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Written Statements

Volume 704: debated on Thursday 9 October 2008

Written Statements

Thursday 9 October 2008

Children: Abuse

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Gillian Merron) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I would like to inform Parliament that we have established today a mechanism to compensate the victims of past child sex abuse on Pitcairn identified during Operation Unique who co-operated with the authorities in bringing the assailants to justice. Details of the scheme have been published on the island and the Government of Pitcairn’s website at Applications will be accepted until 31 March 2009 from people who believe they may be eligible.

The deputy governor of Pitcairn is working closely with the UK Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, which will advise her on the levels of compensation to award linked to the amounts awarded in the UK.

EU: Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

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

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council was held on 2 October 2008 in Luxembourg. The UK was represented by James Plaskitt (Department for Work and Pensions, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Commons) and Pat McFadden (Minister of State for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform).

There was a policy debate on the Commission's proposal for a directive banning discrimination in the access to goods and services on grounds of religion, belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. James Plaskitt said that the UK strongly supports the aims of this directive, believing that a new directive could contribute to a fairer and therefore stronger Europe, and highlighting that the UK already had comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in place. All member states said that a number of issues required further discussion and the presidency concluded that there was a general consensus to commence discussions of the detail.

The council received a report from the presidency on the progress that had been made on the European works councils directive since July, when the Commission had first proposed to amend it. Agreement by the EU social partners on a version of the Commission's proposal provided a basis for agreement in the council and prospects for an early agreement look favourable.

An interim report from the flexicurity mission on best practice in balancing increased labour market participation with worker protection was outlined by the Commission. The presidency concluded that there were useful common principles but that tailored solutions were needed. The Czechs said that this would be a priority for their presidency, with the focus on lifelong learning and social protection. The final flexicurity mission report will be presented to council in December.

A partial general approach was agreed by the council on two chapters of the implementing regulation for social security co-ordination 883/04 covering benefits for work injuries and illnesses and death, and administrative provisions.

The council also adopted an agreement establishing a European year for combating poverty in 2010.

Under any other business, the Commission reported on progress with an electronic data exchange system to help to administer the social security co-ordination regulation and on a recent summit on the Roma. The presidency also reported on the equal opportunities summit held in Paris in September and on the good progress that has been made with the migration directives on entry for skilled workers and sanctions against illegal employment.

The presidency outlined its plans for a tripartite social summit before the next European Council, the theme of which would be the impact of climate change on employment and social cohesion.

Leasehold Advisory Service

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

I have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of the annual report and accounts of the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) for the financial year 2007-08.

LEASE is an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Communities and Local Government to provide advice, information and other services to the public and others in relation to residential leasehold and commonhold law.

The report sets out its main activities and performance during the year, a summary of its forward plans, details of the financial status of the service, along with statistics on the number of inquiries that it has dealt with over the past 12 months. It shows the significant amount of inquiries that the service has dealt with over the past 12 months as part of its work (over 30,000) and the growing use of its mediation scheme and it gives an indication of the valued role that it plays in the leasehold sector in providing advice to those who require information about their rights.

Planning: Stansted Airport

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government and I have decided to grant planning permission to change two planning conditions attached to the Stansted Airport 2003 permission.

This relates to an appeal by BAA plc and Stansted Airport Ltd following the refusal of planning permission by Uttlesford District Council in November 2006.

The decision allows for an increase in the number of flights to and from the airport in a year from 241,000 to 264,000 air traffic movements and an increase in the maximum number of passengers using the airport from 25 million to 35 million per annum.

The reasons are set out in the Secretaries of State's decision letter, copies of which have been placed in the House Libraries, together with the planning inspector’s report.