§ Barbara Follett
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to review the National Savings Agency by March 2000. 
§ Miss Melanie Johnson
Following a prior options review in 1995, National Savings became a next steps agency in 1996. The Government announced then that the next five-yearly review would take place by March 2000.
I have asked my officials to set this review in motion. It will be conducted in accordance with the latest guidance from the Cabinet Office's Modernising Public Services Group.
The terms of reference of the review are: to review the performance of National Savings since it became an agency in 1996, and to advise Treasury Ministers on the options for the future status of National Savings, with a view to securing the best outcome for the public sector and for the wider economy.
In considering these options, the review will take into account the views of affected stakeholders and assess the implications for:
Once this first phase of the analysis is complete, and the outcome agreed, the second phase of the review will build on the earlier analysis to identify where changes are needed to improve future delivery of Government objectives, and to determine how best to implement those changes.
- the net cost/benefit to the public sector and to the UK economy as a whole;
- the Government's wider funding policy objectives;
- developments in the wider public sector, including the "Modernising Government" White Paper;
- the retail savings market, including the impact of new technology;
- the wider policies of the Government, including its policy on savings and on social exclusion;
- National Savings' business relationships, including the outsourcing contract with Siemens Business Services and its contract with Post Office Counters Ltd.;
- the staff of National Savings;
- the need for, and requirements of, legislation; and
- the speed with which change can be implemented.
The review will be conducted by the Treasury working in collaboration with National Savings. The first phase will conclude by March 2000.