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Written Statements

Volume 518: debated on Wednesday 10 November 2010

Written Ministerial Statements

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Treasury

Economic and Financial Affairs Council (11 November 2010)

I plan to represent the Government at the Budget ECOFIN to be held on 11 November in Brussels.

Budget ECOFIN will prepare a conciliation meeting with the European Parliament on the EU budget for 2011, and handle the outcome of that conciliation meeting.

The Government remain committed to opposing the increases of around 6% in the 2011 EU budget, above 2010 levels, proposed by the Commission and the European Parliament. These are simply unacceptable at a time when Governments across the European Union are taking difficult decisions to reduce national deficits and ensure the sustainability of their public finances.

The Government have called for a freeze in the 2011 EU budget at 2010 levels. We voted for this when the Council adopted its position on the budget earlier this year, which proposed a 2.9% increase over 2010 levels. Six other member states also voted against Council’s position. It was nevertheless adopted by a qualified majority.

Along with 12 other member states’ Governments, the Government have made it clear that they cannot accept any increase beyond 2.9% in the 2011 EU budget compared to the 2010 budget. Those are the terms of agreement that this Government will pursue at Budget ECOFIN on 11 November.

Defence

Call-Out Order to Support Operations in Afghanistan

With the expiry of the call-out order made on 11 November 2009, a new order has been made under section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable reservists to continue to be called out into service to support operations in Afghanistan. The new order is effective until 10 November 2011. Reservists continue to make a valuable contribution to operations in that country and some 1,280 reservists are currently called out and serving, of whom 530 are deployed in Afghanistan.

Communities and Local Government

Localism Bill and Planning

On 6 July 2010, the coalition Government revoked all regional strategies under section 79(6) of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009. This action was challenged in the High Court by developer CALA Homes, and the decision today concluded that section 79 powers could not be used to revoke all regional strategies in their entirety.

While respecting the court’s decision this ruling changes very little. Later this month, the coalition Government will be introducing the localism Bill to Parliament, which will sweep away the last Government’s controversial regional strategies. It is clear that top-down targets do not build homes—they have just led to the lowest peacetime house building rates since 1924, and have fuelled resentment in the planning process that has slowed everything down.

On 27 May 2010, the Government wrote to local planning authorities and to the Planning Inspectorate informing them of the coalition Government’s intention rapidly to abolish regional strategies and setting out their expectation that the letter should be taken into account as a material planning consideration in any decisions they were currently taking. That advice still stands.

Today, the Government’s chief planner has written to all local planning authorities and the Planning Inspectorate confirming that they should have regard to this material consideration in any decisions they are currently taking.

Moreover, to illustrate the clear policy direction of the coalition Government, the proposed clause of the localism Bill that will enact our commitment to abolish regional strategies is being placed in the Library. The Bill is expected to begin its passage through Parliament before Christmas.

We are determined to return decision-making powers in housing and planning to local authorities and the communities they serve, alongside powerful incentives so that people see the benefits of building. We will very shortly provide more details about one of the most important such incentives, the new homes bonus scheme, which will come into effect from April. This means that new homes delivered now will be rewarded under the scheme.

The coalition Government remain firmly resolved to scrap the last Government’s imposition of confusing and bureaucratic red tape. This was a clear commitment made in the coalition agreement and in the general election manifestoes of both coalition parties. We intend to deliver on it.

Justice

Parliamentary Written Question (Correction)

An error has been identified in the written answer given to the hon. Member for Dudley North (Ian Austin) on 19 July 2010, Official Report, columns 45-46W. The correct answer is as follows:

The number of court proceedings processed in the magistrates courts in England and Wales, England, and the West Midlands Local Criminal Justice Board area, from 2007 to 2009, is given in the table. Statistics are not available prior to 2007 on a comparable basis.

Table 1. Completed court proceedings in the magistrates courts, England and Wales, 2007-2009

Year

Area

Total number ofcompleted criminal proceedings(including breaches)

Total number of completed non-criminal proceedings

Total number of completed court proceedings

2007

England and Wales

2,184,000

981,000

3,165,000

England

2,051,000

923,000

2,974,000

West Midlands

132,000

62,000

194,000

2008

England and Wales

2,031,000

977,000

3,008,000

England

1,909,000

917,000

2,826,000

West Midlands

121,000

63,400

184,000

2009

England and Wales

1,913,000

974,000

2,887,000

England

1,797,000

910,000

2,708,000

West Midlands

107,000

66,000

173,000

Source:

HM Courts Service Completed Proceedings database, collected through the HM Courts Service Performance Database (“OPT”) and by manual data returns prior to April 2007.

Notes:

(1) All figures are given to the nearest thousand.

(2) Criminal proceedings include indictable/Triable-Either-Way, adult breach proceedings, adult summary motoring and non-motoring proceedings, and youth proceedings.

(3) Civil and family applications include care proceedings, Children Act 1989 section 8 Orders, emergency protection orders, licensing, other civil applications and others. Other includes means inquiries, representation orders and special jurisdiction.

(4) Prior to April 2007, data were collected through different data collection systems and therefore not directly comparable with those given in the table, based on HMCS Performance database (OPT). For this reason, the table shows the figures from 2007 only. In addition, the case management system used in the magistrates courts was updated between December 2005 and December 2008, from multiple legacy systems to Libra. Libra was rolled out in the West Midlands courts between March-October 2008.

(5) The above stated figures may not be directly compared with those published prior to the Judicial and Court Statistics 2008 bulletins, due to figures being derived from a different data source.

Prime Minister

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Assembly of Western European Union (UK Delegation)

The United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Assembly of Western European Union is as follows:

Robert Walter MP (Leader)

Full Representatives

Substitute Members

Brian Binley MP

Lord Anderson

Christopher Chope OBE MP

Joe Benton MP

James Clappison MP

Nicholas Boles MP

Ann Coffey MP

Lord Boswell of Aynho

Earl of Dundee

Michael Connarty MP

Baroness Eccles of Moulton

Geraint Davies MP

Paul Flynn MP

Jim Dobbin MP

Sam Gyimah MP

Jeffrey Donaldson MP

Michael Hancock CBE MP

Roger Gale MP

Jim Hood MP

Lord Glentoran CBE

Alan Meale MP

Oliver Heald MP

Baroness Emma Nicholson

Lord Inglewood

Sandra Osborne MP

Charles Kennedy MP

Claire Perry MP

Edward Leigh MP

Lord John Prescott

Ian Liddell-Grainger MP

Jim Sheridan MP

Yasmin Qureshi MP

Lord John Tomlinson

Amber Rudd MP

Virendra Sharma MP

Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE (UK Delegation)

The United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe is a follows:

Peter Bottomley MP (Leader)

Full Representatives

Substitute Members

Lord Bowness CBE

Nick de Bois MP

Tracey Crouch MP

Lord Glentoran CBE

Lord Dubs

Mr Dai Havard MP

Ben Gummer MP

Simon Reevell MP

Mark Hendrick MP

Nick Smith MP

Baroness Hilton QPM

Sir Robert Smith MP

Tony Lloyd MP

Linda Riordan MP

Angus Robertson MP

Bob Stewart MP

Rory Stewart MP

Roger Williams MP