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Written Statements

Volume 547: debated on Tuesday 26 June 2012

Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Deputy Prime Minister

McKay Commission

Since the establishment of the Commission examining the consequences of devolution for the House of Commons, a significant programme of work has been commenced, including multiple thorough oral evidence Sessions. This has inevitably led to increased time commitment of the Commissioners.

Sir Geoffrey Bowman’s own personal time commitments mean that he has reluctantly decided to step down from his position as a member of the McKay Commission.

The Government believe that there is still a good range and balance of expertise among the remaining panel of five Commissioners. Therefore they have no plans to appoint another Commissioner in place of Sir Geoffrey Bowman, but will continue with the remaining Commissioners.

Health

Genetics and Insurance

I am announcing the outcome of a planned review of the concordat and moratorium on genetics and insurance. The concordat is an agreement between the Government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) which provides for insurers’ use of predictive genetic test results and includes a voluntary code restricting the use of predictive genetic tests in life, critical illness and income protection insurance up to specified financial limits.

The concordat now includes clearer compliance and monitoring arrangements and outlines arrangements for assessing new applications by insurers to use the results of predictive genetic tests.

The Government have heard concerns from consumers regarding the potential uncertainty for those who decide to take a predictive genetic test now—under the moratorium—but who may only wish to take out insurance at a later date and who fear they may be caught out if the moratorium should suddenly end.

Therefore, to reassure consumers, the Government and the ABI have agreed to strengthen the agreement. The moratorium has already been extended until November 2017. The next planned review of the concordat will be in 2014. As a result of the current review, the ABI will not end the agreement outside of the review process or before the end of the moratorium. In addition, future reviews will be at least three years before any extended end date of the moratorium. Consumers can therefore be reassured that they will always have at least three years to prepare.

With the above provisions in place, the Government believe that the concordat provides a proportionate and effective framework which will help to maintain consumer confidence in the agreement while also ensuring that insurers have access to relevant information. It is an effective and successful example of industry self-regulation.

A copy of the “Concordat and Moratorium on Genetics and Insurance” 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.

Home Department

National Fraud Authority (Annual Report and Accounts)

The National Fraud Authority (NFA) annual report and accounts 2011-12 has been laid before the House today and copies will be available in the Vote Office. They will be published shortly on the NFA’s pages of the Home Office website.

Transport

Aviation Security

Today I am publishing a summary of responses to the Government’s consultation on better regulation for aviation security, and announcing the Government’s decision on taking forward the initiative.

The consultation document “Better Regulation for Aviation Security” (http://assets.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2011-21/dft-2011-21-consultation.pdf) set out proposals to modernise the regulatory regime for aviation security to bring it into line with better regulation principles, promote innovation and efficiency and ensure the best possible passenger experience. It proposed a move to an outcome focused risk based (OFRB) approach which would give operators the flexibility and responsibility to design security processes that deliver specified security outcomes, perhaps more focused towards the needs of their passengers, rather than requiring them, as at present, to comply with prescriptive security requirements. It builds on the successful and similar approach that now applies in aviation safety regulation.

The move to an OFRB approach would be managed through the introduction of a security management system (SeMS) developed and operated by each responsible organisation. A SeMS is an organised, systematic approach to managing security which embeds security management into the day-to-day activities of the organisation.

We will begin with a series of SeMS pilots, starting at London City airport once the Olympics have finished, in which industry operators will develop the SeMS approach and in so doing enhance their internal security cultures. The pilot at London City airport will be concerned only with the organisation and governance of security at the airport, not with the security checks themselves, which will continue to be managed and delivered in the current way.

Once these pilots have been concluded, and we are satisfied that the SeMS process is sufficiently robust and will deliver its intended benefits, we shall look to roll it out generally across the industry. This will provide a sound basis for the development and piloting of the OFRB approach.

The consultation ran from 14 July until 7 November 2011. Some 116 responses were received, from a range of organisations and individuals in the aviation industry as well as from interested bodies. I am grateful to them for the time they took in responding and for their informed and constructive comments.

I am pleased to say that there was overwhelming support for the proposed new approach. In publishing the consultation the Government acknowledged that these are complex proposals which require further development. The responses have been helpful in clarifying some of the issues involved including, importantly, the proposed timetable.

The consultation proposed that the new arrangements should be phased in over three years starting in April 2013. The Civil Aviation Bill, which is currently before Parliament, provides for various aviation security functions that are currently performed by the Department for Transport to be conferred on the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Subject to the date of Royal Assent, we are preparing for the CAA to take on those functions from April 2014. The OFRB proposals would represent a significant change in the approach to the regulation of aviation security. We have therefore decided that development and roll-out of SeMS is the right first step to take towards the roll-out of the OFRB approach. The CAA has been consulted and supports this decision. The conferring of functions on the CAA does not depend on this development being completed.

The summary report, with further information about our plans for implementing the new approach, will be available in the Libraries of both Houses and on the Department’s website.

Cycle Safety

My colleague the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning), and I are announcing today a £15 million fund to improve safety for cyclists in England (outside London). This is in addition to the £15 million support for cycle safety improvements within London announced by the Government in March.

This fund will provide capital support to improve safety at junctions identified as having a record of road incidents that have resulted in cyclists being killed or seriously injured.

The Department for Transport will now work in partnership with local authorities and the cycling stakeholder forum—which brings together cycling groups, safety experts, local authorities and other interested parties—to identify and prioritise junctions. This process will use Department for Transport analysis of official accident data to highlight potential targets.

Further identification on how the money will be allocated will be announced in the autumn.