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Written Statements

Volume 523: debated on Tuesday 8 February 2011

Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Communities and Local Government

Parliamentary Written Question (Correction)

I would like to inform the House that I have today placed in the Library of the House a corrected table showing annual income from parking charges for each local authority across the years 2005-06 to 2008-09.

This table supersedes the table placed in the Library in response to parliamentary question 302116 in the 2009-10 session. Question 302116 was tabled by the hon. Member for Regent’s Park and Kensington, North (Ms Buck) and answered by the Member for Stevenage (Barbara Follett) on 7 December 2009, Official Report, column 66W. Unfortunately investigations have revealed that there were miscalculations in the figures provided in the original table.

I am sorry for these errors and assure you that steps have been taken to enhance the quality assurance of relevant routine checks of answers to parliamentary questions to minimise the possibility of such an occurrence being repeated.

Transport

Search and Rescue Helicopter Procurement

On 16 December I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced that information had come to light regarding the preferred bid in the search and rescue helicopter competition which required clarification.

In mid-December, the preferred bidder in the SAR-H competition, Soteria, voluntarily came forward to inform the Government of irregularities regarding the conduct of their bid team which had only then recently come to light. The irregularities included access by one of the consortium members, CHC Helicopter, to commercially sensitive information regarding the joint MOD/DFT project team’s evaluations of industry bids and evidence that a former member of that project team had assisted the consortium in its bid preparation, contrary to explicit assurances given to the project team.

Since December, our two Departments have been working with Soteria to understand better the situation and its implications for the procurement process. In addition, the Ministry of Defence police are investigating how the commercially sensitive information came to be in the possession of the bidder. It would be inappropriate to comment further on the details of the investigation until it has finished.

However, even without the outcome of that investigation, the Government have sufficient information to enable them to conclude that the irregularities that have been identified were such that it would not be appropriate to proceed with either the preferred bid or with the current procurement process.

Work and Pensions

Office for Nuclear Regulation

The Government intend to bring forward legislation to create a new independent statutory body outside of the HSE to regulate the nuclear power industry. The new statutory corporation would be known as the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and would take on the relevant functions currently carried out by the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Transport.

The ONR would be a new independent regulator, formally responsible in law for delivering its regulatory functions. The creation of the ONR would consolidate civil nuclear and radioactive transport safety and security regulation in one place. The proposal will not affect the current regulatory requirements or standards with which industry must comply, and the vast majority of the costs of the regulator would continue to be recovered in charges from operators in the nuclear industry rather than funded by the public purse. Additional organisational costs will be entirely met by the nuclear industry.

Pending the legislation, the Health and Safety Executive is taking steps to establish the ONR as a non-statutory body from 1 April 2011, signalling our commitment to securing an appropriately resourced and responsive regulator for the future challenges of the nuclear sector. The Government will review the functions and processes of the interim body in order to inform their planned legislation.