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Written Statements

Volume 696: debated on Thursday 8 November 2007

Written Statements

Thursday 8 November 2007

Banking: Unclaimed Assets Scheme

My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Kitty Ussher) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The summary of responses to the consultations on a UK unclaimed assets scheme has been published today. Copies are available in the Vote Office, Printed Paper Office and have also been placed in the Library of both Houses.

This publication also sets out the Government's response to the two consultation proposals for a UK unclaimed assets scheme. The consultation had two stages. In March, the Government released A UK unclaimed assets scheme: a consultation. In May, the Government released Unclaimed assets distribution mechanism: a consultation. Following on from these consultations, the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 7 November.

A final impact assessment has also been published today, copies of which are also available in the Library of both Houses.

The Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Bill builds on the Government's consultation and enables the transfer of money in dormant bank accounts to be made available for distribution in the community, whilst protecting consumers' right to repayment.

Border and Immigration Agency: CAC Report

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration and Minister for the West Midlands (Liam Byrne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce the publication of the independent Complaints Audit Committee (CAC) annual report for the year 2006-07, and the Border and Immigration Agency's response. Copies of both reports are available in the House and on the Border and Immigration Agency's website.

This is the CAC's thirteenth report. Its role is to monitor the effectiveness of the agency's procedures for handling complaints.

We welcome the report and its findings which reflect much of the analysis set out by the former Home Secretary John Reid in the Summer of 2006. As part of the reforms instigated by BIA since July 2006 a new complaints procedure has been designed from scratch which the Complaints Audit Committee has been instrumental in shaping and which will go live in February 2008.

Employment: Pilot Project for 50+

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Pensions Reform (Mike O’Brien) has made the following Statement.

The Government are launching the face-to-face guidance pilot project which was announced as part of a package of measures in the welfare reform Green Paper, A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work which was published in January 2006 and aimed at increasing the employment rates of people aged 50 and over. Further reference was made in the pensions White Paper of May 2006 Security in Retirement: towards a new pensions system which re-emphasised the importance of providing information and communicating choices to individuals. The pilot project is being carried out to establish what information older people need and how they can access it in order to take an informed decision about work and retirement in later life. Existing services are not providing the information that older individuals tell us they need when considering options about working longer. The information will focus on the choices and opportunities available to older people to help them plan how and when to retire as well as making use of flexible working options to help them remain in work or work for longer. The expectation is that better information will support extended working lives. The pilots will be evaluated over the operating period to inform the development of good practice for Government and non-government organisations to use in the guidance that they offer older workers. Tenders were invited from a wide range of guidance and older people agencies and six contractors have been selected. The organisations that successfully tendered for the pilot are as follows:

Age Concern Training for Greater Merseyside and St Helen’s;

Guidance Services for North Yorkshire;

Shaw Trust Ltd for Glasgow;

The Life Academy for Rural Cambridgeshire, mid Bedfordshire and Bedford;

British Chamber of Commerce for Birmingham; and

Manpower UK Ltd for Bridgend/Rhondda Cynon Taff.

The contracts started in October 2007 and will be for an 18-month period concluding March 2009. The final report, publication and production of best practice guidance will be in 2009-10.

Health: NHS Trusts

My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Ben Bradshaw) 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 35 of the National Health Service Act 2006, Monitor had decided to authorise the following NHS acute and mental health trusts as NHS foundation trusts from 1 November:

Poole Hospital NHS Trust; and

East London and The City University Mental Health NHS Trust.

Monitor's announcement brings the total number of NHS foundation trusts to 79. 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. Monitor is now authorising trusts on a monthly basis, and further waves of NHS foundation trusts are set to follow.

Identity Cards

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Identity (Meg Hillier) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The third cost report of the National Identity Scheme is being laid before Parliament today. It sets out an estimate of the public expenditure likely to be incurred on the scheme over the next 10 years, in accordance with Section 37 of the Identity Cards Act 2006. It reports on developments over the past six months, since the second cost report was published on 10 May 2007.

Local Transport Bill

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Transport (Rosie Winterton) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I am today publishing the Government's response to the consultation on the draft Local Transport Bill (which was introduced in the House of Lords yesterday and published today). This response explains how the Bill has been revised in the light of pre-legislative scrutiny and responses to the public consultation. I am also publishing a summary of the views expressed in the written responses, at consultation events and meetings, and during the course of a series of regional visits to hear people's views about the draft Bill.

The core purpose of the Bill is to improve public transport and tackle congestion, and it forms a key part of the Government's strategy to empower local authorities to deliver local transport that meets the needs of their communities. In so doing, it will also support the Government's efforts to tackle climate change.

It creates new opportunities for local authorities to deliver bus services that are better suited to the needs of local passengers; to develop more coherent approaches to the planning and delivery of local transport; and, where they wish to do so, to develop local road pricing schemes in a way that best meets local needs whilst ensuring that schemes are consistent and interoperable. It also contains measures to allow for the establishment of a new statutory body to represent the interests of bus and coach passengers in England.

Copies of the Government's response to the consultation, and other related documents, have been placed in the Vote Office, the Libraries of the House and are also available on the department's website.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of Sate for Wales has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to inform the House that an Explanatory Memorandum explaining the proposals for the use of framework powers in the Local Transport Bill is available today. Copies can be found in the Printed Paper Office, Libraries of the House and at www.walesoffice.gov.uk.

Taxation: Double Taxation

My right honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Jane Kennedy) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

A protocol to the double taxation convention with New Zealand was signed on 7 November 2007. After signature, the text of the protocol was deposited in the Library of both Houses and made available on HM Revenue and Customs' website. The text of the protocol will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.