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Written Statements

Volume 580: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2014

Written Statements

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Cabinet Office

Handling Member's Correspondence

I am today publishing a report on the performance of Departments and agencies on handling correspondence from Members and peers during the calendar year 2013.

Details are set out in the table below. Correspondence statistics for 2012 can be found in the Official Report, 13 May 2013, column 23W.

Departmental figures are based on substantive replies unless otherwise indicated. The footnotes to the table provide general background information on how the figures have been compiled.

Correspondence from MP/Peers to Ministers and Agency Chief Executives 20131

Department or Agency

Target set for reply (working days)

Number of letter received

% of replies within target

Attorney-General’s Office

20

433

86

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

15

7,968

93

- Companies House

10

114

100

- Insolvency Service

15

62

89

- Land Registry

15

107

93

- Skills Funding Agency

10

451

96

Cabinet Office

15

3,072

72

Charity Commission

15

262

91

Department for Communities and Local Government

10

9,832

72

- Planning Inspectorate

10

1,022

81

Crown Prosecution Service

20

410

89

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

20

6,317

51

Ministry of Defence

20

4,853

82

Department for Education2

15

16,898

66

Department of Energy and Climate Change

15

6,920

74

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

15

10,362

71

- Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency

15

113

94

- Rural Payments Agency

15

179

91

Food Standards Agency *

*DH Ministers replies

20

141

87

*FSA Chair/CE replies

20

114

89

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

20

10,043

95

Department of Health

18

18,918

95

- Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency 3

18

64

93

- Public Health England

18

73

99

Home Office4

15

8,761

61

-UK Visas & Immigration/Immigration Enforcement/Border Force5

20

57,582

70

- Her Majesty’s Passport Office

15

1,123

69

Department for International Development

15

3,407

94

Ministry of Justice

15

4,985

83

- HM Courts Service and Tribunals Service*

*Where Ministers replied

15

1,006

78

*Where CEO replied

15

417

85

- National Archives (Minister and CEO replies)

15

19

100

- National Offender Management Service

*Where Ministers replied

15

899

74

*Where CEO replied

20

274

93

- Office of the Public Guardian*

*Where Ministers replied

15

47

90

*Where CEO replied

10

52

98

- Official Solicitor and Public Trustee

15

15

60

Northern Ireland Office

15

509

86

Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Schools

15

340

74

Office of Gas and Electricity Markets

15

379

67

Office of the Leader of the House of Commons

15

147

96

Office of the Leader of the House of Lords

15

134

85

Office of Rail Regulation

20

51

85

OFWAT (Water Services Regulation Authority)

10

119

85

Scotland Office

15

170

72

Serious Fraud Office

20

64

73

Department for Transport

20

8,041

97

- Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency

7

2,272

99

- Driving Standards Agency

10

192

98

- Highways Agency

15

417

91

- Maritime and Coastguard Agency

10

35

91

HM Treasury

15

9,608

72

- H M Revenue and Customs*

*Where Ministers replied

15

1,915

73

*Where CEO replied

15

6,331

83

Treasury Solicitor’s Department

10

16

100

Wales Office

15

47

100

Department for Work and Pensions

20

21,005

89

- Child Maintenance Group6

15

1,410

99

- Health and Safety Executive

15

165

95

- Human Resources

15

20

38

- Director General7

15

2,825

97

1 Departments and Agencies which received 10 MPs/Peers letters or fewer are not shown in this table.

Holding or interim replies are not included unless otherwise indicated. The report does not include correspondence considered as Freedom of Information requests.

2 Department for Education statistics include Education Funding Agency, National College of Teaching and Leadership, and Standards and Testing Agency.

3 From 1 January to 16 June 2013 the target set for reply at MHRA was 20 working days. The reduction to 18 on 17 June was made to bring the Agency in line with the target set by the Department of Health.

4 HOHQ refers to all Home Office correspondence that is not dealt with within UKVI/IE/BF (the former UKBA).

5 Reported separately from HOHQ because of different target that applies to these cases.

6 Formerly Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

7 Formerly Chief Operations Officer.

Defence

National Strategy for Maritime Security

I am today laying before the House the UK national strategy for maritime security (NSMS), which outlines for the first time the UK’s coherent and co-ordinated approach to delivering maritime security at home and internationally by explaining how we organise and use our extensive national capabilities to identify, assess and address maritime security challenges. The strategy places the maritime domain in context, highlighting its importance to UK prosperity and security and explains how, through effective collaboration across Government and with industry and our international partners, and through the integration of our assets and personnel wherever possible, we will deliver a maritime security output much greater than the sum of its parts.

The strategy’s objectives are: to promote a secure international maritime domain and uphold international maritime norms; to develop the maritime governance capacity and capabilities of states in areas of strategic maritime importance; to protect the UK and the overseas territories, their citizens and economies by supporting the safety and security of ports and offshore installations and Red Ensign Group-flagged passenger and cargo vessels; to assure the security of vital maritime trade and energy transportation routes within the UK marine area, regionally and internationally, and to protect the resources and population of the UK and the overseas territories from illegal and dangerous activity, including serious organised crime and terrorism.

The strategy also introduces a robust Government approach to maritime security decision making and confirms our commitment to preserving the flow of maritime trade and upholding international maritime law.

International Development

Foreign Affairs Council for Development

On 19 May, I will attend the Foreign Affairs Council for Development in Brussels. The meeting will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton of Upholland. The UK is recognised as a leader in international development as the first G7 member to reach the UN aid target of 0.7% gross national income. As Secretary of State for International Development, I look forward to participating in the meeting to share the UK experience in delivering world-class international development and to work with other member states to push the EU to do more to use its development, humanitarian, trade and diplomatic instruments in a coherent way to end poverty.

Introduction

Baroness Ashton is expected to cover a number of topics in her introductory remarks, including an update on the Ukraine donor co-ordination platform. I will take this opportunity to underline the vital role which the EU and member states can play in supporting the Ukrainian Government’s reform efforts.

Post-2015 agenda

The UK remains at the forefront of the post-2015 discussions, building on the Prime Minister’s co-chairing of the UN high-level panel. Ministers will discuss progress in the international post-2015 process, including reflecting on current discussions in the open working group on sustainable development goals and next steps for the EU. I will use this discussion to encourage the EU and member states to think strategically about how to ensure we get the best possible outcome from next year’s UN negotiations.

Programming

The UK has been influential in strengthening EU development delivery. The EU is at the start of a new seven-year programming cycle under the new multi-annual financial framework. As a result of UK and like-minded member states’ efforts, there will be a greater focus on the poorest countries, increased flexibility and country ownership, and an enhanced ability to measure results of EU aid. Ministers will receive an update on implementation of the agenda for change, including programming of EU financial instruments and emerging trends in the current programming period. I will welcome progress towards a results-based approach to the delivery of EU aid, but also call for further action on results, tracking and value for money and greater ambition on girls and women.

Rights-based approach to development

Ministers will adopt Council conclusions on a rights-based approach to development co-operation reaffirming that promotion of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and good governance, and inclusive and sustainable growth, are basic and mutually reinforcing pillars of the EU’s development policy.

Other agenda items

I expect to receive updates from the Commission and European External Action Service on the forthcoming communication on private sector development, progress on policy coherence for development, the recent global partnership for effective development co-operation ministerial, and the Eastern Partnership. I will also update my counterparts on the “girl summit” which the Prime Minister and UNICEF will co-host on 22 July. This will be a defining moment to rally a global movement to end female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage for all girls within a generation. With global co-operation, we can build on the efforts of many developing country Governments and local communities to end these harmful practices.

Justice

Prison Service Pay Review Body (Triennial Review)

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Civil Justice and Legal Policy, Ministry of Justice, Lord Faulks, has made the following written ministerial statement:

On 4 March 2014, I announced in Parliament through a written ministerial statement, the commencement of the triennial review of the Prison Service Pay Review Body (PSPRB). I am now pleased to announce the completion of the review.

The PSPRB plays an important role providing independent advice to the Secretary of State for Justice and the review has concluded that the body remains fit for purpose, delivering relevant and beneficial functions on behalf of the Prison Service, in an appropriate governance framework. The report makes some minor recommendations to improve the governance arrangements for the PSPRB and these will be examined and implemented as required.

The triennial review has been carried out comprehensively and I am grateful to all those who contributed to this review. I have, today, placed a copy of the report in the Libraries of both Houses.

Transport

Ministerial Correction

I would like to inform the House that a statement I made on 29 April 2014 during an adjournment debate on proposed Government reforms to taxi and private hire vehicle regulations, Official Report, column 225WH, was incorrect. During the speech I stated that:

“the Government asked the Law Commission to carry out a comprehensive review of the law. As has rightly been pointed out, it will present its report—it will not be presenting a Bill; it will be presenting a report in the next few weeks—and at that stage, as with all reviews and reports, the Government will review the whole of those detailed findings and recommendations.”

This was incorrect as the Law Commission will later this month present the Government with both a comprehensive review of taxi and private hire legislation as well as a draft Bill. However, the Government have no plans to introduce a dedicated taxi Bill in the final parliamentary Session. Instead, Government will consider the detailed findings of, and recommendations made, by the Law Commission before setting out our thinking on each in due course.

Given there will be no dedicated taxi Bill this Parliament, the measures which the Government intend to take forward within the Deregulation Bill represent an ideal opportunity to make a real-world difference to the business men and women who make up the taxi and private hire vehicle trades.