§ Mr. Ben Chapman
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will make a statement on Charter Mark awards. 
§ Mr. Alexander
The Charter Mark scheme is an important element of the government's public service reform agenda.
The scheme continues to recognise success. We have worked to enhance and further develop Charter Mark as a national standard for customer service and an important tool for public sector organisations to use in addressing customer service issues. The new content of Charter Mark was published earlier this year.
In 2002, 949 organisations achieved the Charter Mark standard, taking the total number to more than 2,400.
As well as modernising the content of the scheme to reflect our customer focus approach to public services we have redesigned the assessment process to better meet the needs of those using the scheme, offering real choice and better value. Following piloting of these new arrangements we will open the scheme for new applications from January 2004 onwards.
The government strongly encourages organisations to strive towards the Charter Mark Standard as a means of improving customer satisfaction as an important element of delivering better public services.