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Written Statements

Volume 684: debated on Monday 24 July 2006

Written Statements

Monday 24 July 2006

Advisory Committee on Business Appointments: Eighth Report

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has today published the eighth report of the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. The report provides an account of the work of the committee in advising former Ministers and Crown servants on the acceptance of appointments after leaving Crown service. The report covers the period 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006. Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. We are grateful to the chairman, Lord Mayhew of Twysden, and to the members of the committee for giving their time and expertise so generously.

Armed Forces: Arrangements in Germany

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Adam Ingram) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The then Secretary of State for Defence, John Reid, announced on 30 January 2006 (Official Report, col. 3WS) the move of 4 Mechanised Brigade (4 Armoured Brigade) to the UK from Germany. At the same time, we made it clear that we would take the opportunity to make further adjustments to our forces in Germany where it made sense to do so. I want today to announce that an initial review of the opportunities for further rationalisation of our basing arrangements in Germany has developed proposals for the possible return to the UK of Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (HQ ARRC), 102 Logistic Brigade (102 Log Bde) and 1 Signal Brigade (1 Sig Bde), over the period 2008-2012, including identifying exactly where these units will be based in the UK. A project team is being established to assess these proposals in greater detail and to determine whether they are practicable and offer value for money. An important part of the team's remit will be to consider in more depth where in the UK we could relocate HQ ARRC and the two brigades. The team will produce an initial report around the end of the year; it is unlikely that we will be in a position to announce final decisions until well into 2007.

I have notified our NATO allies, including the German Government as host nation, of our plans, and the Chief of the Defence Staff has written to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe in view of the HQ ARRC's assignment as Headquarters NATO Rapid Deployment Corps (UK).

Separately, we also plan a series of minor moves within Germany, which will lead to the closure of Osnabrück Station from early 2009. This will entail moving 1 Close Support Medical Regiment (1 CSMR) from its current base in Münster Station to alternative British Army estate in Germany and replacing it with another unit, the identity of which will be determined by further analysis. These moves will enable Osnabrück Station to close. Subject to the conclusions of the project team, further moves are envisaged in due course that would enable us to close Münster Station and therefore Osnabrück Garrison as a whole. The current planning assumption is that this would not take place before 2010. The relocation of HQ ARRC, 102 Log Bde and 1 Sig Bde would also enable us to close Rhine Garrison in the period 2010-2012. This will concentrate our Germany-based forces in Hohne, Paderborn and Gütersloh Garrisons.

We also plan to return 12 Regiment Royal Artillery from Paderborn to the UK as early as summer 2007, as we reorganise our air defence regiments and capitalise on UK-based facilities for High Velocity Missile Stormer vehicles. As a result, 12 Regiment will collocate with 47 Regiment Royal Artillery at Thorney Island. Consequently, 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, which we had previously envisaged moving from Woolwich to Thorney Island, will now be based in North Luffenham in summer 2007. In order to enable the necessary rebalancing in Germany, 12 Regiment's barracks in Paderborn will be occupied by another unit, the identity of which will be determined by further analysis.

We will continue to make further modest adjustments to our force levels in Germany, but our plan remains to base UK forces in the country, in the form of 1 Armoured Division and its supporting units, for many years to come. These moves and the work of the project team in no way signal a change in either our commitment to the NATO alliance or our overall defence policy, nor do they in any way devalue the continued close bilateral relationship between the UK and Germany.

Armed Forces: Medical and Dental Officers Pay

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The supplement to the 2006 report of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body, making recommendations on the pay of service medical and dental officers, has been published today. Copies of the report are available in the Vote Office and the Library of the House. I wish to express my thanks to the chairman and members of the review body for their report.

The review body recommended a pay increase of 2.2 per cent for junior doctors and cadets, and 2.4 per cent for associate specialists. In addition, the review body recommended that there should be an increase of 2.2 per cent in the values of trainer pay and distinction and clinical excellence awards. These recommendations are to be accepted in full, with implementation effective from 1 April 2006.

All regular and reserve defence medical services consultants, general medical practitioners, general dental practitioners and higher medical management personnel will also receive a 2.2 per cent increase effective from 1 April 2006. In addition, and closely matching the recommendation of the AFPRB, the Government have agreed to a further consolidated payment effective from 1 November 2006 to ensure that the levels of pay are comparable to their counterparts in the NHS.

The agreed pay award will be met from within existing departmental expenditure limits.

Armed Forces: Operational Capability

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have made clear my determination to ensure that the Armed Forces on operations have the resources that they need to do the job. I said that I would update the House on developments in two particular areas of operational capability: additional options for armoured vehicles and helicopter support for Afghanistan.

As I told the House on 26 June, I ordered an urgent review of our armoured vehicle fleet, particularly focused on the evolving threat in Iraq, but covering the whole operational picture, including Afghanistan, to ensure that we were providing commanders with the best options.

That review has now concluded. It has confirmed that there is a growing requirement for a protected vehicle with capabilities between our heavy armour, such as Warrior, and lighter patrol vehicles, such as Snatch. The review has also identified feasible options to address the gap in the short term. We have now completed a very rapid assessment of those options and have identified three complementary ways forward. Two of these build on and accelerate work that is already ongoing in the department. The third is new. The necessary funding will come in part from acceleration of existing funding within the defence budget and in part from substantial new funding from the Treasury.

The first element is an additional buy of around 100 Vector, our new Pinzgauer-based protected patrol vehicle, for Afghanistan, on top of the 62 already on contract. Vector provides good protection and, importantly, increased mobility and capacity compared with Snatch, which makes it very suitable for the rugged terrain and long patrol distances in Afghanistan.

The second element is to provide around 70 additional up-armoured and upgraded FV430 to equip a mechanised infantry battlegroup for Iraq by the spring of 2007, again on top of the 54 that we have already ordered. The FV430 will be delivered incrementally, with the first vehicles currently expected to be delivered this autumn. Significantly smaller and lighter than Warrior, the up-armoured FV430 will provide a similar level of protection while being less intimidating and having less impact on local infrastructure, thereby providing commanders with an important additional option. Since it is able to carry out many of the same tasks as Warrior, it will also relieve pressure on heavily committed Warrior vehicles and armoured infantry battlegroups.

The third, new element is the Cougar, manufactured by Force Protection Incorporated of Charleston, South Carolina. We judge that this vehicle meets our requirement for a well protected, wheeled patrol vehicle with a less intimidating profile than tracked vehicles such as Warrior or FV430. We are arranging to rapidly procure around 100 vehicles through US military sources. We have received excellent co-operation from the US Government, military and industry—an example of the special relationship bringing real benefits for our soldiers on the ground. Once we take possession of the vehicles, we must then customise them with Bowman radios and electronic countermeasures, and then fit additional armour beyond the standard level, to ensure that they have the best possible protection. This procurement and enhancement process takes time. But we expect to be able to deliver the vehicles, in batches, with an effective capability in place before the end of the year and continuing through the next six-month rotations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These three vehicles will complement existing Warrior and Snatch. Warrior will continue to provide the capability to deal with the most demanding threats, but its profile and weight make it unsuitable for some operations and situations, such as Afghanistan. Snatch, with a much less intimidating profile, enables troops to interact with locals and promotes a sense of normality, and it will remain a key tool for building and maintaining consent. The up-armoured FV430, the Cougar medium PPV and Vector fill the requirements for varying degrees of protection, mobility and profile between these two extremes. But I am confident that together these vehicles provide commanders with the right range of options to deal with the situations and threats that they face.

In my Afghanistan Statement on 10 July 2006 (Official Report, cols. 1131-35), I detailed the additional forces that we shall deploy to southern Afghanistan. I also undertook to provide further details of the enhancement of the support helicopter force deployed as part of the Helmand task force once I had received definitive advice on the needs of our commanders on the ground. I have now had that advice, as endorsed by the Chief of the Defence Staff, and I have directed that those needs be met in full. I have therefore directed that two extra CH-47 Chinook be deployed, the first in early September 2006 and the second in October. Helicopter force levels will remain under constant review.

I also wish to update the House on the units assigned to provide additional forces for Afghanistan. Force protection for 28 Regiment, Royal Engineers will be provided by W Company, 45 Commando, Royal Marines—not a composite unit as has been suggested. Finally, I erroneously referred in my earlier Statement to 12 Signal Regiment. The unit listed should have been 14 Signal Regiment.

Army: Royal Irish (Home Service)

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Adam Ingram) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 9 March 2006 (Official Report, col. 961), I announced the settlement package for the Royal Irish (Home Service) (R IRISH (HS)) personnel being discharged as a result of the normalisation process in Northern Ireland. Included within the settlement package was an alternative to redundancy: a taxable £10,000 engagement bounty offer to all those eligible R IRISH (HS) personnel who wished to transfer and are accepted for a general service engagement in the wider Army. We had anticipated that around 250 such personnel would take the opportunity to continue with their military career in the Army, but, to date, only a handful of the R IRISH (HS) personnel are in the process of being accepted into general service Army.

I very much meant what I said back in March that I was eager for as many Home Service personnel as possible to take the opportunity to continue with their military career in the Armed Forces. As a result, I am announcing today a one-off increase to the general service engagement bounty to a taxable £20,000. This decision to increase the bounty was taken to encourage more eligible R IRISH (HS) personnel to opt for transfer rather than redundancy.

British Council Trustees: Annual Report

Copies of the British Council trustees’ annual report and accounts for the financial year ended 31 March 2006 have been placed in the Library of the House. During the period, the council received £189,210,000 grant-in-aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Clinical Trial: TGN 1412

My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Andy Burnham) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 25 May 2006, I informed the House that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had published its final report on the investigations into the incident that occurred with the phase 1 clinical trial for a drug in development known as TGN 1412 (Official Report, col. 95WS). I also announced the membership of the expert group established by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State under the chairmanship of Professor Gordon Duff, to consider what the incident revealed about the underlying science and how clinical trials involving these types of products should be managed in the future. I promised a further report to the House when the expert group provided its interim report.

That interim report is being published tomorrow, 25 July, together with the minutes of all its meetings, the documents submitted for its consideration and details of the evidence given by a wide range of stakeholders, all of which have contributed to its preliminary findings. A copy of the interim report will be placed in the Library.

It is important to recognise that this is an interim report, that a public consultation will take place on its proposals and that further opportunities for interested parties to give evidence will be available in the autumn.

The Government are very grateful for the great deal of progress already made on this important issue by the expert group in the two months since it first met. The group anticipates completing its work in the autumn and I will provide a further report to the House when this report is available.

Coal Authority: Annual Report

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Energy (Malcolm Wicks) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have today laid a copy of the Coal Authority report and accounts for 2005-06 before Parliament.

Criminal Records Bureau: Annual Report

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Joan Ryan) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I announce that the 2005-06 annual report and accounts for the Criminal Records Bureau have been laid before Parliament. Arrangements are now in hand for their publication and copies will be placed in the House Library.

Data Protection

I have today published a consultation paper on proposed custodial penalties for breaches of Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998. In an environment where concerns about identity fraud are growing and where the widespread use and exchange of data are increasingly important to the economy and to society as a whole, it is essential for people to be confident that their personal data will not be wilfully or recklessly abused. We are determined that the regulatory regime properly reflects the risks that come with greater data use. The aim of this proposal is to provide an appropriate and effective level of deterrent for those who seek to profit from the illegal trade in personal information. We welcome the recent report by the Information Commissioner, What price privacy? The unlawful trade in confidential personal information, which has been an extremely valuable contribution on this issue and we are responding positively to the report's recommendations. We are seeking views on whether the proposed sanctions would act as an effective deterrent to those who deliberately or recklessly misuse personal information. Copies have been placed in the Printed Paper Office, Vote Office and Libraries of both Houses.

Department for Work and Pensions: Executive Agency Annual Reports

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (John Hutton) has made the following Statement.

I am pleased to announce that the Department for Work and Pensions has today laid the 2005-06 annual reports and accounts for three of its executive agencies: Child Support Agency (HC 1402), the Disability and Carers Service (HC 1336) and the Appeals Service (HC 1542). Copies are available in the Printed Paper Office and the Vote Office.

Publication of the Jobcentre Plus annual report and accounts has been delayed until after the Summer Recess.

Electoral Administration Act 2006

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Electoral Administration Act received Royal Assent on 11 July 2006. The Act aims to tackle four areas at the core of a healthy democracy by improving access, by improving confidence, by extending openness and transparency of party financing and by maintaining professional delivery of elections.

In line with the Government's commitment to bring as many of the important provisions in the Act into force as soon as possible, a commencement order has been made which includes the following key provisions:

new rules for transparency and permissibility of loans;

registration provisions to apply to the 2006 annual canvass process;

a package of offences in relation to postal voting applications and conduct of elections;

provisions in relation to the regulation of political parties; and

power for the Electoral Commission to set performance standards.

The provisions in the Act to bring a similar regime of transparency and permissibility to that set out for donations in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) to loans from political parties will come into force on 11 September 2006. The Government consider that it is important for the new regime to be brought into force at the earliest opportunity. Political parties will be required to report to the Electoral Commission all regulated transactions existing at that date and any entered into between that date and the end of that month, within 30 days from the end of September. Taken together, the existing donations regime and the new regulated transactions regime provide a robust and transparent mechanism to ensure that significant financial benefits to political parties are disclosed.

We have also brought into force a package of offences in the Electoral Administration Act that aim to improve the security and confidence of the electoral process. These will come into force on 11 September 2006 and relate to the application for postal and proxy votes as well as to offences around the conduct of elections. We believe that it is vital that we tackle potential problems of fraud in relation to elections. Along with other provisions in the Act that will be brought into force in time for the May 2007 elections, we believe that this represents a comprehensive set of legislative changes that will improve the confidence in the electoral system.

The Government are also committed to improving the accuracy of the register and to tackling potential registration fraud at the earliest opportunity. We have therefore commenced those provisions in the Act that relate to the annual canvass process so that they can be in place for the 2006 annual canvass. This includes the new duty on electoral registration officers (EROS) to carry out necessary steps to maintain the register and the new registration offence of supplying false information in connection with registration. Both these provisions will come into force on 11 September 2006.

In addition, the Electoral Administration Act contains miscellaneous provisions in Part 7 that are designed to simplify and streamline procedures for the regulation of political parties. Many of these will come into force on 11 September 2006.

The power for the Electoral Commission to set performance standards in relation to electoral activity will also come into force on 11 September. This will allow the Electoral Commission to carry out the important preparatory work in relation to the performance standards scheme.

We aim for the Electoral Administration Act to be implemented in full, where possible, for the May 2007 elections. We will therefore be making subsequent commencement orders to commence the remaining provisions in the Act.

EU: Finnish Presidency

My right honourable friend the Minister for Europe (Mr Geoff Hoon) will today lay before the House Foreign and Commonwealth Office Command Paper 6896 on prospects for the European Union 2006. This is the latest in a series of forward looks to the work programmes of the respective European Union presidencies.

Copies will be placed in the Library of the House. Additional copies can also be obtained from the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. A copy will also be available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website (

The last White Paper was published in January at the conclusion of the UK presidency of the EU. This was a retrospective of our presidency as well as a forward look to the year ahead. The White Paper that I am laying before the House today is an update to the spring paper and sets out in more detail the priorities of the Finnish presidency over the next six months.

The Finnish presidency began on 1 July. The Finns have presented an ambitious programme for the next six months, which builds on the work of previous presidencies and addresses many important challenges for the European Union. We agree with the challenges identified by the Finns and welcome their proposed priority actions. In particular, we welcome the focus on follow-up to the Hampton Court agenda initiated under the UK presidency in October 2005. The informal meeting of the European Council in Lahti on 20 October will focus on innovation and energy and will be an opportunity to look at the next steps that we collectively need to take to meet Europe's needs in the 21st century.

The Finnish presidency also plans to take forward work in key areas such as tackling climate change, enlargement, competitiveness, security and migration. For example, we will see an open dialogue on the best way to drive international action on tackling climate change. This presidency will host a discussion on the Commission report on enlargement progress in the autumn. It will also oversee the mid-term review of the 2004 Hague programme, which will, among other issues, look at stronger EU co-operation to tackle illegal migration. The Finns hope to reach agreement on a number of important measures to boost European competitiveness, including final adoption of the services directive and increased investment in research and development.

This agenda demonstrates the EU's commitment to delivering on issues of concern to our citizens. We welcome these priorities and look forward to working with the Finnish presidency over an important six months.

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Nationality, Citizenship and Immigration (Joan Ryan) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Justice and Home Affairs Council will be held today, 24 July 2006, in Brussels. I am attending on behalf of the Home Office. I thought that it would be useful if I were to outline the main issues that I expect to be discussed.

The Council will take an initial presentation by the Commission on The Hague programme review. There will also be discussion of migration issues and, in the mixed committee format, the second generation Schengen information system. On the first of these, the Commission will present four communications: the future direction of The Hague programme, which includes a proposed use of Article 42 TEU (the passerelle clause); reviewing the implementation of The Hague programme to date (the scorecard); options for better evaluation of the impact of EU policies in the area of justice and home affairs (JHA); and a legislative proposal based on Article 67(2) TEC adapting the provisions of the European Court of Justice under Title IV (immigration, asylum and civil law matters). The presidency has indicated that it will focus on procedure and handling and is not looking for substantive discussion on these items at this Council. Detailed discussion, including in relation to the more controversial aspects, such as the possible use of Article 42 TEU (the passerelle clause) and Article 67(2) TEC (adapting the remit of the ECJ in Title IV) will take place later in the year, including at the September informal JHA Council in Finland. Those aspects aside, the Government’s initial view is to welcome the focus on implementation and more effective evaluation contained in the communications.

There will be information items on the EU preparations for the UN high-level dialogue on international migration and development and the report on the outcome of the Euro-African ministerial conference on migration and development held in Rabat on 10 and 11 July 2006. The Government welcome the adoption of the EU common position at the General Affairs and External Relations Council last week, on 13 July; we will continue to feed into preparations for the UN high-level dialogue on international migration and development, which takes place in September. There will also be a presentation by the Commission and Frontex (EU border agency) on the situation in the Mediterranean and Africa. We expect there to be a focus on the continuing influx of illegal immigrants to the Canaries and Malta. The UK strongly supports EU joint operational activity in the Mediterranean and has offered technical assistance to the Spanish and Maltese authorities.

There will be discussion on the management of migration flows, specifically on the two Commission communications on a policy plan for legal migration and a common policy on illegal immigration. The presidency will be seeking a first exchange of views on both items. The UK will be encouraging solutions of sharing best practice and establishing common principles, while advising against inflexible, detailed prescription, especially in the form of legislative measures on labour access. The Government are fully committed to tackling the problem of illegal immigration of third-country nationals and notes with interest the Commission's communication; we will examine concrete proposals for measures when they are tabled in due course.

In the mixed committee format, the presidency will be hoping to agree a general approach on the key outstanding issues in the three legal instruments establishing SIS II–a regulation covering immigration aspects, a Council decision covering law enforcement aspects and a regulation covering access by vehicle registration authorities—with a view to reaching a First Reading deal with the European Parliament in September. This is the last opportunity to resolve the major outstanding issues within the Council before the expected EP vote in September. The UK will not participate in the regulation covering immigration but will participate in the other two legal instruments.

Two further presentations by the Commission are expected in the margins of the meeting. These are on (i) a proposal for a regulation setting up the powers and the financing of teams of national border control experts of member states (rapid border intervention teams) to provide joint EU technical and operational assistance at the external EU border, co-ordinated by Frontex; and (ii) a proposal for a Community code on visas—a Schengen measure in which the UK will not participate. Although the UK will not participate in the first proposal, we support the concept of nominated experts deployed at short notice to respond to emergencies to help to enhance the security of the EU external border, but will wish to look carefully at the detail.

Finally, there is likely to be a lunchtime presentation by Commissioner Franco Frattini on the issue of CIA rendition flights.

Fire Safety: Reduced Ignition Propensity Cigarettes

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Careless handling of smokers' materials continues to be one of the major causes of UK accidental fire deaths in the home. Evidence has shown that reduced ignition propensity (RIP) cigarettes decrease the risk of inducing ignition or progressive smouldering in materials, therefore reducing the number of accidental fire deaths in the home.

RIP cigarettes have been legislated for in New York State, California, Vermont, Illinois, New Hampshire and Massachusetts and are all now in place, as well as in Canada. The legislation requires that all cigarettes conform to American Society for Testing and Materials Standards (ASTM International).

At the request of the UK, supported by Sweden, the European Commission undertook to look into the case for developing an appropriate technical standard for RIP cigarettes. The Department for Communities and Local Government will be working very closely with the Department of Health, which has led government work on tobacco regulation, and the Department of Trade and Industry, which leads on consumer product safety. It is expected that further discussion on the case for developing a European technical standard for RIP cigarettes will take place at the next general product committee meeting in Brussels this September.

Fraud Review

The final report of the fraud review is published today and I have placed copies in the Libraries of both Houses. The Government are issuing it for consultation and seek responses by 27 October 2006.

The report outlines current arrangements for dealing with fraud, identifies gaps and shortcomings in the system and makes recommendations for dealing with them. The recommendations are wide-ranging and are aimed at improving fraud deterrence, prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution and penalties. Benefits will include reduction of fraud losses to taxpayers, consumers and businesses, and a reduction in the harm that fraud causes to individuals and communities.

The Government accept the analysis of the report and are sympathetic to the broad conclusions and recommendations, but we believe that the report would benefit from a wider public consultation. Implementation of the recommendations will be considered in the light of consultation responses and after further evaluation of the funding and legislative implications.

Government Departments: Payment Performance

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Industry and the Regions (Margaret Hodge) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The overall payment performance of Government is 96.87 per cent. Figures for the financial year 2005-06 show that there has been a slight fall compared to last year's figure of 97.09 per cent. Some 54 per cent of departments improved on their performance of last year.

Government departments and their agencies are required to monitor their payment performance and to publish the results in their departmental or annual reports. The table lists, by department, the proportion of bills paid within 30 days, or other agreed credit period, on receipt of a valid invoice.

The Government take this issue very seriously and are committed to improving the payment culture in the UK in order to create fair and stable business transactions. The Government's own payment performance is an important element in this policy.

Main Departments 2005-06

Paid on Time

Defence Bills Agency (Ministry of Defence)


Office of Fair Trading


Intelligence Agencies (GCHQ)


Privy Council Office


Office for National Statistics


Office for Government Commerce


Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem)


The National Archives (Public Records Office)


Health & Safety Executive


Scotland Office (Department for Constitutional Affairs)


Office of Water Services (Ofwat)


Postal Services Commission (PostCom)


Export Credit Guarantee Department


HM Revenue and Customs


Department for Transport


Charity Commission


Food Standards Agency


Office of the Deputy Prime Minister


Forestry Commission


Ordnance Survey


Department for Culture, Media and Sport


Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)


Government Actuary's Department


Land Registry


Department for International Development


Department for Education and Skills


Department of Health


Treasury Solicitors Department


Department of Trade and Industry


UK Trade and Investment


Electoral Commission


Office of Rail Regulation


HM Treasury


Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)


Cabinet Office (OPS)


Central Office of Information


Foreign and Commonwealth Office


Serious Fraud Office


Department of Work and Pensions


Crown Prosecution Service


Wales Office (Department for Constitutional Affairs)


Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Chancellor’s Department)


Northern Ireland Office


Home Office


National Savings and Investments


Royal Mint


Overall Total


Government Departments: Special Advisers

Listed below are the names of special advisers in post at 24 July 2006, the special advisers’ pay ranges for 2006-07, the number of special advisers in each pay band by department and the total pay bill of special advisers for 2005-06.

All special advisers are appointed under terms and conditions set out in the Model Contract for Special Advisers and Code of Conduct for Special Advisers, providing assistance on the full range of their appointing Minister's departmental responsibilities. Where a special adviser has a specific expertise or works mainly in a particular area of the department's work, this is indicated.

Appointing Minister

Special adviser in post


The Prime Minister

Jonathan Powell

Chief of Staff

Liz Lloyd

Deputy Chief of Staff

Ruth Turner

Director of Government Relations

Matthew Taylor

Chief Adviser on Strategy

Policy Directorate

David Bennett

Head of Policy Directorate

Conor Ryan

Paul Corrigan

Geoffrey Norris

Philip Collins

Justin Forsyth

Kieran Brett

Strategic Communications and Press

David Hill

Director of Communications

David Bradshaw

Hilary Coffman

Matthew Doyle

Chris McShane

Benjamin Wegg Prosser

Huw Evans

Events and Visits

Jo Gibbons

Director of Events, Visits and Scheduling

Katie Kay

Angela Goodchild (p/t)

John Watts

Victoria Gould

Research and Information Unit

Catherine Rimmer

Katie O'Donovan

Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State

Joan Hammell

Chief of Staff

Mick Halloran

Minister for the Cabinet Office and for Social Exclusion (and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster)

Peter Kyle

Anna Turley

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Julie Crowley

Media and communication

David Leam

Rachel O'Brien

Women and equality

Chief Whip (Commons)

Sue Jackson

Simon Benson

Chief Whip (Lords)

Margaret Ounsley

Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor

Garry Hart

Philip Bassett

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Nick Bent

Secretary of State for Defence

Matt Cavanagh

Alaina Macdonald

Secretary of State for Education and Skills

Chris Norton

Mario Dunn

Clare Montagu

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Madlin Sadler

Tony Grayling

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Sheila Watson

Ed Mitchell

Malcolm Chalmers

Foreign affairs

Minister for Europe

James Connal

Minister for Trade

Martin O'Donovan


Blair McDougall

Communications and human rights

Secretary of State for Health

Liz Kendall

Karen Livingston

Secretary of State for the Home Department

Steve Bates

Justin Russell

Anna MacMillan

Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal

Mark Davies

Declan McHugh

Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council

Joe Dancey

Dorothea Hodge

Secretary of State for International Development

Beatrice Stern


Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Secretary of State for Wales

Claire McCarthy

Northern Ireland issues

Philip Taylor

Northern Ireland issues

Andrew Bold

Wales issues

Matthew Burchell

Wales issues

Secretary of State for Scotland and Secretary of State for Transport

Paul Sinclair


Iain Gray

Scottish affairs

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry

Andrew Maugham

Sam White

Emily Thomas (unpaid)

Chancellor of the Exchequer 1, 2

Spencer Livermore

Damien McBride

Chief Secretary

Jonathan Ashworth

Jo Dipple

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

John Williams

John Woodcock

Minister without Portfolio

Paul Richards

Andy Bagnall

1 In addition, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has appointed Dan Corry, Paul Gregg, Shriti Vadera, Michael Jacobs and Stewart Wood to the Council of Economic Advisers on special adviser terms.

2 Plus Sue Nye appointed as an unpaid adviser

Pay bands for 2006-07

The pay bands and pay ranges for special advisers for 2006-07 are as follows.

Scheme Ceiling


Pay Band 4

£84,000 to £100,900

Pay Band 3 and Premium

£62,800 to £97,500

Pay Band 2

£49,300 to £65,400

Pay Band 1

£38,100 to £51,100

Pay Band 0

Up to £38,100

Advisers by Pay Band

At 24 July 2006, the number of special advisers in each pay band by department is as follows.

DepartmentPay Band






No 101






Deputy Prime Minister’s Office






Cabinet Office






Communities and Local Government






Chief Whips Offices (Commons and Lords)






Constitutional Affairs






Culture, Media and Sport












Education and Skills





Environment, Food and Rural Affairs






Foreign and Commonwealth Office (includes Minister for Europe and Minister for Trade)












Home Office






International Development






Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal






Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council






Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Wales






Secretary of State for Scotland and Transport






Trade and Industry 3






HM Treasury 3, 4






Work and Pensions






Minister without Portfolio












Paybill costs: The cost of special advisers in 2005-2006 was £5.9 million 5.

1 Plus three special advisers who are paid beyond pay band 4 but within the scheme ceiling.

2 Includes provisional salaries yet to be agreed.

3 Plus one unpaid adviser.

4 Plus the five members of the Council of Economic Advisers who are employed on special adviser terms (one in band 4, three in band 3 and one in band 1). One of the members of the council works part time.

5 This figure includes salary, severance pay and estimate of pension costs.

Gulf War Illnesses

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Tom Watson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

A key principle of the Government's approach to addressing the health concerns of veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict is that there should be appropriate research into veterans' illnesses and factors that may have a bearing on these.

As a key part of that research, the Ministry of Defence has sponsored an investigation by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down, into the possible health effects of the combination of vaccines and tablets given to troops at the time of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict to protect them against the threat of biological and chemical warfare. The main body of work involved monitoring multiple factors in marmosets for up to 18 months following the administration of vaccines and/or pyridostigmine bromide (the active ingredient in nerve agent pre-treatment tablets). Interim results were announced on 1 April 2003 (Official Report, col. 55WS).

Papers reporting final results from two elements of the main study have now been published in the online version of the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior and hard-copy publication will follow. A summary of the papers is available on the articles in press section of the journal's website The papers report that there were no long-term changes of biological significance in cognition, muscle function, general health, brain electrical activity and sleep that could be attributed to administration of vaccines and/or pyridostigmine bromide.

The publication of these findings in a peer-reviewed journal should be welcomed by Gulf veterans in addressing a key area of concern to them. It represents a further step towards meeting the department's commitment to investigate these issues. Further results on the immunological aspects of the study will be published in due course.

House of Lords Appointments Commission: Annual Report

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has today placed the House of Lords Appointments Commission annual report for 2004-05 and 2005-06 in the Libraries of both Houses. The Government are grateful to the members of the commission for the report and their valuable work.

Housing and Planning Delivery Grant

My honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Planning has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In our December response to the Kate Barker review of housing supply, we committed to reform the planning delivery grant to support local housing delivery and to conduct a wider consultation on local planning and housing incentives. Today we launch the consultation on a proposal for a new housing and planning delivery grant and the criteria for allocations for the final year of the current planning delivery grant. The consultation will run until 17 October 2006.

The Government’s aim is to encourage local authorities to respond more effectively to local housing demand. Over 200,000 new households are formed each year, but last year just under 170,000 additional homes were built, with upward pressure on house prices as result. The Government believe that local authorities do not have sufficient incentives to respond to housing need.

Under our proposals, a performance-related grant would be paid to local authorities as a reward for meeting the housing needs of the community and for improving planning performance. The proposal is part of the Government’s package of measures to improve housing affordability and our commitment to create and maintain sustainable communities.

The Government’s aim with a new grant would be to encourage local authorities to become active in the delivery of new housing to meet local housing demand. The grant would be awarded to local authorities with high levels of demand that are delivering additional housing. The proposal envisages that the grant would continue to resource planning to ensure effective delivery of the new planning system.

We are also consulting on the criteria to allocate £120 million of planning delivery grant for the financial year 2007-08. Within this allocation, we are proposing to increase the percentage of planning delivery grant awarded to support housing. This is to ensure that the grant better supports areas that are delivering high numbers of new homes and areas struggling with issues of low demand. We plan to announce the first part of this grant in November 2006, with further announcements planned for spring 2007.

Copies of the Planning Delivery Grant 2007/08: Proposed Allocations Criteria have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and the document is available on the DCLG website at

The housing and planning delivery grant consultation paper will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses tomorrow and will be available from tomorrow afternoon on the DCLG website at

Housing and Regeneration

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today updating the House on the housing and regeneration review, launched in April this year by the Deputy Prime Minister and David Miliband.

This Government have an ambitious agenda for housing and regeneration. My letter of 12 July to the Prime Minister outlined my vision for developing mixed communities and increasing the supply of affordable and market housing. Delivering this agenda requires a step change in our activities. It is therefore vital that we get our delivery arrangements absolutely right, with clear, focused and accountable delivery chains.

The current review of housing and regeneration provides an important opportunity to build on the existing strengths of English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation and to ensure a coherent approach to delivering new housing and mixed sustainable communities. We must make the most of the skills and expertise of these bodies and maximise the use of private investment, public subsidy, landholdings and assets to support and deliver local and regional housing and regeneration strategies.

At the same time, the creation of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) as a new strategic department, focused on delivering for people and places, offers an opportunity to evaluate our wider departmental delivery chain for housing and regeneration. I have therefore asked my officials to undertake further work in three key areas.

First, I have asked officials, in addition to addressing the Housing Corporation and English Partnerships, to examine the DCLG's delivery functions to determine the scope for rationalising existing delivery-focused activities across the piece. Secondly, I have asked officials to undertake a distinct stream of work on modernising the regulation of affordable housing, particularly in the light of the increasing involvement of the private sector. Finally and relatedly, I have asked officials to carry out further work and analysis on the range of potential modernisation and structural options for reform.

I will make a further announcement in the autumn on my plans for creating a modern, dynamic delivery chain to support stronger communities and to create places in which people feel proud to live.

Law Commission

I have appointed Mr Justice Terence Etherton to be chairman of the Law Commission from 1 August 2006. He succeeds Mr Justice Roger Toulson, whose term of office will then be completed.

I have decided that the needs of the Law Commission are usually best met by having a member of the senior judiciary as chairman. This follows a consultation in the 2004 consultation paper, Appointment of Law Commissioners, and the response paper issued in 2005. As a result, I have decided to propose to Parliament amendments to the Law Commissions Act 1965 so that the chairman can be recruited from the senior judiciary as and when appropriate. I will do so when legislative time and opportunity allows.

Lebanon and Gaza

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in the Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip.

In Lebanon, the crisis has led the UN to estimate that at least 500,000 people have been displaced. Insecurity and damaged infrastructure are making it difficult to reach those in need of medical care, food and water supplies. The supply of electricity has stopped to most villages and towns in southern Lebanon. Stocks of fuel will be exhausted in two weeks. Factories producing medicines, milk, wood and housing supplies have been destroyed. It is clear from aid agencies that they need immediate and safe access to the displaced and the wounded and those requiring humanitarian assistance. I support the proposals by the UN and ICRC for safe humanitarian access, but ultimately the security situation needs to stabilise in order to ensure that vital assistance can get to where it is needed.

We have responded to international appeals for humanitarian aid. Following the initial response that I announced last week, I am today committing a further £2.2 million to support humanitarian relief, including for the UN flash appeal, which has been launched today. The UN Central Emergency Response Fund is also providing an initial contribution of $5 million, of which the UK share is $1.4 million (£770,000). This brings the total UK commitment to £5 million, and we stand ready to do more as needed. DfID is deploying two humanitarian advisers to the region. Two stabilisation and recovery advisers will join them shortly. The Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit is helping cross-government planning for the UK's contribution to stabilisation and recovery, immediately hostilities cease.

The situation in Gaza is also very difficult. Following the Israeli attack on Gaza's only power station, electricity is limited to supplies received from Israel. Households receive six to eight hours’ electricity per day. Electricity is vital for hospitals and clinics, which need constant supplies of power to run medical equipment and to keep drugs at constant temperatures. It is needed to pump fresh water to houses and to treat sewage. It is essential for the safe storage of food and for processing flour to make bread. Most households in Gaza are receiving two hours of water per day. This means that they do not have reliable access to water for drinking, personal hygiene and washing clothes. According to the World Health Organisation, cases of diarrhoea among refugee children in Gaza in early July were 50 per cent higher than at the same period last year. Humanitarian supplies are vital. The Rafah crossing was opened temporarily on 18 July to allow those stranded at the crossing in desperate conditions to enter and the Karni crossing was temporarily opened for humanitarian and commercial imports, but both are now closed again. Action is needed to ensure unrestricted humanitarian access, including the supply of medical equipment, fuel, food and electricity.

In April, the UK made a contribution of £15 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides basic services for Palestinian refugees in Gaza, Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East. This is helping UNRWA to provide healthcare and other basic services to Palestinian refugees, who comprise 70 per cent of Gaza's population. The EU collectively provides over half of UNRWA's funding and the UK last year was the third largest bilateral donor.

The European Union has established a temporary international mechanism to support the basic needs of the Palestinian people. The mechanism will provide support to health, education and social affairs, help to pay for utilities and assist the very poorest Palestinians. The UK stands ready to allocate up to £12 million to the mechanism, plus our share of the European Community contribution, giving a total of up to £25 million. The mechanism has already enabled much needed fuel supplies for emergency generators after Gaza's only power station was damaged by military action. These fuel deliveries are keeping hospitals open, water pumps going and waste treatment plants open. The mechanism will soon start making payments to health workers in both Gaza and the West Bank to ensure that they can continue to provide essential medical care. We welcome the decision of G8 leaders to immediately expand the mechanism to provide wider assistance to the people of Gaza, and we are working closely with the quartet and others to ensure that this happens.

The UK is also providing assistance to the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs to enable it to monitor closely the humanitarian situation in Gaza to assist donors and others to make sure that help gets to those who need it most.

It is particularly important for the humanitarian welfare of innocent civilians in Lebanon, Israel and Gaza that there is an end to the violence on all sides. The UK Government support efforts to put in place a durable ceasefire.

Ministerial Gifts 2005-06

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has today published a list of gifts received by Ministers. The list provides details of gifts received by Ministers valued at more than £140 for the period 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006. Copies of the list have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Ministerial Travel 2005-06

Expenditure on ministerial overseas visits for the past three financial years and for the year 1996-97 is as follows.


Expenditure £million









1 The figure for 2005-06 reflects payments made so far for travel undertaken in the period; a few bills have yet to be submitted to departments for payment.

A list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during the period 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006 has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The list provides details of the date, destination and purpose of all such visits and the cost of Ministers’ travel and accommodation where appropriate.

MoD: Far East PoW and Civilian Internees Scheme

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Tom Watson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Late last year, it emerged that inconsistent criteria had been used for deciding payments over the history of the ex-gratia payment scheme for former Far East prisoners of war and civilian internees. In response to this, my predecessor, the then Veterans Minister (Don Touhig), agreed that there should be an independent investigation to examine how the use of inconsistent criteria had arisen and why this had not been exposed earlier. Mr David Watkins, a retired senior civil servant from the Northern Ireland Office, was appointed to undertake this work and his findings were presented to me on 7 July. A copy of his report has been placed in the Library of the House.

The report finds no evidence of culpable behaviour by individuals but identifies a number of shortcomings with the scheme's development and administration and makes recommendations designed to avoid any recurrence.

I am grateful to Mr Watkins for an investigation that has been thorough and far-reaching, and has included consultation with the key representatives of those who were adversely affected by the errors. I welcome his report and can say now that we accept the overall thrust of its recommendations. We will analyse it in more detail, in consultation with other interested departments, and I intend to give a more detailed response in a further Statement after the Recess.

While the errors in administering the scheme were deeply regrettable, I would echo the report's recognition of the admirable work undertaken by the then War Pensions Agency and others that allowed the scheme to be introduced in a remarkably short timescale, with some 14,000 payments made within three months of the scheme's introduction and a total of over 25,000 payments now made.

Finally, I know that there has been a residual concern that a number of those who do not qualify under the scheme may be experiencing hardship. To respond to this concern, my officials have been in discussion with the charity that provides support in such cases among those from the UK who were once prisoners of war or civilian internees in the Far East. I am pleased to announce that the Ministry of Defence will shortly be providing financial assistance to support the charity's work in dealing with such cases and to help to publicise the recently announced changes to the criteria, as a result of which eligibility under the scheme has been extended to those who can show a close link to the UK since the Second World War.

NHS: Healthcare-associated Infections

My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Andy Burnham) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Healthcare Commission has today published its investigation into outbreaks of Clostridium difficile at Stoke Mandeville Hospital (Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust). Copies of the report have been placed in the Library. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State commissioned this report to establish:

whether the trust's systems and processes for the prevention and control of infection were adequate during the two outbreaks;

the current state of the trust's systems to control this infection; and

the lessons to be learnt from these outbreaks, both for the trust and the wider NHS, about how best to reduce the risk of C. difficile infection.

The Healthcare Commission's report identified the factors involved in the first outbreak and concluded that a failure to implement appropriately the lessons learnt from this, combined with an inadequate governance system, led to a delay in controlling the second outbreak. Since the outbreaks, the trust has improved infection control practice and consequently strengthened patient safety.

My right honourable friend has today written to Anna Walker, Chief Executive of the Healthcare Commission, to accept the conclusions of the report. This letter also asks that the commission use the powers available to it to ensure that trusts are following the good practice set out in the new code of practice on the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infection and to use its powers of intervention where trusts fail to do so.

The department will work closely with the trust, the strategic health authority, the Health Protection Agency and the local primary care trusts in addressing the recommendations in the report. As the conclusions have a wider applicability to the health service, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer will consider this report over the summer and assess how the lessons learnt should be implemented both locally and nationally to reduce the risk from this infection. The department will also ensure that the report's conclusions inform the review of the current C. difficile guidance.

Today also sees the publication of the latest information from the Department of Health's mandatory healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) surveillance system. This information, which has been placed in the Library, brings together data on MRSA bloodstream infections, Clostridium difficile-associated disease, glycopeptide-resistant enterococci bloodstream infections and orthopaedic surgical site infections to help to assess trends in HCAIs.

This statistical report has been prepared by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and is a part of our new approach to publication of HCAI data, where the HPA both manages the surveillance programme and publishes the data. An annual report will be produced every July to help to evaluate trends and to facilitate access to all the data.

Mandatory surveillance has shown a clear need to improve NHS performance and we believe that upgrading the level of surveillance and more rapid feedback of results will help performance. Therefore, we intend to move to quarterly publication as soon as it is feasible to do so.

Northern Ireland: Devolution

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Peter Hain) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

On 15 May, Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly were recalled to participate in a process to secure the full restoration of the institutions in Northern Ireland on or before 24 November. The Assembly rose on 7 July for Summer Recess and will reconvene on 4 September.

Following their discussions with the Northern Ireland political parties in Parliament Buildings, Stormont, on 29 June, the Prime Minister and Taoiseach issued a statement that again reiterated their commitment to the November deadline and called for all sides to commit to a period of genuine and frank political engagement on the outstanding issues in the months ahead.

A work plan was also published alongside the statement in order to assist the parties in their work between now and the November deadline. Both the statement and the work plan have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The plan allows for the Committee on the Preparation for Government to continue its valuable work during the Summer Recess, and I have recently provided for the creation of subgroups within the committee to deal with the issues of devolution of justice and policing, changes to the institutions and the economic challenges facing Northern Ireland.

I have made it clear previously that, in the event that devolved government is not restored on or before 24 November, all MLAs' salaries and allowances will be cancelled with immediate effect. I have repeatedly stressed that it remains the Government's firm hope that devolution can and will be restored by that deadline, but I wish to ensure that MLAs have the fullest of opportunities to arrange their affairs in advance. My officials have therefore written to all MLAs explaining the implications of the termination of allowances for MLAs in respect of their responsibilities as employers of their staff and for their constituency offices. A copy of this letter has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Northern Ireland: MoD Civilians

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Adam Ingram) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce the severance package for the estimated 1,500 MoD civilians in Northern Ireland being made redundant during the period 1 August 2006 to 31 December 2008 as a result of the process of normalisation.

The House will recall that, when I announced the package for the Royal Irish (Home Service) (R IRISH (HS)) on 9 March 2006 (Official Report, col. 961), I explained that a process of consultation would take place with the trade unions on the civilian redundancies in accordance with our duties under Section 188 of the Trade Unions and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. That consultation has now been concluded and the redundancy package has been decided.

First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the dedication and commitment shown by MoD civilians in Northern Ireland over many years in supporting the Armed Forces and in helping to bring about the enabling environment for the current security normalisation programme. While normalisation is good news for Northern Ireland, it also brings substantial change for our civilian workforce, and my department has been working hard to draw up an enhanced redundancy package for those affected. I am now in a position to provide details of that package.

In addition to the normal occupational redundancy package (which, for the majority, will be compulsory terms under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS)), affected staff will receive a flat-rate financial recognition award (FRA) payment of £14,000 gross. The payment is being made to MoD civilians based in Northern Ireland in recognition of a unique set of circumstances, which are a combination of the following factors:

the pressures and restrictions arising from their association with the Armed Forces in Northern Ireland, which they experienced while working for the MoD and are likely to continue to affect them in the immediate aftermath of being made redundant;

the difficulties that they may experience as a result of normalisation and directly arising from their former association with the Armed Forces in Northern Ireland; and

the effect of those pressures being exacerbated by the fact that the whole of the R IRISH (HS) is being disbanded, affecting over 3,000 individuals and nearly 50 per cent of the civilian workforce are losing their jobs over a compressed timescale.

In summary, during the period 1 August 2006 to 31 December 2008, MoD civil servants made redundant through the process of normalisation will receive:

redundancy compensation under the terms of their occupational redundancy scheme;

access to the MoD outplacement service for a period of 12 months (an increase over the normal six months);

a retraining allowance of up to £1,000 per person, and

a flat-rate additional payment of £14,000 gross.

The package, which goes significantly beyond statutory entitlements, is well deserved and we hope will be well received by MoD civilians in Northern Ireland. To put this into context, typically an individual who is aged 50 or over and made redundant between 1 August 2006 and 31 December 2008 will receive the immediate payment of an enhanced pension (and a tax-free pension lump sum for those in the 1972 section of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)), redundancy compensation of up to six months’ pensionable pay and the FRA of £14,000.

To give examples, a 51 year-old band C with an average salary of £26,167 and 31 years’ service will receive a lump sum payment of £27,084 (this is the redundancy compensation and the FRA); in addition, they will receive their pension lump sum of approximately £30,419 and an annual pension. A 54 year-old band E/skill zone 3 with an average salary of £17,975 and 34 years’ service will receive a lump sum payment of £22,987 (this is the redundancy compensation and the FRA); in addition, they will receive their pension lump sum of approximately £25,136 and an annual pension. Those staff under the age of 50 and made redundant in the same period will typically receive a preserved pension payable at age 60, redundancy compensation up to three times their annual pensionable pay and the FRA of £14,000. To illustrate, a 34 year-old band E/skill zone 3 with an average salary of £17,975 and 16 years’ service will receive a lump sum payment of £43,958; and a 27 year-old band D/skill zone 4 with an average salary of £20,617 and nine years’ service will receive a lump sum payment of £29,463. These lump sums are the combined totals of redundancy compensation and the FRA. Redundancy compensation and the FRA combined will be tax free up to the first £30,000 in accordance with the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003.

This is a generous package for a unique set of circumstances for those MoD civilians in Northern Ireland made redundant between 1 August 2006 and 31 December 2008.

Outdoor Advertisements

My honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Planning has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government are consulting on draft regulations to control outdoor advertisements and an accompanying draft circular, as well as a partial regulatory impact assessment. The draft regulations and circular take forward proposals announced in 2000 and 2002 following earlier consultation. The new draft regulations will update and improve the current arrangements for controlling outdoor advertisements and make the legislation more responsive to rapidly changing forms of advertising. The draft circular will clarify the legislation and provide guidance to help to ensure that the system operates effectively.

The consultation period ends eight weeks from today and we expect to make the regulations and to publish the circular by the end of the year. Copies of the consultation documents are available in the House Library or via the DCLG website at

The draft circular includes guidance and advice to local planning authorities on dealing with unlawful advertisements alongside motorways and trunk roads. This is part of a package of measures that we have adopted to get these unlawful advertisements removed. I will be writing to the leaders of councils in whose areas these unlawful advertisements are still being displayed, seeking their assurance that they will take action to get these advertisements removed.

Passports: Fees

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Joan Ryan) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Privy Council has made an Order in Council—the Consular Fees (Amendment) Order 2006—which gives authority for a revision in passport fees. The revision will take effect on 5 October 2006. The fee for a standard 32-page passport will increase from £51 to £66, while the fee for a 48-page passport will increase from £62.50 to £77. The fee for a passport for a child will increase from £34 to £45. The fee for an adult using the guaranteed one-week counter service for a standard 32-page passport will increase from £77.50 to £91, for a child from £70 to £80, and for a 48-page jumbo from £87 to £97. The fee for an adult using the guaranteed same-day service for a standard 32-page passport will increase from £96.50 to £108, for a child from £83 to £93, and for a 48-page passport from £104.50 to £114.50. The fee for a collective passport, for organised trips for schools and youth groups, will remain unchanged at £39.

This increase represents the second stage of the two-year fee agreement reached with HM Treasury last year. This followed a stringent review of costs to ensure that the fee for each type of passport service closely reflects the production costs accrued by that service and bears its share of the cost of consular protection services. This increase will deliver extensive improvements required in the ongoing efforts to combat passport and identity fraud.

Passport Service: Annual Report

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Joan Ryan) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The UK Passport Service annual report and accounts 2005-06 have been laid before Parliament today and will be published shortly. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House on publication. This will be the last annual report and accounts issued by UKPS, whose activities were transferred to the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) from 1 April 2006.

Pensions: Financial Assistance Scheme

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Pensions Reform (James Purnell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 6 June, I wrote to Members to advise them that I had commissioned a review of the administration of the financial assistance scheme and would report the outcome before the Summer Recess. In particular, I was concerned about ensuring that all eligible people receive payments as quickly as possible, that we ensure the most cost-efficient operation and that we examine a full range of options for the appropriate organisational location of the operations.

Today I have placed copies of the findings of the review in the Library. These show that obtaining data from trustees is the key to making payments and highlight the need to significantly strengthen the skills within the financial assistance scheme operations needed to obtain these data, concluding that this can best be achieved through an injection of skills from the private sector or the Pension Protection Fund. These skills can best be managed from within DWP.

The review has also identified the scope for some operational efficiencies and more detailed work will be undertaken to establish optimum staffing levels. In addition, it has concluded that the long-term governance of the operational unit is best placed in the Pension Service. Overall we expect these changes to increase the speed at which people receive help from the scheme.

I have now commissioned work to implement the findings and will update on implementation in the autumn.

I am also pleased to announce that today we have published the draft Financial Assistance Scheme (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2006. These regulations will bring into effect the extension to the financial assistance scheme announced in the White Paper on pension reform on 25 May. We will be consulting on the draft regulations over the next eight weeks and will publish a response to the consultation along with the final version of the draft regulations. Copies of the draft regulations and consultation document have been placed in the Library and can also be found on the FAS website at

Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland: Annual Report

I have today placed in the Library of the House copies of the first annual report of the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland and of its business plan for the coming year.

While the new service was formally launched in June 2005, it initially took work only from the six police districts that make up the PPS Belfast region. It has, however, been planned from the start as a regional service and the last year has seen good progress in rolling out the service over the whole of Northern Ireland.

In August 2005, the PPS western and southern region assumed responsibility for the conduct of all youth offences occurring in the PSNI’s Armagh, Banbridge and Newry and Mourne districts, as well as all prosecutions from the five police districts within Fermanagh and Tyrone. A new Lisburn office, serving as headquarters of the PPS eastern region, opened in March 2006 and will be fully operational by October this year, when it will add a further six police districts to those already within the PPS structure.

The rollout of the PPS will continue through this year and next, and when completed will operate from six regional offices planned for Belfast, Lisburn, Newry, Omagh, Londonderry and Ballymena. This regional approach, with each office having its own regional prosecutor, will encourage local involvement with the service, helping the community to understand its work and how it goes about reaching decisions, and thereby building public confidence in the criminal justice system. The annual report and business plan is part of this process and will be of interest to anyone with an interest in the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland or in criminal justice generally.

Regional Development Agencies: Annual Reports

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Industry and the Regions (Margaret Hodge) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have today laid before Parliament the annual reports and accounts for 2005-06 for the eight regional development agencies (RDAs) outside London. Copies have been placed in the House Library.

The annual report and accounts for London are presented to the Lord Mayor rather than before Parliament. I shall provide a copy to the House of Commons Library when these are available.

The Government welcome the contribution that the RDAs have made during this year to driving forward economic development in their respective regions.

Also published today are the RDAs' reported outputs for 2005-06. These results are evidence that the RDAs continue to play a valuable role in improving the economic performance of the English regions; through working with their partners, the RDAs are making a real difference to the individual regional economies concerned. The figures cover the creation and safeguarding of jobs, the number of people helped to get a job, the amount of brownfield land brought back into use, the number of businesses added to the regional economies, the number of businesses helped to improve their performance, the number of learning opportunities created and the amount of private sector investment attracted benefiting deprived areas, all as a result of RDA activity.

Press releases on the outputs have been issued in each region. Copies of the output results have been placed in the House Library, and are available on the DTI website at

Scientific Procedures on Living Animals

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Joan Ryan) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I wish to announce that the publication Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals: Great Britain 2005 is being presented as a Command Paper (6877) today. Copies will be placed in the House Library.

This annual report meets the requirement in the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 to keep Parliament informed about the use of animals for experimental or other purposes. It also forms the basis for meeting periodic reporting requirements at EU level. There has been criticism in previous years, including from a House of Lords Select Committee, of the report providing too much detail and not being very digestible or reader-friendly. Therefore, some changes have been made to improve the contents and layout of this publication with the intention of making it easier to comprehend and follow.

The report shows an overall increase over the previous year of 1.4 per cent in the number of procedures undertaken. The total number of procedures was 2.9 million, an increase of 41,300 over the previous year. Although this is the highest total since 1992, it does not necessarily signal an established upward trend in animal use. A number of factors, including the economic climate and global trends in scientific endeavour, determine the overall level of scientific procedures.

Non-toxicological procedures accounted for about 86 per cent of the procedures carried out in 2005. These included studies for fundamental biological or applied research in human and veterinary medicine, with the main areas of use being for immunological studies, pharmaceutical research and development, and cancer research. Procedures for toxicological purposes accounted for the remaining 14 per cent of all procedures. About 73 per cent of these were for testing the safety and efficacy of new drugs and medicines.

In keeping with previous years, those procedures that used mice or rats (or other rodents) were the great majority, at 84 per cent. Those using fish amounted to 8 per cent and those using birds to 4 per cent. The total of all procedures using dogs, cats, horses and non-human primates—that is, those species offered special protection by the Act—was less than 1 per cent of the total.

Genetically normal animals were used in about 1.65 million regulated procedures, representing 57 per cent of all procedures for 2005 (compared with 59 per cent in 2004 and 84 per cent in 1995). Genetically modified animals (nearly all rodents) were used in 957,500 regulated procedures, representing 33 per cent of all procedures for 2005 (compared with 32 per cent in 2003 and 8 per cent in 1995). These trends have been evident over recent years, reflecting the changing balance in use between genetically normal and modified animals, and are set to continue as advances in genetic science open up new and promising avenues of research.

I should point out in relation to the statistics that the Home Office, as regulatory authority under the 1986 Act, does not control the overall amount of animal research and testing that takes place, the imperative being to minimise the numbers of animals used for justifiable purposes. We ensure, in carrying out our licensing function, that the provisions of the Act are rigorously applied in each programme of work. All animal use must be justified and, for each particular programme of work, the number of animals used and the suffering caused must be minimised.

Strategic Export Controls: Annual Report

The 2005 annual report on strategic export controls will be published today as a Command Paper. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House. The report describes UK policy and international developments in export control regimes, as well as information on export licensing decisions taken during 2005.

The annual report on strategic export controls is an innovation of this Government. This report, the ninth annual report (the first report was published in 1997), is a step away from the traditional reports of the past. Our export licensing system is one of the most rigorous and transparent regimes in the world and the annual report, in this new format, symbolises our continued commitment to accountability and transparency by presenting detailed information in a more modern and user-friendly format. This year, due to the increasing volume of information on strategic exports that is being published by the Government, all the statistical data that were historically published only in hard copy are now made available on a CD-ROM which accompanies the report. Since 2004, the Government have also produced detailed quarterly reports available on the internet, ensuring that the UK provides some of the most open and timely export licensing information available anywhere. The new CD-ROM includes the quarterly reports for 2005, as well as more consolidated data, information on licence refusals and fuller information on trade control (trafficking and brokering) licences issued during 2005. The complete report will be available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website and published through The Stationery Office.

Transport: Journey Time Targets

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Douglas Alexander) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In my Written Ministerial Statement of Tuesday 18 July 2006 (Official Report, col. 87WS), the department published new targets for journey times in urban areas. The target included for Merseyside unfortunately used an interim version of Merseyside's target, rather than the final target that was adopted. Incorporating the final target has a small beneficial effect on the national journey time target, lowering it by just 0.03 per cent.

The revised success criterion is therefore as follows: the target will be deemed to have been met if, on target routes in the 10 largest urban areas in England, an average increase in travel of 4.4 per cent is accommodated within an increase of 3.6 per cent in person journey time per mile.

An updated PSA and technical note has been placed on the departmental website today. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

United Nations

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Dr Kim Howells) has today laid before the House Command Paper 6892 entitled The United Kingdom in the United Nations. The Command Paper provides a comprehensive overview of the work of the United Nations and details the UK's significant contribution to the UN's efforts, consistent with the UK's strong support for the organisation.

Vehicle Registers: Release of Data

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Transport (Stephen Ladyman) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I am today announcing 14 major new measures to ensure that the release of data from the UK vehicle registers is undertaken in a way that:

protects vehicle keepers from misuse of their information;

ensures that those who have reasonable cause can get the data they need;

balances the right to privacy of individuals whose data are held on the register with the need of others to gain proper redress;

is cost-effective, in that the costs to all are proportionate to the benefits that the scheme delivers; and

is right in principle and works in practice.

This follows the review that I announced in December last year and the public consultation launched in February this year. I will give a full update on progress in delivering these new measures in the autumn. I will continue to scrutinise closely the way in which the scheme operates and how it is used. Should further action be merited, I will ensure that it is taken quickly.

The new measures are as follows.

New requirements for evidence of “reasonable cause”

New detailed guidance on what is likely to constitute “reasonable cause”.

Clarity that behaviour in using data will be considered in judging whether a particular applicant's assertions as to the “reasonable cause” for his application are to be believed, and in deciding whether approved conditional access is granted or maintained.

For all applications where “reasonable cause” relates to a vehicle left on land without permission or in breach of terms and conditions, evidence is required that the applicant is the landowner or has the permission of the landowner to pursue the vehicle keeper.

For all applications where “reasonable cause” relates to the pursuit of a penalty charge, evidence is required that a penalty scheme was indeed in place on that piece of land (eg that there was signage).

New requirements for “approved conditional access”

Those bodies and companies seeking approved conditional access that do not have an appropriate regulatory body are required to be current members of an “accredited” trade association. Part of the process for “accrediting” trade associations will include ensuring that there is a clear and enforced code of conduct (for example, relating to conduct, parking charge signage, charge levels, appeals procedure, approval of ticket wording, and appropriate pursuit of penalties, eg approach by letter only and county court action only to permit a house call).

Organisations that do not comply with the terms of the accredited trade association will be expelled and without valid membership of another accredited trade association will lose their approved conditional access. Trade associations that do not police the conditions of membership adequately will lose their accreditation.

All those seeking approved conditional access will be required to serve a “probationary” period of six months or, if longer, for the period of time that it takes to make 20 requests—during which all requests should be made on a case-by-case basis.

New measures to ensure awareness of the vehicle keeper

That all those who receive data, as evidence of their “reasonable behaviour” and as a condition of “approved conditional access”, include in any correspondence with the keeper a leaflet or statement advising them of:

the “reasonable cause” which formed the basis of the request;

the “complaints” procedure by which a data subject can notify both DVLA and the Information Commissioner if they believe that their data have been used inappropriately; and

the appeals procedure (for the regulatory body) if they feel that, for example, a parking charge notice has been issued incorrectly.

And that this information is also placed on the DVLA website.

That DVLA maintains on its website a list of organisations and companies that have requested data and the reasons for their request.

That a reference to the location on the DVLA website of guidance and advice and all other information relating to the release of vehicle keeper data is included on all DVLA documentation sent to the vehicle keeper, including the annual VED reminder.

New auditing procedures and action to combat misuse or complaints

A rolling three-year programme of audit check, including targeted checks on those where concerns have been raised.

A clear set of procedures where such concerns are raised:

an audit is triggered by complaints of substance representing a disproportionate level of granted requests or any complaint of a serious nature;

if, following implementation of the audit recommendations, a disproportionate level of complaints of substance is received, an organisation with approved conditional access will be required to submit requests on a case-by-case basis; if it is already subject to request on a case-by-case basis, it will be subject to additional scrutiny of each request that it makes; and

if a disproportionate level of further complaints of substance is received and a company is found to be consistently using data inappropriately or a serious complaint of abuse of the system by an applicant is substantiated, then there is a distinct possibility that we will not believe the applicant to have reasonable cause on a future request and, if so, data release would then be declined in that case.

New complaints procedures

A clear procedure by which data subjects can notify DVLA if they feel that their data have been used inappropriately; steps must be taken to draw this to the attention of vehicle keepers by including information in paperwork sent to them and on the DVLA website. This will include information of how they can notify the Information Commissioner of the misuse of their data.

Complaints received will form part of the evaluation of whether an applicant's assertion of “reasonable cause” is valid.

Water Efficiency: Consultation

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Members will be interested to know that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will be jointly consulting during the Recess on ways of making water efficiency mandatory. The consultation will cover water efficiency in new homes, in existing buildings and in respect of the domestic uses of non-household buildings. We are considering a range of measures, including amendments to the Building Regulations 2000. There will be a slightly longer consultation than normal—four months rather than three—as we recognised the difficulty of consulting during a holiday period.

Copies of the consultation document will be available later in the year on both the DCLG and Defra websites and in the Libraries of both Houses. I will be writing separately to Peter Ainsworth, chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, Michael Jack, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, and Dr Phyllis Starkey, chairman of the Communities and Local Government Committee.