Written Ministerial Statements
Thursday 16 November 2006
Double Taxation Agreement (Macedonia)
A new double taxation agreement with Macedonia was signed on 8 November 2006. After signature, the text of the agreement was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and made available on HM Revenue and Customs' website. The text of the agreement will be scheduled to a draft order in council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.
I propose to present the Pre-Budget Report to the House of Commons on Wednesday 6 December.
Social Enterprise Action Plan
Today we are publishing the “Social Enterprise action plan: Scaling new heights”.
There are at least 55,000 social enterprises in the UK, generating more than £27 billion turnover and contributing more than £8 billion to GDP a year.
Since the launch of the Government social enterprise strategy in 2002, the Government have created a new legal form, the community interest company; improved business support and advice and the availability of finance; and supported the establishment of the social enterprise coalition to provide a unified voice for the sector to work with Government in raising the profile of social enterprise.
Building on this progress, the action plan is about creating the conditions for social enterprises to thrive as part of a next phase of support, and sets out the Government's role to take actions forward as part of their continuing commitment to social enterprise.
This action plan commits us to:
Fostering a culture of social enterprise, by building the evidence and raising awareness of the impact of social enterprise, and promoting successful role models to attract new entrants, customers, financiers and support providers.
Ensuring that the right information and advice are available to those running social enterprises so that they can gain access to appropriate support to maximise their business performance and, in turn, their social impact.
Enabling social enterprises to access appropriate finance, by tackling barriers that might prevent investors from supporting social enterprises, or social enterprises from seeking financial support.
Enabling social enterprises to work with Government, where they can offer public benefits in the markets they operate in, ensuring that policy makers and commissioners are aware of the role they can play.
Copies of the action plan have been placed in the Library for the reference of Members and are also available in the Vote Office.
The action plan is also available on the Cabinet Office website at www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/thirdsector.
Communities and Local Government
London Fire and Emergency Plannning Authority
The Department for Communities and Local Government has today announced additional investment in the order of £52 million, under the private finance initiative, for a project proposed by London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA).
This PFI project will allow LFEPA to build 10 new community fire stations, replacing 10 old fire stations, helping it to save more lives through improved response times and by providing fire safety advice to the communities which will help to reduce the number of accidental fire deaths in the home.
The amount agreed for this PFI project is in addition to the £125 million investment announced in October 2005 for individual projects from Staffordshire and Gloucestershire as well as a joint project put forward by Lancashire, Merseyside and Cumbria Fire and Rescue Authorities.
With the expiry of the call-out order made last November, a new order has been made under section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable reservists to continue to be called out into service to support operations in Afghanistan. The new order is effective until 11 November 2007. Reservists are making a valuable contribution to operations in that country and some 380 reservists are currently called out in support of the operation.
Falklands Conflict Commemoration
I am pleased to be able to provide further details of our plans to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict in June 2007.
The commemorations will provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the events of 25 years ago. We will take time to remember those who gave their lives to defend the freedom of the Falkland Islands. As well as the principal events in London, Pangbourne and Stanley, we anticipate that local communities and veterans’ groups around the country may wish to organise their own smaller scale events.
Our relationship with Argentina has come a long way in recent years and, in addition to remembering the sacrifices of our forces, we will recognise their losses too. Our commemorations will not be triumphalist.
Official events begin on Liberation Day Thursday 14 June at the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel in the grounds of Pangbourne Nautical College, Berkshire. This service of commemoration and remembrance is held annually on behalf of the Falklands Families Association, but will have special significance in 2007 when it will be attended by senior members of the royal family, and carried live on BBC.
Later that day (UK time) attention will turn to the Falkland Islands and the first of a series of live link-ups with the islands. A service at Christchurch Cathedral, Stanley will be followed by an Act of Commemoration at the Falklands War Memorial, and British Forces currently based on the islands will parade through Stanley exercising the freedom that was bestowed on them by the Falkland Islands Government in 2002.
The showpiece event of these commemorations will be on Sunday 17 June. This will consist of a high impact visual event on Horse Guards parade followed by a march past of veterans and their modern day service counterparts up the Mall to Buckingham palace to witness a fly past of aircraft from the Falklands era as well as some of those flown by the same squadrons today. Central to the event will be the personal recollections of veterans and islanders as they tell their stories in their own words.
The events will be focussed on the veterans and their families and we are working closely with the South Atlantic Medal Association 82—the principal association for those involved in ‘Operation Corporate’, along with a wide range of veterans and families organisations. I hope that as many as possible of the campaign’s veterans will be able to attend the event on Horse Guards parade. Space in the audience will be limited, so tickets will initially be restricted to veterans (military and civilian), widows, their guests and families. Details can be found on the Veterans Agency’s website at: www.veteransagency.mod.uk or by contacting the Veterans’ Agency helpline on 0800 169 2277.
A limited number of seats for the Horse Guards event are available to hon. Members; the Speaker’s Office will issue tickets in due course.
NHS Financial Performance
On 9 November 2006, my Department published the NHS financial report for the second quarter of 2006-07. This report shows that the NHS as a whole is forecasting a £94 million deficit for the year, after the application of a £350 million contingency established by the strategic health authorities.
On the basis of trends in previous years, our objective of net financial balance across the NHS remains deliverable. Strategic health authorities have reported that they will be able to generate a further net contingency of £100 million to offset the deficit.
The report is available in the Library, and copies for hon. Members and noble Lords are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. The report has also been published on the Department’s website at:
http://www.dh.gov.uk/PublicationsAndStatistics/ Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/Publications PolicyAndGuidanceArticle/fs/en?CONTENT_ID=4140436 &chk=WmhHTZ
Dignity in Care
On 14 November I was pleased to announce a £67 million investment of additional financial aid to further the dignity agenda in care homes.
The money, available next year, will help local authorities enhance the physical environment of care homes providing nursing or personal care to older people. This focused support will help older people living in care homes to do so with dignity and will enable care homes to be more responsive to the needs of older residents.
A good environment can support dignity and help people feel that they are being treated with respect and even small enhancements can have a positive impact on well-being. I hope that local authorities, care home providers and their residents will work together to find innovative ways of using this additional money to deliver higher standards of care.
I announced this funding at the launch of the dignity in care campaign through which I aim to stimulate a country-wide debate about the importance of care services respecting the dignity of those who use them.
At the campaign launch, I invited people to join me in taking up the dignity challenge. The challenge is a clear statement of what people can expect from a service that respects dignity, backed up by “dignity tests” that can be used by services see how they measure up.
I also invited people to join a new network of local champions of dignity charged with challenging poor practice and raising the profile of dignity in care locally. Support for the champions and service providers will be available in the form of an online practice guide and a programme of service improvement and network support to be delivered regionally. Other aspects of the campaign include working with Investors in People UK to help us ensure staff themselves are treated with dignity and respect and a commitment from the health and social care regulators to take forward this agenda.
More details about the dignity in care campaign, the dignity challenge and how to join the champions network can be found at: www.dh.gov.uk/dignityincare.
On 6 November the police arbitration tribunal’s recommendation on the police officer 2006 pay award was received. The Home Secretary responded to this recommendation, agreeing to implement the 3 per cent. pay rise for police officers with effect from 1 September 2006. The Home Secretary also noted the tribunal’s comment that we not only had “the right but a duty to consider and put forward different factors and approaches which could be applied in determining police pay” and said that he would be reviewing the way police pay is determined including indexation and would announce the terms of reference of the review shortly.
Effective pay arrangements for police officers are essential for a modern police service which delivers high standards of community safety and security to the public. We must move quickly to put police officer pay on a sustainable basis. We cannot continue with arrangements which produce pay rises beyond the level which police authorities can afford to pay without detriment to service delivery. For that reason, we will establish a review of the way police pay is determined, reporting early in the new year and in good time to inform the 2007 pay round. Following this I will also be asking this review to consider further changes to the police pay negotiating machinery. In particular, I am minded to place responsibility for determining chief officer pay within the remit of the senior salaries review body and the review I have announced will look at this as part of its consideration of the options for replacing the current police officer pay determination arrangements.
I have asked Sir Clive Booth to undertake the first part of this review and I am pleased to announce that he has accepted. Sir Clive will report to me in early 2007 with recommendations on the pay determination mechanism that we should use for next year. This along with any other proposals for pay modernisation from the service or representative organisations will be considered in the 2007 pay round. The Home Secretary and I will consider further how the second part of the review looking at the police negotiating machinery should be taken forward including consideration of John Randall’s report on this issue.
The terms of reference for the review are:
Part 1—To consider the options for replacing the current arrangements for determining changes to police officer pay for 2007 and make recommendations on this. The conclusions and recommendations in part 1 to be framed so as to inform part 2 of the review.
Part 2—To review the effectiveness of the negotiating machinery for the police, including the Police Negotiating Board and the Police Staff Council, and make recommendations for how police pay and other conditions of service should be determined. The review must consider the option of a pay review body for police pay and consider the impact of any proposal for determining police officer pay, on the negotiating machinery for police officers.
Both parts of the review must take account of the need for arrangements to reflect and support the following:
The future requirements of the service for the effective and efficient delivery of policing services, motivation and morale and recruitment and retention rates, and overall affordability.
Government policy on public sector pay and the broader economic and employment context, and consistency with the achievement of the inflation target of 2 per cent.
The need to enable wider police workforce developments including proper reward and recognition arrangements.
Arrangements for pay determination in other parts of the public sector.
Part 1 should report no later than February 2007, and part 2 in the autumn of 2007.
New Powers Against Organised and Financial Crime
Tomorrow I will publish the summary of responses to the recent Home Office consultation document entitled “New Powers Against Organised and Financial Crime”.
The Green Paper was published on 17 July 2006 and invited views from stakeholders and the public on a comprehensive package of new measures that the Government believe will provide important new tools to assist the authorities in tackling organised criminality more effectively. The proposals included:
Establishing a civil prevention order to be used against individuals and organisations to prevent serious crime.
Improving data sharing within the public sector and between the private and public sectors so that financial crime may be more easily detected and prevented.
Introducing new offences of assisting and encouraging crime so that those on the margins of crime can be brought to justice more easily.
Amending the proceeds of crime legislation to bolster our ability to recover ill-gotten gains.
During its three-month consultation period the Green Paper generated more than l00 responses, summaries of which will be published tomorrow. The majority of responses received were overwhelmingly supportive of the proposals. As a result, the Government intend to introduce legislation in the coming session of Parliament; the overall aim being to prevent the UK from being an attractive option for organised criminals to operate in.
Copies of the document entitled “New Powers Against Organised and Financial Crime—Summary of responses to Consultation” will be available in the House of Commons Library and on the Home Office and Crime Reduction websites.
Leader of the House
SSRB: Triennial Review of Parliamentary Pay, Allowances and Pensions
I announced in a written statement on 25 July 2006 that the Prime Minister had asked the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) to carry out the triennial review of parliamentary pay, pensions and allowances. The chairman of the SSRB, John Baker, subsequently wrote to all Members on 14 September inviting them to submit written evidence to the review by 8 December. In his letter the chairman also explained that the SSRB would hold some oral evidence sessions in the early months of 2007 and invited Members who wished to attend one of those sessions to contact the SSRB secretariat to register their interest. Written evidence and requests to give oral evidence should be sent to:
Senior Salaries Review Body
Office of Manpower Economics
66-74 Victoria Street
Government's Legislative Programme 2006-07
Listed below are those Bills which the Government intend to bring forward. Details of each of these Bills are available from the Leader of the House of Commons website www.CommonsLeader. gov.uk
1) Asylum and Immigration
2) Child Support
3) Climate Change
4) Concessionary Bus Travel
5) Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress
6) Counter terrorism1
7) Criminal Justice
8) Further Education
9) Fraud (Trials without a Jury)
10) Greater London Authority
11) House of Lords
12) Justice and Security (Northern Ireland)
13) Local Government
14) Mental Health
15) Northern Ireland (St Andrew’s Agreement)2
16) Offender Management
17) Organised Crime
19) Statistics and Registration Services
20) Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement
21) Welfare reform (carryover)
22) Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide (carryover)
23) Crossrail (carryover)
24) Digital Switchover (Disclosure of Information)
25) Legal Services
26) Exchanges and Clearing Houses
27) Party Funding
1) Human Tissues and Embryos
2) Road Transport
3) Hague Convention (Artefacts in War)
4) Local Better Regulation Office
1 The Counter-terrorism Bill will be introduced if needed following a review being chaired by the Home Secretary.
2 The Northern Ireland (St Andrew's ) Bill will be brought forward as an emergency measure early in the Session.
Community Safety Partnerships
The Government have received a report from the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland on the operation of Community Safety Partnerships. We welcome this scrutiny of CSPs, and the recommendations in the report will be carefully considered.
Copies of the report have been placed in the Library.
Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion
The Government are committed to tackling poverty and social exclusion in Northern Ireland.
On 13 November I published “Lifetime Opportunities”—Government's Anti-Poverty and Social Inclusion strategy for Northern Ireland. This follows extensive public consultation on the future direction of New Targeting Social Need (New TSN) policy in Northern Ireland and the results of an independent evaluation of New TSN.
The new strategy will aim to:
end child poverty by 2020—based on the estimate of approximately 130,000 children in relative income poverty in 1998-99 this means lifting 65,000 children out of poverty by 2010 on the way to eradication by 2020; and
working towards eliminating poverty and social exclusion in Northern Ireland by 2020.
It will retain some important elements of its predecessor New TSN such as Promoting Social Inclusion (PSI) and the principle of targeting resources and effort within programmes at those areas, groups and individuals in greatest objective need. Significant changes include the introduction of a new structure, based on four key life cycles highlighting the important issues impacting on a person at these different stages of their life and a goal for each highlighting what Government wish to achieve.
The commitment to end child poverty is in line with the UK target of halving child poverty by 2010 with the view to eradicating child poverty by 2020.
A key feature of the strategy will be the establishment of a ministerial-led interdepartmental, cross-sectoral forum to monitor progress. Subject to the establishment of a Nl executive, it is intended that the forum will be chaired by my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Northern Ireland (David Hanson), who has lead responsibility for taking forward work to tackle poverty and social exclusion in Northern Ireland.
Copies of “Lifetime Opportunities” have been placed in the Libraries of the House and it is also available on website www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk/central-anti-poverty-unit.
Queen's Speech - Application of the Government's Legislative Programme to Scotland
The new UK legislative programme unveiled in the Queen’s Speech on 15 November contains significant measures of relevance and benefit to the people of Scotland.
The programme demonstrates the continuing partnership between the United Kingdom and Scottish Parliaments and the Government and the Scottish Executive.
The Government are committed to maintaining these close working partnerships as they continue to deliver improvements to the lives of people across Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
The following is a summary of the legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech and its impact in Scotland. This does not include draft Bills. The Bills listed in section 1 are likely to contain provisions that require the consent of the Scottish Parliament in line with the Sewel Convention. A brief description is provided of the provisions likely to require consent. Section 2 details Bills that are not likely to contain provisions requiring the consent of the Scottish Parliament as the legislation is predominantly or wholly within a reserved area or has limited impact in Scotland. The list also identifies the lead Government Departments:
1. Legislation likely to contain provisions requiring the consent of the Scottish Parliament at introduction:
Discussions will continue between the Government and the Scottish Executive on such Bills that might include provisions in devolved areas. The Bills identified within the Queen’s Speech in this section are as follows:
Child Support (Department for Work and Pensions) Mainly reserved but may include provisions in devolved areas relating to the jurisdiction of courts and the joint registration of births (births jointly registered by both parents).
Climate Change (Office for Climate Change) Legislation relating to Climate Change is likely to include provisions in devolved areas to meet a new emissions target. The environment is a devolved matter in Scotland.
Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress (Department for Trade and Industry) Consumer Protection is reserved but the legislation will include provisions creating a new National Consumer Council and Scottish equivalent with responsibilities including food safety, which is devolved.
Further Education and Training (Department For Education and Skills) Education is devolved but the Bill will include provisions that give Scottish Ministers functions to make arrangements directly with the Learning and Skills Council for England in relation to Career Development Loans and shared provision of services (that is, procurement of goods and services and the development of information technology systems).
Serious Organised Crime (Home Office) Likely to include provisions in reserved and devolved areas including recognition of prevention orders and proceeds of crime which are devolved matters.
Statistics and Registration Services (Her Majesty’s Treasury) The new Statistics Board’s remit will extend fully across the whole of the UK. Statistics that relate to a devolved matter are considered to fall within the competence of the Scottish Parliament and will also benefit from the reforms and functions of the board.
Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement (Department for Constitutional Affairs) This Bill will include provisions relating to the tribunals in Scotland which are devolved. This bill also legislates on devolved matter of immunity from seizure of cultural artefacts.
2. Legislation unlikely to contain provisions requiring the consent of the Scottish Parliament at introduction:
The Bills in this section which deal with predominantly or wholly reserved matters and matters which do not impact in Scotland are as follows:
Border and Immigration (Home Office)
Concessionary Bus Travel (Department for Transport)
Criminal Justice (Home Office)
Fraud (Trials without Jury) (Home Office)
Greater London Authority (Department for Communities and Local Government)
House of Lords Reform (Leader of House of Commons)
Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) (Northern Ireland Office)
Local Government (Department for Communities and Local Government)
Mental Health (Department of Health)
Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Office)
Offender Management (Home Office)
Pensions (Department for Work and Pensions)
Welfare Reform (Department for Work and Pensions)
Yorkshire Forward (Appointments)
I have decided to appoint the new board members listed at annexe A and to reappoint the board members, listed at annexe B. The new appointments will all be for a period of three years. The reappointment of Nic Dakin will also be for a period of three, whilst that of Stella Guy will be for two years.
The new appointments and the reappointment of Nic Dakin will begin on 14 December 2006 and will expire on 13 December 2009. The reappointment of Stella Guy will begin on 14 December 2006 and will expire on 13 December 2008.
I have placed further details of both the new appointments and reappointments in the Libraries of both Houses. All of them were made in accordance with the code of practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
New Appointments - Annexe A
All appointments commence on 14 December 2006
RDA Name Yorkshire Forward Michael Arthur Jonathan Metcalfe John Weighell
Reappointments – Annexe B
All reappointments commence on 14 December 2006
RDA Name Yorkshire Forward Nic Dakin Stella Guy
Trade and Industry
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council
The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council was held on 7 November in Brussels. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, represented the UK for discussions on an amended proposal for a directive concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time.
Negotiations focused around the opt-out from the 48 hour working week and the need for a solution to the problems caused by the European Court judgments SiMAP and Jaeger. The presidency sought views during the morning discussion on a draft presidency text of the directive. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the presidency and their subsequent tabling of an alternative section of text, it proved impossible to reach agreement due to the refusal of a minority of five countries to agree any text that did not set an end date for the opt-out.
Service Areas and Other Roadside Facilities
I have today launched a public consultation on roadside facilities on England’s strategic road network. The consultation will run for 12 weeks and comprises a call for evidence on a number of issues for consideration, with a view to improving services for road users. In particular the document seeks views on:
The location of motorway service areas (MSAs)—determining the need for such sites and the spacing interval between them;
facilities at MSAs—the type of facilities, how they are signed and their standards;
service areas on trunk roads;
motorway picnic areas;
lorry parking; and
the provision and use of laybys.
Following the public consultation, new draft guidance will be issued for consideration before the final new policy is published.
Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.