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Written Statements

Volume 685: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

Written Statements

Monday 9 October 2006

The first group of 31 Written Statements were received between 26 July and 5 October 2006.

Afghanistan: Drugs

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Dr Kim Howells) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Further to my Written Ministerial Statement of 13 July, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced on 2 September its estimate that opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan had risen to a record high of 165,000 hectares, up 59 per cent from 104,000 hectares in 2005. On 12 September in Brussels, UNODC released a summary report with a breakdown of cultivation levels by province. UNODC will publish its full annual opium survey for Afghanistan at the end of October. Although anticipated, the scale of the increase in opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is very disappointing. Ninety-two per cent of the 61,000 hectare increase is due to a substantial rise in cultivation in Helmand and three other southern provinces; 70 per cent of the increase is in Helmand alone. This reflects the very difficult security situation and limited law enforcement capability there.

Cultivation varies considerably across the country—both between and within provinces. Three of the four highest poppy cultivating provinces in 2005 are down this year. In Nangarhar cultivation remains at negligible levels across most of the province, which in 2004 was second only to Helmand. Where access to governance, security and development have improved, reductions achieved last year have been sustained, and in some cases, cultivation has fallen further.

Having just returned from Afghanistan, I am convinced that the Afghan Government's national drug control strategy is the right one. Only by tackling the traffickers who profit from the trade, building strong and effective institutions, strengthening and diversifying legal rural livelihoods and dealing with the drug addiction that is taking hold within Afghanistan itself, can we hope to address the problem. President Karzai and his Government are committed to tackling the trade and will take action against the corruption that threatens to undermine these efforts. At the second National Counter-Narcotics Conference on 22 August, President Karzai noted that poppy cultivation and the drugs trade was Afghanistan's greatest enemy and that Afghanistan had no option but to eliminate poppy. As partner nation for counter-narcotics, the UK remains determined to work with President Karzai's Government to bring about a sustained reduction in the production of opium and heroin and rid Afghanistan of the scourge of the drugs trade.

Afghanistan: Harrier Deployment

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

Both the International Security Assistance Force, and coalition forces in Afghanistan, are experiencing a surge in their requirement for air support. To help meet that need, I have decided temporarily to deploy a seventh Harrier GR7a aircraft and a small number of additional personnel to Kandahar airfield. As with any operational commitment, the duration of this deployment will be kept under constant review.

Africa: Humanitarian Update for East Africa and the Horn

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Statement.

At the beginning of this year the UN judged that 8.2 million people in East Africa and the Horn were in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, mainly food aid, following the worst drought for a decade. Since then approximately 490,000 million tonnes of food aid has been delivered to respond to these needs. Additional assistance has been provided in the form of emergency medical, nutritional, water and sanitation, shelter and other forms of relief. The UK has provided approximately £55 million or $103.9 million towards this. Overall the international donor community has provided over $660 million towards the relief effort.

The long rains in the early and mid part of 2006 have led to improvements in most areas. Unfortunately, most notably in Ethiopia, flooding has brought its own tragedy as over 600 people have died and more than 150,000 have lost their homes or been affected in one way or another. Most recently DfID has made available a further £6 million for humanitarian assistance in Kenya, where malnutrition rates remain high and current season harvest assessments present a very mixed picture. In Ethiopia we have provided £l million for urgent relief to flood-affected people.

Humanitarian assistance is still needed to address the urgent medical and nutritional needs of the most seriously sick and malnourished, and to meet other basic needs, including clean water, to reduce the risks of death and disease. Basic humanitarian indicators remain worrying, but we expect that the steps taken by relief agencies have mitigated what might have been more serious consequences, such as widespread mortality and displacement. We are closely monitoring the situation.

Assistance is also being provided in an effort to improve productive capacity by investing in livestock or other farming inputs such as seeds, tools and livestock vaccinations. However, it remains a challenge to achieve sustained benefits for the poorest and most vulnerable communities. In Ethiopia we are leading supporters of a productive safety nets programme to tackle chronic hunger. We are working on the development of a similar programme in Kenya. It is also important to note that substantial risks remain from conflict in the region, and we are working closely with the international community to promote peace and stability as a prerequisite to finding long-term solutions to persistent humanitarian crises.

Civil Service: Sickness Absence

The report Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Home Civil Service 2005 prepared for the Cabinet Office by RED Scientific Limited shows that the headline figure for the average level of sickness absence was 9.8 days per staff year. The report contains a comprehensive analysis of the 2005 figures by department/agency.

The Cabinet Office is continuing to work with other departments and agencies as they work to reduce sickness absence and progress with their implementation of the recommendations of the Managing Attendance in the Public Sector report published by the Ministerial Task Force on Health, Safety and Productivity.

The increase in the number of working days lost was primarily due to a change in the methodology used for analysing data. If the 2004 methodology had been used for the 2005 report, the adjusted average working days lost figure would have been 8.8 days per staff year, a drop of 0.3 days.

Department for Work and Pensions: Office Support Services

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

After completing a detailed commercial and tendering exercise, I wish to announce that Haden Building Management is to be awarded a seven-year contract for the delivery of a suite of office services to the Department for Work and Pensions.

In January 2005, following a wide-ranging review of support services, senior officials in my department, with the support of Ministers, concluded that bids for the future provision of all our office support services should be invited from specialist external suppliers in the private sector. Inviting bids for a single national contract for the supply of office services from the private sector would allow us to harness the benefits afforded by new technology, organisational efficiencies and the agility to respond to our changing needs as the department is modernised and reformed.

These office support services, which include post opening and despatch, messengerial work, switchboard operations, typing and secretarial services, are currently delivered through a range of external suppliers and in-house teams as well as forming part of the tasks of staff who serve the public directly. These arrangements have served us well in the past but the review concluded that these methods of delivery no longer provided best value for money and that, in their current state, would not provide the best service in the future.

Since the review, officials have been undertaking a competitive tendering exercise, in accordance with EU procurement rules, to select a supplier who can provide the services we require and offer best value for money. Following a rigorous evaluation of bids, the contract has been awarded to Haden Building Management with the new supply arrangements expected to commence on 1 March 2007.

This decision will mean that some jobs currently undertaken by DWP staff and our existing external providers will transfer to the new supplier. In total around 700 DWP staff nationally may transfer. Greatest numbers of DWP staff affected are based in Scotland, Wales and north-west England with other smaller groups in London and the north-east. We recognise that some staff may not wish to transfer and for these we will, where possible, offer the opportunity to redeploy within DWP or other government departments although we cannot guarantee this. Given the general unavailability of suitable alternative posts, however, the likelihood is that many staff engaged in support services will transfer to the new contractor under the protection of TUPE.

Proposals put forward by Haden provide more efficient ways of working and take account of the departmental modernisation programme. This is likely to result in a reduction of staff required to deliver office service contract arrangements over a period of time.

Officials have been meeting with trade unions and keeping staff affected by these changes informed of progress on an ongoing basis. Over the coming months they will continue to consult with trade unions and work with managers and HR advisors on all matters relating to the transfer of staff.

I will keep Members with significant numbers of affected constituents updated on our progress over the next few months. I am confident that these plans, for the future delivery of office services, will help support our overall goal of moving to a leaner and fitter organisation delivering world-class services to our customers.

Disability: Independent Living Review

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Anne McGuire) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Office for Disability Issues has set up an expert panel to support the work of the cross-Government independent living review, as announced by my noble friend Lady Royall on 14 July.

The role of the expert panel will be to shape and steer the independent living review which we have set up to identify imaginative and practical solutions to support independent living for disabled people. The independent living review project team will report regularly to the expert panel and ensure that its views are reflected as the review progresses.

The review, which will report in summer 2007, will:

bring together the views and experience of central and local government officials, disabled people and organisations of disabled people;

develop imaginative new solutions in the areas of health, social care, transport, employment and housing;

develop thinking on the relationship between independent living and individual budgets; and

make practical proposals for activity to support independent living.

Dame Jane Campbell, former chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, will chair the expert panel. Rob Greig, National Director for Learning Disabilities, will be vice-chairman.

Expert panel members include a range of experts in the field of independent living, including disabled people, and people from organisations of disabled people, user-led groups and service delivery organisations.

I am pleased to announce that members of the independent living review expert panel are:

Dame Jane Campbell

Expert Panel Chair, Disability Rights Commissioner, Former Chair, Social Care Institute for Excellence

Rob Greig

Expert Panel Vice Chair, National Director for Valuing People, Co-chair of Learning Disability Task Force

Saghir Alam

Disability Rights Commission, lead Commissioner for Partnership and Capacity Building, member of CENTREX Race and Diversity Panel

Ian Basnett

Chair of Independent Living Committee, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Nasa Begum

Principal Adviser for Participation, Social Care Institute of Excellence (SCIE)

Zoe Carter

User Involvement Network for Mental Health Services in North Essex

John Dixon

Joint Chair of Disability Committee, Association of Directors of Social Services

David Gardiner

UK Older People’s Advisory Group, Better Government for Older People

Fazilet Hadi

Director of Policy, Royal National Institute for the Blind

Frances Hasler

Head of User Participation, Commission for Social Care Inspection

Rowen Jade

Office for Disability Issues Advisory Group

Raymond Johnson

National Manager, People First

Elaine Morton

Chief Executive, Independent Living Funds

Menghi Mulchandani

Chair, National Centre for Independent Living

Jo Williams

Chief Executive, Mencap

Jean Willson

Chair of Centre 404 (formally Islington Mencap), A local organisation founded by parents of children with learning difficulties, which provides family support, learning and leisure opportunities, and supported housing

Gerry Zarb

Head of Independent Living Strategy, Disability Rights Commission

Government departments on the Office for Disability Issues board of management will also be represented on the panel.

The first meeting of the expert panel is being held today, 11 September 2006.

EU: Economic and Social Committee

The Government have submitted to the EU Council Secretariat details of the United Kingdom’s 24 nominees for membership of the Economic and Social Committee. The Government have made these nominations on the basis of a fair and transparent selection process to ensure the UK delegation reflects the social and economic diversity of the United Kingdom.

The present four-year term of the ESC ends in September 2006. The UK divides its 24 members equally between group I (employers), group II (employees) and group III (other interests).

The ESC is a consultative body, which produces opinions for the Council of Ministers on draft legislation. Additionally the Committee can produce its own opinion on any other economic or social issue.

The UK has 24 full members in the ESC from a current total membership 317. There are eight UK members in each of the three groups.

The nominees are:

Employers (Group I)

1. Kenneth Fraser

2. Peter Morgan

3. Madi Sharma

4. Bryan Cassidy

5. Jonathan Peel

6. David Sears

7. Brendan Burns

8. Brenda King

Employees (Group II)

9. Christine Blower

10. Sandy Boyle

11. Marge Carey

12. Peter Coldrick

13. Nicolas Crook

14. Brian Curtis

15. Judy McKnight

16. Monica Taylor

Other Interests Group (Group III)

17. Rose D’Sa

18. Maureen O’Neill

19. Michael Smyth

20. Jane Morrice

21. Richard Adams

22. Sukhdev Sharma

23. Tom Jones

24. Derek Osborn.

Financial Services: Regulation

My honourable friend the Economic Secretary (Mr Ed Balls) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Concerns have been expressed to the Government about the effects of a possible takeover of the LSE by a company based outside the UK on the LSE’s rules, in particular the rules applying to those companies whose securities are traded on the LSE’s markets. This is a concern that the Government share. In this statement I set out our approach.

The Government are neutral as to the nationality of the owners of recognised bodies (RBs)1. Of the current RBs, five are subsidiaries of overseas-based companies. Openness to overseas investment has been an important part of the success of the City in recent years and will continue to be in the future.

The Government would also not seek to intervene in the independent judgments of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the competition authorities in respect of any changes of ownership of RBs. The FSA and the competition authorities have specific tasks to perform on an independent basis within clear legislative frameworks set out by Parliament. Independence and indifference to nationality are key elements of the UK’s regulatory regime.

Investors, issuers of securities, and members of RBs all have an interest in RBs having rules which strike a balance appropriate to that body between the benefits of the restrictions, particularly in terms of investor protection and the impacts on issuers, members and other stakeholders. Such a balance is vital to ensuring exchanges play their role in creating deep and liquid capital markets which promote economic growth. In this respect, the Government believe it is essential that changes of ownership of RBs should not put at risk the achievement of such a balance by RBs.

Our current regulatory regime for RBs is based on high-level legislative principles supplemented by FSA guidance. Within this framework, RBs have the freedom to develop their own rule books in consultation with their members.

I have discussed these issues widely in recent months and made clear that I would expect any potential new owners of the LSE to want to provide certainty and reassurance to the exchange’s stakeholders. I welcome the statement which the US Securities and Exchange Commission issued on 16 June. This provided a helpful clarification of how the SEC sees the current position in respect of the scope of US securities laws.

However, as the FSA pointed out in its statement of 12 June, there is a degree of uncertainty about how overseas ownership of the LSE would affect its regulatory regime. It depends on exactly how any owner would attempt to integrate the LSE with its existing business and the legal framework in other countries, both of which can be subject to change.

It is important that there is certainty that the rules of RBs in the UK will continue to be proportionate, balancing the benefits of restrictions with the impacts on stakeholders.

The Government will now legislate to enhance the FSA’s powers in this area. This will confer power on the FSA to veto changes to the rules of an RB in defined circumstances. The aim would be to enable the FSA to stop RBs making rule changes whose effects on issuers and others were likely to be disproportionate to the public benefits. The Government will provide further details in due course.

The purpose of such a change to legislation is not to involve the FSA in the day-to-day commercial judgments of the RBs. The power will be a right of veto and not a right of approval of rule changes. It will provide a back stop to ensure that the RB’s stakeholders can be certain about the proportionality of the rules of the RB going forward.

This new provision will ensure that UK RBs remain open to overseas ownership. It makes the permissible outer limits of the RB’s rules blind to the nationality of their ownership by entrenching better regulation principles in respect of those rules.

It should also be clear that we will not allow this legislation to be evaded through abuse of our Recognised Overseas Investment Exchange and Clearing House regimes.

1 Under Section 18 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 there are seven recognized investment exchanges (the London Stock Exchange, London International Financial Futures Exchange, EDX London, Virt-X, ICE Futures, the London Metal Exchange and NYMEX Europe) and two recognised clearing houses (CREST and LCH.Clearnet Ltd).

Housing: Employment Mobility Services

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

The Government have decided to terminate their agreement with Scout Solutions Projects Limited to deliver mobility services for social tenants.

The new services to be provided under the contract were a new website providing access to existing schemes such as LAWN and Seaside and Country Homes, and a link to the Jobcentre Plus Internet Job Bank. The cost for the development of the new software and IT infrastructure was £1.2 million and the department has paid £1.06 million to date.

The department has decided to terminate this agreement in the interests of the public and the taxpayer because of serious concerns about the performance and fitness for purpose of the software developed by SSPL to provide those services. The software was delivered by the contractor in final form more than a year behind schedule; and independent final testing which replicated SSPL's own test criteria discovered an unacceptable level of faults. Departmental officials worked with the company throughout the contract to address shortcomings, but came to the conclusion that this strong course of action wasthe only one available. This decision was communicated to SSPL on 20 July 2006. The department will be seeking to recoup the £1.06 million spent on the development of the new software as well as the associated costs.

Scout Solutions Projects Limited has also been providing existing mobility services alongside the development of the new services. They will continue to be paid to provide these services under the terms of the contract for a transitional period. The funding for these existing services which were delivered has been £9.7 million. Mobility services are important to tenants, and the department will be seeking to put alternative provision in place building on the success of choice-based letting schemes.

Throughout this period, social housing applicants and tenants have continued to use direct methods to move within social housing. For example, in 2004-05 alone, over 15,500 LA tenants completed mutual exchanges.

The matter is now the subject of discussions between DCLG and the contractor.

Housing: Home Reversion and Home Purchase Plans

My honourable friend the Economic Secretary (Mr Ed Balls) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Treasury is today laying before Parliament the secondary legislation to introduce FSA regulation of activities relating to these products. Copies will be available in the Vote Office and the Library of the House, and will be accessible on the Treasury website (


My honourable friend the Minister of State for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality (Liam Byrne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Home Secretary has today published the Government’s response to the Home Affairs Committee's report into immigration control, copies of which have been deposited in the Libraries of the House and are also available from the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

India: Reproductive and Child Health

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Statement.

I have approved support of £252 million over five years for the second phase of the Government of India’s nationwide Reproductive and Child Health Programme. DfID will disburse £10 million in financial assistance plus a further £700,000 in technical assistance in 2006-07. Thereafter, annual disbursements will be subject to satisfactory reports on progress.

This programme will support the Government of India in tackling India’s huge burden of maternal and infant mortality. One-fifth (136,000) of all maternal deaths in the world, and one-quarter (1.8 million) of all infant deaths occur in India. Globally we will not reach the millennium development goals to reduce these deaths unless we succeed in India. The Reproductive and Child Health Programme is the Indian Government’s single biggest response to meet this challenge. The programme aims to reduce the maternal mortality ratio from 407/100,000 live births in 1998 to 100/100,000 in 2015, and the infant mortality rate from 70/1,000 live births in 1998 to 30/1,000 in 2015. If the programme achieves all its targets, over 1 million lives will be saved each year.

The programme will introduce new measures to tackle concerns about procurement irregularities in the first phase of the Reproductive and Child Health Programme, which was not funded by DfID. An action plan will help to strengthen competitive tendering procedures and increase transparency for the purchasing of drugs and equipment, and new standards will be introduced to improve the quality of products. Until these measures take effect, all procurement contracts over $200,000 will be handled by international agents.

The total cost of this second phase of the Reproductive and Child Health Programme is around £5 billion, which the Indian central and state Governments will meet the bulk of. External aid will be around 15 per cent of the overall budget, with the single largest contribution coming from DfID. Our aid is being fully co-ordinated with other development partners, including the World Bank.

The Reproductive and Child Health Programme is universal in coverage, and it will provide care through pregnancy, childbirth and childhood. But resources will be targeted on India’s poorest states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, and Madhya Pradesh and will especially target women and children among the poorest and most marginalised families, in scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

DfID’s financial support will be used for upgrading maternity facilities; increasing skilled attendance at birth; the purchase of essential drugs, equipment, supplies and contraceptives; staff training; communications; the piloting of new ideas; and assessing the impact of the programme. DfID technical assistance will finance a national health systems resource centre, which will provide overall technical assistance to the programme at central and state level, and strengthen health sector procurement.

This second phase of the programme is ambitious and will require a huge expansion in the delivery of public sector health services to tackle some of the country’s biggest health problems. It also includes a number of additional accountability and financial management safeguards to strengthen the Government’s anti-corruption systems. The programme will be monitored closely by the Indian Government and development partners, through reviews every six months. A copy of the project memorandum for the DfID contribution has been deposited in the Library of the House.

Iraq: Roulement, Theatre Reserve Battalion

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

On 18 July in a Written Ministerial Statement I confirmed the details of the force package for the next routine roulement of UK forces in Iraq in November when the lead UK formation, currently 20 Armoured Brigade, will be replaced by 19 Light Brigade. I would now like to confirm some of the details of preparations for this roulement. As for previous roulements, elements of the theatre reserve battalion, currently the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, will be deployed to provide additional security during what is always a period of intense activity for UK forces. There will also be some additional support aimed at contributing to improving security in Basra city.

In total this involves approximately 360 additional personnel. They will begin deploying shortly and complete their work not later than January 2007.

This is a critical period for the Iraqi people and their Government. There is an opportunity to improve significantly the security situation in Basra city—building on, and reinforcing, recent progress in Baghdad. Improved security in Basra will create the conditions for the important civil development work being led by the UK’s provincial reconstruction team. Therefore I have agreed that the deployment of troops from the theatre reserve battalion, while strictly time limited, should on this occasion be brought forward and extended by a short period. In addition, I have also authorised the deployment of Royal Engineers to assist with reconstruction and countering the threat from improvised explosive devices, a Royal Marine boat troop to assist in tightening security on the Shatt Al Arab waterway, and a troop of Royal Military Police to augment our training of the Iraqi police.

We ask our service men and women to discharge difficult and dangerous tasks. But over the next few months, through security operations and civil development projects, we have a key opportunity to make improvements to the lives of the people of Basra and lay the foundations for the departure, once the conditions are right, of coalition forces from front-line roles in Iraq.

Lebanon and Gaza

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Statement.

The recent conflict in Lebanon caused great harm to the civilian populations in both Israel and Lebanon. A million people, a quarter of Lebanon’s population, were displaced by the fighting and in Israel 300,000 people were reported to have fled their homes or taken to shelters. Israel had every right to defend itself against Hezbollah, but from the beginning we expressed the need for a proportionate response. I believe that this requires all sides to respect international humanitarian law.

The ceasefire, reached after much diplomatic activity, including strenuous efforts by the British Government, is holding and has aided the relief effort but the humanitarian situation in Lebanon remains serious.

On 15 August, the day after the ceasefire came into effect, I visited Beirut to assess the situation for myself. The priorities for the humanitarian aid effort were to secure sustained access for humanitarian convoys to reach the most vulnerable; to ensure safe return for displaced citizens; to minimise the risk of injury and death from unexploded munitions for those returning and for aid workers; and to repair basic infrastructure, such as water and power supplies and bridges.

From early in the conflict, the UK responded to Lebanon’s call for help. Our total funding commitment now stands at £22.3 million, including our share of multilateral spending, making us one of the biggest bilateral contributors to the humanitarian effort. In line with our assessment of current priorities, this money is helping to provide shelter, healthcare, water and sanitation, and to clear unexploded munitions. We have agreed to provide urgently needed prefabricated bridges to open critical humanitarian supply routes. The first three bridges arrived in Lebanon on 1 September.

The Government have also urged Israel to lift all restrictions on normal shipping entering Lebanese ports, as set out in Resolution 1701. This is essential in order to help restore the economy. The partial lifting of the economic blockade last week has further enhanced the chances of avoiding a much bigger humanitarian crisis and will help Lebanon begin the path to recovery. We continue to push for further progress on the issue.

The international community has responded generously to Prime Minister Siniora’s appeal for assistance at the Stockhom conference on early recovery held on 31 August. Collectively we have pledged over $900 million to aid recovery. It will be important that these pledges are acted on as soon as possible.

Lebanon needed our aid, and we are ready to do more as needed, but more than anything else what Lebanon and the region need is peace. The conflict of this summer was a symptom of a wider collective failure to resolve the conflict that has affected the Middle East for decades. UNSCR 1701 was a step in the right direction, and must be implemented by all parties, but we need to encourage negotiation, compromise and above all political leadership to end the long-term suffering of people on both sides of the border.

Unfortunately, what has happened in Lebanon is not the only humanitarian crisis in the region. We cannot forget the plight of the Palestinians, especially in Gaza, where violence continues and people die. Since the start of the current conflict on 28 June, over 200 Palestinians have been killed and over 700 injured. The cost of damage to agriculture and industry is now estimated at around $46 million. Many households continue to receive only six to eight hours of electricity per day. However, there are plans to rebuild the Gaza power station and to supply electricity from Egypt, which should improve the situation. Intermittent electricity supply is affecting all key services. Water supply and sanitation services remain limited, with severe health implications. The UN now estimates a 65 per cent increase in the number of children with diarrhoea compared with this time last year. Hospitals are struggling to operate vital equipment and to store drugs and vaccines safely.

Food prices are rising and 70 per cent of Gazans are now considered to be food insecure. The World Food Programme reports a 72 per cent increase in numbers using their feeding programme. Gaza crossing points are open intermittently, primarily for humanitarian food supplies. Action is needed to ensure unrestricted humanitarian access, including the supply of medical equipment, fuel, food and electricity.

At the Stockholm donor conference on 1 September, donors pledged $500 million for the occupied Palestinian territories, of which $200 million was for humanitarian aid. The UK pledged £3 million to the temporary international mechanism (TIM) for operation, maintenance and repair work to keep water, sanitation and electricity services running. This follows an earlier contribution to the TIM of £3 million to fund essential health supplies. In addition, the UK made a contribution of £15 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in April. UNRWA provides healthcare and other basic services for Palestinian refugees, who comprise 70 per cent of Gaza’s population. The UK has also deployed two experts to the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs to improve its capacity to monitor the humanitarian situation in Gaza. These two experts will assist donors and others to make sure help gets to those who need it the most.

Middle East

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mrs Margaret Beckett) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I welcome this chance to update the House on the situation in the Middle East since I wrote to Members of Parliament on 14 August.

Since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 on 11 August, the Government have been focused on turning the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah into a durable ceasefire and a long-term solution. And we have been working hard with key partners and the parties to re-energise the Middle East peace process, an issue of vital importance to the region and wider world. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister visited Lebanon—the first ever visit by a British Prime Minister—Israel and the Occupied Territories from 9 to 11 September and I visited Egypt from 7 to 9 September.


As the Prime Minister said during his visit to Lebanon, we must ensure the full implementation of UNSCR 1701 to support the Lebanese people’s desire for a stable, prosperous and democratic future for Lebanon.

Following the ceasefire, one of our immediate priorities has been to address the humanitarian and reconstruction situation in Lebanon. We have seen an easing of the humanitarian situation. Most of the Lebanese displaced population have now been able to return home or are on their way home. Food and other essentials are now available. A worsened humanitarian crisis has been averted. After intensive efforts by the UK and other international partners, Israel announced the lifting of its blockade on Lebanon on 7 September. But life in Lebanon remains difficult for many.

The UK continues to play its part in the humanitarian and recovery efforts. The UK will contribute a total of over £40 million to Lebanon, including £22.3 million for humanitarian assistance and early recovery projects. UK funding has so far helped to provide and deliver shelter, healthcare, food, water and sanitation. We have provided over £1.5 million to clear spent and unexploded munitions. Our funds will also contribute towards emergency bridges to help open critical humanitarian supply routes to those isolated in southern Lebanon. The first three prefabricated bridges provided by the UK arrived in Beirut on 1 September.

The other immediate priority has been to stabilise the peace. Urgent work has been undertaken to strengthen the UN Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), in order to carry out the range of important new tasks set out in UNSCR 1701. The force will be led by France until February 2007, and then by Italy. On25 August, EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels pledged up to 7,000 troops and a range of sea, air and specialist assets.

Due to our current operational commitments elsewhere, we will not be able to provide ground troops. But the UK has sent HMS “York” to participate in the Interim Maritime Force and we would consider providing, in addition, two E3 AWACS and six Jaguar aircraft if needed. We are willing to respond positively to requests to use our sovereign case areas on Cyprus. We are also paying our share of the costs of the UN operation, on which we pay a premium as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

During his visit to Beirut, the Prime Minister made it clear that the UK intends to play a major role in security sector reform (SSR). The Lebanese armed forces have a crucial role in the country and the UK has set aside £2.5 million to support efforts to ensure that the Lebanese armed forces take in control of all parts of the Lebanon. We will work with the Lebanese Government in terms of training and equipment and any other help that we can give.

We must also work to address the underlying root causes of this conflict. This means strengthening the ability of the democratically elected Lebanese Government to be in sole charge of Lebanon, and ensuring that militias, supported and supplied from outside Lebanon, can never again plunge the region into crisis.

Middle East Peace Process (MEPP)

We must not lose sight of the fact that the conflict in Lebanon arose out of the continuing impasse in Palestine. This issue is of fundamental importance not just to Israelis and Palestinians but to the whole of the region and the wider world. As the Prime Minister made clear in Los Angeles on 1 August, there is an urgent need to re-energise the Middle East peace process. We have been working hard to bring the parties back to the road map.

To achieve this goal it is imperative that the violence on the ground stops. As a result of the current situation in Gaza, more than 220 Palestinians have died, including more than 60 children. Three Israeli soldiers have been killed and one abducted. We continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of Corporal Shalit. We also condemn the continued rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. We call on Israel to exercise restraint and to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. As the European Council said on 18 July, those elected members of the Palestinian Government and legislature detained by Israel should be released.

We remain seriously concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) is now operational. The TIM is paying allowances to 10,000 officials in the health sector. It is also paying for fuel to reach hospitals across the Occupied Territories. It has supported the continuation of health services in the current difficult environment. The International Development Secretary has announced £6 million so far for the TIM, for essential health supplies and to support water, sanitation and electricity services. The UK will contribute up to £12 million. The EC has already paid allowance to 43,000 of the poorest Palestinians.

The Prime Minister used his visit to exchange ideas and identify a way for the parties to re-engage. Both Prime Minster Olmert and President Abbas agreed to meet each other without conditions and made clear their commitment to a political process. The Prime Minister also discussed the formation of a national unity Government with President Abbas. President Abbas subsequently announced on 11 September that agreement had been reached to form a national unity Government. We await details on the programme to which this Government are committed. But, as the Prime Minister said when he was with President Abbas, such a Government, if based on the quartet requirements, offers the possibility of re-engagement by the international community.

As I made clear to President Mubarak and the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Aboul Gheit, we fully support Egyptian efforts to mediate between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the militants currently holding Corporal Shalit. I also discussed with them and the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, the need to re-energise the MEPP. Egypt and the Arab League share this goal.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

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

The department has consulted on proposed changes to the process for the selection of topics for the work programme of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

55 responses were received from a wide variety of organisations, including patient and professional groups, healthcare professionals, industry and the NHS. An analysis of the responses has been undertaken and we have reached the following decisions:

the administration of the early stages of the topic selection process will be the responsibility of NICE. Responsibility for the administration of the later stages of the process will remain with the department;

the criteria used in the selection of topics will be revised, with a single set of criteria used for the selection of both clinical and public health topics;

there will be wider and better representation of the NHS and public health throughout the process, to help ensure that the topics being proposed represent the needs of professionals and their patients. This representation will be secured via the new panels which will replace the Advisory Committee on Topic Selection (ACTS); and

finally the timelines for the selection of topics will be reduced. This will mean that clinical topics which are a priority issue for the NHS will be referred to NICE sooner.

Full details of the consultation responses and the analysis of the comments have been placed in the Library and are available on the department’s website at

A new programme of work is being established by NICE to help the NHS identify and stop ineffective interventions. This will potentially allow the NHS to reinvest millions of pounds on drugs and other treatments that improve patient care.

The three products that NICE will be developing are:

commissioning guides: these will help NHS commissioners to make the case for moving to concordance with NICE guidance and shift resources away from ineffective care;

recommendation reminders: these will highlight recommendations from published NICE guidance which reduce ineffective practice; and

specific guidance aimed at reducing ineffective practice: this guidance will use existing methodologies to give advice on the use of technologies or approaches to care currently employed by the NHS where evidence of effectiveness that exists suggests that it is a poor use of resources.

NICE expects to issue the first commissioning guides and recommendation reminders in autumn 2006 and the first guidance on ineffective treatments in 2007.

NHS: Drug Tariff Part IX Review

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

The arrangements under part IX of the drug tariff have not been reviewed for over 20 years and there were clear indications that neither the NHS nor the taxpayer were receiving value for money.

We have therefore been consulting with the market over potential price cuts since October 2005.

In reviewing part IX, the Government’s objectives have been to:

maintain, and where applicable improve, the current quality of care to patients;

secure value for money for the NHS;

ensure equitable payment for equivalent services and transparent reimbursement pricing;

work in partnership to deliver fair prices for the NHS and reasonable returns for suppliers and contractors;

facilitate the introduction of innovative solutions;

maintain local choice in the provision of services; and

keep administration arrangements to the necessary minimum.

We have consulted extensively with industry on these issues. Following consultation on dressings and chemical reagents, we have decided to implement a staged price reduction of up to 15 per cent to the April 2006 drug tariff reimbursement prices for some blood glucose detection strips. Initially, reimbursement prices will be reduced by 12 per cent on all affected products from 1 October 2006. This may be followed by a further reimbursement price reduction of 3 per cent from 1 November 2006. We hope that the 3 per cent variant will allow the market to maintain the free provision of related services, including the supply of educational material, helplines and meters. Responses to the consultation indicated that a price reduction of 15 per cent may mean that it would be difficult to maintain these services. We have written to companies to inform them of the price changes.

A consultation on stoma and incontinence appliances has closed today and further consultation with industry will be held.

NHS: Financial Performance

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Patricia Hewitt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

My department published on 11 August 2006 the NHS financial performance for the first quarter of 2006-07. The report indicates that the NHS is on track to achieve our aim of a net financial balance by the end of the year. The report shows that the NHS as a whole is forecasting a small surplus for the year of £18 million, after application of a £350 million contingency created by the Strategic Health Authorities.

The report is available in the Library and is published on the department’s website at:

NHS: Palliative Care

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Ivan Lewis) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am announcing a review of the longer-term funding arrangements for palliative care services for children and young people who have a life-limiting or life-threatening condition.

On 5 June I was pleased to announce new funding of £27 million spread over three years for children's hospice services. We have drawn up eligibility criteria for the grants in consultation with key stakeholders and I am delighted to say that applications for the children's hospice and children's hospice at home grant are now being made. The application form can be found on the Department of Health website at The closing date for applications is 20 September 2006.

At the same time I also announced a review of children's hospice services and their funding arrangements. Children's hospices provide a valuable service for children and young people but they represent only one part of the range of palliative care services. I have therefore decided that the review should be extended to cover palliative care services for children and young people more generally. I expect the review to commence in the autumn.

We are drawing up the terms of reference for the review, in consultation with key stakeholders, and will publish these and announce the name of the person who will undertake the review when we can.

NHS: Spearhead Primary Care Trust Areas

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Public Health (Caroline Flint) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government have set public service agreement targets to address geographical inequalities in life expectancy, cancer, heart disease, stroke and related diseases. The targets aim to see faster progress compared to the average in the “fifth of areas with the worst health and deprivation indicators”. Achievement of the targets will be assessed on the outcomes for this group in 2010. The local authorities and primary care trusts which make these areas are the Health Inequalities Spearhead Group.

The Spearhead group is defined on local authority data and consists of 70 local authorities that are then mapped on to primary care trust boundaries.

Revised primary care trusts boundaries were announced on 19 May. Following the reconfiguration, the Spearhead group list has been refreshed to take account of the new primary care trust boundaries. The list of 70 Spearhead group local authorities (that has not changed) and the revised list of 62 primary care trusts that map to them is as follows:

Local Authorities in the Spearhead Group

Primary Care Trusts in the Spearhead Group

Barking and Dagenham




Blackburn with Darwen


Blyth Valley

















Hammersmith and Fulham





Kingston upon Hull, City of









Newcastle upon Tyne


North East Lincolnshire

North Tyneside


Nuneaton and Bedworth




Redcar and Cleveland







South Tyneside


St. Helens






Tower Hamlets





Wear Valley




Ashton, Leigh and Wigan PCT

Barking & Dagenham PCT

Barnsley PCT

Birmingham East & North PCT

Blackburn with Darwen PCT

Blackpool PCT

Bolton PCT

Bradford PCT

Bury PCT

Central Lancashire PCT

City and Hackney PCT

County Durham PCT

Coventry PCT

Cumbria PCT

Derbyshire County PCT

Doncaster PCT

East Lancashire PCT

Gateshead PCT

Greenwich PCT

Halton & St Helens PCT

Hammersmith & Fulham PCT

Haringey PCT

Hartlepool PCT

Heart of Birmingham PCT

Hull Teaching PCT

Islington PCT

Knowsley PCT

Lambeth PCT

Leicester City PCT

Lewisham PCT

Lincolnshire PCT

Liverpool PCT

Manchester PCT

Middlesbrough PCT

Newcastle PCT

Newham PCT

North East Lincolnshire PCT

North Tyneside PCT

Northamptonshire County PCT

Northumberland Care Trust

Nottingham PCT

Oldham PCT

Redcar & Cleveland PCT

Rochdale PCT

Rotherham PCT

Salford PCT

Sandwell PCT

South Birmingham PCT

South Tyneside PCT

Southwark PCT

Staffordshire County PCT

Stockton-on-Tees Teaching PCT

Stoke on Trent PCT

Sunderland PCT

Tameside & Glossop PCT

Tower Hamlets PCT

Wakefield PCT

Walsall PCT

Warrington PCT

Warwickshire PCT

Wirral PCT

Wolverhampton PCT

NHS: Supply Chain Services

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

A 10-year contract has been awarded to DHL to manage the supply chain and procurement services currently managed by the logistics division of the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) and part of the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (PASA).

The effective date of the contract will be 1 October 2006 and the new service will be known as NHS Supply Chain. DHL will operate NHS Supply Chain as agent of the NHSBSA, which will be responsible for managing the contract on behalf of the department and of the NHS.

DHL will manage the procurement and supply chain services of approximately £3.7 billion of NHS non-pay spend and forecasts savings greater than£l billion for the NHS front line.

In addition, the partnership with DHL will:

secure continuity of the services for at least 10 years;

ensure all trusts will benefit from lower prices;

secure the vast majority of the 1,650 jobs that are being transferred;

protect staffs terms and conditions under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE);

create up to 1,000 new jobs to support expansion over the 10 years;

guarantee that all the logistics distribution centres will remain open for five years at the very least; and

require the construction of a new distribution centre in the Midlands within 18 months.

We recognise that NHS trusts value the NHS logistics service and we have ensured that DHL will, at a minimum, maintain the current service. As is the case now, NHS trusts will not be mandated to use the outsourced service. For DHL to be successful it will have to demonstrate value for money to NHS trusts. It will also work very closely with clinicians to source the right products at the best prices from suppliers.

This is also an opportunity for suppliers with innovative products to gain better access to the NHS. DHL will purchase products on behalf of the NHSBSA in accordance with EU procurement regulations thus ensuring open and fair competition.

Opium Derivatives: Macfarlan Smith Report

We welcomed this Office of Fair Trading report, which was published on 7 March 2006. As part of its statutory role, the OFT regularly reviews undertakings given by organisations following earlier competition investigations. In this case, the OFT reviewed the undertakings by MSL following a report from the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC), and concluded that competition was being impeded by the impact of government policy in the licensing of imports for opium derivatives. It made the recommendation that the Government consider competition when setting licensing policy for the import of opium derivatives.

The OFT recommendation is in line with the Government's commitment to encourage and enhance the competitive process to bring the wider benefits to the UK economy. Preventing abuse of market power is a key element of this, and it is important to ensure that regulation which affects such market power is operated in a transparent manner. It is therefore clear that the Government should regularly review policy decisions such as this to ensure that the detrimental impact to competition is prevented, or, where other objectives intervene, limited. The OFT report has provided an excellent catalyst for such a review, and the Government will commit to repeating the process of review every five years.

During discussion with MSL and other parties while developing the response, a consistent complaint was the lack of a level playing field between the UK and other European countries (something recognised in the original MMC report). Currently, the UK is the only major European producer to allow imports.

There has been limited discussion of this at European level, and the Government are committed to raising this issue again with the European Commission to develop options for the creation of a single market for these products.

The full government action plan is attached and copies of OFT's report will be placed in the Members’ Library. In preparing this response, we have worked closely with the relevant government departments, in particular the Home Office, which is responsible for licensing policy, and the Department of Health.

Public Bodies: Directory

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary in the Cabinet Office is pleased to announce that the 2006 version of the Public Bodies Directory has now been completed and copies are available in the Library for the reference of noble Lords. The directory provides informationon individual public bodies as at 31 March 2006.The directory is also accessible at: This shows that at 31 March 2006 there was a reduction of 28 long-term public bodies since the same date in 2005.

The directory lists the public bodies sponsored by central Government, with contact details, information about their remit and about the membership of their boards. It also introduces a new category within the public bodies classifications—public broadcasting authorities. This recognises the unique governance arrangements pertaining to the BBC and S4C, which set them apart from other non-departmental bodies and public corporations.

The board membership figures are broken down between male and female members for individual bodies, and summaries are provided at departmental level for the proportions of board members who are women, have declared they have a disability or come from a minority ethnic background. There have been small increases in all categories. As at 31 March 2006, 35.5 per cent of appointments made were women (up 0.5 per cent on the position at 31 March 2005), 5.9 per cent were members of ethnic minority groups (up 0.4 per cent) and 5.1 per cent were to those declaring a disability (up 0.8 per cent).

A cross-Government summary of individual departments’ figures will be placed on the public appointments website at: This reinforces the Government’s commitment to continue to pursue their diversity objectives and to promote outreach activity and plans.

The directory also includes information about the Government’s task forces, ad hoc advisory groups and reviews, giving a more complete picture of the bodies and groups working to deliver the Government’s objectives.

Royal Navy: Review of Bases

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

The defence industrial strategy published in December 2005 set out a challenge to the UK maritime industry to reduce its overheads and invest in the facilities and skills needed to meet the demands of the Royal Navy's future warship programme. The same challenges apply to the naval bases as we look to the future. The naval bases exist to support the Royal Navy's front line. They are complex and expensive organisations. We need to ensure that their capacity is no more and no less than we need to support the needs of the fleet now and in the years to come. I wish to announce, therefore, our intention to conduct an in-depth review of naval base infrastructure requirements. The aim of the review is to ensure that we have the right naval base infrastructure to meet the needs of the future fleet. The review will assess future requirements and examine a range of options, including some that could lead to radical reductions in overheads and naval base capacity. The recommendations from the review, which will be undertaken by the Defence Logistics Organisation, are expected to be finalised in spring 2007.

The trade unions have been consulted on the terms of reference for the review and, while it is too early to predict the impact on jobs, the department will continue to engage with them and other stakeholders as the review is taken forward. Final decisions on the recommendations from the review will be subject to full trade union consultation.

Social Exclusion: Action Plan

My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is today publishing the Social Exclusion Action Plan.

We have much to be proud of in our efforts to tackle poverty, promote social justice and create the right environment for sustained economic growth.

However, a consequence of this success is that the more modest progress of some specific groups within our society has become more apparent.

This action plan is the first step towards changing that. It aims to create the conditions to allow everybody to accept opportunity, reach their full potential and play their full part in society.

This action plan marks a new direction for the Government’s social exclusion policy. It commits us to:

Better identification and early intervention: We will identify early who is at risk of persistent exclusion and use this information to more effectively intervene and support those most in need, and before disadvantage becomes entrenched.

Identifying what works: We will systematically identify and promote interventions that work. To ensure effective adoption of best practice, we will build the capability of providers and commissioners.

Multi-agency working: We will break down barriers and enhance flexibility so local providers and agencies can work together to meet the needs of excluded groups, especially those facing multiple problems.

Personalisation, rights and responsibilities: We will tailor services to the needs of the individual. We will empower, where it is appropriate, excluded groups to make choices on their own behalf or ensure there is an independent, trusted third party to work on their behalf. Our approach will be framed by a clear understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizens, services and the community.

Supporting achievement and managing underperformance: Where local authorities and services are delivering, Government will leave them alone, but where there is underperformance, Government will intervene.

The action plan outlines how these principles will be applied or piloted for excluded groups throughout the lifetime—during the early years, the childhood years and the adult years. Implementing more focused and immediate interventions will supplement and inform deeper systemic reform.

Copies of the action plan have been placed in the Library for the reference of noble Lords.


Sudan remains a top priority for the UK Government. The Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are jointly supporting parties in Sudan to deliver the Darfur peace agreement (DPA) signed on 5 May, and to promote development in Sudan. The UK played a leading role in securing UN Security Council Resolution 1706, which was passed on 31 August. This resolution expands the mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to Darfur in support of the early and effective implementation of the Darfur peace agreement and the N’djamena agreement, and strengthens the military personnel and civilian component of UNMIS to do this.

The passage of Resolution 1706 demonstrates the international community’s continued commitment to peace in Darfur. In the interests of the safety and welfare of its civilians, we continue to press the Sudanese Government, at the highest level, to give consent to its implementation. We are concerting with others in the international community, including the UN, US and key Arab states, to achieve this. I raised this with Egyptian President Mubarak and the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, in Cairo last week. And both my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development and my noble friend the Minister for Africa, Lord Triesman, have been engaging key interlocutors in the Government of Sudan and beyond.

In the mean time we will continue to support the African Union’s efforts while a transition is under way. The African Union is doing an important job in the most difficult of circumstances and it is most important that they stay until a UN force is able to deploy. On 18 July, the international community in Brussels promised further support of around $200 million, including the £20 million that the UK is providing this year.

The continuing violence in Darfur is having devastating effects. It must stop immediately. We condemn the continuing violations of the ceasefire by all parties, particularly the violence directed at civilians and attacks on humanitarian agencies. Because of this insecurity the UN and NGOs are unable to reach 470,000 people whom they believe to be in need of their assistance.

We are also gravely concerned by the recent military build-up in Darfur and reports of Sudanese Government military attacks as part of their “stabilisation plan for Darfur”. As the UN Secretary-General has said, this plan is inconsistent with the DPA. Any attempt to take renewed military action and any continued rebel activity would further undermine the prospects of achieving peace and could lead to a further humanitarian catastrophe.

A broad based and inclusive implementation of the DPA, signed in Abuja on 5 May 2006, remains the basis for stability, peace and reconciliation in Darfur. The UK played a leading role in negotiations in Abuja: the Secretary of State for International Development attended the final days of negotiations in support of the AU mediation to help secure a deal. All parties should work to put its provisions into effect. More rapid progress by the Government of Sudan in disarming the Janjaweed is key. It is also important for the signatories to the DPA to work to bring the non-signatories on board. To this end, the efforts of the SPLM are most welcome.

In the mean time, the non-signatories need to be fully involved in the effective monitoring of the ceasefire and investigation of violations through existing ceasefire mechanisms. In this way, they should be fully held to account for fulfilling their obligations as set out in the 2004 N’djamena Agreement on Humanitarian Ceasefire on the Conflict in Darfur.

The UK remains committed to peace in Darfur and the wider Sudan. We will continue to seek a solution to the conflict there. As part of this, we have appointed a new special representative for Darfur, William Patey, a former ambassador in Khartoum, to replace Rod Pullen, who has retired from the Diplomatic Service.

Teenage Pregnancy: Independent Advisory Group Annual Report

My right honourable friend the Minister for Children, Young People and Families (Beverley Hughes) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I would inform the House that the Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy has published its annual report for 2005-06. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Terrorism: Control Order Powers

My honourable friend the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Tony McNulty) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Section 14(1) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three-month period on the exercise of the control order powers during that period.

During the period 11 June to 10 September 2006, nine orders were made with the permission of the court under Section 3(l)(a) of the 2005 Act—onein respect of a British citizen on 19 June 2006, one in respect of a foreign national on 31 July 2006, six in respect of foreign nationals on 1 August 2006 and one in respect of a British citizen on 5 September 2006.

The Secretary of State has also renewed one control order in accordance with Section 2(4)(b) of the 2005 Act on 30 August 2006.

There are 15 control orders currently in force, six of which are in respect of British citizens.

During the period two requests to modify a control order obligation were agreed, and seven requests to modify a control order obligation were refused. A right of appeal exists in Section 10(3) of the 2005 Act against a decision by the Secretary of State not to modify an obligation contained in a control order.

Universities: Student Finance

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Lifelong Learning and Higher Education (Bill Rammell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The level of support for loans, grants and fees that will be available to eligible students in the 2007-08 academic year will be 2.33 per cent higher than for 2006-07, in line with forecast price increases.

For students who have entered higher education on or after 1 September 2006 and are being charged variable fees, the maximum fee payable will increase from £3,000 to £3,070 in 2007-08. The increase to the fee will be matched by a corresponding increase to the loan for fees that students can take out.

For students who are not being charged variable fees (primarily students who entered higher education before 1 September 2006), the maximum fee payable will increase from £1,200 to £1,225.

The increased fee amounts have been authorised by the Student Fees (Amounts) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2006, which will come into force on 1 September 2007.

I am placing a memorandum in the Library giving details of all the increased loan, grant and fee rates for 2007-08. These rates are being incorporated in the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2007, which will be laid before Parliament in due course.

World Trade Organisation: Doha Development Agenda

I would like to update the House on the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) negotiations on the Doha development agenda. On July 24, Pascal Lamy, the Director General of the WTO, announced that he was recommending the suspension of the negotiations across all subjects, after talks between the US, EU, Brazil, India, Australia and Japan broke down on the key issues of agricultural domestic support, agricultural market access and non-agricultural market access. He said the suspension would give all WTO members time to reflect, to examine available options and to review their positions. His recommendation was accepted at a WTO General Council meeting on 27 July.

The UK Government are very disappointed that insufficient progress has been made in the negotiations to allow the conclusion of the Doha round this year. While it is very disappointing that no agreement has yet been reached, it is premature to say that the Doha round has collapsed and cannot be revived. We believe that all key players have a responsibility to use the suspension of the negotiations to reflect on their positions with a view to showing flexibility in future that will allow an agreement to be reached. Developing countries, including the poorest countries, are the biggest losers from the failure to reach agreement.

The UK remains committed to achieving an ambitious, pro-development outcome to these negotiations. Our priority now is to encourage all WTO members to re-engage in the negotiations as soon as possible. The UK Government have taken and will continue to take every opportunity to press for this—within the EU and with other WTO members. The UK Government will also continue to press for progress on Aid for Trade for developing countries. Building developing countries’ capacity to trade is important in helping them to integrate into the global economy and for providing a route out of poverty and we do not believe that Aid for Trade should be conditional on the successful conclusion of the DDA.

The UK will continue to support a multilateral, rules-based, international trading system. We believe multilateralism is the best way of tackling unfair trade practices.

World War I: Pardons

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

On 16 August I announced that the Government planned to seek parliamentary approval for a statutory pardon for service personnel executed for a range of disciplinary offences during the First World War. I am now taking this opportunity to confirm these plans to the House and to provide some further information on our intentions.

I have reviewed carefully the case for granting pardons and concluded that although this is a difficult issue it is right to recognise the exceptional circumstances that gave rise to these executions and to show compassion to the families who have had to live with the associated stigma over the years.

Given the paucity of records for the courts martial of those executed, I have taken the view that it would not be appropriate or fair to consider individual pardons under the Royal Prerogative but that a statutory pardon for all members of the group should be introduced. This approach removes the risk of individual cases failing to meet the criteria for a pardon under the prerogative simply because of lack of evidence.

It is the Government's intention to introduce an amendment to the current Armed Forces Bill during the Lords Committee stage to give effect to this. Rather than naming individuals, the amendment will pardon all those executed following conviction by court martial for a range of offences likely to have been strongly influenced by the stresses associated with this terrible war; this will include desertion, cowardice, mutiny and comparable offences committed during the period of hostilities from 4 August 1914 to 11 November 1918. Over 300 individuals from the UK, her dominions and colonies were executed under the Army Act 1881. We will also seek pardons for those similarly executed under the provisions of the Indian Army Act 1911, records of whose identities we have not been able to locate. We consider that it would not be appropriate to include in the pardon all capital offences and specifically the offences of murder and treason will be excluded.

In each case, the effect of the pardon will be to recognise that execution was not a fate that the individual deserved but resulted from the particular discipline and penalties considered to be necessary at the time for the successful prosecution of the war. We intend that the amendment should so far as possible remove the particular dishonour that execution brought to the individuals and their families. However, the pardon should not be seen as casting doubt on either the procedures and processes of the time or the judgment of those who took these very difficult decisions.

The pardon would apply to those sentences of execution confirmed and carried out but convictions would not be quashed. The amendment will not create any right to compensation and the Royal Prerogative of Mercy will remain unaffected.

As the amendment would affect the cases of personnel who were serving in the Armed Forces of a number of dominions and colonies, we are consulting with the Governments of those states or their successors on our plans. We are expecting to receive their responses shortly but I can confirm that our decision has already been welcomed by one of those principally affected. I anticipate the Government's proposal will also be warmly welcomed by the public at large and particularly by the families concerned.

Young Offender Institutions: Lambert Report

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

On 16 September 2004, Paul Goggins, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Correctional Services, announced the appointment of David Lambert, a former assistant chief inspector of social services, to examine the operational issues raised by the tragic death of Joseph Scholes at Stoke Heath Young Offender Institution in 2002.

David Lambert completed his report in October 2005. The Government have considered it and responded to its recommendations. I am placing copies of the report and of the Government's response in the Library of the House. Both documents can also be accessed at and

As well as identifying procedures and practices that require further development, the report notes the positive steps that have been taken since Joseph's death to improve assessment, placement and safeguarding of young people in custody.

Disability: Independent Living Funds

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Anne McGuire) has made the following Statement.

On 3 May 2006 in a Written Ministerial Statement, I announced details of a strategic review of the independent living funds which, it was then planned, was to be concluded by the end of December 2006.

The review is currently under way. The joint independent consultants, Melanie Henwood and Bob Hudson, have developed a consultation strategy to gather evidence to inform the review's recommendations. As part of the consultation strategy, consultants have requested concise, written submissions from key stakeholders by the end of August 2006. Following several requests from stakeholders, my department has decided to extend this deadline to the end of September 2006. This extension will result in the review being completed later than originally planned.

The strategic review of the independent living funds will, accordingly, conclude by the end of January 2007, with its report being published in February 2007.

The independent living funds enable thousands of severely disabled people to live independently and the Government need to consider the future direction of the funds in the light of both our goal of equality for disabled people and the wider context of proposed changes in social care. It is therefore important that we provide sufficient time for our stakeholders’ input to this review.

EU: Economic and Financial Affairs Council

My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The informal Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) took place in Helsinki on 8 and9 September 2006.

The informal council discussed global competition, innovation and productivity, including the role that financial markets can play in promoting innovation, productivity and research and development.

Ministers discussed the economic and financial aspects of energy, including both external energy policy and the development of a single market for energy in Europe.

The informal council also discussed the working methods of ECOFIN; financial market and stability issues; the present economic situation and prospects for the global economy; and the preparation of the annual meetings of the Bretton Woods institutions.

The UK was represented by the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Ed Balls MP.

My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Items on the agenda are as follows:

Price stability criterion: Finance Ministers will be briefed on the application of the price stability criterion used for assessing entry to the euro.

Stability and growth pact: Council will receive Commission communications regarding Germany and the UK, and will be invited to adopt an opinion on the updated convergence programme for Hungary and a Council recommendation under Article 104(7).

Energy, innovation, financial stability arrangements and working methods: Finance Ministers will be invited to adopt conclusions taking into account the discussions held at the informal ECOFIN Council meeting in Helsinki on 8 and9 September.

Better regulations, administrative burdens: Council will be invited to adopt conclusions to support the Commission's approach to measuring and reducing administrative burdens resulting from EU legislation.

The quality of public finances: Ministers will be invited to adopt conclusions on a report regarding the design of national fiscal rules and institutions in EU member states.

EIB external lending mandates: following an initial debate at the July ECOFIN, Council will continue to discuss issues relating to the renewal of the EIB's mandate for the lending that it carries out outsidethe EU.

Clearing and settlement: Ministers will hold an exchange of views on the Commission's approach to tackling barriers in the clearing and settlement industry.

Single euro payments area: Council will be invited to adopt conclusions on the single euro payments area initiative, which will deliver a common system for cross-border payments in euro.

Freedom of Information

Today I have deposited copies of The Freedom of Information Act 2000—Statistics on Implementation in Central Government April to June 2006 in the Libraries of both Houses. This is the sixth quarterly bulletin produced by the DCA monitoring the performance of central Government and associated bodies under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please note that this report contains some revisions to previously published statistics on disclosure outcomes. A full explanation of the changes is given in the report.

Legal Aid: Inquests

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

With the agreement of the Lord Chancellor, I am pleased to announce the amendments to the Lord Chancellor’s authorisation on inquest funding and related changes to the Community Legal Service (Financial) Regulations 2000. These amendments came into force on 2 October 2006 and will streamline the process for providing legal aid in those exceptional inquests that require it.

Since 1 November 2001, the Legal Services Commission (LSC) has had the power to grant funding for advocacy, to the immediate family of the deceased, at certain inquests where the deceased has died in police or prison custody, or in the course of police arrest, search, pursuit or shooting.

From 2 October 2006, the LSC will also be able to grant funding for advocacy in certain inquests where the deceased has died while detained under the Mental Health Act 1983. The LSC will also have the power to waive the financial eligibility limits—and, where appropriate, financial contributions—for legal aid in these inquests. For all other inquests, the Lord Chancellor retains the power to authorise exceptional funding for advocacy and to waive the financial eligibility limits.

These changes will simplify the current arrangement and help to provide prompt access to legal representation for the families of the deceased in those exceptional inquests where Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires it.

Copies of the amended authorisation and amendment regulations have been laid in the Libraries of both Houses.

Legal Services Bill

On Monday 25 September, the Government published their response to the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on the draft Legal Services Bill in its report of 25 July.

The Government regard pre-legislative scrutiny as a vital step in the consultation process and I would like to thank Lord Hunt of Wirral and the Joint Committee for their swift and thorough deliberation of the draft Bill.

The Government welcome the Joint Committee's support for the overall framework put forward in the draft Bill. We look forward to introducing legislation, as soon as parliamentary time allows, that reflects the interests of everyone and provides a legal services market where excellence continues to be delivered.

NHS: Audited Accounts

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Patricia Hewitt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

My department has today published the audited figures for the NHS for the financial year 2005-06. These show that the NHS recorded a deficit in 2005-06 of £547 million.

At the time of publication, the final figures for one trust, Whipps Cross Hospital NHS Trust, have not been agreed with auditors. However, London Strategic Health Authority has confirmed to me that it does not expect the final figures from this trust to materially affect the national position.

My department’s report on NHS finances at quarter 1 of 2006-07 indicates that the NHS is on track to achieve our aim of net financial balance by the end of the current financial year.

Audited figures by organisation for each strategic health authority have been placed in the Libraryand will be published today on the department'swebsite at

NHS: Foundation Trusts

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Patricia Hewitt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The chairman of Monitor (the statutory name of which is the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts) announced last week that, in accordance with Section 6 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003, Monitor had decided to authorise Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Trust as a NHS foundation trust from 1 October.

Monitor's announcement brings the total number of NHS foundation trusts to 49. A copy of Monitor's press notice has been placed in the Library.

The Government remain committed to offering all NHS acute and mental health trusts the opportunity to apply for foundation status as soon as practicable. Further waves of NHS foundation trusts are set to follow.

Northern Ireland: Independent Monitoring Commission Reports

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

I have received the 11th and 12th reports of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC). These reports have been made under Article 5 and Articles 4 and 7 of the international agreement that established the commission and reports on security normalisation and levels of paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland respectively. I have considered the content of the reports and I am today bringing them before Parliament. I have placed copies in the Library of the House.

I thank the members of the Independent Monitoring Commission for their 11th report, their second report on security normalisation in Northern Ireland. I am pleased to note that they consider that the Government continue to fulfil their obligations to the people of Northern Ireland by ensuring that their safety and security are protected.

I also thank the members of the Independent Monitoring Commission for their 12th report and acknowledge the painstaking, methodical and objective way in which they have conducted their assessments of paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland during the past three years.

The best commentary on it is the words of the IMC itself and I believe that they should be studied with care. As the IMC notes, the situation in Northern Ireland has been transformed from whatit was three years ago—particularly in regard tothe IRA. As the report concludes, the IRA is not the same organisation as it was three years ago. The IMC’s clear conclusion is that the leadership of the IRA does not consider a return to terrorism in any way a viable option, and that it continues to direct its members not to engage in criminal activity. Importantly, the IMC assesses that the IRA has disbanded its structures that were responsible for procurement, engineering and training and has stood down volunteers.

The IMC also concludes that the leadership has maintained a firm stance against the involvement of members in criminality and taken action against members who have continued such activity. We also note that the report says that, where individuals have been involved, as individuals, in criminality, that has not been sanctioned and it should not call into question the leadership’s position.

The IMC concludes that there is convincing evidence of the IRA’s continuing commitment to the political path and believes that it is no longer credible to suggest otherwise. The significance of these statements cannot, and should not, be underestimated.

I also acknowledge and welcome the report’s finding that the work of IRA members, along with that of loyalist paramilitaries, contributed significantly to the most peaceful marching season since the 1960s.

Like the IMC, the Government, however, believe that further progress needs to be made on the issue of policing, though welcoming the report’s conclusion that the IRA leadership has accepted the need for engagement.

It is also important to note the report’s conclusion that some members of the UDA and UVF continue to try to move their organisations away from violence and criminality—though I agree with the IMC that there is much more to do if the loyalist organisations are to match the profound change brought about by the IRA.

The Government believe that the necessary progress can be made at the upcoming talks in Scotland. But, while we accept that individual parties will, quite rightly, make their own assessment, we believe that this report lays the basis for the final settlement of the conflict in Northern Ireland and, as such, presents a unique opportunity for this generation to reach that final resolution, an opportunity that the Government hope that the parties will now seize.

Northern Ireland: Oversight Commissioner's Report

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Paul Goggins) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I have today laid before this House a copy of the Oversight Commissioner’s second statutory report for 2006, which was published on 28 September, in accordance with Section 68(4)(a) of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000.

This is the eighth report compiled by Al Hutchinson as Oversight Commissioner and the 17th in the series of oversight reports published since 2001. This is a thematic report concentrating on devolution in policing.

Palestine: Aid

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Statement.

I am gravely concerned about the latest increase in conflict between Fatah and Hamas in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Such violence further damages the prospects for peace and worsens the humanitarian situation. I call on all parties to end the violence. The UK will work with the international community to do what we can to help the Palestinian people.

I wish to inform the House that the Government intend to make a further £3 million contributionto the temporary international mechanism for Palestinian basic needs. This is in addition to the£3 million for essential health supplies that I announced to the House in August and the £3 million that I announced at the Stockholm donors’ conference for operation and maintenance of water, sanitation and electricity.

The situation in the Palestinian Territories remains very difficult. In Gaza, many households continue to receive just six to eight hours of electricity per day. Intermittent electricity supply is affecting all key services. Water supply and sanitation services remain limited, with severe implications for health. The Department for International Development will therefore provide £3 million through the temporary international mechanism for operation, maintenance and repair work to keep water, sanitation and electricity services running.

DfID will also provide a further £3 million, again through the temporary international mechanism, to contribute towards providing allowances to teachers and others among the poorest Palestinian Authority workers. Many of these people, including many front-line services providers, have not been paid salaries for six months.

The temporary international mechanism was launched on 16 June, following an original proposal by the UK. To date, it has provided over 1.8 million litres of fuel for water, sanitation, hospitals and primary healthcare centres in Gaza. Using funding from the European Community, the temporary international mechanism has made payments to 11,900 health workers. Payments have also been paid to 51,500 of the poorest government workers and 33,000 social hardship cases.

DfID has made up to £12 million available for assistance through the temporary international mechanism. This new commitment means that£9 million of these funds have been allocated and will shortly be fully spent meeting Palestinian basic needs. The remaining £3 million will be apportioned as needs arise.

The European Commission has established a team in Jerusalem to manage the implementation of the TIM. Along with several EU member states, we have seconded expertise to this team.

Police: Management of Conflict

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Paul Goggins) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

The publication of the UK steering group’s fifth report marks another milestone in the work carried out by the group, currently chaired by the Northern Ireland Office, formed as a result of Patten to examine alternative policing approaches to the management of conflict.

After consultation with ministerial colleagues in the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence, I placed in the Library a copy of the fifth report on20 September. The UK steering group was set up to establish whether an acceptable, effective and less potentially lethal alternative to the baton round is available and to review the public order equipment that is presently available or could be developed in order to expand the range of tactical options available to operational commanders.

Since then, the work has continued apace. I am grateful to the steering group and to the many contributors to the programme, including those in government service, the police, academics and other experts, for their sustained commitment.

While initially established to address a specific Northern Ireland issue, the work of the steering group has intentionally been developed within the context of policing across the United Kingdom and has provided a vehicle for identifying and selecting less lethal technologies for police use in the wider UK context.

There has been considerable progress from the situation on which the Patten commission reported, when it stated that the police “had essentially, three options—the baton, the PBR or live fire”. In June 2005, the UK steering group introduced the new attenuating energy projectile (AEP), a safer replacement for the L21A1 baton round. The introduction of the AEP does not represent the end of the group’s work, as it continues to progress towards the assessment of the suitability of the new discriminating irritant projectile (DIP).

The work of the steering group has necessarily had a strong focus on the science and technology required to produce an effective and less potentially lethal alternative, but has also had a particular emphasis on its systematic approach, where the potential to reduce the lethal nature of weapons is enhanced not only through technological developments but through the development of stringent training and operational guidance and the accountability measures that are in place, designed to maximise the safety of all concerned. Overall this approach is now internationally recognised as a world-leading model of best practice.

The Government will continue to keep all commercial products and technological research under review. It will ensure that those appearing to have real potential are tested and medically evaluated if appropriate.

However, I have not lost sight of the concerns shared by a number of interested groups on the issue of less lethal weapons. For our part, it is the Government's intention to continue to engage with these groups. As before, I have invited their comments on this report.

Railways: Level Crossings

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

Level crossing orders are made by the Secretary of State under the Level Crossings Act 1983 and specify the protective equipment (lights, barriers, signs, etc) to be provided at a particular crossing. In practice, most orders have been considered and made by Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate (HMRI) on behalf of the Secretary of State. With the transfer of HMRI to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) earlier this year, we had intended to enter into an agreement with ORR to make level crossing orders on behalf of the Secretary of State, replacing a similar agreement originally entered into in 1990 when HMRI became part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The Railways Act 2005 (for ORR) and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (for HSE), however, permit only functions of an administrative nature to be delegated to ORR and HSE, and we have concluded that the making of level crossing orders fails this test because it is a function of a legislative nature. Consequently, I have tabled an amendment to the Road Safety Bill providing for the making of level crossing orders to be delegated to ORR and validating those orders made by HSE since 1990. This will restore the position to what we thought it was and which has worked well over the years.

Senior Salaries Review Body

In 1996, the independent Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) recommended that parliamentary pay, allowances and pensions should be reviewed every three years starting in 2000. In line with this recommendation, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has written to John Baker, the chairman of the review body, in the following terms:

Terms of the review

“I understand that the Senior Salaries Review Body is ready to undertake the triennial review of parliamentary pay and allowances.

You will be aware of recent statements by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on public sector pay restraint and the underlying rate of inflation. I am sure that the review body will wish to take account of this important context in its deliberations.

I am writing to confirm that the Government would like to see the following areas covered in your report:

(a) the salaries of Members of the House of Commons taking into account the benefits of the parliamentary pension scheme;

(b) the salaries of Ministers and other office holders, including those with additional responsibilities in Parliament, and the operation of severance pay;

(c) aspects of the benefits and funding of the parliamentary contributory pension fund;

(d) an appropriate approach to the annual increase to parliamentary salaries between triennial reviews to replace the current automatic link to the senior civil service given the changing recruitment and retention strategy for senior staff;

(e) the rate of allowances for Members of the House of Commons, including eligibility for the additional costs allowance and the London supplement, and the operation of the resettlement grant in the light of forthcoming age discrimination legislation;

(f) the rate of peers’ expenses allowances; and

(g) the extension to unmarried partners of eligibility to spouses’ travel costs, and to cover travel to devolved assemblies for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland MPs.

I should also be grateful for your recommendations on the adequacy of the current provision of IT equipment for Members both in the House of Commons and in their constituencies.

I look forward to receiving your recommendations next year”.

The review will also take into account the recent appointment of the Lord Speaker.

Consultation with Members of both Houses

Members of both Houses should already have received a letter from John Baker, inviting the submission of written evidence by 8 December 2006, either by e-mail to, or by post to:

Alan Dawson

Senior Salaries Review Body

The Office of Manpower Economics

6th Floor

Kingsgate House

66-74 Victoria Street

London SW1E 6SW

Taxation: Capital Receipts

My right honourable friend the Paymaster General has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government intend to bring forward legislation in the Finance Bill 2007 to amend an omission that has been identified in the recent trusts modernisation legislation included in the Finance Act 2006.

Certain types of capital receipts received by trustees are treated for tax purposes in their hands as income. This includes where the trustees of a settlement receive a payment made by a company buying back its own shares. In that situation, the original legislation—Section 686A of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988—provided that what was taxable was only the distribution element, and excluded the original subscription price received by the company that issued the shares.

Paragraph 3 of Schedule 13 to the Finance Act 2006 amended the existing Section 686A of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 so that in addition to its original function it introduces a common mechanism for the various types of capital receipt that are assessable to income tax in the hands of trustees receiving them to be charged at the special trust rates. There is, however, an omission in the wording of the new Section 686A, which has the result, in the situation of buy-back of shares, thatthe whole of the payment by the company to the trustees including the original subscription price is taxable and not just the element representing the distribution.

This result was not intended and therefore amending legislation will be brought forward, as part of Finance Bill 2007, to amend Section 686A appropriately. This amending legislation will be backdated to 6 April 2006, so that the position will be as it should have been from the start. The amending legislation is being drafted and will be put out to consultation.