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Written Statements

Volume 689: debated on Wednesday 21 February 2007

Written Statements

Wednesday 21 February 2007

Care Services: New Deal for Carers

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

We have today launched the New Deal for Carers first signalled in the White Paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say.

The New Deal for Carers comprises four key elements. First, there will be a thorough review of the 1999 national strategy “Caring for Carers”. This pan-government review will provide the opportunity to set a new vision for the future, building on the foundations of the successes of the past 10 years which have included the right for carers to request flexible working, and the introduction of the carers grant. To support this, we have today announced the most far-reaching national consultation ever on the future of carers and in the coming months will invite carers' groups and the voluntary sector to help us design a modern vision for caring.

Underpinning the development of the new strategic vision will be a series of practical measures, based on what carers themselves have said will be the next steps forward in meeting their support needs.

The Government will be launching an expert carers programme. This programme will equip carers with advocacy skills and provide practical training such as first aid, and moving and handling. The Government are working closely with the leading organisations representing carers to ensure that the content of the expert carers programme reflect carers' own needs.

The Government will also be launching a helpline for carers. The 1999 strategy emphasised the importance of good information for carers and the helpline will now provide a single telephone number to provide comprehensive information, ranging from national rights and entitlements through to what is available in an individual's own locality.

Finally, the Government are making an additional £25 million available to local authorities in England to enhance the provision of short-term, home-based respite care. There is considerable evidence that the lack of proper planned alternative care provision in the event of something untoward happening is one of the most important factors in limiting a carer's freedom to have a life of their own. The Government are working with stakeholders to develop guidelines to local authorities on the provision of such emergency respite care. This guidance will be published this summer and £25 million will be made available to English local authorities from October 2007.

Department for Transport: DEL

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

Subject to parliamentary approval of any necessary supplementary estimate, the Department for Transport DEL for 2006-07 will be increased by £459,653,000 from £13,046,822,000 to £13,506,475,000 and the administration budget will be decreased by £1,800,000 from £264,970,000 to £263,170,000.

Within the DEL change, the impact on resources and capital are as set out in the following table:

£'000

Change in DEL

New DEL

Voted

Non-Voted

Voted

Non-Voted

Total

Resource

626,242

283,746

7,244,850

541,942

7,786,792

of which:

Admin

-1,800

-

256,392

6,778

263,170

Near cash in RDEL

453,962

454,809

5,761,557

789,316

6,550,873

Capital

-65,503

-639,057

4,645,852

2,038,312

6,684,164

LESS Depreciation*

281,832

-27,607

-943,665

-20,816

-964,481

Total

842,571

-382,918

10,947,037

2,559,438

13,506,475

*Depreciation, which forms part of resource DEL, is excluded from the total DEL since capital DEL includes capital spending and to include depreciation of those assets would lead to double counting.

This Written Statement starts from the position in the Transport Departmental Expenditure Limit 2006-07 Written Statement (Official Report 21 November 2006, col. WS 25-28) which accounts for the small differences to the equivalent table in the department's 2006-07 spring supplementary estimate.   This latter table starts from the position in the 2006-07 main estimate (HC 1035 2 May 2006, p 123).

Resource Change: Administration (total decrease of £1,800,000)

Voted: total decrease of £1,800,000.

RfR1

a transfer of £1,800,000 to the Department for Communities and Local Government to cover government offices’ voluntary early retirement schemes.

Resource Change: Programme (total increase of £911,788,000)

Voted: total increase of £628,042,000

RfR1

£300,000,000 reserve claim to reflect the reclassification of part of the Greater London Authority/Transport for London grant from capital to resource;

take-up of £263,570,000 end-year flexibility, comprising:

£112,000,000 to allow for increased grant payments to Cross London Rail Link;

£59,505,000 non-cash provision for London Underground pensions;

£45,000,000 for rail in respect of franchise payments;

£23,000,000 to reflect the reclassification of grant payments to Transport for London from capital to resource;

£10,281,000 for Transport Direct including £8,706,000 non-cash costs for depreciation and cost of capital charges;

£7,800,000 to fund a shortfall in the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency's vehicle excise duty enforcement receipts;

£2,582,000 non-cash to fund the National Air Traffic Services cost of capital charges;

£2,203,000 to the Driving Standards Agency to cover costs of migrating to shared services (£1,819,000) and non-cash costs (£384,000) for cost of capital;

£749,000 non-cash for the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency cost of capital;

£375,000 for additional shared services project costs; and

£75,000 for mobility and inclusion unit for building capacity in the voluntary sector;

a net transfer of £44,022,000 from non-voted resource provision comprising:

£10,900,000 to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to cover shortfall in vehicle excise duty enforcement receipts;

£5,000,000 non-cash for provisions for voluntary early retirement;

£22,281,000 for railways in respect of rail franchise payments (£54,664,000) partially offset by a transfer to non-cash departmental unallocated provision to reflect change in budgeting treatment of guarantees to certain rail industry pension schemes (£26,487,000) and a non-cash transfer to British Transport Police (£5,896,000);

£2,995,000 non-cash for London Underground pensions provision;

£400,000 to the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency trading fund to cover shared services costs; and

£3,390,000 to cover the costs of emerging pressures on Driver, Vehicle and Operator Group enforcement work; partially offset by

transfers to non-voted departmental unallocated provision from the Driving Standards Agency (£501,000), the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (£127,000),and a non-cash transfer for aviation costs (£316,000).

a reclassification of £20,450,000 for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to reflect the ending of the netting off agreement in respect of continuous registration;

Non-voted: total increase of £283,746,000.

RfR1

£261,000,000 reserve claim for London and Continental Railways in respect of the change in classification partially offset by a surrender to the reserve of £89,000,000 non-cash;

take-up of £155,768,000 end-year flexibility, comprising:

£75,000,000 for London and Continental Railways in respect of the change in classification;

£15,731,000 non-cash to cover the gap between the Spending Review 2004 settlement provision and current year budgetary needs;

£22,506,000 to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to cover costs relating to the shared services centre (£19,051,000) and additional non-cash to cover the gap between the Spending Review 2004 settlement provision and current year budgetary requirements (£3,455,000);

£34,031,000 for the Highways Agency utilisation of provisions;

£8,500,000 for the utilisation of voluntary early retirement provision;

a net transfer of £44,022,000 to voted provision;

£895,000 adjustment to reflect treatment of provisions offset by non-cash decrease.

Capital Change (total decrease of £704,560,000)

Voted: total decrease of £65,503,000

RfR1

transfer of £300,000,000 to the DEL reserve in respect of Greater London Authority resource transport grant to reflect the reclassification of grant payments to the Transport for London from capital to resource;

take-up of £62,173,000 end-year flexibility to increase provisions for network grant (£60,673,000) and for the Air Accident Investigation Branch (£1,500,000);

a transfer of £45,000 to the Department for Communities and Local Government in respect of IT services outsourcing projects;

a net transfer of £172,057,000 from non-voted capital provision comprising:

other transport grants (£126,133,000) reflecting a switch from supported capital grants to transport grants payments;

rail (£86,168,000) reflecting £333,590,000 increase for network grant to meet funding assumptions made in 2004 spending review partially offset by £242,822,000 reduction in respect of London and Continental Railways capital expenditure which now scores within the non-voted element of the departmental expenditure limit following its reclassification as a public corporation and £4,600,000 additional capital funding for British Transport Police; partially offset by

a transfer (£25,629,000) to the departmental unallocated provision from Greater London Authority capital grants of £23,000,000 and savings of £2,629,000 from Transport Direct;

net transfer in respect of detrunking (£4,266,000); and

to Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency for shared services centre (£10,349,000);

To increase capital provision for the Highways Agency to cover loss on sales of land (£312,000).

Non-voted total decrease of £639,057,000

RfR1

£489,000,000 transfer to the DEL reserve following the reclassification of London and Continental Railways as a public corporation;

take-up of £22,000,000 end-year flexibility, comprising

£17,600,000 to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to cover the shared services centre costs;

£4,400,000 to cover budget shortfalls arising from the reclassification of British Rail Residual Board as a public corporation;

a net transfer of £172,057,000 to the voted capital provision of the DEL.

Advance from the Contingencies Fund

The Department for Transport did not present a winter supplementary estimate in 2006-07. Consequently, its potential drawdown of cash is limited to the net cash requirement presented to Parliament in the main estimate (£11,199,801,000). On latest forecasts, it is expected to reach that limit before the end of February 2007. As the Consolidated Fund Bill, enacting the spring supplementary estimate, is not due to be passed until mid-March, the department needs access to the Contingencies Fund to maintain spending on transport programmes. The amount it is seeking is not the full difference between the main estimate net cash requirement and the spring supplementary estimate net cash requirement, and it will be repaid in full once the Consolidated Fund Bill receives Royal Assent.

The department is obtaining the appropriate estimate cover to repay the advance during the spring supplementary estimates. Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £533,764,000 will be sought in the spring supplementary estimate for the Department for Transport. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £300,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

Health: Professional Regulation

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

The Government have today laid before Parliament a White Paper on professional regulation (Cm 7013), together with our response to the Fifth Report of the Shipman Inquiry and the related inquiries into Richard Neale, Clifford Ayling, Michael Haslam and William Kerr (Cm 7015). The Government are also publishing today a report which brings together all the action that the Government have taken in response to the six reports that the inquiry published (Cm 7014). Copies have been placed in the Library.

The Government are very grateful to the chairs of the four inquiries—Lady Justice Smith, Dame Anna Pauffley, Suzan Matthews, and Nigel Pleming—and to all those who contributed to their painstaking and thorough deliberations.

Their findings were shocking to patients, the public and professionals themselves. The case of Harold Shipman, the trusted GP who murdered as many as 250 of his patients, is well known. Ayling, Kerr and Haslam sexually abused patients with impunity over many years. Neale's incompetent surgery continued in the United Kingdom although he had already been struck off in Canada.

Even so, people still rightly hold the health professions in the very highest regard and take it for granted that they deliver excellent care as a matter of routine. It is therefore all the more bewildering when that trust is betrayed.

The two documents set out a programme of action on two fronts to ensure that public and professional confidence is sustained. The White Paper sets out measures to strengthen professional regulation. The response to the Shipman inquiry proposes a series of measures to strengthen clinical governance.

The White Paper will ensure that the regulators command the full confidence of both the public and the professions. In future, members of the regulatory councils will be independently appointed, rather than elected; professional members will no longer form a majority on councils; and the accountability of councils to Parliament will be enhanced.

To ensure that all health professionals are safe to practise with their patients, new revalidation arrangements will require them to demonstrate periodically that they have kept up to date. We will introduce in England a system of regional GMC affiliates who will provide support to local employers in acting on concerns about doctors and ensure that their revalidation is carried out rigorously. The arrangements will be piloted, in consultation with the professions and employers, to avoid bureaucracy and ensure that they are proportionate.

In adjudicating on fitness to practise cases, all regulators will adopt the civil standard of proof, with a sliding scale. The adjudication function of the GMC will be made fully independent, to provide further assurance to patients and professionals. Other professions will continue to conduct adjudication panels, but members of those panels will be independently appointed.

As the pharmacy profession undergoes a revolution in its capacity to treat patients, my department will work with the pharmacy profession to establish a General Pharmaceutical Council to regulate pharmacy and agree effective arrangements for the clinical leadership of the profession.

As the Shipman inquiry acknowledged, the NHS has made much progress since the inquiries were established. In particular, new structures and processes to ensure the quality of care, known as “clinical governance”, have put in place systems which will help prevent such abuses continuing undetected again. Further safeguards are needed. This will mean improved support for patients who want to register concerns and measures to ensure they are taken seriously; making more systematic use of information about the clinical outcomes of individual practitioners and teams; ensuring information from different sources is brought together so that a fuller picture about professionals is properly considered and robust action is taken; ensuring more rigorous checks on references and qualifications when health professionals are recruited; providing comprehensive guidance on preventing transgressions of professional boundaries and sexual behaviour with patients; and requiring all primary care organisations to adopt best practice in investigating and acting on concerns.

The department will consult shortly on proposals for a radical overhaul of the processes for death certification. These will ensure a unified system of death certification that provides more effective scrutiny and stronger safeguards for the public. I am also publishing today a report which brings together all the action that the Government have taken in response to the six reports that the inquiry published.

In consultation, all the regulators have acknowledged the need for further reform. The GMC in particular is to be commended for its thoughtful and progressive stance and I congratulate Sir Graeme Catto and the council on the leadership they have shown.

The proposals offer the opportunity for a lasting settlement in the relationship between society and the health professions. Many aspects will require legislation, which we will bring forward as soon as possible.

Police: Pay Review

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

On 16 November last year I announced that I had established a review of police pay arrangements and that I had asked Sir Clive Booth to undertake part one of this review, focusing on the arrangements for determining police officer pay for 2007 and reporting early in the new year. I have now received Sir Clive Booth's report entitled Fair Pay for Police Officers.

I am grateful to Sir Clive for undertaking this work. Effective pay arrangements for police officers are essential for a modern police service which delivers high standards of community safety and security to the public. The report makes a number of recommendations and I shall be considering them very carefully and consulting policing stakeholders on them. The method for determining police officer pay for 2007 will then be progressed through the Police Negotiating Board, before the Home Secretary takes his final decision.

I have today placed a copy of Sir Clive Booth's report in the House of Commons Library.

The second part of the review will begin shortly. This part of the review will review the effectiveness of the negotiating machinery for the police and make recommendations on how police pay and other conditions of service should be determined. This will include consideration of the option of a pay review body and the impact of any proposal for determining police officer pay on the negotiation machinery. I have asked Sir Clive Booth to undertake this part of the review also and am pleased to announce that he has accepted. Sir Clive will report to me in the autumn of this year.