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Written Statements

Volume 546: debated on Monday 18 June 2012

Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 18 June 2012

Treasury

HM Treasury Consultation

At Budget 2012 the Government announced that, following consultation on design, they will introduce corporation tax reliefs for the animation, high-end television and video games industries from April 2013, subject to state aid approval from the European Commission.

HM Treasury has today published a consultation document titled “Consultation on creative sector tax reliefs”, which outlines the proposed design characteristics of the animation, high-end television and video games tax reliefs. This document is available on the HM Treasury website.

The Government welcome views on the proposed policy design of the new reliefs and any comments on the summary of impacts. The document also issues a request for supporting evidence.

The consultation will close on 10 September 2012.

Defence

Nuclear Powered Submarines

I wish to inform the House that the Ministry of Defence has signed a contract, worth approximately £1.1 billion, with Rolls-Royce Power Engineering for an 11-year programme of work at its nuclear reactor core facility in Raynesway, Derby, including a major programme of site regeneration to replace facilities that have reached the end of their life.

Treaty obligations and security considerations necessitate the maintenance of an indigenous reactor core production capability to support the UK’s nuclear submarine flotilla.

Starting with the first UK nuclear submarine, HMS Dreadnought, all the Royal Navy’s nuclear reactor cores have been manufactured at the Rolls-Royce Raynesway site. After more than 50 years of service, the existing facilities at Raynesway have come to the end of their economic life and a regeneration of the Raynesway site is required to ensure the facilities continue to meet the safety standards set by the Office of Nuclear Regulation.

The site regeneration will cost approximately £500 million and involve the progressive demolition of the existing buildings and their replacement with new facilities on the same site.

The remaining £600 million will sustain reactor core production at the facility until March 2023. This will include production of reactor cores for the Astute class and the next generation nuclear deterrent Successor SSBN submarines if approved. This reflects the decisions taken in the strategic defence and security review and the parliamentary report “The United Kingdom’s Future Nuclear Deterrent: The Submarine Initial Gate”. The contract has an initial pricing period aligned with the Successor SSBN Main Gate.

These contracts will allow us to maintain this vital capability that underpins the nation’s long-term security, and will secure 300 jobs at Rolls-Royce.

RAF Scampton

I wish to inform the House of the outcome of the review regarding the future basing requirements for the Royal Air Force (RAF) acrobatic team (RAFAT) known as the Red Arrows and of the RAF’s air surveillance and control system (ASACS).

The RAF had planned to relocate ASACS infrastructure, as part of wider force restructuring, from RAF Scampton in advance of the 2014 drawdown date of the station. However, we have now identified that, due to cost and capability grounds, the ASACS infrastructure should remain at RAF Scampton, with any future decisions on its basing examined as part of other projects. Additionally, the most effective way of operating RAFAT without impacting on other flying is to stay at RAF Scampton. This means that both RAFAT and the ASACS unit will be retained at the station until at least the end of the decade.

This decision does necessitate scheduled maintenance to resurface the RAF Scampton runway and this will commence later this year.

Health

Nursery Milk Scheme

Today I am publishing “Next Steps for Nursery Milk”—a public consultation on the measures by which, through the nursery milk scheme, we can secure the most effective delivery, to all children under the age of five, of free milk in their childcare setting.

The nursery milk scheme has been running since the 1940s. The scheme currently funds free milk for around 1.5 million children under five-year-olds in 55,000 childcare settings throughout Great Britain. The scheme will continue.

In recent years, the prices claimed for milk purchased under the scheme have risen significantly, with a corresponding increase in the total cost of the scheme. The purpose of this consultation is therefore to explore three different options for reforming the operation of the scheme, looking at where we can make it more efficient as well as improving its value for money, while ensuring that all children under five attending a childcare setting for more than two hours a day continue to receive free milk.

Nursery milk is a universal benefit, meaning that childcare settings can claim the cost of milk provided to any child, regardless of the child’s home circumstances. We have ensured that all the options explored in the consultation ensure that the scheme will continue as a universal benefit.

In parallel with the public consultation, we are asking all childcare providers currently registered with the scheme to complete a simple survey about how the scheme works for them now and how potential changes might affect them and the children they care for.

We will publish a formal response to the consultation. To make any significant changes to the operation of the nursery milk scheme in Great Britain, we will, with the approval of Parliament, need to change the regulations governing it. New guidance will then be made available to all local authorities and childcare providers registered with the scheme, well in advance of any changes coming into effect.

“Next Steps for Nursery Milk” has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will meet on 21and 22 June. The health and consumer affairs part of the Council will be taken on 22 June.

The presidency is expected to seek to agree a partial general approach on the proposal for a regulation on establishing the Health for Growth programme 2014-20, the third successive public health programme. There will also be an orientation debate on the proposal on the decision on serious cross-border threats to health.

The presidency is expected to propose the adoption of Council conclusions on combating antimicrobial resistance, which the UK supports.

Under any other business, the presidency will provide information on the outcomes and conferences of its presidency. In addition, information will be provided from the Commission on its communication on the strategic implementation plan for the European innovation partnership on active and healthy ageing. The French delegation will introduce two points about the MediCrime convention and the supply of raw materials for pharmaceutical use in the EU. Finally, the Cypriot delegation will also give information on the priorities for their forthcoming presidency, which will run from July until December 2012.

PIP Breast Implants

The Department is today publishing the final report of the expert group chaired by Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS medical director, on the silicone breast implants manufactured by the firm Poly Implant Prothese (PIP). I am very grateful to Sir Bruce and to all the members of the expert group for the expertise and commitment they have brought to this task.

The expert group had available considerably more information than when they published their interim report in January. The new information includes the results of a major collection of data on explantation of PIP and other breast implants over the period 2001-11, as well as chemical analyses of a representative sample of batches of PIP and other implants. This makes it possible for the first time to make a valid comparison of the rates of rupture between PIP and other brands of breast implant, as well as to comment on the clinical significance of ruptures and silicone bleeds.

The group have concluded that:

rigorous chemical and toxicological analyses of a wide variety of PIP implants have not shown any evidence of significant risk to human health;

PIP implants are significantly more likely to rupture or leak silicone than other implants;

in a proportion of cases, failure of the PIP implant results in local reactions but these are readily detected by outward clinical signs—“silent” ruptures (ruptures which came to light only on explantation) are not generally associated with these local reactions; and

there remains no evidence of any longer-term, systemic adverse effects from breast silicone implants.

The group have reiterated and amplified their earlier advice that:

all providers of breast implant surgery should contact any women who have or may have PIP implants—if they have not already done so—and offer them a specialist consultation and any appropriate investigation to determine if the implants are still intact;

if the original provider is unable or unwilling to do this, a woman should seek referral through her GP to an appropriate specialist;

if there is any sign of rupture, she should be offered an explantation;

if the implants still appear to be intact she should be offered the opportunity to discuss with her specialist the best way forward, taking into account the factors listed in the report;

if in the light of this advice a woman decides with her doctor that, in her individual circumstances, she wishes to have her implants removed her healthcare provider should support her in carrying out this surgery; and

if a woman decides not to seek early explantation, she should be offered annual follow up in line with the advice issued by the specialist surgical associations in January 2012. Women who make this choice should be encouraged to consult their doctor if they notice any signs of tenderness or pain, or swollen lymph glands in or around their breasts or armpits, which may indicate a rupture. At the first signs of rupture, they should be offered removal of the implants.

We recognise that this remains a very worrying time for all women who have received PIP implants. This report should give them some reassurance that they will not suffer long-term ill effects from their implants and, in particular, that the silicone gel used in PIP implants is not in itself harmful. Nevertheless, our advice remains that if any woman with PIP implants remains concerned she should seek a consultation with her specialist and discuss, in the light of these findings, the best way forward for her. As we made clear in January, the NHS is ready to help and support women in these circumstances. If the implant was originally provided on the NHS, the NHS will remove and replace the implants if a woman and her doctor decide that this is the right course. If the original operation was carried out in the private sector, and the private provider is unwilling or unable to help, the NHS will remove (but not normally replace) the implants.

The report has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed paper Office.