Friday 8 November 2013
Property Data Survey
I wish to inform the House of the latest position regarding the property data survey—the condition survey of all school buildings.
In 2007, the previous Government abandoned the systematic collection of information on the condition of schools. Some local authorities sensibly continued to survey their schools but many did not. The last time we had a national picture of the condition of our schools was in 2005—now eight years ago.
In his review of education capital, Sebastian James, recommended that we put this right. He proposed that we gather all existing local condition data into a central database. In July 2011, I announced that we would start work immediately to collect up-to-date information on the condition of school buildings by re-surveying the estate.
My aim was to complete this by autumn 2013. In order to make this achievable we looked to use locally prepared data where it was believed to be up to date and of good quality. Approximately 90 local authorities submitted local condition surveys for analysis on that basis.
Our quality assurance process identified however that locally produced survey data were, in some cases, not accurate and, in others, inconsistent.
I have now instructed my Department to extend its central surveys to cover all schools for which local authorities have supplied data. This means undertaking an additional 8,000 surveys, which will take approximately a further eight months to complete. By next summer we will have collected up-to-date, reliable and validated condition information for the entire schools estate. My intention remains to target funding to where it is most needed and I will use the information from the surveys to do that from 2015-16.
Proceeding in this way means that, in 2014-15, I will be allocating maintenance funding using the same methodology as I used in 2013-14 and I will set out the detail of all the allocations and the technical basis on which they were made when I announce them.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Common Agriculture Policy
Today, I am announcing the Government’s decision on the allocation of the common agricultural policy (CAP) budget for the period 2014-20 within the UK. This will set out how the funds allocated to the UK for direct payments to farmers (pillar 1) and rural development (pillar 2) will be divided between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Under the EU budget deal agreed by the European Council in February, the UK has, in principle, been allocated €25.1 billion in nominal terms in direct payments (pillar 1) and €2.6 billion in pillar 2 over the period 2014-20. It will deliver very significant sums of money to UK farmers and other CAP recipients.
Before making a decision on how to divide the funds between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, I sought and considered the views of Agriculture Ministers in each of the devolved Administrations. I also sought and considered views from stakeholders across the UK.
As the UK’s pillar 1 funds will be reduced over the next budgetary period, the Government have decided that the most appropriate way of allocating this cut is through an equal proportional reduction to the financial ceilings across the four regions. This means that, over the next CAP programme, subject to final confirmation of the EU budget, the Administrations will receive:
Similarly, the Government have decided that the change in our pillar 2 allocation should be distributed equally among the four regions. This means that, over the next CAP programme the Administrations will receive:
This announcement gives clarity to each of the Administrations as they plan how to implement the 2014-20 CAP. In England we are currently consulting on the details of implementation.
Forensic Science Regulator
A consultation on strengthening the powers of the forensic science regulator has been launched today.
The regulator’s role is to set the quality standards expected of organisations providing forensic science services to the criminal justice system. These standards help ensure the accuracy and impartiality of forensic evidence used in police investigations and in court, protecting the innocent from wrongful convictions and ensuring criminals are brought to justice. To date, the regulator has been successful in securing uptake of these standards on a voluntary basis.
However, our discussions with the police, commercial forensic service providers and the regulator, taken alongside market developments and changes in legislation, have indicated there is a risk that voluntary quality standards might not, in the future, provide the high level of assurance required for forensic evidence. For that reason we now propose introducing stronger powers, including putting the regulator’s codes of practice, which set out the quality standards for forensic science providers, on a statutory basis. It would then be mandatory for every organisation carrying out forensic analysis for the criminal justice system, including commercial providers to the police and to defendants, and the police themselves, to meet these standards. There has been support from the regulator, many commercial providers and the Science and Technology Select Committee for these proposals. This consultation is an opportunity to seek wider views, before determining the most effective and proportionate regulation system for forensic science.
A copy of this consultation will be placed in the House Library and it will also available on the Home Office website: www.gov.uk.
The Government’s response to the Science and Technology Select Committee report on forensic science is also being published today 8 November. Copies will be available in the Vote Office.
Written Parliamentary Questions (Correction)
The search parameters used to draw down historic information for three written answers given on 11 June 2013, Official Report, column 278W, on 14 May, Official Report, column 180W and on 18 July 2013, Official Report, column 900W to the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) did not capture a series of data sets which should have been included.
The hon. Member for Huddersfield asked:
a) the Secretary of State for International Development, how much her Department currently spends on contracts with Capita; and how much was spent in each year since 2008.
The full answer is as follows:
The table below gives details of spending on contracts with Capita since 2008. Current year spending (as of 31 October 2013) is £764,349.
b) the Secretary of State for International Development, what the current level of expenditure by her Department is on contracts with G4S; and how much was spent by her Department on contracts with G4S in each year since 2008.
The full answer is as follows:
The table below gives details of expenditure on contracts with G4S since 2008. Current year spending (as of 31 October 2013) is £285,185.
c) the Secretary of State for International Development, how much her Department spent on contracts with (a) Deloitte, (b) PricewaterhouseCoopers, (c) KPMG and (d) Ernst and Young in each year since 2008.
The full answer is as follows:
Ernst & Young
This table shows the amount paid to the supplier. DFID systems cannot currently automatically break this down into how much is retained in fees and how much is spent on the project they are managing.
Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service
This written ministerial statement confirms that the sponsorship role for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) and responsibility for contact services and activities will transfer from the Department for Education to the Ministry of Justice on 1 April 2014.