Written Ministerial Statements
Monday 9 May 2011
School Teachers Review Body's 20th Report
The 20th report of the School Teachers Review Body (STRB) is being published today, making recommendations on the matters referred to it in October 2010. These were whether there should be a limit on the value of discretions that can be applied to head teachers’ pay and on a pay uplift for those unqualified teachers who earn £21,000 or less. I am grateful for the careful consideration which the STRB has given to these matters. Copies of the STRB’s 20th report are available in the Vote Office, the Printed Paper Office and the Libraries of both Houses, and online at
http://www.education.gov.uk and http://www.ome.uk.com/.
The STRB has made recommendations concerning limits on the discretions that can be applied to head teachers’ pay; and processes to ensure a focus on effective governance and rigorous justification for rates of pay which reflect the nature and degree of challenge required for a head teacher’s post.
I am grateful to the STRB for these recommendations which, subject to consultees’ views, I intend to accept.
The STRB has recommended that a non-consolidated payment of £250 should be made to those unqualified teachers who earn £21,000 or less; that the £250 is pro-rated for part-time unqualified teachers; and that consultation should seek to identify a simple and cost-effective method of payment.
As indicated in my statement of 21 March 2011, subject to consultees’ views, I intend to accept these recommendations.
My detailed response contains further information on these issues.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
“Climate Resilient Infrastructure: Preparing for a Changing Climate”
This morning I will launch “Climate Resilient Infrastructure: Preparing for a Changing Climate”. This outlines the Government’s vision for an infrastructure network that is prepared for the future changing climate to help protect the economy and its future growth. The document encourages a much stronger focus on adapting infrastructure to the impacts of climate change as part of a green economy.
Publishing this document fulfils a commitment made last year, when the Government launched the country’s first ever national infrastructure plan, to publish a document focusing on adapting infrastructure in the energy, ICT, transport and water sectors.
The document makes it clear that climate change will have significant implications for infrastructure in particular from more unpredictable extreme weather. Higher temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events ranging from drought to freezing winters, mean it is necessary to look now at how to prepare new and existing infrastructure for the impacts of climate change.
This approach will help minimise risks of disruption to infrastructure and higher economic costs to business and the country from climate change. That is why my Department’s business plan has a priority to
“Support a strong and sustainable green economy, resilient to climate change”;
adapting infrastructure to the impacts of climate change is a key part of delivering on this priority.
Hundreds of experts in infrastructure and engineering have been engaged throughout this work to provide a thorough analysis of the challenges and potential solutions to increasing the climate resilience of infrastructure. “Climate Resilient Infrastructure” makes the case for action, identifying who needs to act, the challenges they may face, the opportunities available and how Government can assist.
The infrastructure we rely on to keep the country running is already vulnerable to severe weather; this risk will only increase if we are not proactive and adapt to climate change. The document I am launching today emphasises the importance of early action now to minimise this risk. Importantly, it also sets out the economic opportunities climate change could present to our leading infrastructure and engineering companies.
The document covers UK Government policy in England and in the UK for reserved matters. The House will be updated on progress made in implementing the actions in the document when the Government publishes its first adaptation programme, required by the Climate Change Act in response to the climate change risk assessment due in January 2012.
I have arranged for copies of “Climate Resilient Infrastructure: Preparing for a Changing Climate” to be placed in the Vote Office. The document is also available on DEFRA’s website at www.defra.gov.uk.
Written Ministerial Statement (Correction)
I regret there was an error in my written statement issued on 4 March, Official Report, columns 49-50WS.
The cost of a full bespoke human hair wig was given as £239.65. The correct cost is £239.45.
The coroner’s verdicts into the deaths of those who were tragically killed on 7 July 2005 was handed down on 6 May.
Lady Justice Hallett’s inquests have been more wide ranging than any previous reports on the attacks, considering both whether the attacks were preventable, and the emergency service response to the attacks. We now have a comprehensive picture of what happened in the lead-up to that terrible day and on the day itself. I hope that the detailed, open and transparent inquests will have brought some measure of comfort to the families and to all of those affected by the events of 7 July 2005.
Lady Justice Hallett has found that the deaths of the 52 victims of this atrocity could not have been prevented. In her concluding remarks she said that
“the evidence I have heard does not justify the conclusion that any failings on the part of any organisation or individual caused or contributed to any of the deaths.”
The coroner has issued a report under rule 43 of the coroner’s rules 1984 with recommendations directed to me, the director general of the Security Service, the Secretary of State for Health, Transport for London, the London resilience team, the London Ambulance Service and the Barts and London NHS Trust. The report makes nine recommendations. The Government and the relevant agencies will now examine the coroner’s report and recommendations in depth and respond as quickly as possible and within the 56-day period set by the coroner’s rules. I will, of course, inform the House of the Government’s response once it has been provided to Lady Justice Hallett.
The Government, emergency responders and the security and intelligence community are constantly seeking to learn lessons and to improve the response to the terrorist threat we face. This includes learning from the 7 July attacks and from other incidents and there have been a considerable number of improvements made since 2005. The UK’s counter-terrorism strategy has continued to develop in response to the evolving terrorist threat and we intend to publish a revised version of that strategy before the summer.
Our police and intelligence agencies work day in, day out, to keep our country safe but, despite their efforts, it will never be possible to stop every single terrorist attack. It is important that we remain vigilant against the threat of terrorism.
Judicial Diversity Taskforce (Annual Report)
My right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Lord McNally, has made the following written ministerial statement:
The report of the advisory panel on judicial diversity, chaired by Baroness Neuberger, was published in February 2010. It contained 53 recommendations, one of which was that a judicial diversity taskforce, comprising the Ministry of Justice, senior members of the judiciary, the Judicial Appointments Commission, the Bar Council, the Law Society and Institute of Legal Executives, be constituted to oversee implementation of the recommendations.
Once established, the taskforce met for the first time in March 2010, and accepted the recommendations of the advisory panel and committed to their implementation, subject to consideration of the financial and resourcing implications.
One year on from the inaugural meeting, the taskforce met to discuss progress. I have deposited in the Libraries of both Houses copies of the first annual report. “Improving Judicial Diversity Report May 2011”, from the judicial diversity taskforce, which details progress achieved to date.
The report indicates that progress has and is being made in respect of all of the recommendations. However, we must not be complacent; there is a need for a much greater sense of urgency and commitment if we are to achieve meaningful improvements in the diversity of the judiciary and legal professions.
The statistics contained within the report, show that there is a significant way to go, which can only be achieved through concerted action by all involved, the Executive, the judiciary, the JAC and the legal professions to ensure that a person’s gender, race, religion, disability or sexuality is not a barrier to becoming a judge.
The judiciary can only become more diverse if those who are eligible to apply are equally diverse. It is therefore just as important to ensure that the legal professions themselves maintain the pool of diverse talented individuals, that they address the issue of retention within the professions and also undertake proactive initiatives to publicise the positive benefits that can be achieved through a judicial career.
The role of the taskforce will therefore be to provide a firm hand upon the tiller. Our common aim must be to remove the barriers, whether real or perceived, so that we attain our goal of improving the diversity of the judiciary by 2020.
Rosemary Nelson Inquiry Report
I am pleased to inform the House that the report of the Rosemary Nelson inquiry, chaired by Sir Michael Morland, will be published on Monday 23 May 2011.
In my written statement to this House on 5 April 2011, Official Report, column 61WS, I confirmed that the process to check the report in order to meet the obligations on me in relation to article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and national security had been completed, and that the report could be published in full. I have advised Sir Michael Morland of this. Monday 23 May is the earliest date on which the report can be published given the recent Assembly Elections in Northern Ireland and the need to make the relevant arrangements for publication.
I will make a statement to this House at the time the report is published. With the permission of the Speaker, I confirm that I will allow an opportunity for members of the family of Rosemary Nelson, as well as the other represented parties at the inquiry, to see the report privately and be briefed by their lawyers on its contents, some hours before the report is published. Some Members of this House will similarly have an opportunity to see the report in advance of publication, to enable them to respond to the statement made to this House at the time of publication.