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Written Statements

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 1 April 2008

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Defence Exports

The Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
(Mr. John Hutton)

The Prime Minister’s statement of 25 July 2007, Official Report, column 83WS announced a machinery of Government transfer moving responsibility for defence trade promotion from the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) to UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). As outlined in my ministerial statement of 11 December 2007, Official Report, column 16WS, this transfer takes place today, 1 April 2008, with the launch of the new UKTI Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO).

This statement is made in close consultation with my colleagues the Secretary of State for Defence and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. With this transfer, ministerial responsibility for trade and investment in the defence and security sectors now rests with the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, a joint BERR and FCO Minister. Close links with MOD Ministers will be maintained.

The Government remain fully committed to supporting the defence sector and its continued export success. Defence equipment manufacture is highly important to our economy and the creation of the new UKTI Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) will allow us to develop our support for the defence sector building on the good work of DESO in the past and taking advantage of UKTI’s experience in helping other sectors.

In line with normal machinery of Government transfers, the relevant resources transfer at current levels from MOD to UKTI (and its parent departments BERR and FCO). Some 240 posts and the associated resources transfer with effect from 1 April, 200 in the UK and 40 overseas. To ensure UKTI DSO has continued defence expertise, around half of the posts will be filled by military and civilian staff on loan from the MOD. The remaining posts will be filled by staff transferring permanently.

A new security directorate is being established within UKTI Defence and Security Organisation, to enhance the support provided to business in the military and civil security sector. This will bring together support previously provided separately by DESO and UKTI into a coherent and co-ordinated national effort to help UK companies in this increasingly important area of the economy to win business from overseas Government and business customers.

This transfer will also enable us to enhance support for defence exports in a way that emphasises our commitment to the highest business standards. UKTI Defence and Security Organisation will seek to assist the defence industry to achieve a more consistent performance across industry as a whole, demonstrably supporting good governance and responding to the compelling business case for transparency and ethical behaviour.

The UKTI Defence and Security Organisation will continue to have strong links to the MOD. Arrangements have been formally set out in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between UKTI and MOD (published today, 01.04.2008, and a copy of which will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses). The terms of the SLA include the provision support for overseas campaigns, ongoing engagement of Defence Ministers, and the loan from the MOD to UKTI of both military and civilian personnel.

In line with the Prime Minister’s statement and my previous statement, no changes are envisaged to existing and planned agreements between the MOD and other Governments. The MOD export licensing function, previously part of DESO, is being retained within MOD.

Children, Schools and Families

Schools Revenue Balances (2006-07)

Following my statement of 30 October 2007 on school finances, the Department for Children, Schools and Families has today published information on the end of financial year revenue balances of all local authority maintained nursery, primary, secondary and special schools for the year 2006-07.

This information is presented alongside information on schools’ revenue balances for the financial years 1999-2000 to 2005-06, published on 15 March 2007. The information is taken from local authorities’ published section 52 outturn statements for the years in question but presents this in summary form. Copies of the information have been placed in the Libraries and will be accessible from the TeacherNet website, with supporting information, at:

Communities and Local Government

Gypsies and Travellers

I am today publishing the Government’s response to “The Road Ahead: The Final Report of the Independent Task Group on Site Provision and Enforcement for Gypsies and Travellers”.

In 2006, the Government appointed Sir Brian Briscoe to chair a task group to examine the barriers local authorities face in taking effective enforcement action against unauthorised encampments and developments by Gypsies and Travellers. We were pleased to accept the task group’s request that their terms of reference be amended to also include an examination of the barriers to effective site provision. The task group published their final report in December 2007 and made 36 recommendations which covered the roles of central and local government as well as a range of other stakeholders.

The Government’s approach balances firm but fair enforcement against those who camp on land without permission or who breach development control, with proactive measures to increase site provision. We are pleased that the task group agreed that this is the right approach.

In our response, the Government are today announcing our intention to provide an annual policy update to Parliament on Gypsy and Traveller issues, as well as to co-ordinate an annual meeting between Communities and Local Government and the organisations represented on the task group, or their successors.

Copies of the publication are available in the Libraries of both Houses.


Executive Agencies

With effect from 1 April 2008 the Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA) and the Defence Medical Education and Training Agency (DMETA) will cease to have the status of executive agencies of the Ministry of Defence.

DASA was established as an executive agency in 1993 to provide professional analytical, economic and statistical services and advice to the Department, and defence-related statistics to Parliament, other Government Departments and the public. The case for a change in status arises primarily from its developing role in supporting the exploitation of the substantial information resource which new departmental systems will provide. For the Department to fully exploit the additional value of these new systems it will have to adopt a more co-ordinated, cross-MOD approach than previously. DASA’s ability to play its full role in these future developments will require greater flexibility of role and responsibility than is compatible with agency status.

DMETA was established in 2003, as part of the Defence Medical Services. Its principal objective has been to make available secondary care personnel for deployments who are medically educated and trained, to meet military operational requirements. The agency has also taken on additional roles, beyond its original mission, in the delivery of secondary and tertiary healthcare and operational capability at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine and the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre. As part of planned improvements to the structure of the defence medical services, we have decided to subsume DMETA’s roles within a new joint medical command (JMC), which will be formed on 1 April. The JMC’s wider role will in due course make it responsible for the delivery of all joint medical services, including joint medical and dental outputs, force generation, healthcare acquisition, training and education. We are planning for the JMC HQ, which will be established initially at Fort Blockhouse, Gosport, the current home of the DMETA HQ, to be re-located to Whittington Barracks, Lichfield as part of the Midland Medical Accommodation project.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

FCO Services

FCO Services today becomes a trading fund of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Mr Christopher Moxey was appointed as chief executive when FCO Services became an executive agency in April 2006 and will continue in that role for the FCO Services trading fund. The necessary statutory instrument comes into effect today (SI 2008/590).

FCO Services is our in-house support organisation, delivering key services to enable our global network to function efficiently. It protects our staff, buildings and communications from the wide variety of threats they continually face in many parts of the world and has particular expertise in secure logistics, secure IT and in the security of buildings. It is already a substantial business employing nearly 1000 staff and with an estimated turnover of around £125 million in 2007-08.

As an executive agency FCO Services has made real progress in customer satisfaction, internal efficiency and financial performance. I am now moving it to trading fund status where the additional commercial disciplines and freedoms will enable it to enhance service delivery and innovation and improve overall value for money. FCO Services will remain part of the FCO as a trusted partner under our overall strategic direction. The FCO will be assured of a continuing reliable supply of vital support services.

At the same time we will ensure that all the services FCO Services provides will be regularly tested and benchmarked for value for money; FCO Services will be encouraged to increase business with non-FCO customers, enabling it to finance its own investment plans and deliver economies of scale to the FCO. The more arms-length management arrangement will free up FCO resources to focus on the Government’s strategic priorities abroad. This move is in the best interests of the FCO, the Government and the taxpayer.

In his written ministerial statement of 18 March, my noble Friend Lord Malloch-Brown announced a set of key targets for FCO Services in 2008-09 to encourage the creation of a stable business and improvements in performance. FCO Services will report to Parliament on its success against these targets in its 2008-09 annual report.

Copies of the new framework document covering FCO Services’ role and responsibilities will be placed in the Library of the House. A copy will also be available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at:


NHS Foundation Trusts

The chairman of Monitor (the statutory name of which is the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts) announced this week that, in accordance with section 35 of the National Health Service Act 2006, Monitor has decided to authorise the following NHS acute and mental health trusts as NHS foundation trust from 1 April:

The Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Trust;

Medway NHS Trust; and

Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust.

Monitor’s announcement brings the total number of NHS foundation trusts to 92. A copy of Monitor’s press notice has been placed in the Library.

The Government remain committed to offering all NHS acute and mental health trusts the opportunity to apply for foundation status as soon as practicable. Monitor is now authorising trusts on a monthly basis, and further waves of NHS foundation trusts are set to follow.

Vascular Disease

The Prime Minister set out his vision for the NHS earlier this year: a more personal service supporting people to stay well and maintain good health. It placed individuals’ centre-stage, engaged and taking greater control over their own health. He promised to set out plans for a “predict and prevent” approach to identify vulnerability to vascular disease—heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

I am pleased to announce the development of a systematic programme of vascular checks for everyone between the ages of 40 and 74. “Putting prevention first” explains this in more detail and has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office.

Home Department

Independent Safeguarding Authority

Further to the written statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and families on 17 March 2008, Official Report, column 36WS, I am pleased to announce plans for the work of the new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), together with the fee to be charged for applications.

The Independent Safeguarding Authority was established in January this year under powers in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. It will meet the aims of one of the key recommendations made by the Bichard inquiry, which pointed to the need for a scheme to register those seeking work with children or other vulnerable groups.

The ISA’s role will be to consider all relevant information relating to the risk of harm posed by persons seeking to work with children or vulnerable adults, in either a paid or voluntary capacity, and to bar those considered unsuitable for such work. The transition to the new scheme is now under way. From 31 March this year, the ISA began to advise the Secretaries of State for Children, Schools and Families and for Health in connection with new cases arising under the existing barring arrangements, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 of schedule 8 to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act. From 7 April this year, cases will be referred to the ISA under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (Transitional Provisions) Order 2008., under which ISA must include, or consider including, in the new barred lists those individuals who are barred under the current schemes.

From October 2009 the new ISA scheme will “go-live”. From that point, the scheme will consider new applications in relation to persons seeking work with children or vulnerable adults. The fee charged for ISA scheme applications has been set at £28. This is based on cost recovery of the operational costs for the scheme over its first five years of operation, estimated at £246 million. The scheme will cost £84 million to set up.

Taken together with the fee required for a Criminal Records Bureau disclosure check, the total fee for an initial application will be £64. Under the planned arrangements, the ISA element of the fee will be payable only on first joining the scheme. Once registered, employers will be able to verify an applicant's registered status in the scheme by means of a free on-line check. No fee will be payable by those in unpaid voluntary work. The need for subsequent CRB checks will remain a matter for employers, except in those sectors where it is a legal requirement.

The establishment of the ISA plays an important part in the Government’s agenda to meet the Bichard recommendations and ensure the most robust procedures are in place to safeguard children and other vulnerable groups.


Probation Trusts (Implementation)

I wish to inform the House that from 1 April 2008, there will be established six new probation trusts operating in England and Wales: Dyfed Powys; Humberside; Leicestershire and Rutland; Merseyside; South Wales; and West Mercia. The Government will be continuing to work closely with and to support those first six probation trusts in the learning year of 2008-09 as they develop and evolve.

There remain 36 local probation boards that continue to operate in all other areas of England and Wales. The Government are currently assessing the performance of all the local probation boards while considering the implications of wider issues around efficiency and effectiveness. We will continue to learn from, and with, our first probation trusts during this time.

In accordance with sections 7, 8 and 10 of the Offender Management Act, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice has published national standards for the management of offenders; his annual plan for discharging his functions in relation to the provision of probation services; and guidelines for the qualification of officers supervising offenders. Copies have been made available in the Libraries of both Houses and are also available on the NOMS website at

Child Care Proceedings System

Following a statement I made to the House on 26 July 2007, Official Report, column 103WS, and in agreement with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Member for Cardiff, West (Kevin Brennan) and the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services in the Welsh Assembly Government (Gwenda Thomas), I am delighted to inform the House that two key reforms to the child care proceedings system have today come into force in England and Wales.

The Public Law Outline has been introduced to replace the existing Protocol for Judicial Case Management in Public Law Children Act Cases. This is underpinned by revised statutory guidance to local authorities in England and Wales issued under section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 to support them in preparing care applications to the court.

Together these key reforms, which arose from the recommendations of the “Review of the Child Care Proceedings System in England and Wales in May 2006”, seek to ensure that vulnerable children involved in care cases have safety and stability in their lives and that decisions as to their future are made fairly and as speedily as possible. It is vital that all agencies work together collaboratively to establish safe, permanent and timely child focused solutions and reduce the stress caused by unnecessary delay in care proceedings.

In order to further inter-agency unity, a partnership of Government Departments and agencies commissioned Children Law UK to deliver training courses to support the introduction of the Public Law Outline and revised statutory guidance. Some 25 interdisciplinary seminars took place in England and Wales between January and March 2008, attended by nearly 2,000 people. Delegates included social workers, local authority legal advisers, legal practitioners, family court staff, and Cafcass and Cafcass Cymru staff. The seminars were delivered by family legal and social work experts who provided the attendees with the skills and knowledge necessary to cascade the training to their peers.

The revised statutory guidance places greater emphasis on the work undertaken by local authorities before care proceedings can commence. In particular, they are required to notify parents of their intention to make an application to the court and to set out the basis of their concerns and an outline of their future plans for the child. On receipt of this, parents have immediate access to non-means tested legal help from a solicitor, funded by the Legal Services Commission, with the aim of avoiding proceedings or narrowing the issues to be determined by the court.

Where cases do proceed to court, the Public Law Outline introduces a more streamlined court process (reducing the current six stages to four). It promotes better quality applications through following the revised local authority guidance; requires timetables for the court process to be set which are focused on the needs of the children involved; and, introduces enhanced case management procedures which include earlier identification of the key issues leading to better targeted and effective use of experts evidence in those cases where it is required.

The final versions of the Public Law Outline and local authority guidance have been prepared with input from a wide range of stakeholders. A full public consultation on the revised statutory guidance was undertaken during 2007, while the Public Law Outline was tested in 10 care centres and their linked family proceedings courts selected by Sir Mark Potter, president of the family division, in consultation with relevant designated family judges. The experiences of the 10 initiative areas have played a crucial role in helping to inform both final versions of these key reforms, and the nationwide implementation plans.

Copies of the Public Law Outline and the revised statutory guidance have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Parole Board

The purpose of this statement is to advise the House as to changes I am making in respect of arrangements my Department makes for sponsoring the Parole Board, an executive non-departmental public body (ENDPB).

In its judgment handed down on 1 February in the case of “Brooke” the Court of Appeal ruled that, as a consequence of its current sponsorship arrangements, the Parole Board was not sufficiently independent of the executive to meet the requirements of article 5(4) of the ECHR. In reaching this conclusion the Court acknowledged that the Parole Board had evolved from an advisory body to a judicial body.

The Court of Appeal found that the Parole Board should not be sponsored by the National Offender Management Service as is currently the case and that the Secretary of State should ensure that the sponsorship responsibility for the board was placed in another part of the Ministry of Justice where its independence is not open to question. However, the Court of Appeal also ruled that the status of the board as an ENDPB is not incompatible with independence.

The Parole Board has an important role in determining whether to release some of potentially the most dangerous offenders within the criminal justice system. I fully recognise that its decisions in individual cases must both be and be seen to be free of interference by its sponsoring Department.

I have decided not to seek leave to appeal against the court’s findings. Instead I have given careful consideration to how the Parole Board’s sponsorship arrangements should be altered to meet the concerns of the court.

From 1 April sponsorship of the Parole Board will be transferred from the National Offender Management Service to the Access to Justice Group in the Ministry of Justice. Although responsibility for sponsorship of the Parole Board will remain within the Ministry, there will be a clear separation between responsibility for the board’s sponsorship and responsibility for the management of offenders.

These new sponsorship arrangements underline my commitment to enhancing and protecting the independence of the Parole Board and I commend them to the House.

Prison Policy

Further to my statement on prison policy on 31 January 2008, Official Report, column 37WS, I am pleased to announce that the evaluation of the Dedicated Drug Court pilots has now been completed. Copies of this, the “Dedicated Drug Court Pilots: A Process Report” have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. The report is also available online at:

The Dedicated Drug Court model establishes a new framework in the magistrates courts in dealing with drug misusing offenders committing low level crime to fund their addiction, aiming to reduce their drug misuse and therefore their associated offending behaviour. The model makes use of specialist panels of magistrates or district judges to provide continuity when sentencing and reviewing offenders’ progress on drug treatment orders to completion or any breach, seeking to improve offenders’ motivation to stay in treatment and so reduce drug use and related offending

Pilots were launched at Leeds and West London Magistrates Courts in December 2005. An independent evaluation of these pilots has now been completed. The process report published today provides positive indications of the impact of continuity of judiciary on several key outcomes, including offenders being less likely to miss a court hearing, less likely to be re-convicted and more likely to complete their community order.

The Dedicated Drug Court model will now be extended to up to four more sites. This will allow the viability of the model to be tested in an increased number of sites and the conclusions of the current evaluation to be strengthened with evidence from an increased number of cases. The new pilot sites will be selected through consultation with the judiciary, court staff and other key partners and the pilots will commence in October 2008.

Her Majesty's Courts Service

The Lord Chief Justice and I are today issuing the following joint statement:

In January this year we announced the main principles of a partnership between us, as Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice, in relation to the governance, resourcing and operation of the courts. A new framework document for Her Majesty’s Courts Service (Cm 7350) has today been laid before the House, which sets out our partnership in greater detail and gives effect to its provisions.

Our partnership builds on a series of recent developments including the concordat agreed in January 2004 between our predecessors, the creation of HMCS in April 2005, the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and finally the creation of the Ministry of Justice in May 2007. The concordat contained provisions in paragraphs 24 and 25 for the engagement of the Lord Chief Justice and judiciary in the resourcing of HMCS. We have agreed that these provisions are superseded by the new and more extensive arrangements put in place by the HMCS framework document.

The new arrangements place the leadership and broad direction of HMCS in the hands of a new board with an independent non-executive chair. We are pleased to announce the appointment of Sir Duncan Nichol to this position with effect from today, for a period of three years. Sir Duncan has extensive experience in public service delivery within the justice system and more widely.

The founding principles of our partnership are a firm and shared commitment to the delivery of an efficient and effective 21st century justice system and upholding the independence of the judiciary. We look forward to working closely with Sir Duncan and the new board in achieving our shared aims and endeavours.


Maritime and Coastguard Agency

I am pleased to announce the broad objectives and specific ministerial targets for the Maritime Coastguard Agency for 2008-09. These are:

Safety Objective—Through accident prevention and effective search and rescue co-ordination and response, improve the safety of ships and people at sea and at the coast.

Performance under this objective will be measured against the following ministerial delivery targets:

MT1. Conduct operational standards and training audits and secure year-on-year improvements in the average scores covering both exercise and individual assessment elements to maintain the quality of maritime emergency co-ordination and response by the Coastguard.

MT2. Helicopters tasked to respond to incidents will be airborne within 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night in at least 98 per cent. of cases.

MT3. Meet the internationally required target to inspect 25 per cent. of foreign vessels in UK ports under PSC arrangements, with an increasing emphasis on inspecting available ships judged to be high risk.

MT4. Maintain the quality of the UK ship register by reducing the level of deficiencies recorded on UK ships inspected abroad, and maintain a position on the Paris MOU white list which is comparable to registers of a similar size and reputation.

MT5. As a category 1 responder, continue to meet the provisions of the Civil Contingencies Act including increased engagement with Local Resilience Fora.

Under this objective the MCA will also take forward a three year programme of work in the following areas:

Seafarer Fatigue—working with the shipping industry and seafarer unions on a coherent strategy to reduce seafarer fatigue.

Fishing Vessels—working with the fishing industry to improve the safety of small fishing vessels (under 15m).

Lifejackets— working with the agency’s partner organisations (including the Royal National Lifeboat Institute and the Royal Yachting Association), to promote the wearing of lifejackets within the leisure sector.

Environment ObjectiveThrough our monitoring of ships and response to pollution incidents protect the marine environment.

Performance under this objective will be measured against the following ministerial delivery target:

MT6— Respond promptly to potential and actual pollution from ships around the UK coast, drawing effectively on resources including our emergency tugs, and following the procedures set out in the National Contingency Plan.

Under this objective the MCA will also take forward a three-year programme of work covering:

Vessel Traffic Management—Identifying the future requirements of sea space management and the role the agency may perform.

Beyond these objectives and targets are the agency’s service standards and measured outcomes. Together these measures cover all aspects of the agency’s work and provide continual assurance about the quality of our performance.

The agency will also continue to monitor its performance through a range of service standards and measured outcomes which will be reported in its published annual report and accounts.

Women and Equality

Domestic Violence

Last July I made a statement to the House setting out three key priorities for the Ministers for Women. One of these priorities is, “tackling violence against women and improving the way we deal with women who commit crimes”.

We have done a great deal to step up action against domestic violence, sexual offences and human trafficking, but there is more to do. Domestic violence still results in two homicides every week. It not only harms women but has a devastating impact on children. Human trafficking takes many forms and blights the lives of men, women and children in many different continents. Britain is a major focus for the global trade in the sexual exploitation of women by traffickers, who trick or abduct young women and force them into prostitution.

We need to ensure that the substantive law is right and make it clear beyond doubt that domestic and sexual violence against women, and human trafficking for prostitution, will not be tolerated.

Today the Government is publishing “Tackling Violence Against Women: A Cross-Government Narrative”. This report draws together work being done across Government to tackle violence against women and responds to the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition’s annual Making the Grade survey. EVAW campaign’s work is a valuable part of the work to tackle violence against women, and I welcome both the challenge and opportunities which Making the Grade offers.

Copies of “Tackling Violence Against Women: A Cross-Government Narrative” will be available in the Commons Library.

Work and Pensions

New Deal

On 14 March 2008, Official Report, vol. 473, column 30 WS, I announced my plans for implementing the flexible New Deal to build on the success of the existing New Deals for jobseekers it replaces, helping to underpin our objectives for full employment and eradicating child poverty. Based on our previous experience in implementing successfully the commercially delivered Pathways to Work in just two phases, I announced that we would adopt a similar approach for the flexible New Deal with phase 1 being delivered from October 2009 and phase 2 from October 2010.

Following further consultation between my officials and the Welsh Assembly Government I have decided to make changes to the phase 1 contracting arrangements as they will affect Wales so that there will be two contracts wholly within Wales.

These changes take account of existing partnerships in Wales and by doing so the implementation of flexible New Deal should be enhanced.

The list of Jobcentre Plus districts to be included in each phase that I announced in my earlier statement now is:

Phase 1

Phase 2

Birmingham and Solihull


North and East Yorkshire and Humber

Forth Valley, Fife and Tayside

Tees Valley


South Yorkshire

West London


City and East London

Surrey and Sussex

North and North East London



Leicestershire and Northamptonshire

Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire


Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire

Central London

Cumbria and Lancashire

Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth

South London

Devon and Cornwall

Dorset and Somerset

South Wales Valleys

West of England

South East Wales

Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Swindon

South West Wales

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

North and Mid Wales

Highland, Islands, Clyde Coast and Grampian

Black Country

West Yorkshire

Greater Manchester Central


Greater Manchester East and West

South Tyne and Wear Valley

Coventry and Warwickshire

Cheshire, Halton and Warrington

The Marches


Lanarkshire and East Dunbartonshire

Edinburgh, Lothian and Borders

Ayrshire, Dumfries, Galloway and Inverclyde

Cambridgeshire and Suffolk


Lincolnshire and Rutland

Advertisements for organisations interested in bidding for phase 1 contracts will be published in the press from today.

Transforming Britain’s labour market: “Ten Years of the New Deal” is available at: http//

DWP “Commissioning Strategy” is available at: http//