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Written Statements

Volume 524: debated on Tuesday 8 March 2011

Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Business, Innovation and Skills

EU Competitiveness Council

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Baroness Wilcox, has today made the following statement:

The EU Competitiveness Council will take place in Brussels on 9 and 10 March 2011. Andy Lebrecht, the UK’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU will represent the UK on research issues on 9 March and I shall represent the UK on internal market and industry issues on 10 March.

The research substantive agenda items on 9 March will be a Commission presentation and exchange of views on the Europe 2020 strategy annual growth survey; adoption of Council conclusions on the interim evaluation of the seventh research framework programme including the risk-sharing finance facility; an update on the European innovation union flagship initiative; and adoption of Council conclusions on a pilot innovation partnership on active and healthy ageing. There will also be a lunchtime discussion on the European Commission’s common strategic framework for research and innovation funding Green Paper.

The research any other business items are: a report from the Belgian delegation and the Commission on the conference “The knowledge-based bio-economy towards 2020” and a Commission presentation on the Council decision concerning the framework programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for nuclear research and training activities (2012 to 2013).

The internal market and industry substantive agenda items on 10 March will be a Commission update and exchange of views on the results of the public consultation on the Single Market Act; adoption of Council conclusions on the Commission communication “Towards a better functioning single market for services—building on the results of the mutual evaluation process of the services directive”; adoption of the proposed Council decision authorising enhanced co-operation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection; a Commission presentation and exchange of views (industry perspective) on the Europe 2020 strategy annual growth survey; and adoption of Council conclusions on the raw materials initiative. There will also be an Industry Ministers lunchtime discussion on the Commission’s mid-term review of the Small Business Act.

The internal market and industry any other business items will comprise Commission presentations and updates on the following:

The internal market information system (IMI);

The SOLVIT annual report;

The European Court of Justice opinion on a draft treaty for the creation of a single court for patent related disputes;

The fifth consumer scoreboard;

The public consultation: towards coherent European approach to collective redress;

The public consultation on alternative dispute resolution;

The Commission communication on reaping the benefits of electronic invoicing for Europe;

The implementation of the recommendations of the high-level group on the competitiveness of the European chemical industry.

The Government’s main aims will be:

To emphasise the UK’s priorities for the Single Market Act;

To agree Council conclusions on the services directive mutual evaluation process and on the Commission’s raw materials initiative;

To support further progress on the EU patent;

To highlight the UK’s priorities for achieving EU growth (from both industry and research perspectives) in response to the Commission’s annual growth survey;

To agree Council conclusions on the seventh research framework programme interim evaluation and on the pilot innovation partnership on active and healthy ageing.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Cattle Movements

I wish to inform the House that following a Government investigation into whether any illegal trade in older cattle has occurred, new movement restrictions will be placed on cattle born or reared in the UK before 1 August 1996. This is an extra precaution against meat from these older cattle entering the food chain.

DEFRA has written to the 18,000 keepers with animals of this age to inform them that in future individual licences must be obtained before the cattle can be moved.

Controls to prevent these animals from entering the food chain are already strong. It is illegal to slaughter pre-1996 animals for food, and specified risk material (SRM) such as brain and spinal cord is removed from all cattle after slaughter. In addition, any cattle aged over 48 months are tested for BSE after slaughter and only those that test negative are allowed into the food chain.

The industry has worked hard over the years to ensure British beef regained the good reputation it deserves, both at home and abroad. This extra safeguard will help maintain this reputation.

Environment Council

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and I will represent the UK at the Environment Council in Brussels in 14 March.

At this Council, the Hungarian presidency is expected to seek political agreement on the proposal for a recast of the directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

The presidency will also seek the adoption of Council conclusions on the follow-up to the 16th conference of the parties to the UN framework convention on climate change in Cancun and on the review of the community strategy concerning mercury.

There will be an exchange of views on the latest analysis of the proposal for a regulation regarding the possibility for member states to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs in their territory. A further exchange of views will be held on the common agricultural policy towards 2020 and on the Environment Council’s contribution to the EU semester.

The following topics will be covered under “any other business”:

Presentation by the Commission on the low-carbon economy roadmap 2050;

Information from the Danish delegation on endocrine disrupters;

Information from the Commission on a communication on “Regional policy contributing to sustainable growth in Europe 2020”;

Information from the Commission on the state of the ETS registry; and

Information from the Austrian delegation on measures concerning the use of plastic carrier bags.

Home Department

Ending Violence Against Women and Girls

Ending violence against women and girls is a priority for this Government. On 25 November 2010, I set out our guiding principles in this area over the spending review period in a “Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls” and announced that we will be committing Home Office funding of £28 million to fund specialist services in this area over the next four years.

Today, to mark International Women’s Day, I am publishing a set of supporting actions to realise our ambition in this area. This includes a full response to Baroness Stern’s review into how rape cases are handled in England and Wales.

Copies of both documents will be placed in the House Library.

Police Remuneration and Conditions of Service

Tom Winsor has today published the first report of his review of remuneration and conditions of service for police officers and staff in England and Wales.

The review began its work on 1 October last year. The terms of reference asked the review to make recommendations that enable the police service to manage its resources to serve the public more cost-effectively, taking account of the fiscal challenges. In particular they invited the review to focus on proposals that:

Use remuneration and conditions of service to maximise officer and staff deployment to front-line roles where their powers and skills are required;

Provide remuneration and conditions of service that are fair to and reasonable for both the public taxpayer and police officers and staff;

Enable modern management practices in line with practices elsewhere in the public sector and the wider economy.

And to have regard to:

The tough economic conditions and unprecedented public sector deficit, and the consequent Government’s spending review;

The resolution by the Government that the public sector must share the burden of the deficit;

The Government’s policy on pay and pensions;

Analysis of the value of current remuneration and conditions of service for police officers and staff, as compared to other workforces;

A strong desire from the public to see more police officers and operational staff out on the front-line of local policing;

A recognition that there are also less visible front-line roles that require policing powers and skills in order to protect the public;

The particular front-line role and nature of the office of constable in British policing, including the lack of a right to strike;

Parallel work by the police service to improve value for money;

Wider Government objectives for police reform, including the introduction of police and crime commissioners, the reduction of police bureaucracy and collaboration between police forces and with other public services;

Other relevant developments including the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission led by Lord Hutton, the Hutton review of Fair Pay in the Public Sector led by Will Hutton, any emerging recommendations from them, and the Government’s commitment to protect accrued pension rights;

The impact of any recommendations on equality and diversity.

The review was asked to report in two stages, the first covering short-term improvements. Tom Winsor has now provided this first report and has been supported in this work by former chief constable Sir Edward Crew and labour market economist Professor Richard Disney.

I am very grateful for their work on this review and for this report. I will now consider the report very carefully. The report has been laid before Parliament today and copies are available from the Vote Office. It is also available electronically to the service and the public on the review’s website at: