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Written Statements

Volume 564: debated on Tuesday 11 June 2013

Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Defence

Defence Recovery Capability

Today marks the defence recovery capability reaching full operating capability following initial operating capability in 2010. Today also formally launches the recovery career services programme which delivers an individualised career service that assists our wounded, injured and sick personnel to achieve a sustainable and fulfilling second career.

The defence recovery capability ensures that wounded, injured and sick personnel have access to all the key services and resources needed to help them either return to duty or make an effective transition to an appropriately skilled civilian life. This care is delivered across the defence community by the combined efforts of the services and the service charities responding to carefully tailored individual recovery plans setting out a recovery pathway.

The defence recovery capability is a Ministry of Defence (MOD) led initiative designed to deliver co-ordinated support to wounded, injured and sick service personnel. This is delivered in partnership with Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion and is supported by other service charities and organisations. This capability is underpinned by substantial financial investment by both the MOD and its partners, Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion; this represents the largest single charitable contribution to the armed forces community in British history.

Each person who is supported by the defence recovery capability will get an individual tailored recovery plan, which integrates all aspects of recovery including medical care, welfare, housing, education, re-skilling, work placements, employment issues and opportunities to either return to duty or transition to civilian life.

The personnel recovery centres have been designed to create a military style environment where our personnel can recover. They are located at Catterick, Colchester, Edinburgh, Plymouth, Sennelager in Germany, Tidworth and the Battle Back Centre in Lilleshall. These centres facilitate and conduct recovery activities in support of individual recovery plans. The Battle Back Centre uses adaptive sport and adventurous training as a vehicle to help wounded, injured and sick personnel focus on what they can do through the multi-activity courses that are run there.

Complex or lengthy cases are transferred to personnel recovery units which are in key locations around the country and deliver high-quality command and care in order to gain the right outcome for the individual and the MOD. Personnel are allocated a personnel recovery officer as their military point of contact who will provide support throughout the period of recovery while in service.

The new recovery career services programme is a vocational, needs-based service, offering the greatest levels of support to those who face the most significant barriers to employment given their medical condition. It provides nationwide specialist employment consultants, a relationship team, a service requirements team and specialist web-portal access. The recovery career services programme is a collaborative venture between the service charities, Oxfordshire county council and the MOD which is closely aligned with the career transition partnership. It will ensure wounded, injured and sick personnel are given tailor made support to assist them in competing effectively in the civilian employment market. Further information is available via the website http://www.recoverycareerservices.org.uk.

The MOD wishes to express its thanks to its charitable partners for their continued support to the defence recovery capability, which has helped to make the achievement of full operating capability a reality.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

FCO Spending 2013-14

In my statement to the House of 10 July 2012, Official Report, column 16WS, I set out the funding allocations for the FCO’s strategic programmes for the financial year 2012-13. I now wish to inform the House of the FCO’s spending plans for financial year 2013-14, together with further information on how we will deploy the funds effectively.

As part of the 2010 spending review settlement, and in support of the Government’s commitment to reduce the deficit, the FCO’s budget is being reduced in real terms year on year. Further budget reductions have been made in announcements at the last two autumn statements and the Budget. In total this has reduced the FCO’s budget for 2013-14 by £26 million more than was anticipated in the 2010 spending review.

In order to live within reduced budget allocations, savings are required from all parts of the FCO budget. The FCO is committed to increasing efficiency and is on track to deliver £100 million of administrative savings by 2015.

BBC World Service and the British Council are also funded from the FCO budget and represent around one quarter of the FCO expenditure in 2013-14. At the Budget, the Chancellor announced that all unprotected areas of Government spending would be cut by 1%. Spending on overseas development is protected. In line with this, FCO funding in 2013-14 to BBC World Service will reduce by £2.22 million and to the British Council by £0.6 million.

Specifically on the BBC World Service, we will be working closely to review its proposals for investments in World Service TV in Afghanistan, Burma and Somalia, with an expectation that additional programme funds of £0.5 million will be made available in 2013-14. Looking forward, we will shortly agree with the BBC Trust the BBC World Service operating licence objectives, targets and priorities, which will come into force from April 2014 when the BBC World Service moves to licence fee funding.

The funds allocated to our strategic programmes are also falling over the four-year SRIO period to reflect these financial constraints. Allocations for financial year 2013-14 take into account the changing nature of some of our programmes and the greater operating efficiency with which they need to be delivered.

The FCO’s strategic programmes directly support the delivery of two of our foreign policy priorities: safeguarding the UK’s national security; and building the UK’s prosperity; plus our important work to promote the UK’s values. Our programmes allow for dynamic and targeted interventions, working alongside host Governments and civil society around the world to deliver projects which enhance our bilateral relationships and strengthen the UK’s position internationally.

In the past year, we increased the scope and nature of our programme funding, putting further funding into priority areas such as maritime security, democracy and good governance and enhancing our engagement with the emerging economies.

The total allocation for financial year 2013-14 is £133.55 million, of which £81.8 million will be spent on official development assistance. The allocation for this financial year is a reduction of just over £10 million from last year’s opening figure. I have allocated £44 million in the area of security; £26.9 million for prosperity work; and £62.65 million for programmes in support of our values including our bilateral, regional, and human rights programmes.

In the area of security, we will target our activity on areas such as aviation and maritime security and building counter-terrorism capacity in key countries to strengthen their ability to detect and disrupt threats while protecting human rights. We will also continue to support counter-proliferation work, including through strengthening the international rules-based system that underpins our efforts. We will continue to be engaged in Afghanistan on law enforcement, security, governance, rule of law and democracy; working closely with Afghan partners to ensure UK-funded projects are sustained in the long term.

Our prosperity-related work will focus on promoting the UK’s economic growth, particularly working on opening markets, promoting sustainable global growth and ensuring access to resources. We want to encourage openness to trade and investment, strengthen the multilateral trading system and support the rules-based international economic system. We will continue to focus efforts in the emerging economies in the coming year. This will reinforce our strategy of deploying more staff to the emerging powers and fastest growing regions as the cost of our diplomatic presence in Iraq and Afghanistan reduces and we restructure our subordinate post network in Europe. In the area of climate change, we will aim to create the conditions necessary to raise ambition on emissions mitigation and the shift in investment to low carbon.

The work to promote the UK’s values and build our international influence will focus on promoting human rights, democracy and good governance. As part of this, we will continue to support the Westminster Foundation for Democracy; we will maintain our scholarships programme, offering outstanding scholars with leadership potential from around the world the opportunity to study in the UK; we will work with DFID in support of the Arab Partnership participation programme; and we will maintain our commitment to the overseas territories.

Our policy programme evaluation board, which is chaired by a non-executive member, will monitor and evaluate our strategic programmes throughout the year, to ensure they are providing the greatest possible impact and value for money.

Justice

Pre-trial Cross-examination Testing

The Government are committed to improving the experience of witnesses in court to ensure that they are supported to give their best evidence. Recent harrowing court cases involving children and other vulnerable people have highlighted that there is more we can do.

For some time now, the Ministry of Justice has been working with our partners in the criminal justice system to actively look at the issues around implementing section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. Section 28 would allow for recorded pre-trial cross-examination of vulnerable and intimidated witnesses in cases where there may be a delay in the holding of the trial or where the nature of the case is such that the witness could be cross-examined in advance of trial.

I am confirming today the Government’s plan to pilot section 28 by the end of the year in three Crown court locations—Liverpool, Leeds and Kingston upon Thames. The pilots will run for six months followed by an assessment period after which we will consider how best to take this measure forward.

Attorney-General

Child Sexual Abuse

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has today launched a public consultation on his new interim guidelines for prosecuting cases involving child sexual abuse.

The guidelines set out the new approach that prosecutors should take when reviewing cases of child sexual abuse and how they should look at the overall credibility of the allegation of abuse. The guidelines are intended to cover the range of child sexual abuse, including the abuse usually characterised as “child sexual exploitation”.

The guidelines have been issued on an interim basis as they are the subject of a public consultation exercise that will last for three months. The DPP will publish his final guidelines later this year once he has considered the responses to the consultation.

Copies of the interim guidelines have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The DPP’s interim guidelines are being published at the same time as new guidance for the police is being issued by the College of Policing, and which is also the subject of public consultation.