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Written Statements

Volume 491: debated on Thursday 30 April 2009

Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 30 April 2009

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Regional Development Agency

I am pleased to announce that I have decided to appoint two new business position RDA board members to East of England Development Agency and East Midlands Development Agency.

RDA

Board Member New Appointees

East of England Development Agency

Dr Robert Swann

East Midlands Development Agency

Mr Michael Bryant

The appointments will start on 1 May 2009 and will be for a period of two years and three months ending on 13 December 2011.

I am also pleased to announce that I have decided to reappoint 15 existing RDA board members who between them serve on seven of our Regional Development Agencies; listed below.

RDA

Board Member Re-appointees

Period of Re-appointment -From 14 December 2009

Advantage West Midlands

Brendan Connor

3 years

East of England Development Agency

Peter McCarthy Ward

3 years

William Pope

3 years

Lord Edward Iveagh

3 years

East Midlands Development Agency

Tricia Pedlar

3 years

Haydn Biddle

3 years

ONENorth-East

Ruth Thompson

3 years

Paul Callghan

3 years

Cllr Peter Jackson

3 years

South-East England Development Agency

Alexander Pratt

3 years

Robert Goldfield

3 years

Pamela Charlwood

3 years

The South-West of England Regional Development Agency

John Savage

3 years

Yorkshire Forward

Professor M Arthur

2 years

Cllr John Weighell

3 years

I have agreed to extend the appointment of Joe Dwek at North-West Regional Development Agency, following agreement of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, for a further year expiring in December 2010.

The RDAs play a vital role in spreading economic prosperity and opportunity to everyone. All the re-appointees have bought a wealth of experience to their RDA adding a vast amount of value.

I have placed further details of these appointments, including biographies, in the Libraries of both Houses. I can confirm that the appointments were made in accordance with the code of practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

Treasury

Consolidated Fund

The sum of £1,555,162,313 was paid out of the Consolidated Fund on 30 March 2009 under section 228(5) of the Banking Act 2009. The Treasury is satisfied that the need for this expenditure was too urgent to permit arrangements to be made for the provision of money by Parliament.

Children, Schools and Families

Primary Curriculum Review

As part of the Children’s Plan, we committed to a fundamental review of the primary curriculum, and I was delighted that Sir Jim Rose accepted my invitation to carry out this important work. The remit for the review was to consider how to:

Ensure that the primary curriculum builds on prior learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and supports transition to and children’s readiness for secondary school.

Increase flexibility and reduce prescription where possible to allow teachers more freedom to tailor the curriculum to their pupils’ interests, different and developing abilities and local circumstances to ensure that no child is left behind and to narrow achievement gaps.

Continue the focus on the crucial skills of literacy and numeracy, while recognising the increasing learning opportunities opened up by advances in technology in the last decade and children’s increasing ICT capabilities.

Give a greater emphasis to children’s personal development and well-being.

Balance these priorities with children’s entitlement to a broad and balanced primary curriculum which introduces them to the arts, sciences, humanities, physical education and sport and foreign languages as they progress through primary education.

In addition, I asked Sir Jim to consider how to improve outcomes for summer-born children, including considering when they should start school. During the review I asked Sir Jim to consider two of the EYFS early learning goals for writing as part of his wider review of improving transition from EYFS into primary Key Stage 1.

Sir Jim’s interim report was published on 8 December and has been subject to widespread consultation with teachers, parents, learned societies, subject experts and other professionals. He has now completed his final report, which I am publishing today along with proposals for a revised primary national curriculum. Hard copies are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses. I am accepting all of his recommendations subject to public consultation.

Sir Jim has made a number of recommendations directly related to the design and content of the primary curriculum which will require legislation, which I have accepted subject to public consultation which I have asked the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to carry out from today. They will also consult on the proposals to make personal, social, health and economic education statutory that I announced on Monday 27 April.

Sir Jim proposes a new core of essential skills for learning and life focused on literacy, numeracy, ICT and personal development and learning which is embedded across the whole curriculum. This will help ensure that all children leave school secure in the basics. Sir Jim’s recommendations also include restructuring the primary curriculum into six broad areas of learning, within which essential subject content will be organised and become more distinct as children progress from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2.

The areas of learning are:

understanding English, communication and languages;

mathematical understanding;

understanding the arts;

historical, geographical and social understanding;

understanding physical development, health and wellbeing;

scientific and technological understanding.

The draft programmes of learning for these areas set out the knowledge, skills and understanding which children should learn linked to the overall aims of helping children become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens. The curriculum content is set out in three clear phases to help teachers plan for progression. Sir Jim also recommends that a foreign language should become compulsory for the first time from age 7, building on the recommendation of the languages review carried out by the late Lord Dearing.

A number of other significant recommendations do not require legislation and I plan to take them forward subject to the forthcoming consultation. These will support and promote the successful implementation of the new curriculum from September 2011. These include promoting what Sir Jim has already seen as excellent practice in some of our best primary schools relating to teaching reading and encouraging children’s spoken communication skills. He has also concluded that we should retain the two writing early learning goals as aspirational targets and that the Government should make available guidance and support to smooth children’s transition from the EYFS to primary school, including supporting those children still working towards these goals.

Other recommendations relate to helping schools plan for implementing the new curriculum, such as the Government supporting teachers’ professional development needs to deliver our increased expectations around ICT. Given the fundamental nature of the changes and the important contribution that I expect the new curriculum to make to children’s attainment and well-being, I have agreed that primary schools should be permitted an additional training day in 2010 to give every school the time and opportunity to plan for the new curriculum from September 2011. A full set of Sir Jim’s recommendations and my response is set out in the annex to this statement.

On the question of when summer-born children should start school, I have accepted Sir Jim’s recommendation that children should ideally start school in the September immediately following their fourth birthday, possibly on a part-time basis for some children, but with parents having freedom to choose. He has taken account of the compelling evidence on the benefits to summer-born children from starting school at the same time as their peers and that the majority of local authority areas already operate a single point of primary school entry in September. Young disabled children and children with SEN in particular will benefit from starting school as soon as possible so that the right interventions are put in place to ensure that these children also make progress alongside their fellow pupils. I am mindful however, that compulsory school age does not start until the term after a child turns five and that some parents have a strong preference for their child’s early years experience to take place outside a school setting. I therefore intend to make funding available across the maintained, private and voluntary sectors to enable all children to receive full time provision in education and childcare from the September after their fourth birthday. Alongside making that provision available, we will ensure that parents have clear information about the benefits of beginning reception in September and we will work to help schools and early years settings to smooth the transition for any children who move into reception after September.

I am enormously grateful to Sir Jim for the rigorous, inclusive and evidence-based way in which he has undertaken this major review. He has consulted widely with subject experts, learned societies, teachers and other professionals, and his review is informed by excellent practice in our best schools and internationally. Throughout the review he has kept in the forefront of his thinking the interests of children and their parents. I am confident that his work will make a huge difference to millions of young people, helping to ensure their primary years equip them with the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to thrive in their future education and later lives.

Rose Review of the Primary Curriculum: Key Recommendations and Government Response

Area of Remit

Rose Recommendation

Government Response

Curriculum review

Recommendation 1: A National Curriculum should be retained as a statutory entitlement for all children.

Accept.

Recommendation 2: Consideration should be given to making the historically re-active response to curriculum review a pro-active strategy whereby the EYFS and the statutory curriculum for primary and secondary schools are reviewed at agreed intervals as a whole, rather than as separate phases reviewed out of sequence. This would impose a discipline on the process of review such that schools could be assured of a period of stability in which to achieve agreed curricular goals.

Accept.

Recommendation 3: The aims for a revised primary curriculum derived from the 2006 Education Act, the Children’s Plan and ‘Every Child Matters’ should be underpinned by a unified statement of values which is fit for all stages of statutory education. The aims and values established as part of the recent secondary curriculum review should be extended to the primary curriculum.

Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

Managingcurriculum

Change

Recommendation 4: In preparing for a revised curriculum in 2011, examples of good timetabling and time management from highly successful schools should be made available.

Accept.

Curriculum design and content

Recommendation 5: The content of the primary curriculum should be organised as it is now under knowledge, skills and understanding but structured as six areas of learning to enable children to benefit fully from high quality subject teaching and equally challenging cross-curricular studies.

Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

Recommendation 6: (i) To help primary schools plan for, and sustain curricular continuity, and secure pupils’ progress from Year R to Year 7, the QCA should work closely with the National Strategies to support schools to plan the new curriculum.

(ii) Web-based guidance should be made available drawing upon the experience of that for the secondary curriculum. This should include refreshing the primary literacy and numeracy frameworks.

(iii) In line with arrangements for implementing the new secondary curriculum, DCSF should provide primary schools with one extra training day in 2010 to enable the workforce in each school to understand the new primary curriculum and start planning how it will work in their school.

Accept.

Recommendation 7: The DCSF should commission a plain-language guide to the curriculum for parents to help them understand how it will change to match children’s developing abilities and how they can best support their children’s learning at school.

Accept.

Literacy, numeracy and ICT

Recommendation 8: (i) Literacy, numeracy and ICT should form the new core of the primary curriculum.

(ii) Schools should continue to prioritise literacy, numeracy, ICT and personal development as the foundational knowledge, skills and understanding of the primary curriculum; the content of which should be clearly defined, taught discretely, and used and applied extensively in each area of learning.

(iii) The DCSF Expert Group on Assessment should give consideration to how the new core of literacy, numeracy and ICT should be assessed and these aspects of children’s performance reported to parents.

Recommendation 8(i): Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

Recommendations 8(ii) and 8(iii):

Accept.

Recommendation 9: Primary schools should make sure that children’s spoken communication is developed intensively within all subjects and for learning across the curriculum. In so doing, schools should capitalise on the powerful contributions of the performing and visual arts, especially role play and drama.

Accept.

Recommendation 10: (i) Primary schools should continue to build on the commendable progress many have made in teaching decoding and encoding skills for reading and spelling through high quality, systematic, phonic work as advocated by the 2006 Reading Review as the prime approach for teaching beginner readers.

(ii)Similar priorities and principles should apply to numeracy in keeping with the recommendations of the Williams Review.

Accept.

Recommendation 11: (i)The two early learning goals for writing should be retained as valid, aspirational goals for the end of the reception class.

(ii) DCSF should offer additional guidance for practitioners and teachers on supporting young children’s emerging writing skills, including examples of how these two goals are being achieved by many children.

Accept.

Recommendation 12: The DCSF, working with QCA and BECTA’ should consider what additional support teachers will need to meet the raised expectations of children’s ICT capabilities and use of technology to enrich learning across the curriculum and set in train adequate support.

Accept.

Personal development

Recommendation 13: (i) The QCA, in consultation with representative groups, should exemplify and promote the range of learning envisioned in the new framework for personal development with the firm intention of helping schools to plan for balanced coverage, and avoid piecemeal treatment of this central aspect of the curriculum.

(ii) Personal Development should be given core status along with literacy, numeracy and ICT. The QCA should work with schools to explore and develop innovative ways of assessing pupil progress in this area.

Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

Transitionandprogression

Recommendation 14: (i) The preferred pattern of entry to reception classes should be the September immediately following a child’s fourth birthday. However, this should be subject to well-informed discussion with parents, taking into account their views of a child’s maturity and readiness to enter reception class. Arrangements should be such as to make entry to reception class an exciting and enjoyable experience for all children, with opportunities for flexible arrangements such as a period of part-time attendance if judged appropriate.

(ii) The DCSF should provide information to parents and local authorities about the optimum conditions, flexibilities and benefits to children of entering reception class in the September immediately after their fourth birthday.

Accept.

Recommendation 15: The QCA should make sure that guidance on the revised primary curriculum includes clear advice on how best to support those children who need to continue to work toward the early learning goals and build on the learning that has taken place in the EYFS.

Accept.

Recommendation 16: What constitutes high quality of play-based learning, especially across the EYFS and into Year 1, should be made explicit in guidance from the QCA. Because parents, too, need to understand the importance to children of learning through play, appropriate aspects this guidance should be routed through schools to parents.

Accept.

Recommendation 17: Key Stage 1 teachers should be involved in the moderation of Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) assessments within schools, to increase their understanding of the EYFSP and their confidence in the judgements of reception teachers.

Accept.

Recommendation 18: Major central initiatives, such as, Assessment for Learning and Assessing Pupils’ Progress have huge potential for strengthening the transition of children from primary to secondary schools. The DCSF should develop these initiatives to keep pace with the fast growing appetite in primary schools to take them on board.

Accept.

Recommendation 19: With their local authorities, primary and secondary schools, should agree a joint policy for bridging children’s transition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3. Five inter-dependent transition bridges are suggested for this purpose: administrative; social and personal; curriculum; pedagogy, and autonomy and managing learning. This should involve extended studies across Year 6 and Year 7, and draw upon the support of personal tutors.

Accept.

Recommendation 20: When the National Strategies next review their materials they should look to further strengthen curricular continuity between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3.

Accept.

Languages

Recommendation 21: The knowledge, skills, understanding that children need to acquire in languages should be situated within the area of learning entitled “English, communication and languages”. This will enable teachers and pupils to exploit the links between English and the chosen language(s) and realise the potential, for example, of role play and drama for young children learning a modern language.

Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

Recommendation 22: Schools should focus on teaching only one or two languages. This should not preclude providing pupils with experiences in other languages as opportunities arise in cross-curricular studies, as long as sustained learning is secured in one or two languages to ensure that children are able to achieve progression over four years in line with the expectations of the Key Stage 2 Framework for Languages.

Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

Recommendation 23: Primary schools should be free to choose the language(s) that they wish to teach, however, as far as possible the languages offered should be those which children will be taught in Key Stage 3.

Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

Recommendation 24: The commendable work that is taking place to support the delivery of language teaching through workforce development programmes should continue at current levels of funding.

Accept in principle, subject to comprehensive spending review settlement beyond April 2011.

Recommendation 25: A survey by OFSTED of how well primary schools are managing the introduction of languages as a compulsory subject should take place no later than 2014.

Accept.

Defence

Call Out Order (Cyprus)

A new call-out order has been made under section 56 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable members of the reserve forces to continue to be called out into permanent service and deployed to Cyprus as part of the UK’s contribution to the United Nations Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The call-out order has effect until 30 April 2010.

Last year some 240 members of the TA, primarily from 32 Signals Regiment, were called out and deployed for six months in Cyprus as part of the UK’s contribution to UNFICYP.

Defence Vetting Agency Key Targets Financial Year (2009-10)

Key targets have been set for the chief executive of the Defence Vetting Agency for financial year 2009-10. These are provided below.

Key target 1: External validation of quality

To achieve at least a 98 per cent. satisfaction rating with 200 cases independently selected and reviewed from a random sample of Security Check (SC) and Developed Vetting (DV) cases completed in the preceding 12-month period.

Key target 2: Delivering customer service

To maintain customer service excellence accreditation.

Key target 3: Completing routine cases

a. To complete 85 per cent. of Counter Terrorist Checks (CTC) within 30 calendar days.

b. To complete 85 per cent. of SCs within 30 calendar days.

c. To complete 85 per cent. of Defence DVs within 100 calendar days.

Key target 4: Completing priority cases

a. To complete 90 per cent. of CTCs within 10 calendar days.

b. To complete 90 per cent. of SCs within 10 calendar days.

c. To complete 85 per cent. of Defence DVs within 30 calendar days.

Key target three and four represent net performance that excludes delays outside of DVA control.

Key target 5: Completing aftercare cases

a. All aftercare incident reports to be taken into action within seven calendar days of receipt.

b. 80 per cent. of Scheduled Aftercare to be taken into action within 30 calendar days of the due date.

Key target 6: Improving efficiency

To reduce the unit cost of output by 2 per cent.

Puma Review

I am today placing in the Library of the House and on the MOD website, a copy of two reports “The Puma Force—A Review of Contemporary Operating Issues” and the earlier report “A Strategic Review of the Puma Helicopter Force”. These reports were undertaken by the Ministry of Defence as a prudent step following a number of Puma helicopter incidents in 2007. The reports are a comprehensive and honest examination of a wide range of issues, including Puma Force culture, training, flying and operational requirements, structure, leadership and management.

“A Strategic Review of the Puma Helicopter Force” was written for internal consumption and consequently contains sensitive information that we have needed to redact. I realise that this can make the document difficult to read and that is why “The Puma Force—A Review of Contemporary Operating Issues” was written and is also being published. This is an unclassified report, specifically designed to provide a clear narrative and allow the reader to better understand the context in which a series of incidents occurred and the actions taken and planned as a result. As a consequence of the latter, the Puma Force’s capability has been enhanced and the management of safety improved to minimise the risk of further accidents. Clearly, operational flying can never be risk free.

I would stress that there is no suggestion in the documents that the Puma is in any way unsafe to fly.

Energy and Climate Change

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

I would like to inform the house that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has successfully concluded its auction process for the disposal of land adjacent to three existing nuclear sites at Bradwell in Essex, Oldbury in South Gloucestershire and Wylfa in Anglesey.

The successful bidders are:

Bow Bidco Wylfa Ltd (A consortium consisting of EON UK Plc and RWE Npower Plc) for the 178 hectares (438 acres) of land at Wylfa;

Bow Bidco Oldbury Ltd (A consortium consisting of EON UK Plc and RWE Npower Plc) for the 48 hectares (119 acres) of land at Oldbury;

EDF Development Company Ltd for the 200 hectares (493 acres) of land at Bradwell

The sale of these three sites is worth up to £387 million which the NDA will use to offset the cost of decommissioning and to further its core mission. The successful outcome of the auction demonstrates that major energy companies are gearing up for significant investment in low carbon energy in the UK.

Health

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust

On 17 March 2009 the Healthcare Commission, the independent health regulator, published its comprehensive report into the severe failings in emergency care provided by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between 2005 and mid 2008. It was a catalogue of appalling management and failures at every level for which I apologised on behalf of the Government and the NHS in my oral statement to the House the next day.

I announced at the same time a range of measures, including two swift reviews into the circumstances at Mid Staffordshire to be led by Professor Sir George Alberti, National Clinical Director for Emergency Care and Dr David Colin-Thomé, National Clinical Director for Primary Care.

Professor Alberti has looked at the hospital’s procedures for emergency admissions and treatment and its progress against the recommendations in the Healthcare Commission’s report. In addition, he looked at other related areas of work, including the quality of care issues highlighted in the report in relation to the medical admission wards 10, 11 and 12.

Dr Colin-Thomé looked into the circumstances surrounding the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust prior to the Healthcare Commission’s investigation to learn lessons about how the primary care trust and strategic health authority, within the commissioning and performance management systems that they operate, failed to expose what was happening in this hospital.

Those two reports were submitted to me on 29 April and we are today placing copies in the Library together with the Government’s response.

The trust and the Government have accepted all of the recommendations of these reports.

The new Health and Social Care regulator, the Care Quality Commission will, together with Monitor and the PCT, take stock with the trust after three months. The CQC will do a follow-up review in six months. Monitor, the independent regulator for FTs, will hold monthly meetings with the trust to ensure it implements all of the recommendations.

The NHS chief executive David Nicholson will be writing to NHS organisations to bring these reports to their attention and asking them to ensure they implement all of the recommendations that are relevant to them. Monitor will be writing in similar terms to foundation trusts.

The Healthcare Commission report identified severe failings at Stafford Hospital. While much has been done to rectify these, the two reports indicate that work still needs to be done to ensure quality of care at the hospital reaches the highest standard. Swift and decisive action is being taken to ensure that is the case. Stafford hospital was exceptional, not typical, but all those working in the NHS can learn from this experience so that such events do not occur again elsewhere.

Home Department

Animal Procedures Committee

On behalf of the Home Secretary and the Minister for the Department of Health and Social Services and Public Safety for Northern Ireland, I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith, Mr. Michael Dennis, Dr. Ian Peers, Dr. David Smith and Mrs Sarah Wolfensohn as members of the Animal Procedures Committee from 2 February 2009, each for a four-year term.

Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith of the University of Stirling has considerable expertise and knowledge of primate behaviour and welfare. Professor Buchanan-Smith has also worked widely as a consultant to industry and researched, with the pharmaceutical industry, primate behaviour in laboratory environments.

Mr. Michael Dennis, a microbiologist with the Health Protection Agency, has considerable experience in scientific procedures involving both rodents and primates, including using category 4 facilities (facilities that contain highly infectious human pathogens). Mr. Dennis has also authored on the subject of care management of laboratory animals.

Dr. Ian Peers is a statistician with Astra Zeneca with experience of biostatistics and experimental design. Dr. Peers has experience of working with a wide range of species (including fish and primates) and manages a global statistics resource.

Dr. David Smith, a senior director for Astra Zeneca and president of the Laboratory Animal Science Association (LASA), has a thorough knowledge of industry practices, and excellent engagement with welfare interests and working across the spectrum of stakeholders in this field.

Mrs Sarah Wolfensohn, a veterinary practitioner with the University of Oxford, has a thorough working knowledge of the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, extensive experience of working with a wide range of species, in particular primates, but also including other regularly used laboratory animals and livestock and has been involved in the design of animal facilities in the UK and overseas.

I welcome the contribution that each new member will bring to this important Advisory Committee.

Justice

Bradley Report

On 5 December 2007, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor announced that my right hon. and noble Friend Lord Bradley, reporting jointly to the Department of Health and the Ministry of Justice, would carry out a review into the diversion of offenders with mental health problems or learning disabilities away from prison into other more appropriate services.

The Government are very grateful to Lord Bradley for carrying out this review, and to the many organisations and people who formed part of the consultation and contributed. The Government welcome the report and its analysis, identifying where further work or reforms are needed and setting out the case for change.

The Government recognise the need for reforms in this area, and accept the direction set out in Lord Bradley’s report. In particular the Government will establish a Health and Criminal Justice National Programme Board, bringing together the relevant Departments covering health, social care and criminal justice, for children and adults.

The board’s first priority will be to consider Lord Bradley’s recommendations in detail and to develop a national delivery plan by October 2009. The Government also accept Lord Bradley’s recommendation for a National Advisory Group, to help ensure wider involvement from interested organisations. The Government would welcome comments on Lord Bradley’s recommendations and the nature and constituency of the National Advisory Group by 31 May 2009

Copies of Lord Bradley’s report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and it is available at: www.dh.gov.uk. The Government response has also been placed in the Library and is available at: www.justice.gov.uk. The Government will make a further report to Parliament in October 2009.

Work and Pensions

Discretionary Social Fund

In order to offer further support to families on low incomes during the recession, the Chancellor’s Budget report on 22 April included the announcement that additional funding has been made available for social fund loans. In addition, to ensure that money is directed to those who are in the most need, the Secretary of State will be making changes to the discretionary social fund. The changes will take effect from 27 April 2009 for applications and awards made within the south-west region and from 8 June 2009 for the east midlands region. This is because of the introduction of a requirement for third and subsequent living expense crisis loan applications to be usually completed at a face to face interview at a Jobcentre Plus local office. In addition, a customer will usually be limited to three non-aligned living expenses crisis loans within a 12-month rolling period. This will be where the first and subsequent awards are made within the south-west region on or after 27 April 2009 (8 June 2009 for the east midlands region). Customers in these regions will be advised of the three non-aligned loan limit before taking out their first and second loans. Subsequent loans will still be available for customers who require assistance to meet living expenses:

A: as a consequence of a disaster.

B: in an emergency which—

1. is not a consequence of an act or omission for which applicant or his partner is responsible.

2. the applicant or his partner could not have taken reasonable steps to avoid (as in guidance), regardless of the number of loans already taken out in a given year.

As part of the third and subsequent application interview customers will be provided with a leaflet that gives customers local and national organisations that are available to provide money management advice. The leaflet has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.