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Written Statements

Volume 707: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009

Written Statements

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Criminal Justice: Women

Statement

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

I am today updating Parliament on further progress made in implementing the Government’s response to the Corston report on women with particular vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system.

In my Statement to this House in December (Official Report, 10 December 2008, col. 59WS) I confirmed that while significant progress had been made since the Government’s response was published in December 2007, we remain determined to do much more to divert vulnerable women, who are not serious or dangerous offenders, from custody.

I am therefore pleased to announce that the Ministry of Justice will provide £15.6 million of new funding over two years to invest in the provision of additional services in the community for women offenders and women at risk of offending. The new funds will be directed towards building capacity of specialist provision for women in the community and developing bail support services. We propose that some of the funding will be used to invest in existing third sector providers, enabling them to work with courts, police, probation and other statutory agencies to provide support and services to vulnerable women in the criminal justice system.

I have asked the cross-departmental Criminal Justice Women’s Strategy Unit to lead on this new phase of capacity building and to report progress to the Ministerial Sub-Group on Implementation of the Government’s response to Corston.

If we are to successfully protect the public from crime then we also need to tackle the underlying causes of crime and break cycles of disadvantage. My announcement today reaffirms the Government’s commitment to do more to ensure that there is early and effective provision for vulnerable women in the community and our continued commitment to the wider Corston agenda.

Employment: Older People

Statement

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Pensions and Ageing Society (Rosie Winterton) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 22 May 2008 the Minister for Pensions Reform announced that John Elbourne had been asked to examine the current arrangements for the engagement of older people and the ability of those arrangements to inform policy and actions of government at all levels. Specifically, this was to include examining Better Government for Older People.

John Elbourne published his report on 18 November 2008 and the Government received comments up to 9 January 2009. The report made a range of recommendations for improving older people’s engagement with government, which fell into three broad areas: establishing a UK advisory forum for older people, building the capacity for effective dialogue at regional and local level through regional forums and local older peoples forums, and withdrawing funding for Better Government for Older People from 1 April 2009 to support the new government office arrangements and thereby increasing the funds available for on-the-ground activities.

The Government are today publishing their response to this report. The Government will establish a new UK-wide forum. The forum will be known as the UK Advisory Forum on Ageing, and will be co-chaired by the Minister for Pensions and the Ageing Society, and the Minister of State for Care Services. This will bring together representative views of older people at a national level, and will build links with forums in the devolved nations, the English regions, and the local level. The Government will set up a new structure with a designated regional co-ordinator for older people’s engagement in each English region, providing advocacy and co-ordination for older people and working with older people to set up regional forums on ageing and local forums where they do not already exist. This will build on existing arrangements for engagement with older people and address weaknesses in the current structure. These new arrangements will give older people a direct line into government at a local, regional and national level.

Better Government for Older People’s response to John Elbourne’s review has been to develop a proposal for a new independent body to carry forward its aims. The Department for Work and Pensions will support it in making a smooth transition into this new phase.

The Government’s response can be found at www. dwp.gov.uk/resourcecentre/ind_review_older_peoples _eng_with_govt.asp and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Health: Dementia

Statement

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

Living Well with Dementiaa National Dementia Strategy, which is being published today, sets out the Government’s vision for the transformation of dementia services.

The launch of Living Well with Dementiaa National Dementia Strategy marks the start of an important journey of improving dementia services which will involve both the NHS and social care in England. The strategy has three main aims:

to increase awareness of dementia and remove the stigma associated with it;

to ensure early diagnosis and intervention; and

to improve the quality of care that people with dementia and their carers receive.

A copy of the strategy has been placed in the Library and copies are available for honourable Members from the Vote Office.

Terrorism

Statement

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to say that in accordance with Section 14(3) to (5) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, Lord Carlile of Berriew QC has completed the report on the operation of the Act in 2008, which will be laid before the House today.

UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Statement

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

I am pleased to announce that the UK will sign the optional protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as soon as practicable.

The convention will reaffirm that disabled people have—and should be able to enjoy—their human rights on an equal basis with non-disabled people. The optional protocol builds on this by establishing two additional procedures in respect of implementation and monitoring of the convention itself. 

The first is a procedural avenue that, subject to meeting conditions set out in the optional protocol, will enable individuals or groups of individuals to bring petitions to the UN committee that has been established to monitor implementation of the convention if they believe that their convention rights have been breached. The second is an inquiry procedure giving the committee authority to undertake inquiries, when reliable information is received, into allegations of grave or systematic violations of convention rights.

This is an important decision which further demonstrates the Government’s firm commitment to the convention, on which our work towards ratification is continuing, and to the principle of ensuring equality of human rights for disabled people.

The decision to sign this optional protocol does not set a precedent for similar individual complaints mechanisms. These will continue to be considered on their merits on a case-by-case basis.