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Written Statements

Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 20 June 2007

Written Ministerial Statements

Wednesday 20 June 2007

Communities and Local Government

“Supporting People” Strategy Document

I am today placing in the Libraries of both Houses copies of the strategy document “Independence and Opportunity: Our Strategy for Supporting People” and an associated impact assessment and equalities impact assessment.

The strategy document is the culmination of an extensive consultation with local authorities, service providers, service users and representative bodies on the future effective delivery of housing-related support.

The document focuses on four key delivery issues:

Keeping the needs of service users at the heart of the supporting people programme, by ensuring their involvement in the planning, design and delivery of services; and by encouraging choice and control over services, and by rationalising needs assessment for individuals.

Enhancing our relationship with the third sector, who deliver the majority of housing related support services, by ensuring they have the capacity and tools to compete fairly for contracts to deliver services.

Delivering housing-related support services effectively in the new local government performance landscape, that is through the local area agreement framework.

Maximising efficiency and minimising bureaucracy through a national value improvement programme, which will assist in rationalising processes such as procurement and contracting.

The strategy aims to provide additional clarity and focus to an already successful programme that helps a million people per year to attain or maintain independent living in their own homes.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

I and my hon. Friend, the Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare represented the United Kingdom at this month’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg. Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, also attended.

The Council reached unanimous political agreement on a presidency compromise proposal to reform the fruit and vegetable regime. The UK voted in favour as the reform met our negotiating objectives, including the flexibility we had sought with regards to allowing the four regions of the UK to take their own implementation decisions on inclusion of fruit and vegetables in the single payment scheme. The reform will also deliver full decoupling of the aids for products grown for processing.

The Council also reached unanimous political agreement on a presidency compromise text, on the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Greenland. The agreement provides fishing opportunities in Greenlandic waters for EU vessels including those of the UK, in return for Community funded financial contributions.

The Council adopted a conclusion on the Commission’s report on the application of system of cross-compliance.

The Council also adopted a set of general conclusions on the Commission’s communication on reducing bycatches and eliminating discards. The UK intervened to welcome the Commission’s initiative, but also drew attention to the potential difficulties in finding solutions that worked in the mixed fisheries which characterised the EU situation.

The Council formally adopted a proposal to simplify and update the current regulation on organic food and farming, following the general agreement reached on the proposal during the Finnish presidency last year.

The Council also adopted a range of Agriculture and Fisheries “A” points: labelling requirements for veal meat; a proposal amending the common organisation of the market in cereals by the abolition of maize intervention; multi-annual management plan for North sea sole and plaice; recovery measures for European eel; and a recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The UK could not offer its support to the compromise text on bluefin tuna. Despite voting against, the UK did manage to secure a joint Council-Commission declaration which should mean cases of overfishing are dealt with appropriately in the future.

The Council reached political agreement by qualified majority on a presidency compromise text establishing a common organisation of agricultural markets. The proposal consolidates the existing 21 sector-specific Common Market organisations into a single horizontal regulation. The UK voted in favour of the compromise text which satisfied the UK’s principal concerns.

The Council also reached political agreement by qualified majority, with the UK voting in favour, on a set of measures to rebuild and manage the cod stocks in the Baltic sea.

A number of issues, as follows, were raised under any other business:

The Council took note, without discussion, of a report provided by the presidency on the outcome of the conference of directors of EU paying agency, which was held in Postsdam, Germany. The Council also took note of a written update provided by the Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner on the state of play of discussions on proposals covering the marketing of plant protection products and on the sustainable use of pesticides.

The ten new member states currently applying the single area payment scheme expressed concerns on the implementation of the system of cross-compliance.

The Agriculture Commissioner updated Council on progress in the WTO agricultural negotiations.

The Fisheries Commissioner set out the Commission’s initial plans for handling the setting of the total allowable catches for 2008. He highlighted the importance of involving the full range of relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process.

Denmark expressed concerns about the operation of the existing management plan for the North sea sandeel fishery. The UK reminded the Commission about its interest, albeit limited, in the fishery and asked to be consulted when the management arrangements were reviewed.

Finally, the UK expressed concerns regarding the continued illegal use of drift nets by a number of member states, following the ban agreed in 1992. The Commission explained that it took such illegal activity seriously and that it would make full use of its treaty powers to pursue any infringements.

Local Authority Fees and Charges Scheme

Charges to cover the costs of local enforcing authorities in regulating processes which are subject to Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Local Air Pollution Control (LAPC)) were introduced in April 1991. Interim charges for installations which are subject to the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 (Local Air Pollution Prevention and Control (LAPPC) and Local Authority - Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (LA-IPPC)) were introduced in August 2000.

With the approval of the Treasury, and following consultation with local authority associations and industry, I have revised the scheme specifying the scale of fees and charges in respect of the Pollution Prevention and Control Act.

This amendment to the scheme specifies the scale of fees and charges for certain petrol vapour recovery applications, namely, the application and subsistence fees that operators must pay for Stage II petrol vapour recovery (PVR II) systems at existing petrol stations. With effect from 15 June 2007 the application fee for PVR II will be £91 and the subsistence fee for combined PVR I and PVR II will be £202.

The basis of these fees is set out in the consultation paper on “The Implementation of the Petrol Vapour Recovery Stage II Controls” which is available on the DEFRA website.

The amendment has been laid before Parliament and copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Diplomatic Missions/International Organisations (Unpaid Parking/Minor Traffic Violation Fines)

There were 5,484 outstanding parking and other minor traffic violation fines incurred by diplomatic missions and international organisations in the United Kingdom recorded during the year 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2006. These totalled £506,475. In April this year the Foreign and Commonwealth Office wrote to all diplomatic missions and international organisations concerned giving them the opportunity either to pay their outstanding fines or appeal against them if they considered that the fines had been issued incorrectly. As a result of subsequent payments totalling £22,713 and formal appeals lodged, there remains a total of 4,859 (£448,965) unpaid fines for 20061. The table below details those diplomatic missions and International Organisations that have outstanding fines totalling £1,000 or more.

Unpaid Parking and Minor Traffic Violation Fines -2006 -Diplomatic Vehicles-Owing £1,000 or More

Diplomatic Mission/International Organisation

No of Fines Outstanding

Amount in £

Saudi Arabia










































North Korea






























Sierra Leone





















Ivory Coast





















United Arab Emirates




























































South Africa









El Salvador



























1This figure includes 46 fines (£4,530) that are in dispute by missions who claim not to have received the original penalty notices. These could not be resolved before issue of the statement.

The number of outstanding fines incurred by diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom for non-payment of the London congestion charge since its introduction in February 2003 until 3 April 2007 was 74,198. The table below shows the 10 diplomatic missions with the highest value of outstanding fines.


Number of Outstanding Fines

Value £

1. USA



2. Nigeria



3. Sudan



4. Japan



5. Tanzania



6. Kenya



7. South Africa



8. Sierra Leone



9. Germany



10. Zimbabwe



Diplomatic Missions (Non-Domestic Rates Bills)

The majority of diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom pay the national non-domestic rates requested from them. They are obliged to pay only 6 per cent. of the total national non-domestic rates value, which represents payment for specific services such as street cleaning, lighting, maintenance and fire services. The total amount outstanding from all diplomatic missions is approximately £821,000.00. However, as at 31 March 2007, the missions listed below owed over £10,000 in national non-domestic rates. Twelve additional diplomatic missions, who owe £10,000 or more in respect of national non-domestic rates, have made arrangements with the Valuation Office Agency to clear their outstanding debts and have not been included in this list.























Diplomatic Immunity (Alleged Serious Offences)

In 2006, 15 serious offences allegedly committed by people entitled to diplomatic immunity were drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. "Serious Offences" are defined as offences that would, in certain circumstances, carry a penalty of 12 months or more imprisonment. Some 24,000 people are entitled to diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom.

The table below lists those foreign missions whose diplomats allegedly committed serious offences and the type of offence from 2002-2006.


Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

Nigeria 2

Child Abuse

Morocco 1

Child Neglect

Kazakhstan 1

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

Kazakhstan 2

Russia 2

Ukraine 2

Azerbaijan 1

Commonwealth Secretariat 1

Germany 1

Ghana 1

Nigeria 1

Panama 1

Rwanda 1

Facilitating Illegal Immigration

Germany 1


Colombia 1


Morocco 1

Public Order & Making False Declarations

Greece 1


Activities Inconsistent with Diplomatic Status (Bribery)

Saudi Arabia 1

Driving under the Influence of Alcohol

Algeria 1

Bolivia 1

Bulgaria 1

Commonwealth Secretariat 1

Italy 1

Kuwait 1

Mexico 1

* Other 1

Russia 1

Rwanda 1

Sierra Leone 1

Ukraine 1

Indecent Assault

South Africa 1

Morocco 1

Possession of an Offensive Weapon

Libya 1


Arranging Sham Marriages

Nigeria 1

Driving under the Influence of Alcohol

Angola 1

Austria 1

Luxembourg 1

Mozambique 1

Serbia and Montenegro 1

Spain 1

Indecent Assault

Congo 1

Saudi Arabia 1

Indecent Assault on Child

Saudi Arabia 1

Robbery and Assault

Angola 1


Actual Bodily Harm

Jordan 1

Assault (Domestic Violence)

Saudi Arabia 1

Dangerous Driving

Turkey 1

Driving under the Influence of Alcohol

Angola 1

Egypt 1

Ghana 1

Lebanon 1

Peru 1

Russia 1

Saudi Arabia 1


Turkey 1

Theft (Shoplifting)

Egypt 1

Equatorial Guinea 1

Zambia 1

Theft and Robbery (of Motor Vehicle, Driving without Insurance)

South Africa 1


Attempted Robbery

South Africa 1

Deception (Going Equipped to Commit)

Nigeria 1

Driving under the Influence of Alcohol

Kazakhstan 2

Belarus 1

Côte d'Ivoire 1

Kuwait 1

Malawi 1

Oman 1

Saudi Arabia 1

South Africa 1

Driving without Insurance

Pakistan 1

Failure to Stop for Police/Driving without Insurance and Licence

Kazakhstan 1


South Africa 1

Theft (Obtaining Property by Deception)

Ghana 1

* This name has been withheld because the number of diplomatic personnel in the mission concerned is so small that disclosure would lead to the identification of the individual concerned. This in turn would breach the data protection rights of that individual, in particular, the first data protection principle, namely, that personal data should be processed fairly. This is because the offences are only alleged to have been committed and have not been proven in a court of law. In these circumstances, Section 40 (2) and (3) of the Freedom of Information Act confer an absolute exemption on disclosure of this information.


Freedom of Information Act 2000

My right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has made the following written ministerial statement.

“Today I have deposited copies of “The Freedom of Information Act 2000 - Second Annual Report on the operation of the Freedom of Information Act in Central Government – 2006” in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

This is the Annual Report analysing the performance of central Government in the second full year of Freedom of Information.”

“Confidence and confidentiality: Openness in family courts - a new approach”

My noble Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, has made the following written ministerial statement.

“I am pleased to inform noble Lords that I have today laid before Parliament a further consultation paper on “Confidence and confidentiality: Openness in Family Courts - a new approach” (Cm 7131). It is available on the Department's website at:

Since publishing our initial proposals in 2006, we have reflected on the best ways of making the culture of family courts more open, while maintaining the privacy of those involved—especially children. We have listened to what people said in response to our original proposals. We have decided a new approach is needed, which focuses not on who may go into family courts, but on the information which comes out.

The consultation paper sets out our intention to take forward proposals that were widely welcomed by responses to the previous consultation paper, and consults on further proposals.”

Inquests Into the Deaths of Servicemen

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and I wish to make the following statement to the House about the inquests of servicemen and women who have died overseas where jurisdiction has been assumed by the Oxfordshire coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, and the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner, David Masters.

All casualties suffered by the UK armed forces are a source of profound regret. UK service personnel have put their lives on the line to help build strong, stable and democratic nations and protect the interests of the United Kingdom and we cannot pay high enough tribute to the job they are doing, or the sacrifice some of them have made. We are committed to assisting the families of UK service personnel who have died on operations overseas when their loved ones are returned to the UK.

We made statements to the House on 5 June 2006, Official Report, column 4WS; 12 October 2006, Official Report, column 26WS; 18 December 2006, Official Report, column 112WS and 29 March 2007, Official Report, column 121WS, with information about the conduct of inquests by the Oxfordshire coroner and today we are announcing progress which has been made since the written ministerial statement in March.


Coroners are independent judicial officers appointed and paid for by the relevant local authority. Their officers and staff are employed by the local authority and/or the police.

Each death of a serviceman or woman killed in an operation overseas whose body is repatriated to England and Wales is subject to an inquest. The inquest, both the investigation into the death and the holding of the public hearing into the death, is conducted by the coroner with jurisdiction which derives from where the body lies.

In the case of deaths of servicemen and women whose bodies were flown into Brize Norton military airbase until it could no longer be used for repatriations on 31 March 2007, the Oxfordshire coroner has initial jurisdiction. In the case of deaths of servicemen and women whose bodies have been flown into Lyneham military airbase since 1 April 2007, the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner has initial jurisdiction.

The coroner has powers under the Coroners Act 1988 to transfer jurisdiction to another coroner while the body is still lying within his district and with the consent of the other coroner. Since late December 2006 the Oxfordshire coroner’s practice was to transfer jurisdiction to coroners closer to the next of kin wherever possible; this practice has been continued by the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner since 1 April 2007.

Progress with the Remaining Inquests

At the time of the March written ministerial statement, 56 inquests had been held, 46 into the deaths of servicemen and 10 into the deaths of civilians in Iraq whose bodies were repatriated via RAF Brize Norton.

A further 16 inquests have been held into the deaths of servicemen, making a total of 72 inquests which have been held since June 2006.

Of these 72 inquests the Oxfordshire coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, has conducted five, Assistant Deputy Oxfordshire coroner Sir Richard Curtis six, Assistant Deputy Oxfordshire coroner Selena Lynch 28, Assistant Deputy Oxfordshire coroner Andrew Walker 32 and the Greater Manchester West Coroner Jennifer Leeming one.

Oxfordshire Coroner’s Jurisdiction

There remain 11 inquests to be concluded into the deaths of service personnel in military conflicts and exercises overseas and four inquests into the deaths of civilians who lost their lives in Iraq and whose bodies were repatriated to Brize Norton before 16 May 2006. This includes the death of a serviceman on an exercise in California in December 2005, details of which we have recently been advised by the coroner.

The oldest outstanding military inquest in the Oxfordshire coroner’s jurisdiction is the inquest into the death of Corporal Allbutt on 25 March 2003 which will be heard on 29 June 2007. The oldest outstanding civilian death inquest in the Oxfordshire coroner’s jurisdiction is the inquest into the death of Antonio Jose Monteiro Abelha on 22 June 2006. This inquest will be heard on 13 July 2007.

The four outstanding civilian inquests all have a hearing date. All but one of the outstanding inquests into servicemen’s deaths before 16 May 2006 have a hearing date and these inquests are due to be heard by the end of October 2007. The MOD recently determined that there should be a board of inquiry in the case of Lieutenant Palmer who died on 28 February 2006. His inquest will not be heard until 2008.

Of the 66 more recent cases since 16 May 2006, and which have been repatriated via Brize Norton, the Oxfordshire coroner has retained jurisdiction in 50 cases and has transferred 16 inquests to other coroners with jurisdiction closer to the next of kin of which one inquest has been held. Of those retained by the Oxfordshire coroner, pre-inquest hearing dates have been set in 17 cases, hearing dates set in nine cases and progress made in the remainder. Of the 15 inquests which have been transferred to other coroners, progress has been made and dates set for three inquests.

Wiltshire and Swindon Coroner’s Jurisdiction

There remain 10 inquests into fatalities which were repatriated via RAF Lyneham prior to 16 May 2006. These relate to the deaths of 10 crew members who died together in the crash of Hercules XV179 on 30 January 2005. The coroner held a pre inquest hearing in February 2007 and hopes to fix a date for the inquest after a further pre-inquest hearing in July and August.

A further 22 inquests relating to deaths since 16 May 2006 fall within the jurisdiction of the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner. Of these the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner has transferred or is in the process of transferring 12 inquests to other coroners with jurisdiction closer to the next of kin. A further inquest has been heard by the Liverpool coroner, André Rebello.

We are very grateful for the efforts of all the coroners involved in conducting these inquests.

We shall continue to keep the House informed on a quarterly basis about progress through the remaining inquests. I have placed a table in the Library which outlines the status of all cases and the date of death of each case. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

Liaison with the Next of Kin

It is of the greatest importance that the next of kin have full information about the progress on the inquest of their deceased next of kin.

In order to further improve the service to families, I invited to meet me on 4 December 2006 the families of service personnel who died in Iraq whose inquests had been held. We are grateful to the 17 relatives of the 12 deceased servicemen and women who gave us the benefit of their views and experiences so as to improve the inquest system for the benefit of future families of members of the armed service who die abroad.

Following that meeting we have been working on better supporting bereaved military families. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Defence issued a written ministerial statement on 7 June, Official Report, column 26WS giving details of the support which is now being provided.

Cabinet Office

Regulatory Impact Assessment

I have today presented to Parliament a Command Paper listing regulatory impact assessments published between July and December 2006. This is the Twenty-Sixth Command Paper.

The Government are committed to ensuring that regulations are necessary, give effective protection, balance cost and risk, are fair and command public confidence.

In accordance with this, we require Departments to produce and publish regulatory impact assessments for all regulatory proposals likely to have an impact on business, charities or voluntary bodies and the public sector.

Copies have been placed in the library for the reference of members and will be available in the Vote Office.

Trade and Industry

Competitiveness Council

I will be attending the Competitiveness Council in Luxembourg on 25 June.

The Council will be chaired by Annette Schavan, German Federal Minister for Research and Education.

The first item on the agenda is the proposal for a Regulation establishing the European Institute of Technology. This proposal will be put for a Council general approach. While the UK is generally content with the way in which the EIT proposal has evolved, the financial aspects of the proposal need to be dealt with satisfactorily.

The next item on the agenda is on knowledge transfer. The Council will adopt conclusions on a Communication from the Commission on knowledge transfer and a Presidency initiative for a Charter for the management of intellectual property from public research institutions and universities. The UK supports the need for better knowledge transfer between universities and business, in line with the Lambert Review.

This will be followed by the adoption of Council conclusions on a report from the Scientific and Technical Research Committee (CREST) on “how to make better coordinated use of Structural funds and the Framework Programme to support R&D.” The UK supports the coordinated use of these major EU funding programmes in support of the Lisbon Agenda.

The next item on the agenda is a Green Paper on the future of the European Research Area. There will be an exchange of views on this. The UK considers future EU research policy to be an important component of the Lisbon strategy and supports the consultation on the Green Paper.

Eight items will be taken under Any Other Business:

(i) Proposal for a Council Regulation on a Joint Technology Initiative “Clean Sky”. (Presentation by the Commission)

(ii) Proposal for a Council Regulation on a Joint Technology Initiative “ENIAC”. (Presentation by the Commission)

(iii) Future Commission proposal on Article 169 Initiative AAL. (Information on the state of play)

(iv) Future Commission proposal on Article 169 Initiative Euro STARS. (Information on the state of play)

(v) Euro-Med Education and Research Ministers Conference (Information from the Presidency)

(vi) Proposal for a Directive on restrictions on the marketing of certain measuring devices containing mercury. (Information from the Presidency)

(vii) Work programme of the incoming Presidency. (Information from the Portuguese Delegation).

General Affairs and External Relations Council

I will be attending the extraordinary meeting of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) in Luxembourg on 25 June, which has been called due to the likelihood of important developments in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations.

The Council will be chaired by Bernd Pfaffenbach, State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour. EU member states will be represented at the GAERC by Trade Ministers, rather than Foreign Ministers, due to the issue to be discussed.

The item on the agenda will be the Doha Development Round of multilateral trade negotiations. The meeting will review progress made during the negotiations between the G4 group of countries (EU, US, Brazil and India) between the 19-22 June, and discuss how these negotiations should be taken forward during the next few months, which represent a critical period in the negotiations. The Council is likely to adopt Conclusions to guide the Commission's negotiations on behalf of the EU at this meeting.

A further written statement will be prepared after the meeting has taken place.

Bevin Boys Badge

My noble friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy, Lord Truscott has made the following written statement.

Following the Prime Minister’s statement on 24 January this year in relation to the recognition of the contribution made by the Bevin Boys who worked in the UK coalfields during and immediately after World War II I would like to update the House on the recent developments.

Members will be aware that the Bevin Boys scheme was introduced in 1943 by then Minister for Labour and National Service, Ernest Bevin, in response to an increasing shortage of labour in the coal mining industry. The scheme ran between 1943 and 1948 and involved recruiting men aged between 18 and 25 years to work in coal mines rather than serve in the armed forces. Some 48,000 men worked in the mines under the scheme.

I am delighted to announce that the DTI is launching today a lapel badge in recognition of the contribution this group made to the war effort.

Of the 48,000 some 43 per cent. were conscripted directly into the mines and are known more generally as “ballotees”. The remaining 57 per cent. were those who opted for mine work in preference to joining the armed forces or those who were in the armed forces and volunteered to become miners. Only those who fall into these categories will be eligible for the badge.

The Bevin Boys Badge is a survivors badge and I would encourage Bevin Boy veterans to wear it in public in order visibly to raise awareness of the important role they played during World War II and in the postwar reconstruction of the UK. Widows and estates will not eligible.

The application process for the badge will be launched towards the end of the year. With a view to the first badge being awarded to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the demobilisation of the final Bevin Boys in March 2008.

The DTI have worked closely with the Bevin Boys Association, who have expressed their extreme pleasure at the introduction, to ensure that the design of the badge suitably reflects the work they carried out. It is important that we never forget the sacrifices that were made both at home and abroad during the war, and this badge is a fitting way to remember the Bevin Boys’ work to keep the coalfields going.

A copy of the badge design has been placed in the Library.

Construction Industry (Payment Practices)

I have today launched a consultation document on improvements to regulation intended to support better payment practices in the construction industry. Copies are available in the House.

It has taken a long time to assemble these proposals following the publication of the DTI and Welsh Assembly Government's first consultation in March 2005.1 am delighted that we can now issue the second consultation we promised on “Improving payment practices in the construction industry”. I know how important it is for all in the construction industry that we have a system which delivers fair payment practices. The framework set out in Part II of the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 has delivered improvement over the past nine years and it is important we build on this. I look forward to a healthy and constructive discussion.

The consultation document sets out a number of proposals on how we might seek to introduce greater clarity and transparency into the statutory payment framework to enable construction companies to manage cash flow better; and encourage parties to resolve disputes by adjudication.

Prompt and fair payment practice throughout construction supply chains will help the construction industry to adopt integrated working as the norm.

The proposals:

improve transparency and clarity in the exchange of information relating to payments to enable the better management of cash flow;

encourage the parties to resolve disputes by adjudication, where it is appropriate, rather than by resorting to more costly and time consuming solutions such as litigation; and improve the right to suspend performance under the contract.

They do this by:

On adjudication

improving access to the right to refer disputes for adjudication by:

applying the legislation to oral and partly oral contracts

preventing the use of agreements that interim payment decisions will be conclusive to avoid adjudication of interim payment disputes

ensuring the costs involved in the process are fairly allocated

On payment

preventing unnecessary duplication of payment notices

clarifying the requirement to serve a section 110(2) payment notice

clarifying the content of payment and withholding notices

ensuring the payment framework creates a clear interim entitlement to payment

prohibiting the use of pay when certified clauses

On suspension

improving the statutory right to suspend performance by allowing the suspending party to claim the costs and delay which result.

These proposals are intended to be proportionate amendments to the existing framework to address specific issues that have arisen during the nine years the Construction Act has been in operation. Guidance remains the preferred route to improve the operation of construction contracts and we have only considered further legislative intervention where we believe it is absolutely necessary.

Having emerged from the first consultation on “Improving payment practices in the construction industry” in 2005, these proposals were first outlined in the analysis of the consultation in January 2006. During 2006 a DTI appointed sounding board assisted in the development of the detailed proposals for this second consultation. I am very grateful for the work that the sounding board did.

It was originally intended that these proposals should be introduced using a Legislative Reform Order (LRO) under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006. But I have now concluded that it would be more appropriate to introduce these proposals using primary legislation. The consultation covers the primary legislative proposals in detail, as well as the consequential amendments that will need to be made to the Scheme for Construction Contracts (England and Wales) Regulations 1998.

We are now seeking the views of the construction industry and its clients on whether this package of proposals properly and adequately addresses the weaknesses in the existing framework, and how we might evaluate the costs and benefits of the package.

We will be seeking to introduce legislation to implement the proposals emerging from this consultation through primary legislation as soon as a legislative slot is available.

The consultation document is also available at: