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Written Statements

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 9 June 2011

Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 9 June 2011

Treasury

Tax Consultations

Since the June Budget 2010, the Government have taken a number of steps to improve tax policy making, with consultation on policy and scrutiny of legislation as the cornerstones.

Budget 2011 announced a number of tax policy changes and longer-term tax reforms that will be subject to consultation. These are summarised in the tax consultation tracker, which is available on the HM Treasury website at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/tax_updates.htm.

HM Revenue and Customs and HM Treasury will tomorrow publish the following consultation documents:

A new incentive for charitable legacies—A consultation to inform policy detail on how best to implement a lower rate of inheritance tax when leaving 10% or more of an estate to charity.

Consultation on the patent box—A consultation on how to implement a reduced 10% rate of corporation tax for profits arising from patents.

Research and development tax credits: response and consultation —A response to the November 2010 consultation and detail of further proposed changes to the research and development tax reliefs.

Updates to dates for some consultations planned for June and July have been made to the tax consultation tracker.

Communities and Local Government

Affordable Homes Programme

Further to the written statement of 14 February 2011, Official Report, column 36WS from my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Local Government, I am today announcing the publication of the technical revision to annex B of planning policy statement 3, to make clear that affordable rent falls within the definition of affordable housing for planning purposes. Also published today is a document summarising the responses that were received to the consultation paper, planning policy statement 3: “Planning for Housing Technical Change to Annex B, Affordable Housing Definition”, published on 14 February 2011; and an “Affordable Rent Impact Assessment”.

Planning policy statement 3, with a revised annex B can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/pps3housing.

The summary of responses is at: www.communities. gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/pps3annexsummary.

The affordable rent impact assessment at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/rentimpactassessment.

The above documents have been placed in the Library of the House.

Education

Education and Youth Council

Education Council

I represented the UK at the Education Council. The Council was preceded by a ministerial breakfast on the subject of adult learning. During this I set out UK policy on our skills strategy, reforms to the national careers service, and the forthcoming Government consultation on informal adult learning.

Early school leaving

The Council agreed a recommendation on policies to reduce early school leaving by qualified majority. The UK voted against the recommendation as it was inconsistent with our national approach. While we understand and accept the importance of reducing early school leaving in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy, we have concerns with the policy approach suggested in the recommendation. For example, some of the language on “modularisation of courses” and “individualised learning approaches” sits uncomfortably with our strong belief that it is for teachers to decide the educational styles that best suit their students’ needs. Commissioner Vassiliou later noted that

“in response to the UK points, Early School leaving cannot be solved by education alone”.

A ministerial debate on this subject focused on prevention policies to combat early school leaving with particular emphasis on children from a socio-economically disadvantaged background, including the Roma. Member states were asked about national mechanisms for evaluating these policies, and the role of the EU in this area. I and a number of other member states noted that quality education, literacy and high attainment were key to combating early school leaving. I also noted that teachers had a key role to play and that pupil attainment was central to this issue, alongside clear measures of accountability. The presidency stated that a summary of this discussion would be presented to the June European Council.

Early childhood education and care

The Council adopted conclusions on early childhood education and care. The conclusions invite member states to analyse and evaluate existing early childhood services in terms of availability, affordability and quality. They also invite the Commission to support member states in exchanging good policies and practices and to broaden the evidence base in this field.

Promoting the educational mobility of young people

A Council recommendation on promoting the educational mobility of young people was also agreed. The recommendation suggests a number of measures including: improving information and guidance on educational mobility opportunities, improving language teaching and exchanges between schools, reducing administrative burdens linked to organising educational experiences abroad, and improving procedures for validation and recognition of educational outcomes following the period abroad.

Italy abstained in the vote to agree the recommendation over concerns about referring to a monitoring system proposed by the Commission, known as the “mobility scoreboard”. A study into the feasibility of such a scoreboard is yet to be carried out.

Youth Council

The UK deputy permanent representative Andy Lebrecht represented the UK at the Youth Council.

Effective participation of young people in democratic life

The Council adopted a resolution on encouraging new and effective forms of participation of all young people in democratic life. The UK is strongly in favour of youth participation and I will host a representative young people’s advisory group that will scrutinise and provide feedback on emerging policy proposals.

Structured dialogue with young people on youth employment

The Council adopted a resolution on structured dialogue with young people and the EU Institutions on youth employment. The resolution recommends various changes to the structured dialogue with young people. This includes political follow-up of the results, greater participation by disadvantaged youth and improved working methods that provide a meaningful process for young people.

Voluntary activities

Ministers also debated voluntary activities of young people and their contribution to the development of local communities. National initiatives mentioned included subsidies for youth organisations and national citizenship programmes (in Italy, France, and the UK, where national citizen service will have its pilot this summer).

Energy and Climate Change

Feed-in Tariffs

On 18 March I announced the start of a consultation on proposals to change feed-in tariffs (FITs) for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations larger than 50 kilowatts and farm-scale anaerobic digestion (AD) of up to 500 kilowatts.

Having carefully considered the responses received, of which there were more than 500, I can now confirm the outcome of that consultation and the fast-track review of FITS.

It is clear from all the evidence received as part of the consultation that the demand for feed-in tariff subsidy has grown so substantially that it now significantly exceeds the amount of funding available during this spending review period. Without urgent intervention, the scheme would have been completely overwhelmed within a very short period of time. That is why it is so important for us to act now: it is vital that we protect the integrity of the scheme and can continue to support the ambitious roll-out of new green decentralised energy technologies in homes, communities and small business.

With that aim in mind, the coalition has decided to proceed with the proposed tariff reductions for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations larger than 50 kilowatts and all stand-alone installations, and increases for farm-scale AD as set out in the consultation document. The detail of this decision and the analysis underpinning it are set out in “Feed-in Tariffs Scheme: Summary of Responses to the Fast Track Consultation and Government Response” which the Government are publishing today and will be available at: www.decc.gov.uk/FITs.

I recognise that this decision will be unwelcome to some, including those involved in large solar PV projects who disagreed with the proposals relating to PV. I can assure the House that it is not a decision that has been taken lightly. All the concerns raised by respondents, together with alternative approaches suggested, have been carefully considered, analysed and taken into account.

However, these concerns have to be balanced against the need for a responsible approach to public subsidies like FITs, to ensure value-for-money for consumers and ensure scheme longevity. The fact remains that under the current tariffs, large-scale solar PV projects are securing much higher returns on investment than the scheme intended. This is reflected in the unanticipated number of such projects now in the pipeline.

Put simply, the FITs scheme has a vital role in building a more decentralised energy economy, but if we do not act now to control short-term expenditure on solar PV more closely in line with the forecasts that we inherited from the last Government, the negative impacts on the scheme will be considerable and the amount of funding for other technologies and smaller, domestic-scale solar PV will be severely constrained.

To give effect to these tariff changes, today a set of licence modifications to amend the standard licence conditions of electricity supply licences in Parliament. Subject to any necessary state aid clearance and the parliamentary process required by the Energy Act 2008, the generation tariffs changes will apply from 1 August 2011.

The Government will not act retrospectively and these changes to generation tariffs will only affect new entrants into the FITs scheme from 1 August 2011. Installations which are already accredited for FITs at the time will not be affected.

Home Department

Immigration

The Home Office is today publishing a consultation on employment-related settlement, tier 5 of the points-based system and overseas domestic workers. A copy will be placed in the Library of the House.

Immigration has enriched our culture and strengthened our economy, but it must be controlled so that people have confidence in the system. This Government have already introduced a limit on non-EU economic migrants entering the UK; reshaped tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system to increase selectivity and skills requirements; and announced changes to tier 4, the student visa system. These policies will result in a downward trend in net migration and a reduction in abuse, but we need to take further action to ensure we reach sustainable levels.

This consultation is the next stage in our immigration reforms. We intend to break the automatic link between coming to the UK to work and settling here permanently. In 1997, there were fewer than 10,000 employment-related grants of settlement; by 2010, that number had risen to over 84,000. We need to be more selective about who we allow to stay. The consultation considers how we do that. Its starting point is that we need to be clearer in our labelling of temporary and permanent migration routes to enable migrants and the public to better understand the immigration system. We propose to reposition tier 2 as a temporary route, predominantly a means of filling short-term skills shortages in the UK labour market. Most tier 2 migrants should expect to leave the UK after a maximum of five years in the UK. In future, only a tightly controlled minority will be permitted to stay permanently, where it is in the interests of the UK to do so. We are seeking views on how to achieve this in a way which enables the best outcomes for the economy. Alongside the public consultation, the Home Secretary is also commissioning advice from the Migration Advisory Committee on the economic effects of removing or restricting settlement rights, and on criteria for identifying the most economically important migrants for settlement. We have already announced reforms to the tier 1 investor and entrepreneur categories, including the possibility of accelerated settlement for these high-value migrants. We will be consulting, however, on whether tier 1 exceptional-talent migrants should have an automatic route to settlement and whether we should remove the ability of all tier 1 migrants to apply for further leave to remain after five years in the UK. To aid integration and social cohesion, we are also considering the introduction of an English language requirement for the dependants of economic migrants who signal their intention to apply for settlement.

The consultation also sets out proposals for reform of tier 5 of the points-based system and the overseas domestic worker routes.

The Government do not plan any reforms to the tier 5 (youth mobility) category. We do, however, want to consider restricting leave under the tier 5 (temporary worker) categories to 12 months, to reinforce the temporary nature of the route, which is intended to be primarily for non-economic purposes, such as scientific exchange and artistic and cultural activities. The consultation asks whether it is right that migrants in these categories should be able to be accompanied by dependants and whether those dependants should have open access to the UK labour market. We will also consider raising the threshold for entry to the Government-authorised exchange sub-category of tier 5 so that the skills requirement is at graduate level, bringing it into line with the revised tier 2 arrangements. Our intention is that the UK ancestry route should remain unchanged.

Finally, the consultation considers the two routes by which overseas domestic workers may enter the UK to accompany or join their employer’s household. Currently, there are two routes: one for domestic workers in private households and one for private servants working in diplomatic households. Both allow for extended periods of temporary leave (five years and six years respectively) and both enable the domestic worker to apply for settlement after five years. This is exceptionally generous, and sits ill with an immigration system focused on meeting identified skill shortages and securing the brightest and best migrants. We are also conscious that overseas domestic workers may be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. The national referral mechanism provides an effective means of protection and support for victims but we are considering tackling the problem at source. So as well as seeking views on restricting leave to a maximum of six or 12 months, which would allow domestic workers to accompany their employer for a short period only, and removing the right to bring dependants, we also want to consider whether we should close the private households route altogether. This would oblige those wanting domestic workers to recruit instead from the UK labour market, with the rights and protections that affords.

Details of the public consultation can be found on the Home Office website and copies will also be placed in the Library of the House.

The consultation will run for three months, until 9 September and we will announce our firm plans in due course. As the Home Secretary announced in February, we intend the settlement reforms will affect those workers who entered economic migration routes under the immigration rules in force from 6 April this year and who, under the current system, could have expected to apply for settlement in 2016. The timing of reforms to tier 5 and the overseas domestic worker routes will depend on the outcome of consultation, but we would anticipate them taking effect during 2012.

A further consultation document will be published later this year, considering the rules applying to those who come to the UK for family reasons such as marriage.

Police (Firearms)

The latest figures on police use of firearms in England and Wales from 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010 show that:

The number of police operations in which firearms were authorised was 18,556—a decrease of 1,395 (7%) on the previous year.

The number of authorised firearms officers (AFO’s) was 6,979—an increase of 111 (1.6%) officers overall on the previous year.

The number of operations involving armed response vehicles was 14,089—a decrease of 2,475 (15%) on the previous year.

The police discharged a conventional firearm in six incidents (up from five incidents in 2008-09).

Full details are set out in the tables below:

Table 1- Number of Operations in which Firearms were Authorised

Year

2001/02

2002/03

2003/04

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

2008/09

2009/10

AVON & SOMERSET

195

262

311

333

247

285

328

339

267

BEDFORDSHIRE

237

301

442

475

575

663

1,217

1,229

869

CAMBRIDGESHIRE

114

57

104

241

201

207

316

460

490

CHESHIRE

419

451

397

358

367

340

317

269

314

CLEVELAND

37

170

453

530

657

293

577

667

430

CITY OF LONDON

40

131

364

404

323

239

365

63

38

CUMBRIA

71

77

72

152

112

92

92

86

80

DERBYSHIRE

275

401

369

287

305

223

211

310

198

DEVON & CORNWALL

101

96

112

71

84

80

143

170

185

DORSET

184

193

231

223

263

354

258

369

351

DURHAM

89

83

156

144

291

340

206

181

140

ESSEX

323

312

275

296

432

245

529

529

444

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

165

185

127

176

229

280

162

132

175

GTR MANCHESTER

580

518

507

461

478

481

497

524

415

HAMPSHIRE

198

162

208

237

289

352

382

362

292

HERTFORDSHIRE

112

172

195

185

187

280

303

343

205

HUMBERSIDE

297

187

183

206

362

235

209

123

133

KENT

115

137

207

163

219

170

202

280

275

LANCASHIRE

232

238

318

241

240

410

388

281

245

LEICESTERSHIRE

300

268

295

260

363

334

318

347

280

LINCOLNSHIRE

477

392

386

294

220

157

158

133

73

MERSEYSIDE

1,020

628

751

733

669

727

829

556

701

METROPOLITAN

2,447

3,199

3,563

2,964

4,711

3,878

4,948

5,044

5,534

NORFOLK

175

200

178

195

175

153

174

274

192

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

43

138

148

158

137

156

159

120

109

NORTHUMBRIA

1,440

1,275

1,140

977

611

332

229

154

156

NORTH YORKSHIRE

92

100

147

185

183

282

329

289

272

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

384

452

459

408

394

289

270

245

194

SOUTH YORKSHIRE

258

463

484

546

749

737

628

538

533

STAFFORDSHIRE

232

281

255

216

171

250

244

209

183

SUFFOLK

163

270

251

153

202

256

193

237

225

SURREY

245

247

203

151

222

222

375

479

188

SUSSEX

248

204

280

187

190

201

331

331

227

THAMES VALLEY

179

167

195

289

427

264

293

344

319

WARWICKSHIRE

130

149

164

124

180

162

150

145

129

WEST MERCIA

117

91

197

162

122

155

202

171

122

WEST MIDLANDS1

822

902

1,377

1,264

1,044

1,557

1,063

1,109

933

WEST YORKSHIRE

757

604

575

853

1,335

1,272

1,130

1,367

1,512

WILTSHIRE

45

58

63

88

139

226

128

158

152

DYFED POWYS

28

29

28

51

63

72

155

92

71

GWENT

20

37

40

81

94

133

334

152

151

NORTH WALES

302

259

197

223

350

340

259

185

126

SOUTH WALES

283

281

250

236

279

308

293

555

628

TOTAL

13,991

14,827

16,657

15,981

18,891

18,032

19,894

19,951

18,556

Table 2 – Number of Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs)

Year

2001/02

2002/03

2003/04

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

2008/09

2009/10

AVON & SOMERSET

116

84

122

118

117

103

123

127

124

BEDFORDSHIRE

48

53

58

56

59

57

53

50

54

CAMBRIDGESHIRE

56

71

60

60

50

46

49

51

45

CHESHIRE

81

89

75

76

73

80

72

88

95

CLEVELAND

85

80

95

100

100

105

97

83

72

CITY OF LONDON

73

72

86

89

86

45

49

50

51

CUMBRIA

92

87

89

90

89

90

97

86

91

DERBYSHIRE

80

69

70

74

75

69

61

61

71

DEVON & CORNWALL

108

115

132

123

122

132

142

146

157

DORSET

57

59

60

64

62

67

71

79

65

DURHAM

86

102

97

103

100

102

89

82

81

ESSEX

180

184

186

202

205

220

225

223

223

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

71

80

82

93

92

94

95

97

108

GTR MANCHESTER

219

202

205

187

245

217

250

296

237

HAMPSHIRE

87

94

94

92

97

83

85

93

96

HERTFORDSHIRE

46

47

50

53

52

49

53

50

46

HUMBERSIDE

96

96

96

101

92

83

87

80

77

KENT

113

93

90

94

94

98

87

110

103

LANCASHIRE

138

129

122

115

123

103

143

105

94

LEICESTERSHIRE

69

68

51

53

59

67

64

73

76

LINCOLNSHIRE

91

87

78

86

87

75

77

69

60

MERSEYSIDE

78

84

94

93

129

139

153

154

141

METROPOLITAN

1,805

1,823

2,060

2,134

2,331

2,584

2,530

2,740

2,856

NORFOLK

104

109

114

125

119

127

114

106

111

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

51

56

52

50

56

59

53

50

55

NORTHUMBRIA

125

99

90

93

98

92

96

95

102

NORTH YORKSHIRE

66

64

60

56

78

67

67

63

64

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

136

131

138

138

149

146

137

133

91

SOUTH YORKSHIRE

92

100

98

122

116

118

106

99

102

STAFFORDSHIRE

71

63

67

76

70

82

82

75

85

SUFFOLK

90

80

96

88

84

78

74

67

68

SURREY

62

48

53

49

51

45

54

54

60

SUSSEX

120

141

134

130

129

129

123

123

114

THAMES VALLEY

156

180

172

176

180

186

180

180

193

WARWICKSHIRE

50

51

46

53

55

59

63

66

76

WEST MERCIA2

125

131

139

141

152

133

163

137

115

WEST MIDLANDS

111

110

124

134

145

175

177

165

180

WEST YORKSHIRE

116

132

140

130

150

148

147

135

156

WILTSHIRE

71

78

80

74

72

69

67

74

69

DYFED POWYS

77

62

58

79

68

72

67

63

64

GWENT

57

60

71

74

86

64

63

54

61

NORTH WALES

83

75

73

65

57

56

57

53

76

SOUTH WALES

138

125

139

134

130

115

138

121

114

TOTAL

5,776

5,763

6,096

6,243

6,584

6,728

6,780

6,868

6,979

Table 3 – Number of Operations Involving Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs)

Year

2001/02

2002/03

2003/04

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

2008/09

2009/10

AVON & SOMERSET

173

215

249

312

167

192

292

231

137

BEDFORDSHIRE

172

269

414

419

534

639

1,171

1,188

819

CAMBRIDGESHIRE

43

45

155

172

160

172

221

366

393

CHESHIRE3

523

337

356

773

807

793

642

221

CLEVELAND

13

63

86

154

285

290

554

661

426

CITY OF LONDON

39

131

364

275

234

183

200

63

32

CUMBRIA

53

45

65

134

90

72

74

56

51

DERBYSHIRE

253

363

312

254

257

183

187

252

169

DEVON & CORNWALL

76

32

94

54

54

76

120

138

168

DORSET

182

180

215

195

246

322

238

347

349

DURHAM

57

66

96

91

256

204

192

164

140

ESSEX

165

176

138

138

155

224

226

391

273

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

140

166

109

121

145

213

147

120

100

GTR MANCHESTER

528

406

440

364

306

214

196

460

292

HAMPSHIRE

116

108

128

167

178

270

271

247

194

HERTFORDSHIRE

81

129

157

155

160

226

262

311

182

HUMBERSIDE

273

170

158

184

335

232

183

94

111

KENT

89

132

193

124

183

373

364

325

227

LANCASHIRE

192

185

273

228

232

383

313

279

239

LEICESTERSHIRE

292

232

269

232

328

313

268

332

263

LINCOLNSHIRE

470

367

355

276

210

147

153

128

63

MERSEYSIDE

974

547

687

677

611

644

734

445

631

METROPOLITAN

1,667

2,447

2,423

2,322

2,572

2,770

2,303

3,283

3,563

NORFOLK

157

186

169

163

149

133

165

252

176

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

25

90

99

89

101

119

127

117

88

NORTHUMBRIA

1,349

1,204

1,063

893

585

299

199

129

134

NORTH YORKSHIRE

60

67

110

144

208

268

318

287

267

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

333

397

404

336

342

256

246

197

175

SOUTH YORKSHIRE

221

280

322

438

632

522

493

387

325

STAFFORDSHIRE

208

241

212

183

154

222

231

192

155

SUFFOLK

116

160

194

119

149

204

148

206

189

SURREY

225

240

190

140

204

209

380

469

174

SUSSEX

189

171

250

163

162

165

311

248

177

THAMES VALLEY

174

167

179

265

355

227

254

292

272

WARWICKSHIRE

104

31

138

102

144

121

113

100

92

WEST MERCIA

100

111

241

152

94

120

121

128

148

WEST MIDLANDS1

563

592

975

952

745

518

716

739

689

WEST YORKSHIRE

609

565

543

656

1,040

1,048

1,098

1,361

1,203

WILTSHIRE

43

39

28

54

124

190

359

499

120

DYFED POWYS

28

29

28

48

55

72

135

80

59

GWENT

16

16

23

74

85

109

257

138

147

NORTH WALES

265

198

153

180

299

295

221

156

107

SOUTH WALES

218

253

161

165

223

283

222

485

570

TOTAL

11,574

11,848

13,218

13,137

14,355

14,515

15,425

16,564

14,089

Table 4 – Number of Incidents where Conventional Firearms were Discharged

Year

2001/02

2002/03

2003/04

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

2008/09

2009/10

INCIDENTS

11

10

4

5

9

3

7

5

6

% of incidents compared with number of authorised operations

0.079

0.067

0.024

0.031

0.048

0.017

0.033

0.025

0.032

Source: Association of Chief Police Officers (Does not include discharges for animal destruction or during police training)

Notes for tables:

1. Revised figure for 2007/08 from West Midlands Police

2. Revised figure for 2008/09 from West Mercia Constabulary

3. Cheshire did not record ARV operations for 2009/10

Source: Home Office Public Order Unit, based on information aggregated from figures provided by individual police forces as part of the Home Office annual data requirement. This was followed by a further quality assurance process involving the Home Office asking individual forces to verify and sign off their figures.

The information provided is a regular annual update of figures previously published and available on the Home Office website here:

http://tna.europarchive.org/20100419081706/http:/www.police.homeoffice.gov.uk/operational-policing/firearms/index.html.

Home Office guidance to forces for providing these figures is contained within the booklet “Annual Data Requirement, Police Personnel and Performance Data, Notes for Guidance”. For the purpose of this statistical return AFOs are deemed to be deployed when

“they are required to conduct a specific task during which their possession of a firearm (with appropriate authorisation) is a required element”(Chapter 3, paragraph 3.1 ACPO Manual of Guidance on Police Use of Firearms).

In addition to the total number of operations, a further sub-category is required regarding those operations where the initial or sole response is by armed response vehicle (ARV).

Each incident will be classed as only one operation regardless of the number of personnel/deployments or tactics employed to deal with the incident.

Deployments also include those incidents where AFOs “self-authorise”.

The number of officers authorised to use firearms as at 31 March 2010.

Transport

No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron

As the House will be aware, work was carried out by the royal household in 2008 to consider the option for procuring a small aircraft for official travel within the UK. This work concluded that such an acquisition could not at that time be justified on the grounds of value-for-money.

The royal household therefore continue to make use of chartered air services and the scheduled market and, where irreducible spare capacity exists, will continue to make use of No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron.

Work and Pensions

Employment Support (Disabled People)

I have today published a copy of the report to the Government by Liz Sayce, chief executive of RADAR, reviewing specialist disability employment programmes. Copies of the report will be available in the Vote Office.

Meeting the aspirations of disabled people for employment in the full range of jobs and sectors of the economy, and ensuring that the services we provide reflect the needs of individual disabled people in the modern work place are important goals. The employment services we provide for disabled people must be effective. This report shows clearly that there is more that needs to be done.

I welcome this review, and the central theme that resources for supporting disabled people into and in employment should be primarily focused on disabled people themselves.

The report contains a range of specific recommendations, and the Government intend to consult on these before making any decisions. A full response and consultation will be issued shortly.