Weather wise

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GOOD NEWS! Our weather forecasts are going to get better. I know it's true, because the Parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Defence has said so. Here are the relevant extracts from answers to parliamentary questions of 24 March:

Ms Dari Taylor (Labour, Stockton South): "To ask the Secretary of State for Defence ... if he will make a statement about the key targets for the Meteorological Office for 1997-98."

Mr John Spellar: "The targets I gave on 19 June have not changed but two of them require clarification as follows:

"Performance Target (b) - Numerical Weather Prediction Index for the UK (UKNWP). This performance target is intended to be a three-year target, which will be set annually for the following three years. However, an adequate baseline is not available on which to set targets for intermediate years. The first target is therefore to improve the UKNWP index by four index points by March 2000 from a baseline of 100.00 in March 1997.

"Performance Target (c) - Service Quality Index (SQI). It has now been agreed that the target for each year should be directly related to the agreed customer requirements for the component services represented in the index. This means that from a baseline of 100.00 in 1996-97 the target for 1997-98 is to increase the SQI by 3.2 index points (not 1 as stated previously)."

Unfortunately, there are no comparable targets for improving the weather itself.