiency savings and living within agreed budgets. It is determined to achieve efficiencies in all areas of activity and reductions in support services where possible. A comprehensive review of running costs was completed during 1999 and its recommendations for savings, mainly in support services, are being assessed and implemented. More generally, efficiency plans are an integral plan of annual plans for all parts of the Department.

The Northern Ireland Office will play a full part in taking forward the Government's plans for modernising the delivery of services and reforming the Civil Service. In line with these initiatives it is preparing a programme for Better Quality Services Review over the next five years, to include quinquennial reviews of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies, which will seek to identify the most effective and economical ways to deliver its services. It has already begun action to improve procurement arrangements, to reduce sickness absences, to guard against fraud and to increase the use of electronic business with the Department.