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Written Statements

Volume 474: debated on Monday 21 April 2008

Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 21 April 2008

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Correction to Parliamentary Answer

An error has been identified in the figures in the table to the written answer given to the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne, (Julia Goldsworthy), 31 March 2008, Official Report, columns 503-10W.

Instead of providing the municipal waste sent to landfill by each local authority, the total municipal waste for each had been presented. The text of the answer correctly referred to waste to landfill; the numbers were incorrect for all years.

The correct figures are given below.

Municipal Waste to Landfill, per Person (kg per year)

Government Region

Authority

1998-99

1999-00

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

North East

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

87

84

37

26

49

51

19

51

59

North East

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council

239

87

N/A

251

329

253

N/A

68

66

North East

Middlesbrough Borough Council

120

98

N/A

67

85

96

65

146

103

North East

Hartlepool Borough Council

119

63

119

104

78

86

64

101

64

North East

Darlington Borough Council

494

554

561

557

605

520

N/A

488

461

North East

Durham County Council

525

558

558

582

567

509

N/A

407

410

North East

Northumberland County Council

525

481

549

567

571

514

N/A

401

384

North East

Sunderland City Council

485

403

517

549

575

526

501

454

428

North East

South Tyneside MBC

439

441

442

459

467

471

N/A

485

469

North East

North Tyneside Council

225

237

282

433

505

516

549

450

424

North East

Newcastle-upon-Tyne City Council MBC

637

696

N/A

583

639

611

N/A

465

508

North East

Gateshead MBC

776

764

794

911

897

724

535

471

455

North West

Warrington Borough Council

536

601

499

495

507

498

N/A

451

407

North West

Halton Borough Council

530

546

530

509

517

518

N/A

464

450

North West

Cheshire County Council

516

537

563

545

547

522

485

438

402

North West

Cumbria County Council

481

533

503

537

529

515

N/A

527

483

North West

Wigan MBC

584

536

525

604

642

633

592

485

426

North West

Greater Manchester WDA (MBC)

521

531

530

563

565

542

N/A

392

378

North West

Blackpool Borough Council

520

552

568

550

543

516

N/A

435

403

North West

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

450

456

460

485

476

439

474

425

397

North West

Lancashire County Council

361

489

501

459

442

403

N/A

356

340

North West

Merseyside WDA (MBC)

490

524

522

535

545

534

N/A

484

473

Yorkshire/Humber

East Riding of Yorkshire Council

345

505

497

499

503

497

490

439

420

Yorkshire/Humber

Kingston-upon-Hull City Council

506

545

534

510

534

533

426

466

435

Yorkshire/Humber

North East Lincolnshire Council

431

527

496

510

496

458

N/A

136

129

Yorkshire/Humber

North Lincolnshire Council

597

554

509

517

518

511

497

480

398

Yorkshire/Humber

York City Council

561

536

528

538

545

523

N/A

461

379

Yorkshire/Humber

North Yorkshire County Council

476

573

570

563

563

541

538

461

443

Yorkshire/Humber

Sheffield City Council

296

314

160

339

242

197

187

167

69

Yorkshire/Humber

Rotherham MBC

574

519

546

525

476

433

418

399

375

Yorkshire/Humber

Doncaster MBC

568

577

642

626

600

541

535

481

469

Yorkshire/Humber

Barnsley MBC

492

512

536

604

549

498

N/A

471

439

Yorkshire/Humber

Leeds City Council MBC

481

495

501

480

478

421

N/A

371

355

Yorkshire/Humber

Kirklees MBC

592

577

568

510

233

159

217

210

247

Yorkshire/Humber

Wakefield City MDC

588

612

619

608

540

505

N/A

498

479

Yorkshire/Humber

Bradford City MDC (MBC)

432

470

519

520

557

572

N/A

467

452

Yorkshire/Humber

Calderdale MBC

501

352

442

418

494

459

389

355

349

E Midlands

Derby City Council

434

437

436

462

476

459

N/A

400

373

E Midlands

Derbyshire County Council

469

415

457

468

472

443

N/A

393

373

E Midlands

Rutland County Council

508

488

451

454

441

430

405

399

388

E Midlands

Leicester City Council

387

437

430

451

461

525

N/A

120

334

E Midlands

Leicestershire County Council

518

486

435

430

481

454

426

375

358

E Midlands

Lincolnshire County Council

343

430

431

454

436

411

394

356

323

E Midlands

Northamptonshire County Council

463

515

482

485

475

426

415

374

374

E Midlands

Nottingham City Council

246

249

222

244

302

224

N/A

232

182

E Midlands

Nottinghamshire County Council

424

436

409

436

434

397

N/A

297

286

W Midlands

Herefordshire Council

379

438

444

490

505

461

466

398

394

W Midlands

Worcestershire County Council

469

479

542

493

485

433

382

350

328

W Midlands

Telford and Wrekin Council

539

628

591

554

529

481

455

395

389

W Midlands

Shropshire County Council

508

542

541

563

514

464

447

407

381

W Midlands

Stoke-on-Trent City Council

80

87

82

105

121

111

139

141

129

W Midlands

Staffordshire County Council

339

352

328

328

325

319

N/A

220

245

W Midlands

Warwickshire County Council

486

499

483

488

475

446

N/A

388

376

W Midlands

Wolverhampton MBC

115

89

40

104

211

272

N/A

149

107

W Midlands

Walsall MBC

463

473

508

503

489

459

460

440

372

W Midlands

Solihull MBC

200

191

220

201

145

137

N/A

101

89

W Midlands

Sandwell MBC

412

419

440

424

379

439

N/A

409

334

W Midlands

Dudley MBC

150

127

105

97

101

72

N/A

72

73

W Midlands

Coventry City Council

51

104

N/A

63

185

116

N/A

80

75

W Midlands

Birmingham City Council

199

183

181

199

132

157

N/A

102

128

Eastern

Luton Borough Council

455

479

N/A

505

475

466

422

399

394

Eastern

Bedfordshire County Council

522

546

530

597

538

467

N/A

391

366

Eastern

Peterborough City Council

386

430

405

435

446

416

454

429

377

Eastern

Cambridgeshire County Council

400

389

388

372

384

355

355

328

306

Eastern

Thurrock Council

523

490

379

405

553

440

410

395

391

Eastern

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

460

481

471

476

481

463

N/A

408

376

Eastern

Essex County Council

470

434

425

425

416

403

N/A

368

346

Eastern

Hertfordshire County Council

409

412

409

423

403

378

N/A

338

340

Eastern

Norfolk County Council

443

467

453

452

444

388

373

329

301

Eastern

Suffolk County Council

478

471

459

461

458

422

380

341

372

London

Bexley LB

169

194

258

402

522

437

398

347

263

London

Tower Hamlets LB

449

473

490

488

500

481

N/A

449

418

London

City of London

11883

10629

10172

9290

8102

6721

5626

4706

5288

London

Westminster City Council

633

565

518

444

358

316

200

141

118

London

East London Waste Authority

505

417

521

521

538

492

460

442

371

London

North London Waste Authority

291

254

191

277

273

275

N/A

263

206

London

Southwark LB

462

458

421

355

373

372

N/A

338

253

London

Lewisham LB

13

15

63

72

38

103

N/A

87

72

London

Greenwich LB

107

239

141

133

116

145

56

60

36

London

Sutton LB

454

427

416

459

434

413

N/A

406

373

London

Merton LB

526

536

450

455

476

464

N/A

402

386

London

Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames

447

483

471

458

460

416

N/A

330

337

London

Croydon LB

504

509

500

531

533

511

N/A

452

448

London

Bromley LB

526

577

568

581

393

336

N/A

313

237

London

West London Waste Authority

512

541

531

540

532

511

N/A

451

428

London

Western Riverside Waste Authority

552

550

598

540

518

489

N/A

417

421

S East

Wokingham Council

393

420

406

394

373

362

364

334

313

S East

Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council

554

548

488

526

506

465

399

372

340

S East

Slough Borough Council

504

430

437

497

482

555

493

431

418

S East

Reading Borough Council

485

523

482

558

535

492

452

427

387

S East

West Berkshire District Council

505

508

504

518

545

455

N/A

449

443

S East

Bracknell Forest Borough Council

448

438

439

421

421

400

488

445

378

S East

Milton Keynes Council

374

375

N/A

438

453

408

415

390

379

S East

Buckinghamshire County Council

424

434

406

417

418

402

398

348

347

S East

Brighton and Hove Council

434

481

406

406

398

382

N/A

324

308

S East

East Sussex County Council

308

322

340

284

291

415

419

395

371

S East

Southampton City Council

434

456

448

445

476

464

N/A

152

95

S East

Portsmouth City Council

428

448

497

446

422

369

364

85

72

S East

Hampshire County Council

174

405

409

422

393

306

N/A

106

98

S East

Isle of Wight Council

108

222

344

399

343

335

292

213

357

S East

Medway Borough Council

400

441

431

447

449

421

390

368

354

S East

Kent County Council

444

456

451

447

450

436

N/A

405

309

S East

Oxfordshire County Council

446

445

424

416

427

388

N/A

341

350

S East

Surrey County Council

483

439

454

444

462

466

415

419

377

S East

West Sussex County Council

497

537

522

495

473

441

435

402

385

S West

Council of the Isles of Scilly

-

-

-

-

-

-

2

-

-

S West

Bath and North East Somerset Council

396

387

424

436

434

435

422

366

338

S West

Bristol City Council

422

421

418

438

440

438

426

385

303

S West

Cornwall County Council

489

497

501

504

494

480

484

454

442

S West

Torbay Council

433

405

399

565

426

426

430

417

410

S West

Plymouth City Council

555

587

524

504

524

513

N/A

476

427

S West

Devon County Council

407

428

433

446

448

408

N/A

343

310

S West

Poole Borough Council

425

484

495

525

529

507

557

518

489

S West

Bournemouth Borough Council

453

502

503

474

477

465

N/A

451

391

S West

Dorset County Council

347

368

370

375

382

366

351

333

321

S West

Gloucestershire County Council

412

427

411

423

416

402

399

371

370

S West

North Somerset Council

481

463

470

544

522

465

467

443

363

S West

Somerset County Council

456

485

491

520

505

449

N/A

366

337

S West

South Gloucestershire Council

498

544

499

451

448

428

390

337

333

S West

Swindon Borough Council

357

369

384

382

384

372

407

352

349

S West

Wiltshire County Council

432

450

451

443

454

439

423

383

353

Source: WasteDataFlow for 2004-05 onwards, Municipal Waste Management Survey for earlier years. ONS mid-year population estimates. 2004-05 was a pilot year for WDF and hence data are not available for all authorities. Data are municipal waste collected and sent for disposal in landfill by each local authority.

N/A = Not Available

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Zimbabwe

The constitutional crisis in Zimbabwe continues as President Mugabe persists in his ambition to steal the election. It is over three weeks since the elections were held but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is yet to announce the presidential results. More worryingly President Mugabe and his ZANU(PF) party have unleashed a campaign of violence against those ordinary Zimbabweans, 60 per cent. of them, who in spite of everything voted against him. Political refugees from the rural areas that were once President Mugabe’s heartlands but have had the courage to express their opposition peacefully through the ballot box have been pouring into urban centres to receive medical treatment and support. Local and international NGOs are highlighting these abuses daily. Evidence that they are taking place is irrefutable. I believe all would join the Government in condemning absolutely these acts of violence which are cynically intended to punish people for the choices they have made and to intimidate them into submission should any second round of the presidential election be called.

Meanwhile in spite of numerous legal protests by the opposition, the Electoral Commission has begun a recount in 23 constituencies. No one can have any faith in this recount. The ballot boxes have been kept in uncertain conditions. The Electoral Commission has seen 13 of their number arrested in a clear effort to threaten and punish those who did their job independently. The count itself is proceeding at a ludicrously slow rate. This only serves to fuel suspicion that President Mugabe is seeking to reverse the results that have been published, to regain a majority in Parliament, and to amplify his own count in the presidential election. If that is the case, then what we are witnessing is a charade of democracy. We can have little confidence that whatever is ultimately announced as the presidential election results will not have been sullied and contaminated by rigging during this recount.

We continue to engage intensively to resolve this crisis and our action is focused in three areas. First, we continue to work to support all those working for democratic change in Zimbabwe. In spite of the challenges they face, civil society in Zimbabwe remains committed to democratic and peaceful change. We applaud and support their efforts.

Secondly, we continue to work with states in the region. We believe they are still best placed to apply pressure on President Mugabe and those who surround him, many of whom recognise that it is time for change. I welcome the statements of the African Union and of the Southern African Development Community calling for the presidential results to be released. That SADC states met in an extraordinary session in Lusaka and discussed Zimbabwe and its crisis for over 13 hours shows their concern at what is happening and the threat that it poses to the stability and security of their region. But, as the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, it is important that African leaders do more to engage directly in this crisis to help resolve it. The reaction of South African dockers to the direction to unload arms they believed destined for Zimbabwe shows that ordinary Africans do not condone the way in which President Mugabe is clinging to power and beating his own people to death to ensure he retains it. If President Mugabe and those who keep him in office will listen to anyone, they will listen to their peers in the region and in Africa more widely. But if they will not, Africans and their organisations should be clear in their public condemnation of what is happening and should withhold their recognition of President Mugabe’s regime. His actions pose a threat to democracy and to the values that the SADC and the AU espouse. Democratic legitimacy throughout Africa is at stake.

Thirdly, we are working through the international community as it remains united in standing up for democracy, it reinforces the confidence of democratic forces, and speaks with a clear voice about the value not just to Zimbabwe but to the whole region of following the will of the people. At the UN Security Council session in New York last week, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister joined other voices from Africa, Europe and Latin America, along with the UN Secretary-General in calling for the election results to be released and in condemning the delay and violence. The UN Secretary-General has called for international monitors to observe any second round in Zimbabwe. We support that call and underline, as SADC leaders themselves did when meeting in Lusaka, that SADC observers must return now to observe the recount. They should be present in Zimbabwe until the election results are announced, so they may witness and ideally prevent the violence that is now occurring.

The European Union, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and many other states have called both for restraint within Zimbabwe and for credible results now to be released. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, my noble Friend Lord Malloch-Brown and I continue to engage in intensive private discussions with African leaders and others with influence within Zimbabwe and the region. Our message is simple. Zimbabwe is on a knife edge: inflation is incalculable, life expectancy the lowest in the world and human rights abuses commonplace. Those metrics will all deteriorate if President Mugabe is allowed to steal this election. But if a Government that reflects the will of the people is allowed to emerge, Zimbabwe can begin the painful journey to recovery and once again become a full part of the international community.

Britain has always supported the Zimbabwean people. We are the second largest bilateral donor. We spent £45 million last year on support for the poorest and most vulnerable Zimbabweans. Our support helped feed up to 3 million people and provided treatment for more than 30,000 HIV/AIDS patients. That support will continue. It has become even more necessary in this period when President Mugabe has unleashed his youth militia on the people. But when there is positive change on the ground in Zimbabwe and a Government who are prepared to introduce sound governance and respond to the needs of ordinary Zimbabweans, Britain will play a full part in supporting recovery and development. It will be a huge task. But the Zimbabwean people will have the full support of the UK and the wider international community. The UK and other donors are ready to give that support when there is a return to real democracy and good governance within Zimbabwe.

I am sure the whole House will join the Government in committing themselves to working tirelessly for that day.

Health

National Deep Clean Programme

Further to the written ministerial statements given on 21 November 2007, Official Report, column 134WS and 17 January 2008, Official Report, column 38WS strategic health authorities (SHAs) have confirmed that 97 per cent. of trusts have now completed a deep clean as part of the comprehensive national programme of deep cleaning.

Three hundred and twenty eight trusts agreed plans with SHAs as part of this national deep cleaning programme. As well as all 170 acute trusts, this included many primary care trusts with inpatient facilities, mental health trusts, learning disability trusts and ambulance trusts. All 328 trusts had started their deep clean programmes and 308 trusts, (94 per cent.) had completed their deep clean by the end of 31 March.

Since 31 March 2008, a further 11 trusts have now completed their deep clean programmes, bringing the total to 319 trusts. Nine trusts are still undertaking their deep clean and all are due to complete by the end of May 2008. There are valid reasons for trusts to complete after 31 March 2008, such as significant refurbishments or reasons relating to patient safety.

Information provided by SHAs shows that they have all made available the funding they promised for the programme, as set out in the written ministerial statement on 21 November 2007. In addition, SHA North West increased its planned expenditure by £5.1 million, as primary care trusts in the north-west provided additional funding to improve local services. The final total funding therefore made available for this programme at a regional level was £62.6 million.

Clean hospitals are essential for high quality, comfortable patient care. High standards of cleanliness also encourage a focus on infection control and provide a platform for consistent hand cleaning and thorough cleaning of beds between patients. Deep cleaning is part of a comprehensive range of measures to improve cleanliness and tackle infections set out in the strategy “Clean, Safe Care: Reducing Infections and Saving Lives”.

The NHS will maintain the high standards of cleanliness that the current programme has provided. This will be monitored and performance managed at a local level. Deep cleaning will be included in patient environment action team inspection programme from next year. Specialist Healthcare Commission inspections began this month against the code of practice for the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections so all acute trusts will be inspected every year on their clean environment. We will also publish best practice guidance on deep cleaning later on this year to help hospitals continue to achieve the best possible environment for patient care.

A list of the trusts which have undertaken or are undertaking a deep clean as part of this national programme has been placed in the Library and copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office.

Health Pay Review Bodies

I am responding on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the thirty-seventh report of the review body on doctors’ and dentists’ remuneration (DDRB) (Cm 7327) and the twenty-third report of the NHS pay review body (NHSPRB) (Cm 7337) which were laid before Parliament on 7 April 2008l. Copies of the reports are available in the Vote Office and the Library. I am grateful to the chairs and members of the review bodies for their hard work.

The DDRB has recommended that the national salary scales for all salaried doctors and dentists, and the top and bottom of the salary range for salaried general medical practitioners, should be increased by 2.2 per cent. for 2008-09. For general dental practitioners (GDPs), the DDRB has recommended a 3.4 per cent. increase in the gross earnings base. The DDRB intend this to result in an increase in GDPs’ net income of 2.2 per cent.

With regard to independent contractor general medical practitioners (GMPs), DDRB have recognised in their report that there are significant, unwarranted variations in GMP income caused solely by the operation of the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) regardless of the workload and patient care provided by individual GMPs and their practices. They note the evidence presented to them that GMP income varied from £54.72 per patient (where there was no MPIG) to £120 per patient (where there was MPIG). In making their recommendations, including the 2.7 per cent. uplift to a GMP’s global sum, the DDRB acknowledged, and therefore clearly intended, that the practical implication of their recommendations was that most practices would not receive any increase in their global sum. This is predicated on any increase in global sum being offset against the correction factor in MPIG. The Department estimates that implementing these recommendations means the 6 to 7 per cent. of GMS practices without any MPIG would receive an increase in their global sum payments of 2.7 per cent. in 2008-09. A further 2 per cent. of practices will receive some extra increase in payments as their current correction factor will be less than their increase in global sum.

In addition to any DDRB recommendations, we have guaranteed to the profession that once the costs of implementing the recommendations of the DDRB have been agreed with the British Medical Association, the Government will ensure up to 1.5 per cent. of new investment is available across all practices for providing more services or improving the quality of care and provision to existing patients.

The DDRB’s pay recommendations have been accepted in full by the Government, without staging. However, in taking forward the DDRB’s recommendations on GMP pay there remain issues that will require further consultation with the BMA before they can be implemented and that will delay payments to GMPs.

The NHSPRB has recommended an increase in the ‘Agenda for Change’ pay rates of 2.75 per cent. from 1 April 2008. The NHSPRB has also recommended that the high cost area supplements and existing national recruitment and retention premia should be increased by 2.75 per cent.

On 7 April 2008, I announced that the Department has agreed with NHS employers, UNISON and the Royal College of Nursing a proposed three-year pay package for all NHS ‘Agenda for Change’ staff which incorporates the acceptance of the NHS pay review body recommendations for 2008-09 in full. The proposed three-year package is now subject to consultation by members of all the trade unions covered by ‘Agenda for Change’. It includes:

acceptance in full of the 2008-09 NHS Pay Review Body’s (NHSPRB) recommendations for a 2.75 per cent. pay rise for staff on ‘Agenda for Change’ from 1 April 2008;

2.4 per cent headline award in 2009-10; 2.25 per cent. headline award in 2010-11; and

additional changes to the pay structure in years 2 and 3 that would give extra financial support for the lowest paid workers, allow quicker progression up the pay ladder and increase the earning potential for hundreds of thousands of staff.

If trade union members reject the proposed three-year deal, we will need to review the NHSPRB’s recommendations and consider whether to accept, stage or abate them in the context of a one year settlement.

I apologise that we were unable to announce these decisions to Parliament in the normal way before making them more widely available. Unfortunately, it was not possible to do this before the Easter recess as pay negotiations had not concluded. I also felt that it would cause an unnecessary delay in the consultation process and thus the payment of the award to staff if we had waited until Parliament returned on 21 April before making these important announcements.

1 Cm 7337 was laid on 7 April in its pre-publication form as the printed version was not available. This version has now been withdrawn and replaced with the printed version.

Home Department

Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (Third Annual Report)

In accordance with section 14 (3), 14 (4) and 14 (5) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, Lord Carlile of Berriew QC prepared a report on the operation of the Act in 2007, which the Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing, laid before the House on 18 February 2008.

I am grateful to Lord Carlile for another considered review. Following consultation within my Department and with other relevant agencies, I am laying my response to Lord Carlile’s recommendations before Parliament today.

I am also laying my response to the report on the renewal of the control order legislation by the Joint Committee on Human Rights (published on 20 February 2008) before Parliament today.

Justice

Public Law Family Proceedings (Court Fees)

I am today announcing the outcome of the recent consultation on “Public Law Family Fees”. The consultation published on 19 December 2007 and the consultation closed on 11 March 2008. One hundred and eleven responses were received from local authorities, law professionals, the judiciary and other stakeholder bodies.

After careful consideration of these, my right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has decided to proceed with the increases proposed. The Statutory Instruments were laid before Parliament on 9 April 2008.

During the course of consultation, the Government introduced an adjustment into the local government finance settlement figures to make visible the sums attributable to these proposals. The purpose of this adjustment was to ensure that a valid comparison could be made between 2007-08 and 2008-09 for each authority’s grant increase. The authorities generally now recognise that funding has been made available within the revenue support grant. Indeed, the total of £40 million is likely to exceed the total fees payable because it assumes that the maximum fee is paid in each case. In reality, some cases following the new ‘Public Law Outline’ procedure (implemented this month, introduces revised judicial case management procedures to be introduced in all family courts) will be resolved at earlier stages and pay a lower fee. I therefore believe that we have responded in full to those responses that objected to the proposals on the basis that it was not clear that authorities had been funded, or that they had been insufficiently funded, to pay these fees.

The second main theme of the responses was that authorities would be improperly influenced by financial considerations and would not always act in the best interests of children. Local authorities are under a statutory duty to protect children at risk of significant harm. Both the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, in their responses to the consultation, confirmed that local authorities are not influenced by cost considerations in their approach to initiating proceedings or in their decisions about appropriate pre-proceedings work. The practical effect of the statutory duty in this instance is to require authorities to ensure that adequate budgetary provision is made to pay the necessary court fees, and to ensure that individual decisions are not affected by budgetary considerations. In practice, most local authorities pay court fees from a legal department or similar central budget, rather than from a children’s services budget that is the responsibility of individual social workers making decisions on the ground, with the cost of court fees being a small proportion of the overall cost of child care proceedings. For these reasons, I am satisfied that the proposals do not in fact create a risk that local authorities will neglect their statutory duty causing children to be harmed.

These fee increases are necessary to ensure that the family courts are properly funded and are designed to fit with wider reforms on child protection proceedings. They are a further step in our strategy to ensure that the system of court fees is fair and sustainable, and they reflect the long-standing policy of Governments of all persuasions that statutory fees should generally be set at a level that recovers the cost of the service provided (but no more).

The current proposals will only affect fees paid by public bodies and not individuals. Fees for applications by parents in care and adoption proceedings will remain unchanged.

The response to the consultation paper will be published in full within the next two months.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 - Publication of Q4 2007 Monitoring Statistics

Today I have deposited copies of “The Freedom of Information Act 2000—Statistics on Implementation in Central Government: Q4 October-December 2007” in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

This is the quarterly monitoring statistics report analysing the performance of central Government in the third full year of freedom of information.

Cabinet Office

Compact on Relations between Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector

I am today placing in the Library of the House copies of the report of the annual meeting to review the compact held on 13 December 2007.

The annual meeting looked at the successes of the compact and the challenges for the coming year. The joint compact action plan for 2008-09 sets out a programme of work designed to:

Strengthen relationships and partnerships at national level, to deliver the national compact

Strengthen relationships and partnerships at local level, supported by local and regional compacts and action plans

Increase understanding of the role of the compact in promoting equality and community cohesion

Strengthen the independence, voice and campaigning work of the sector

Ensure the compact and codes are fully up to date in a changing legislative and policy environment.

Following the annual meeting, we have drawn up a more comprehensive implementation plan, to support the joint action plan, with the commission, compact voice and key delivery partners. This is available on the compact website at www.thecompact.org.uk.

This year the compact will celebrate its tenth anniversary. The Government are committed to ensuring the compact is stronger than ever. It remains integral to better partnership working and better decision making. We need to ensure that the compact becomes embedded in our day to day thinking, and that it becomes a story of change to drive better outcomes for communities and the people they serve.

The independent commission for the compact is working with Compact Voice and the Office of the Third Sector, to oversee the operation of the compact. I have appointed Sir Bert Massie as the new Commissioner for the compact, who will push for greater compliance with the compact. I have also pledged an increased investment to the Commissioner for the compact of £6 million over the next three years and nearly £1 million to Compact Voice, which represents the sector interests. This will ensure we can drive forward better partnership between Government and the third sector.

The next compact annual meeting will hold partners to account on delivery of the actions in the joint compact action plan. The Commission, Government and the sector will report to the next meeting. As part of the compact annual review 2008 report, the Minister for the Third Sector will report on progress in meeting the Government's commitment to three-year funding for the third sector.