Written Ministerial Statements
Friday 22 March 2013
Business, Innovation and Skills
Insolvency Service Performance Targets
I have today published the Insolvency Service’s performance targets for the period 2013-14.
In recent years there has been a significant fall in the number of new compulsory insolvency cases dealt with the by the official receiver, from 78,000 cases in 2009-10 to a level of 33,500 in 2012-13, with the expectation that this will fall further in 2013-14.
The service has already reduced its cost base to reflect reducing demand, including a reduction in its staff complement from 3,200 to 2,000 from October 2009 to April 2013, but more needs to be done. Efficiency gains achieved in 2013-14 will either be released as a cost saving, or used to fund necessary self-investment.
The service’s indicators for 2013-14 demonstrate its performance against the needs of stakeholders and customers. Its priorities will be to enhance confidence in the insolvency regime, particularly for its enforcement output, and to improve customer experience and process efficiency. I have set targets at a level which appropriately reflects the degree of change the service is experiencing and yet will remain challenging to achieve.
A copy of “the Insolvency Service Annual Plan 2013-14” will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and is available online at: http://www.bis.gov.uk/insolvency/About-us.
Insolvency Service Published Targets
Value for Public Money
Deliver against agreed 2013-14 budget, with sound financial management and robust governance
Confidence in enforcement activity
Delivery of customer impacts in Annual Plan
% of reports issued to creditors within eight weeks bankruptcy/company cases
% of disqualification cases in which proceedings are instigated under 23 months
% of bankruptcy restrictions authorised within 11 months of insolvency
Action redundancy payment claims within three weeks/six weeks
The service will also look to build upon its current customer service excellence and investor in people status, by gaining re-accreditation in 2013.
Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors
I am today announcing the start of the triennial review of the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors (ACCO). Triennial reviews of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) are part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that NDPBs continue to have regular challenge on their remit and governance arrangements.
ACCO provides advice to the Secretary of State for Defence on appeals from service personnel whose applications to leave the armed forces on the ground of conscience have not been accepted.
The ACCO review is to be conducted in accordance with Government guidance for reviewing NDPBs and will consist of two phases. Phase 1 will consider whether the function of the ACCO is still required, and whether continued delivery of that function through a non-departmental public body (NDPB) is appropriate. If phase 1 deems that ACCO should continue in its current form, phase 2 will review the current governance arrangements to ensure that it is complying with recognised principles of good corporate governance.
The aim is to complete the review and announce the outcome within 12 weeks.
Submarine Dismantling Project
I am announcing today that, following public consultation, the submarine dismantling project (SDP) has passed a main gate decision point.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has previously proposed that the intermediate level waste (ILW) storage site selection process should start by narrowing the range of options to a particular type of site, that is, by deciding whether Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) or MOD and industry sites should be considered further, and discounting the other types. However, based on the findings of the public consultation, alongside recent legal advice, it has been decided that the process of selecting a specific site for the interim storage of ILW should consider all UK nuclear licensed and authorised sites that might be suitable. This will therefore include MOD sites, industry sites and NDA sites on an equal basis. The MOD will carry out further public consultation as part of this process. No radioactive waste will be removed from the submarines until a disposal or storage solution has been agreed.
We have decided to demonstrate the initial dismantling process for nuclear-powered submarines that have left service with the Royal Navy by removing all radioactive waste from a single nuclear-powered submarine at Rosyth. The reactor pressure vessel from this submarine will be removed and stored whole. Subject to the successful conclusion of this demonstration, we then intend to carry out dismantling of the remaining submarines at both Rosyth and Devonport.
These decisions have taken account of the findings of the public consultation that was announced by the then Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, 27 October 2011, Official Report, column 16WS and ran from 28 October 2011 until 17 February 2012.
More than 1,200 people attended consultation events and the MOD received over 400 written responses, all of which were recorded and considered by the SDP team. We are grateful to everyone who took part in this consultation, and the wide range of comments provided valuable input to the MOD’s options analysis, which has changed and matured significantly as a result.
We have today published the MOD “Response to Consultation”, which summarises the comments that were received and explains how they have been taken into account. This is available from the SDP consultation page on the www.gov.uk website:
A copy will also be placed in the Library of the House.
Recruit Trainee Survey
Today I am publishing the 2011 recruit trainee survey annual report. All recruits and trainees passing through phase 1 and 2 training are offered the opportunity to participate in the survey which is anonymous and administered independently on behalf of the services by an external contractor.
The annual report contains the views of recruits and trainees about topics such as the preparation for joining, their treatment during phase 1 and 2 training, food, accommodation, access to instructional and welfare staff and complaints procedures. Overall the results are positive and importantly the findings are used by service training headquarters and units to monitor the training environment and make improvements.
I am placing a copy of the full “Recruit Trainee Survey 2011 Annual Report” in the Library of the House.
Health Education England
On 1 April 2013, Health Education England takes over responsibility for national leadership of health education and training and ensuring that the health work force has the right skills, behaviours and training, and is available in the right numbers, to deliver high-quality patient care. We have already announced our intention to establish Health Education England as a non-departmental public body at the earliest opportunity, as set out in the Draft Care and Support Bill.
The creation of Health Education England will bring together responsibility for education and training; the outcome of which will be a better work force planning, education and training system for health and public health, and one that is clearly focused on continually improving the health of the public and services for patients.
Given the findings of the Francis report and the importance of reflecting the changes and improvements required in the recruitment, training and education of NHS staff in the Government’s response, the full mandate for Health Education England will be published at the end of April.
I am pleased to announce that today I have published online a document outlining the Government’s strategic priorities for female offenders. These priorities are:
Ensuring the provision of credible, robust sentencing options in the community that will enable female offenders to be punished and rehabilitated in the community where appropriate. We are committed to ensuring all community orders include a punitive element. Other options such as tagging and curfews can also be used to provide greater monitoring and structure to offenders’ lives;
Ensuring the provision of services in the community that recognise and address the specific needs of female offenders, where these are different from those of male offenders;
Tailoring the women’s custodial estate and regimes so that they reform and rehabilitate offenders effectively, punish properly, protect the public fully, meet gender specific standards, and locate women in prisons as near to their families as possible; and
Through the transforming rehabilitation programme, supporting better life management by female offenders ensuring all criminal justice system partners work together to enable women to stop reoffending.
To support delivery of these priorities, I am also pleased to announce that I will chair a new Advisory Board for Female Offenders. The board, which will bring together key stakeholders, criminal justice partners and senior officials from across Whitehall, will support me in providing strong leadership on delivery of our strategic priorities.
It will focus on specific work streams, which will include exploring how we could enhance provision for female offenders in the community to offer a credible alternative to custody; supporting the Government’s plans for transforming rehabilitation; providing expert, practitioner input to the Government’s review of the women’s custodial estate; and working with sentencer, criminal justice partners, the voluntary sector and other Government Departments to reduce women’s offending and reoffending.
The publication of this document follows commitments made in the House of Lords by Lord McNally during the parliamentary passage of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, and by the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green) in the House of Commons during Commons Committee of the Crime and Courts Bill.
Copies of “Strategic Priorities for Female Offenders” have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The document is also available online, at: www.justice. gov.uk/publications/policy/moj/strategic-objectives-for-female-offenders
Aviation Policy Framework
Britain has a successful aviation sector that provides 220,000 jobs directly and underpins our place in the world economy. The Government’s job is to support this and allow expansion while recognising the effect it has on the environment.
That is why today I am publishing the “Aviation Policy Framework” which provides the baseline for the Airports Commission to take into account on important issues such as aircraft noise and climate change. It sets out Government’s objectives on the issues which will challenge and support the development of aviation right across the UK, not just in the south-east of England.
This document sets out the Government’s policy to allow the aviation sector to continue to make a significant contribution to economic growth across the country. It is also a key step towards tackling our airport capacity challenge in the south-east. This is being addressed by the independent Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, who will look at the issue in a way which seeks to establish a broad consensus on the solution. This document will frame the debate for Sir Howard’s work.
This Government have already taken an important step in recognising that any decision on how to meet the airport capacity challenge in the south-east and maintain our excellent connectivity is a decision bigger than any one Government. I look forward to the Commission’s initial report this December and I would like to thank MPs for their constructive engagement with Sir Howard’s work thus far.
In setting out the benefits of aviation, the “Aviation Policy Framework” makes it clear its importance to the UK economy, both at a national and regional level. In particular, it highlights the economic benefits the UK derives from it. In tackling aviation’s climate change impacts, the policy framework sets out Government’s aim to ensure that the aviation sector makes a significant and cost-effective contribution towards reducing global emissions, with the emphasis on effective global action.
The “Aviation Policy Framework” addresses the real impact that aircraft noise can have. Policies such as noise envelopes will help ensure that benefits of future improvements are shared between the industry and local residents. The Government recognise the UK aviation industry’s efforts to tackle noise and challenges it to continue to lead the way in best practice. For example, last month we steered a decision at the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation which will mean tougher noise standards for new civil aircraft from 2017.
I would like to thank the individuals and organisations that have taken the time to contribute to and shape this document. I have today placed a summary of the consultation responses in the House Library and it is available at: GOV.UK.
The Government believe that aviation needs to grow, delivering the benefits essential to our economic well-being, while respecting the environment and protecting quality of life. The Government believe that the “Aviation Policy Framework” is a vital step forward in achieving this.
Work and Pensions
Contingencies Fund (Advance)
I hereby give notice of the Department for Work and Pensions’ intention to seek an advance from the Contingencies Fund. The Department for Work and Pensions requires an advance in the amount of £506 million to meet an urgent cash requirement pending parliamentary approval of the supplementary estimate 2012-13.
Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £506 million will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Department of Work and Pensions. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £506 million will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.