Written Ministerial Statements
Monday 29 March 2010
Business, Innovation and Skills
Intellectual Property Office (Performance Targets 2010-11)
I have tasked the Intellectual Property Office with managing and shaping an intellectual property system which encourages innovation and creativity, balances the needs of rights holders and the public, provides support to businesses on managing and exploiting their intellectual property, and stimulates economic growth.
I have set the Intellectual Property Office the following targets for 2010-11:
Be able by March 2011 to quantify the level of IP rights and estimate IP’s impact on the knowledge economy.
Demonstrable improvement in stakeholder perceptions of the impact of our international policy engagement compared with 2009-10 results.
Review by March 2011 the UK’s system of moral rights, by comparison with our international partners and by conducting an appraisal of any impact on our economic and cultural environment.
Issue 80 per cent. of patent search reports within four months of request.
Give good customer service in processing patent applications in 95 per cent. of quality assured cases.
Clear all outstanding patent examinations older than 49 months by March 2011.
Register 85 per cent. of correctly filed applications for trade marks, where no opposition has been filed, within four months, 90 per cent. within five months and 95 per cent. within six months.
Make the correct decision on registration on at least 99 per cent. of trade mark applications.
Register 95 per cent. of correctly filed design applications within one month.
Our business outreach enables 80 per cent. of its recipients to improve the IP performance of their business or the businesses they advise.
Achieve a return on capital employed of 4 per cent.
The Post Office is one of this country’s oldest institutions, but the Government believe it still has a vital role to play in today’s society, and in the future.
In December 2009, the Government published a consultation on Post Office banking, setting out its vision for banking at the Post Office based around four values: universal; accessible; trusted and sustainable. The scale of the response showed a clear desire for the Post Office to do more.
The Government response to the consultation, which is being published today, sets out the expanded role we want the Post Office to play:
Making affordable credit more readily available by working closely with credit unions.
Increasing financial inclusion, by providing local access to more high street bank accounts.
Giving children their own account to allow them to save at their local post office.
Providing a way for people to manage their household bills, with a new account that will allow those on low incomes to take better advantage of direct debit rates for energy and water bills.
The document also sets out new measures on mortgages, access to business banking, and a Post Office current account which would be available in all of its 11,500 branches. These new products will add to the wide range of banking products and services already on offer at the Post Office—credit cards, insurance, loans, foreign currency, and savings.
The measures the Government are taking mark a step change in banking at the Post Office. They also demonstrate the Government’s ongoing commitment to the Post Office network. A commitment the Government are backing up with £180 million of new Government funding for the network for 2011-12, beyond the £1.7 billion that is already being invested from 2007 to 2011.
Copies of the Government’s response to the consultation will be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office and will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses. The consultation document will also be accessible online on the Department’s website.
Civil Service (Management Functions) Act 1992 (Delegations/Authorisations)
During 2009, delegations were made to the Department for Energy and Climate Change and to the head of the home civil service.
Delegations/authorisations are made subject to the condition that recipients comply with the provisions of the “Civil Service Management Code” as amended from time to time. Copies of the “Civil Service Management Code” are available in the Library of the House and electronically at:
Tax Information Exchange - Belize
A tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) was signed with Belize in London on 25 March 2010.
The text of the TIEA has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and made available on HM Revenue and Customs’ website. The text will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.
2008 Credit Guarantee Scheme (Contingent Liability)
The credit guarantee scheme (CGS) was introduced as part of a package of measures to support the stability of the banking system and to protect savers and depositors. The scheme makes available, to eligible institutions, a Government guarantee of new short and medium-term debt issuance of up to three years’ maturity.
As announced at the pre-Budget report in 2009, the CGS closed for new issuance on 28 February 2010. In consequence, the maximum amount currently outstanding represents the maximum contingent liability under scheme rules. On 24 March 2010 issuance stood at £125 billion. HM Treasury is therefore notifying a revision to the contingent liability to the maximum currently outstanding to reflect this and in addition is publishing a short report providing details of scheme use on 29 March 2010 on the Debt Management Office’s website.
Children, Schools and Families
“Safer Children in a Digital World” (Progress Review)
I am writing today to Professor Tanya Byron in response to her review of the progress made on improving children’s digital safety since the publication of her 2008 review, “Safer Children in a Digital World”.
The pace of technological change since Professor Byron’s 2008 review has been rapid. In recognition of this, in December 2009 I asked Professor Byron to review progress in keeping children safe when using new technology and report to the Government by the end of March. I am grateful to Professor Byron for the inclusive, consultative approach which she has taken—including meeting hon. Members—and for her thoughtful analysis and conclusions which are, as ever, balanced, insightful and informed throughout by the voices and interests of children, young people and families.
Professor Byron’s report celebrates the world-leading precedent which has been set by the establishment of a UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and the important advances that have been made, particularly around raising public awareness of how to keep children safe online and teaching children how to stay safe through improved digital safety education. As we move forward, Professor Byron is clear that the priority must be to deliver, without delay, what was set out in the UKCCIS strategy last December. She also makes recommendations on how we should respond to the developments that have taken place since her 2008 review alongside a set of helpful recommendations to improve the workings of UKCCIS.
I welcome Professor Byron’s report and, because UKCCIS was founded on the principle of shared responsibility, I agree with her recommendation that the UKCCIS executive board should decide on the best way to address her recommendations. The Home Secretary and I are therefore writing today to the UKCCIS executive board asking them to consider the report and agree a response covering all of the recommendations by 31 July 2010.
I have placed copies of Professor Byron’s report, my letter responding to her and the letter to the UKCCIS executive board in the Libraries of both Houses. They are also available online at www.dcsf.gov.uk/byronreview.
Communities and Local Government
The “Strategy for Seaside Success: securing the future of seaside economies” was launched on Thursday 25 March.
The aim of the strategy is to help ensure our seaside towns have the help they need to build on their heritage and take advantage of the new opportunities to develop strong economies and communities for the future. While many seaside towns have had to confront particular economic challenges in recent years, seaside towns have unique histories and retain a special place in the development of modern Britain.
A renewed interest in these places, coupled with new possibilities to develop and use low-carbon economies and tap into the global digital economy, provides an excellent opportunity for seaside towns to become great places to live, work and visit.
This strategy builds on support the Government have given to seaside towns since 1997 through a range of mainstream policies, together with targeted support to some of the most deprived seaside authorities.
We have given councils more powers to tackle their own problems locally, through devolution, while the regional development agencies have given seaside towns significant support to promote economic development. The Northwest Development Agency has invested over £200 million in its seaside towns, and over £86 million has been invested in coastal areas by the East of England Development Agency.
The Government’s Sea Change initiative has put £38 million into improving seaside town infrastructure in 32 seaside areas since 2008. The Heritage Lottery Fund has provided over £234 million to 864 projects in English seaside reports to support their regeneration. Over £99 million has been targeted on 21 of the most deprived seaside resorts through the Working Neighbourhoods Fund and New Deal For Communities.
The new cross-Government strategy is directed at key areas where action is most needed. The package of support it outlines includes:
A new £5 million seaside towns grant fund to help the 25 most deprived seaside local authorities tackle long-term worklessness and drive regeneration;
A pledge to extend the Sea Change programme to help improve seaside town infrastructure after 2011;
The Heritage Lottery Fund to look at how more support can be given to iconic piers which are a unique part of many seaside towns historic infrastructure;
New licensing rules for councils over houses in multiple occupation will help tackle problems around poor quality seaside housing, and we will look at what else is needed to prevent unsuitable landlords getting holiday caravan site licences;
Support for a “Seasiding” campaign with festivals to attract cultural investors and strengthen non-seasonal economies to help them become year-round visitor destinations;
Exploring options to exploit new opportunities on the coast to benefit seaside town economies, including taking advantage of their natural advantages and location to be at the forefront of the shift to a low-carbon economy. New UK offshore wind licences could be worth £75 billion and create 70,000 new jobs by 2020, many of which could be in coastal areas.
Ensuring that communities across the UK, including seaside towns, benefit from the Government’s commitment to extend new digital networks, including super-fast broadband, across the country.
Regional development agencies and tourism boards to give maximum promotion to seaside towns in their region.
Learning from the neighbourhood policing pilots in seaside and other areas on how to deal effectively with antisocial behaviour and crime in seaside towns.
A focus on stronger co-operation across Government to improve regeneration outcomes in seaside towns, including Regional Ministers as seaside champions, and improved delivery of online personalised public services in seaside towns.
Seaside towns face complex economic and social issues so this strategy will evolve. It will help to ensure all our seaside towns to reach the standards of the best and become year-round economies that flourish and grow in the 21st century.
I have placed copies of the strategy in the Library of the House.
Armed Forces Equipment
Further to my statements to the House on 22 and 25 March, Official Report, columns 3WS and 54WS, I am pleased to announce the next steps on a number of projects that will deliver vital equipment and support, particularly to the Royal Air Force (RAF), and will help sustain the aerospace and weapons sectors of the UK’s defence industry. These announcements build on the package of adjustments to the defence programme I announced to the House on 15 December 2009, Official Report, column 801 and the emerging thinking on defence as set out in the Green Paper that leads in to the strategic defence review (SDR).
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has entered into an interim partnering agreement with MBDA (UK) Ltd to take forward the Government’s strategy for the UK’s complex weapons sector as originally set out in the defence industrial strategy. The agreement builds on the successful team complex weapons assessment phase that commenced in July 2008. As part of the agreement, the MOD has placed a contract valued at some £330 million to demonstrate and manufacture both the fire shadow loitering munition which will be able to be used in operations by the British Army in Afghanistan and, using a development of the current Brimstone anti-armour weapon, the second element of the selective precision effects at range (SPEAR) programme for use by the RAF on Harrier GR9 and Tornado GR4 including on current operations. The contract also includes further work on the future local area air defence system and on future components of the SPEAR programme.
This partnered approach is designed to meet the armed forces’ requirements through a modular family of weapons, with the agreement providing greater overall flexibility to meet evolving requirements, permitting shorter development times, and achieving significant efficiencies through life. It will also ensure the UK has continued access to industrial skills and capabilities that are critical for the ongoing provision of cutting edge complex weapons for our armed forces. The agreement represents a further significant investment in the United Kingdom’s high technology industry and its wider supply chain, and helps to sustain the UK’s key complex weapons skills base.
I am also pleased to announce that this week we will sign a £120 million contract with BAE Systems for the in-service support of the Hawk T Mk2 (the advanced jet trainer), which will provide a modern fast jet training capability for the RAF. This contracted logistic support arrangement will see BAE Systems responsible not only for the number of aircraft made available for training flights but also for ensuring that the aircraft are able to carry out the training mission effectively, and covers all aspects of support including on base maintenance, fleet management, spares management and re-provisioning, repair and all other ancillary activities needed to provide the required aircraft availability out to 31 March 2014. This contract is sufficiently flexible to continue to deliver value for money for defence should the strategic defence review identify changes in the fast jet training requirement. Altogether the contract will sustain over a 100 jobs at BAE Systems and its subcontractors, Babcock Defence Division and Rolls Royce (all at RAF Valley in Anglesey).
We are making excellent progress towards delivery of the 22 new Chinook I announced in December. The decision to buy more Chinooks is a reflection of operational experience over the past 20 years, especially more recently in Afghanistan where the aircraft has proven its value to commanders time and again. I am pleased to inform the House that a contract was signed with Boeing on 23 March, just three months after my announcement, for initial design and long-lead manufacture work, which will protect the critical path to delivery of the first 10 aircraft in 2012 and 2013. This demonstrates our commitment to delivering more capability to the front line as quickly as possible.
It has been well publicised that the A400M transport aircraft, which will provide airlift support to operations, is proving to be a challenging programme, principally due to the technical complexity of this next generation military transport aircraft. Since 2008, MOD officials have worked tirelessly with the other partner nations, the Organisation for Joint Armaments Co-operation, and EADS/Airbus Military to find the best way forward for the UK. This process has involved difficult negotiations but I am pleased to announce today that the partner nations have reached an agreement with EADS/Airbus Military on a non-legally binding heads of terms agreement that will provide the basis for a formal contract amendment in the coming months. The in service date is now expected to be 2015, and it is our intention to see the A400M programme through to completion.
It was very clear from negotiations that the programme would only remain viable with further investment from the partner nations. The UK contribution to this further investment will be achieved by reducing the number of aircraft to be delivered to the RAF so that we remain within our existing cost envelope. We expect that the cost increases, which for the UK represents a maximum reduction of three aircraft from the originally contracted number of 25, may be recovered in the long-term through a levy on foreign export sales of the A400M.
I acknowledge that there have been significant programme delays, reflecting the complex technical challenges of this international project, and we may not receive the number of aircraft for which we originally contracted. Nevertheless, we will deliver the capability required and are greatly encouraged that a prototype A400M aircraft has now flown, with flight trials continuing. This, coupled with recent changes in governance structures that have led to greater transparency, means that the MOD has grounds for greater confidence in the A400M programme. The proposed way forward has been subject to rigorous internal scrutiny, and I am satisfied that the proposed heads of terms agreement is underpinned by a sound evidential base.
As a result, I am confident that the A400M will remain value for money for the taxpayer, and will still deliver an outstanding capability for the RAF. The A400M programme will also sustain up to 8,000 British jobs, including cutting-edge wing design work.
As a result of the measures I announced to the House in December, and despite the delay to the A400M programme, we expect to be able to meet the airlift requirements for current operations after the C130K goes out of service in 2012. We are bolstering our strategic lift capability by the procurement of a seventh C-17, which will enter service with the RAF in March 2011. We are also maximising tactical airlift capability by investing in a package of enhancement measures to maximise the use of the existing fleet of 24 Hercules C-130J. The completion of a second runway at Bastion, Helmand, in 2010 will also allow us to reduce tactical airlift tasking in theatre. Through these investments, the Department believes it can sustain anticipated intra-theatre airlift tasking on current operations until A400M comes into service.
Finally, on 30 November 2009, the Minister responsible for defence equipment and support, announced the beginning of formal trade unions’ consultation on the future of defence support group’s (DSG) Large Aircraft Business Unit (LABU) at St. Athan, south Wales, designed to achieve closure of the facility by June 2013 at the latest.
Once depth maintenance on the VC10 ends in 2013 there will be no requirement to maintain RAF aircraft at St. Athan. The management of the DSG, the Government and the Government of Wales have explored exhaustively the prospects for replacing the contract with other work but no such opportunity has been identified. Therefore, our priority is to ensure that the redundancy and retraining schemes available to the workforce fully reflect our appreciation of the loyal, reliable and very skilled work that employees of St. Athan have delivered for the benefit of the RAF and the country.
We have written to the trade unions concluding the consultation process and setting out the redundancy terms that will give the workforce the opportunity to apply for redundancy on the current conditions available for compulsory redundancy.
MOD will continue to work with other Government Departments and agencies to explore future job opportunities for DSG employees who will be affected by the drawdown and closure of the facility. The option of retraining and transferring LABU personnel to other DSG sites will be maximised where this meets business needs and individuals’ preferences. And DSG will work closely with external training providers and agencies such as Careers Wales, Jobcentre Plus and other advisory organisations to explore alternative training and job opportunities for any employees wanting to retrain for an alternative career.
I pay tribute to the outstanding service of DSG St. Athan personnel, both past and present, in supporting the UK armed forces with the vital equipment needed on critical operations both at home and overseas.
The series of announcements I have made underline this Government’s commitment to provide our armed forces with the equipment and support they need.
The decisions we have taken will introduce new and enhanced capability that is required now and in the coming years, and support, not-prejudge, future decisions in the forthcoming SDR.
United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and DSTL (Targets 2010-11)
The following key targets have been agreed with the chief executives of the UK Hydrographic Office and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) for the FY2010-11.
UK Hydrographic Office
While aiming for 100, to achieve a safety index of 95 or higher.
To deliver the defence hydrographic programme achieving an index rating of 95 or higher while transitioning to a multi-year service definition annex incorporating incentivised pricing.
To achieve a return on capital employed of 9 per cent. on a three-year rolling basis.
KT4: Organisational Excellence
To demonstrate an improvement year-on-year across 10 measures of excellence while also achieving at least 75 out of 100.
KT5: Improving Business Efficiency and deliver Value for Money
To achieve at least 50 out of 70 against seven targets which together reflect a measure of efficiency improvements and value for money.
Deliver high quality outputs from Dstl-led projects that are assessed externally as impacting on customers’ priority issues, including the research and development (R&D) board’s priorities.
KT2: Timeliness and customer satisfaction
Deliver at least 90 per cent. of all Dstl-led projects that complete in the financial year 2010-11 to time and to budget, and achieve at least 93 per cent. of customer feedback responses at a score of seven or above for overall satisfaction.
Dstl will sustain and develop its technical capability, independently assessing 10 capability groups chosen by the R&D board where Dstl needs to lead thinking either now or in the future. No more than three of these will be assessed as “development needed”.
KT4: Business Performance
To maintain strong business performance through:
Achieving an average ROCE of at least 3.5 per cent. over the period 2009-10 to 2013-14.
Achieving an annual operating profit of £18.4 million while using the same charge out rates in 2010-11 as in 2009-10.
Non-staff costs not exceeding 32.1 per cent. of net income.
Embed sustainability into Dstl’s business ethics by achieving and, where these have already been met, exceeding government sustainable operations targets by:
Reducing carbon emissions from buildings by 15 per cent. relative to 2001-02 levels, by the end of 2010-11.
Increasing energy efficiency per m2 by 17 per cent. relative to 2001-02 levels, by the end of 2010-11.
Increasing recycling figures to 80 per cent. of waste arising by 2010-11.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and I wish to inform the House that plans will be published on Wednesday 31 March by all major Government Departments to show how they are taking forward action on climate change.
The carbon reduction delivery and adaptation plans set out how Government Departments will work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their own estates and operations, and in the sectors that they can influence. They also show how Departments will cope with the impacts of climate change that we expect to face, including by improving awareness, capacity and skills within Government to respond effectively to a changing climate.
These documents are being published alongside a single overview “Climate Change: Taking Action—Delivering the Low Carbon Transition Plan and preparing for a changing climate”. This provides a view of progress across Government and identifies some of the main climate challenges that Departments are working together to address—through delivery of their departmental carbon budgets and adapting to a changing climate in their planning and decision making.
I will place copies of “Climate Change: Taking Action—Delivering the Low Carbon Transition Plan and preparing for a changing climate” in the Libraries of both Houses on Wednesday.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Westminster Foundation for Democracy (2009-10 Review)
I would like to inform the House that the recent FCO-commissioned independent review of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy is complete. I have placed copies of the review in the Libraries of both Houses and it is also available on the WFD website.
The Westminster Foundation for Democracy is a unique organisation that carries out important work to support democracy worldwide. The FCO places great value on its work.
The objective of the review was to assess the Foundation’s performance and its value for money. The review found that the WFD is well positioned to make a contribution internationally. It was broadly positive about the WFD’s work with parties and Parliaments overseas. The WFD was found to be valued by both participants and beneficiaries. The FCO will continue to work closely with the WFD to ensure that the review’s recommendations are implemented.
Social Care Reform Grant
The Department has today issued a local authority circular detailing the funding allocations for the Social Care Reform Grant.
This is the final year of the £520 million Social Care Reform Grant which is ring-fenced to be used by local authorities to assist them with their partners in delivering the transformation of adult social care, as set out in “Putting People First: a shared vision and commitment to the transformation of Adult Social Care”.
In the first two years of the Social Care Reform Grant, significant progress has been made to deliver this transformation but this circular details what councils will need to do in the final year of funding.
In September 2009 the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Local Government Association with the Department of Health agreed a set of milestones focusing on five areas of priority to help councils be clear about what good progress implementing “Putting People First” looks like and to prioritise their use of the final year of the reform grant. These priorities are:
effective partnerships with people using services, carers and other local citizens;
ensuring everyone has self-directed support and a personal budget;
ensuring universal access to information and advice;
commissioning a range of services to ensure people have choice; and
delivering services in a cost-effective and efficient manner to use the available resources well.
The final year of revenue money (£237 million) has been ring-fenced by the Department, so that it should be used for supporting the process of transformation. In addition, non ring-fenced capital moneys have also been allocated this year. This includes:
£30 million allocated to local authorities as a capital investment grant, to support delivering personal budgets and transformation in adult social care; and
an allocation of £20,000 to each council with adult social service responsibilities to develop innovative strategies and approaches to extra care housing.
This year’s funding should enable local authorities to deliver the transformation envisaged in “Putting People First”.
I have launched today a public consultation on the management of police pursuits. To promote the efficiency and effectiveness generally of the police, section 39A of the Police Act 1996 empowers me to issue to chief officers of police codes of practice relating to the discharge of their functions.
The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) will be leading a 12-week public consultation on the draft of a code of practice on the management of police pursuits. The draft has been produced following detailed discussions involving the Home Office (HO), the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), NPIA and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). We have also consulted the Department for Transport, the Superintendents’ Association, the Police Federation, Health and Safety Executive and the Scottish and Welsh Assembly Governments.
Police on-road pursuits typically involve around 35-40 fatalities a year. Not all of these involve the pursuit car. However, both ACPO and the HO agree with the IPCC that we need to ensure we have done all we can to ensure public safety in the process of preventing crime. I want to reduce the risk of casualties to the minimum and ensure that pursuits are undertaken as safely as possible, and only when a necessary and proportionate means of preventing crime and apprehending offenders. I want to ensure public confidence in the management of pursuits.
In 2007, the IPCC published research on police pursuits. Its recommendations included the updating, development and codification of existing ACPO guidance on pursuit management. ACPO prepared new guidance and recommended to Ministers that it should be issued as a statutory code. The Police Act requires chief officers to have regard to such a code. Its issue would therefore ensure more consistent good practice.
Ministers agreed the ACPO recommendation. To help achieve earlier benefits from the guidance and speedier implementation of the code, a Home Office circular was issued last July to all police forces. This announced the planned development of a statutory code based on the guidance and HO and ACPO agreement that all forces should work towards full compliance with that guidance.
The draft code clearly sets out over-arching requirements and principles, including the need to comply with the detailed ACPO operational guidance. The guidance will remain a separate document, subject to updating and amendment as necessary. Code and guidance together will reduce the risks of death and serious injury, enhance public confidence in pursuit management and promote the safe prevention of crime and apprehension of offenders.
Following the consultation, we will consider the responses and feed these into a final draft. The Act requires me to lay before Parliament the code as finally issued. I intend to do this before the end of the year.
NPIA is sending the draft code direct to the police and other key parties and it is available for public comment on the NPIA and HO websites. Copies are also available from the Vote Office and in the House Library.
Lord Chancellor and the Law Commission
I am very pleased to announce that the Chairman of the Law Commission and I have agreed a statutory protocol governing how Government Departments and the Law Commission should work together on law reform projects. The protocol is key to ensuring a more productive working relationship between the Law Commission and Whitehall. The protocol has been laid before Parliament today.
The Law Commission Act 2009, which amends the Law Commissions Act 1965 to provide for the statutory protocol, also introduces a duty on the Lord Chancellor to report annually to Parliament on the extent to which Law Commission proposals have been implemented by the Government. The protocol is intended to improve the rates of implementation of Law Commission reports and its success in this respect will be highlighted in the annual reporting to Parliament.
Written Answer (Correction)
I regret to inform the House that the answer I gave on 11 March 2010 to parliamentary question 318998, Official Report, c. 410-411W, about how many thefts from this Department have been recorded in the last two years was incorrect.
The Department has checked the figures and the answer should read:
“Central records show that since 10 February 2008, 154 items have been reported stolen. Of these 54 were reported stolen from within Departmental premises”.
EU Directive on Driving Licences
The Department for Transport has published today a response to the public consultation which closed 5 February 2010. It outlines our proposals for implementing the third EU directive on driving licences (directive 2006/126/EC), adopted in December 2006.
Most features of the directive must be transposed into national law by mid-January 2011 and come into practical effect by mid-January 2013. Implementing regulations will be laid before Parliament in order to transpose the directive into law in Great Britain by the due date of January 2011. Separate arrangements apply in Northern Ireland, where driver licensing is a devolved matter.
After considering carefully views expressed by respondents, we intend to maintain the approach of making as little change to our current arrangements as is consistent with the directive and, where change is unavoidable, making it at least cost. Changes include:
A new European moped category AM which will include light quadricycles and tricycles. The minimum age for this category remains unchanged from current requirements at 16 years;
The introduction required under the directive of a new motorbike category A2, providing in the future categories Al, A2 and A.
Progress through these categories will be achieved by passing a test; direct access to a category, by passing a test, will also be possible. Direct access to new category A2 will be 19 years. Direct access for category A will rise from the current 21 to 24 years.
Special provisions for moped and motorcycle riders with a physical disability;
The need for new car drivers to pass a test to tow a medium-sized trailer;
New conditions of approval for organisations with non-DSA driving examiners;
Abolition of the separate category Bl (quadricycles) driving entitlements for new drivers;
Five-year driving licence administrative validity periods for drivers of lorries and buses.
We have decided not to introduce a training route to progressing through the motorcycle categories or, for car drivers, to towing a medium-sized trailer. Although a training route was supported by many respondents, some did not consider that in the current economic downturn the proposals were financially viable. This is also our assessment.
Many respondents opposed our proposals that riders should first take a familiarisation course on a more powerful category of motorcycle before being able to ride that category with a provisional licence before taking their test. They argued instead that riders wishing to ride category A2 or A motorcycles, who have not yet qualified for a full licence for the larger category, should be accompanied by an authorised trainer (AT) when riding on the roads. We agree with this argument and have amended our proposals accordingly.
Copies of the response report are available on the DFT website at www.dft.gov.uk and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Department for Transport has made the following ministerial statement:
On 1 February 2010, Official Report columns 2-4WS, I announced the initial deployment of security scanners at Heathrow and Manchester airports. This was part of a package of measures announced as a direct response to the attempted attack on Northwest flight 253 to Detroit on Christmas day 2009. The device used on that flight had clearly been constructed with the aim of making detection by existing screening methods extremely difficult.
The safety of the travelling public is my highest priority and security scanners are a vital additional tool which give airport security staff a much better chance of detecting explosives or other potentially harmful items hidden on a passenger’s body.
At the same time that I announced the initial deployment of security scanners I published an interim code of practice to reflect concerns about privacy, health and safety, equality and data protection and announced our intention to consult on it.
Today we are in a position to begin that consultation. This provides an opportunity to influence the final code of practice. We will consider all representations carefully, and this consultation will run until 21 June 2010.
We will inform stakeholders that the consultation paper has been published today. Copies of the consultation paper are available on the Department for Transport’s website at www.dft.gov.uk and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Work and Pensions
Today, I am publishing “Building bridges to work: new approaches to tackling long-term worklessness”, which sets out the next steps of welfare reform and will ensure no one is left to a life on benefits.
Historically too many people who were out of work were written off. In the 1980s and early 1990s long-term worklessness soared. We have had to deal with that legacy. Since 1997 worklessness has fallen, the number of people on working age inactive benefits has fallen by 300,000 and the action we have taken has prevented a big increase in inactivity during this recession.
Today we are going further. In “Building bridges to work: new approaches to tackling long-term worklessness” we set how we will support the long-term workless back into work, and support disabled people and those with health conditions who are at risk of long-term unemployment and worklessness to make sure no one gets left behind in the recovery. We will do this by introducing more individualised help alongside stronger personalised conditions, including extra support for people who are newly assessed as fit for work but may have spent a number of years on an incapacity benefit.
For those who are doing their bit but still struggling to get a job, the Government will step in and do their bit too. For jobseekers who do not find work after two years we will guarantee them employment or work placements and for people on employment and support allowance who do not find work after two years, we will provide a guaranteed place on our specialist disability employment programme—Work Choice.
I am also today publishing the Government’s response to the Social Security Advisory Committee’s consultation on the Employment and Support Allowance (Transitional Provisions, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) (Existing Awards) Regulations and laying these regulations before Parliament.
Over the next three years health care professionals will assess current incapacity benefits claimants, looking at what they can do, as well as what they cannot, using the work capability assessment to move them to our more active welfare regimes, culminating in the abolition of old style incapacity benefits by April 2014.
To ensure people are directed to the right support to get into work we will amend the work capability assessment and our proposals for the revised assessment are also published today.
The revised assessment will for example take better account of an individual’s ability to adapt to their condition and introduce improved assessment of fluctuating conditions.
These proposals involve a radical change in the way we use our resources to support people at risk of long-term worklessness—providing more personalised help and conditions coupled with guarantees to prevent those who are able to work from spending a lifetime on benefits.