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Written Statements

Volume 712: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

Written Statements

Thursday 16 July 2009

Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing

Statement

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Paul Clark) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

The Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL) system provides financial protection to those taking flight-inclusive package holidays overseas. It ensures that, in the event of a tour operator becoming insolvent, consumers already abroad can complete their holidays and be returned to the UK and those who have paid for their holidays but have not yet departed will receive a full refund. It is operated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The failure of XL Leisure Group in September 2008 and the effects of the recession have caused serious financial difficulties for the Air Travel Trust Fund (ATTF), which meets the insolvency protection costs of the ATOL scheme. To help to address this, between April and June this year the CAA consulted on possible increases to the ATOL protection contribution (APC) paid by travel companies to the ATTF. The consultation looked at a range of possible increases to the current charge of £1 per passenger to between £2.50 and £3.50 per passenger.

Following the consultation, the CAA provided advice to the Secretary of State recommending that the APC be increased from £1 to £2.50 per passenger with effect from 1 October 2009. After careful consideration, I have decided to approve the recommended increase. I am aware of the extra burden that this will place on travel companies and consumers at difficult times, which is why I have agreed to an increase at the bottom of the range consulted on by the CAA. I believe that this strikes the right balance between ensuring the future financial stability of the ATTF and keeping additional burdens on travel companies and consumers as low as practicable. I believe that £2.50 for the protection that ATOL provides represents a good deal for consumers—it is cheaper than stand-alone airline failure insurance and represents less than 0.5 per cent of the average ATOL holiday price. The CAA intends to review the rate of the APC before the ATTF moves into surplus, projected to be by the spring of 2012.

The increased APC will allow the ATTF access to additional commercial credit facilities, which will benefit from an increased and extended government guarantee that the Government have agreed to in principle. The Government also intend to consult on reforms to the ATOL system in the autumn to make it fairer and more understandable for consumers. A copy of CAA’s advice to the Secretary of State and a summary of consultation responses will be placed in the House Library.

Animal Products: Review of Controls

Statement

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Food, Farming and the Environment (Mr Jim Fitzpatrick) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

As required under the Animal Health Act 1981 (as amended by the Animal Health Act 2002) the Government will publish today a review of controls on the import of animal products for the financial year 2008-09. I welcome the opportunity to review and report on efforts during the past year to reduce the risk of disease entering the country via imports of animal products.

The control of imports of animal products remains a major concern for the Government as we fully appreciate the devastating effect that disease outbreaks can have on our farming of livestock and crops and on the environment and, in trying to protect animal health, we know how important it is to take a variety of measures at the border and inland. It has once again been a challenging year in monitoring the constantly changing disease situation around the world and evaluating and responding to threats. We continue to ensure that veterinary checks are carried out on legally imported animal products from non-European Union (EU) countries and work closely with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)/United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) and other relevant government departments to combat the risk of major diseases entering the country through illegal imports from outside the EU.

UKBA continues to deliver an enforcement strategy that targets anti-smuggling activity on the highest risk traffic to combat illegal imports of animal products into Great Britain and to review deployment of resources and react flexibly in response to changes in the pattern of risk.

There continues to be a joined-up approach across government departments on an overall communications strategy to raise awareness among international travellers of the personal import rules for food, with a great deal of publicity continuing to be undertaken inland within GB, at the border and also overseas.

These are some of the highlights of our working during the year:

EU Veterinary Week in November highlighted the programme of already ongoing work in respect of our cross-government personal imports campaign at border control points, including a stand at Heathrow airport, terminal 3 during the week which had over 5,000 visitors and was covered by BBC Breakfast news;

New TV filler “Don’t bring me back”, produced to support our overall personal imports campaign, has achieved some excellent airtime across a variety of channels with most of the transmissions going out in peak evening viewing time. It has built in value to be one of the top ten fillers of 2008-09. It has also received out of home play in locations such as surgeries and gyms;

Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) visit in November 2008—inspectors indicated that the UK has a functioning import control system and recognised further improvements made by the UK.

We will continue to monitor and assess the changing threats from around the world, and work with HMRC/UKBA and other enforcement partners to make sure that our enforcement activity at UK borders is targeted at the current risks.

Copies of the Review are available on the Defra personal food imports website (www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/illegali), and will be sent to stakeholders for information seeking their feedback. Hard copies will also be available on request.

Armed Forces: BORONA Programme

Statement

My honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Bill Rammell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 15 May 2008, my predecessor announced that Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (HQ ARRC) and its intimate supporting elements would move to Innsworth in Gloucestershire in the summer of 2010 (Official Report, col. 66WS). At that time Cosford in Shropshire was our preferred site for 1 Signal Brigade (1 Sig Bde) and 102 Logistic Brigade (102 Log Bde) and our aim was to close Rhine Garrison and Münster Station by 2015, leaving three enduring garrisons in Germany; Gütersloh, Paderborn and Hohne.

Continuing work on the Defence Training Rationalisation Programme means that Cosford will not be available in time to achieve this aim. The programme team responsible for the moves from Germany to the UK has therefore examined alternative site solutions and today I am announcing that the preferred site for 1 Sig Bde is now Stafford. This decision will need to be confirmed following scrutiny of the detailed plans for the move and the programme team will now focus on drawing up these plans, which will include a competition for the infrastructure and construction requirements at Stafford, with a view to occupation in 2013. The team will continue to consult all interested parties including the local county and borough councils, health and education providers and the trade unions.

I believe this is a positive defence initiative for the area and complements Stafford’s growth point status which will enable a joint approach between the Government and the local authorities to support the defence community. Stafford is already the home of 22 Signal Regiment (22 Sig Regt) and moving other elements of 1 Sig Bde (7 and 16 Sig Regts) there provides a synergy that will be important to the department and should also be beneficial to the local community.

Cosford remains our preferred site for 102 Logistic Brigade once the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE) moves to St Athan, and on current assumptions we envisage the Logistic Brigade moving in 2016. Cosford is a well found site that has enduring military utility and is designated as a MoD core site. We will continue to consider the other opportunities that Cosford affords us as the need arises.

These changes enable us to keep the closure of Rhine Garrison on track and this is currently envisaged as being in 2014. We would expect Münster Station to close in 2016-17 assuming 102 Log Bde moves to Cosford in 2016.

Armed Forces: Commitment and Support

Statement

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Kevan Jones) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have today published a Green Paper The Nation’s Commitment to the Armed Forces Community: Consistent and Enduring Support.

Last summer’s publication of the Command Paper, The Nation’s Commitment: Cross-Government Support to our Armed Forces, their Families and Veterans, was well received by the services, by veterans groups and by the public at large. We shall be publishing the first annual report in the autumn charting the progress that has been made. This work has already delivered significant improvements in a number of areas:

doubling compensation for the most serious injuries;

free further education for service leavers; and

help for forces leavers to get on the housing ladder.

We said last year that we would not allow this strategy of support to our Armed Forces community to fade. Today's Green Paper sets out the next step in this process. We would like to see an enduring shift in the way in which public bodies think about the Armed Forces community, so that their special circumstances are taken into account at all stages, from policy formation to service delivery. The Command Paper was an important step forward; we must now make permanent the approach which it embodied.

This Green Paper sets out a range of ideas, including through possible legislation, for how we can achieve this. It focuses on two strands: making the principles enshrined within the Command Paper consistent and enduring, and providing a new route for recourse.

The ideas are intentionally broad and wide ranging. There is no single favoured option at this stage. We want to explore these ideas through a public consultation, where everyone can have their say about the best way forward. The responses received will allow us to make informed, collective decisions on how best to take this work forward and deliver real and lasting effect for the Armed Forces community.

Where the options relate to devolved matters in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales we will work with the devolved Administrations who are responsible for a number of areas such as health, housing, education, skills and transport in determining how best to take forward the principles of achieving equal or similar levels of support for the Armed Forces community. In these areas the devolved Administrations will wish to consider the responses to this consultation in respect of devolved matters and determine a way forward that is appropriate for them, in consultation with their strategic partners. The UK Government will work with them to deliver a solution which supports the Armed Forces community across the UK.

Those who serve on our behalf place all that they have on the line for this country. In return, the nation has a commitment to make sure that they have the support they need and deserve, when they need it. The consultation period will complete on 31 October 2009.

Armed Forces: Defence Estate Development

Statement

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Kevan Jones) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today the department has published the Defence Estate Development Plan (DEDP) 2009—the first annual update of this vital internal planning document. The updated plan is evolutionary in nature and reflects the department’s consistent estate priorities. DEDP 09 sets out the authoritative framework, looking forward to 2030, for the coherent development of the estate to meet the future needs of defence, and the priorities for investment and rationalisation arising from it. It also informs our programme of engagement with the regions, which underpins the successful delivery of many of our estate programmes.

The key changes are evolutionary in nature and include, among others, cross-government support to the Armed Forces as set out in The Nation’s Commitment, and revised targets for improving living accommodation for our people. Other changes reflect specific investment and basing decisions that support the generation of sustainable military capability.

I have placed a copy of the plan in the House of Commons Library. The document will also be widely circulated to external stakeholders and will be published on the internet.

Banking: Corporate Governance

Statement

My honourable friend the Exchequer Secretary (Sarah McCarthy-Fry) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government strongly welcome the publication today of the consultation document of Sir David Walker's independent review of the corporate governance of UK banks and other financial institutions.

Corporate governance failures were a major contributor to the financial crisis and the weaknesses in board practice, risk management, control of remuneration and exercise of ownership rights identified must be addressed.

Sir David’s proposals are detailed and comprehensive, setting a new benchmark for best practice both nationally and internationally.

The Government will carefully consider his proposals, including their wider and international implications, and in conjunction with the views arising from the consultation, make sure that robust measures are put in place.

Copies of the consultation have been deposited in the Libraries of the House.

Cabinet Office: Annual Report and Accounts

Statement

My right honourable friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office (Tessa Jowell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today, the Cabinet Office’s annual report and accounts 2008-09 (HC 442) have been laid before Parliament.

The annual report and accounts report a loss and a contingent asset following the termination of phase 2 of the SCOPE programme in July 2008.

The SCOPE programme was an information technology programme working with 10 partners across government. It aimed to extend the benefits of communication and collaborative working afforded by current information technology by improving the way sensitive information was shared between and used by the security and intelligence agencies and government departments.

The first phase of the programme was delivered on time and within budget in 2007. It has delivered extremely valuable benefits to the intelligence community in government and has ensured that all its constituent members are now connected electronically.

Phase 2 was about providing additional functionality; for example, to allow for greater collaborative working between the security and intelligence agencies and departments.

Phase 2 of the programme was cancelled following the failure of the main commercial supplier to the programme to meet key contractual milestones. As a consequence of termination, it was necessary to write off and report as a loss in the annual report and accounts that part of the value of the asset under construction which had no prospect of becoming viable.

The Treasury has approved a write-off of £24.4 million which has been managed within the department’s net resource requirement and budget and constitutes a charge against non-cash programme expenditure in the resource departmental expenditure limit.

My department is now working with the contractor to resolve issues arising from the termination of the programme, including consideration of the legal avenues available. The aim of the work is to ensure that Her Majesty's Government and, ultimately, the taxpayer recover the appropriate value from the supplier which relates to those undelivered parts of the programme. This is noted as a contingent asset in the annual report and accounts. The details of the discussions with the supplier are commercially confidential and are likely to remain so.

Common Agricultural Policy: Single Payment Scheme

Statement

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State (Hilary Benn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

As at 30 June, the end of the regulatory payment window for the 2008 single payment scheme, a total of £1.625 billion, representing some 99.69 per cent of the estimated total fund had been paid in full payments to 104,199 claimants.

These figures confirm that the agency has helped to ensure that the UK as a whole has met the EU requirement that 96.154 per cent of 2008 scheme payments be made by 30 June. This follows earlier confirmation that the agency had met its formal performance targets for this scheme year.

Reaching these targets continues to demonstrate improvements in RPA’s performance and levels of service to its customers and provide another important step forward for the agency.

Of the outstanding 2008 claims on which processing is not complete, approximately 400 are expected to result in a payment in due course. Work continues to complete the necessary validation of those claims as soon as possible. Interest will be paid to claimants on sums paid after 30 June on the same basis as for previous scheme years. The agency will continue to address any cases of individual hardship as sympathetically as possible.

Alongside that work, RPA has already begun processing the 107,000 or so claims that have been submitted under the 2009 SPS. Formal payment targets will be announced separately, but I know the agency chief executive is expecting to at least match RPA performance under the 2008 scheme when nearly £1 billion was paid out by the end of December.

Community Transport: Section 19 Permits

Statement

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Transport (Mr Sadiq Khan) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

Under Section 19 of the Transport Act 1985, the Secretary of State has the power to designate bodies which may issue permits under that section to eligible community transport operators. These Section 19 permits allow the holder to operate transport services for hire or reward, subject to certain conditions, without the need for a full public service vehicle operator’s licence.

While developing the policy proposals now contained in the Local Transport Act 2008, the Government signalled their intention to review the current list of designated bodies. The Department for Transport will shortly be publishing a consultation on how it intends to advance this review. Copies of the consultation materials will be made available on the department’s website (www.dft.gov.uk/consultation) and will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Crime: Penalty Notices

Statement

My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Jack Straw) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Revised operational guidance to police forces on the issue of penalty notices for disorder (PNDs) for retail theft and criminal damage has been published today. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Under the PND Scheme, established under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (Sections 1 to 11), the police can issue fixed penalty notices of £80 for minor retail theft, criminal damage and cannabis possession. Recipients have 21 days in which either to pay the penalty or elect to have their case heard in court. If no action is taken a fine of one and a half times the penalty amount is registered against the offender by the magistrates’ court.

Under Section 6 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, the Secretary of State has the power to issue guidance to the police on the issuing of penalty notices. The latest version of the guidance was issued in March 2005. In view of concerns raised over the inappropriate use of PNDs, we have now issued strengthened revised guidance on retail theft. This restricts use of the disposal to first-time offenders who are not substance misusers where the value of goods stolen is less than £100 or where damage caused is less than £300. The definition of retail theft has also been tightened to ensure that the disposal can be considered only for cases of shoplifting where normally the goods recovered are fit for resale.

I am very grateful to those honourable Members who have made representations to me about this issue, especially the honourable Member for the Vale of York (Mrs Anne McIntosh).

Department for International Development: Annual Report and Accounts

Statement

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

I have today published, and laid before Parliament, the Department for International Development annual report and resource accounts for 2008-09 (HC 867-I and HC 867-II).

The report sets out the good progress we have made this year in meeting our aim of alleviating poverty in the poorer countries of the world. It provides the first full year reporting of progress against our 2007 public service agreement and our departmental strategic objectives, and reports against targets set in previous spending reviews that are still current. The report also includes our full set of accounts for 2008-09 and the progress we have made on the International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Act 2006, further underlining our commitment to transparent and accessible reporting of UK development policies and programmes.

Department for Work and Pensions: Annual Reports and Accounts

Statement

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Yvette Cooper) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce that the Department for Work and Pensions has today laid in the House the 2008-09 annual reports and accounts for the Rent Service (HC652) and the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (HC841). The annual reports and accounts for Jobcentre Plus, the Pension, Disability and Carers Service, and the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission’s separate report on its Client Fund Account will be laid as soon as possible.

Department for Work and Pensions: Annual Social Fund Reports

Statement

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

I am pleased to announce publication of the annual report by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the Social Fund 2008-09 and the Social Fund Commissioner’s annual report 2008-09.

The Secretary of State’s annual report on the Social Fund for 2008-09 (Cm 7677) has been laid before Parliament and will be published later today. Copies are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

The report records that total gross expenditure in 2008-09, excluding winter fuel payments, was over £1.1 billion. This included over 252,000 non-repayable community care grants and over 3 million interest-free loans together worth over £761 million, Funeral and cold weather payments totalling over £258 million and almost 263,000 Sure Start maternity grants worth almost £133 million. In addition, an estimated 9 million households benefited from a winter fuel payment at an estimated cost of around £2.7 billion.

The Social Fund Commissioner’s report will be published later today and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Department for Transport: Annual Report and Accounts

Statement

I have today published the department’s annual report and resource accounts for 2008-09 (HC 454). Copies have been laid before Parliament and placed in the House Libraries.

The report sets out the department’s activities and achievements over the past year. It also describes the department’s future expenditure plans for the period of the spending review 2007-10.

ECOFIN

Statement

My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Alistair Darling) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Economic and Financial Affairs Council was held in Brussels on 7 July 2009. The following items were discussed:

Presentation of the presidency work programme

The council took note of the presentation by the Swedish presidency of the ECOFIN work programme for the second half of 2009.

Follow up to the 18 and 19 June European Council

Financial supervisory framework

The council took stock of the presidency’s strategy for taking forward work on European financial supervision and regulation following the agreement reached at the June ECOFIN and European Council. The UK is supportive of the timetable presented, with legislative proposals expected on 23 September, and will engage fully in the upcoming negotiations to ensure that the legislation is in line with the agreement reached by leaders at the European Council, and in particular that any new powers granted to existing or proposed bodies would not impinge in any way on member states' fiscal responsibilities.

Climate change financing

Ministers also took note of conclusions agreed by Heads at the June European Council on the financing of climate change. The presidency expects an agreement to be reached on a negotiating mandate at a meeting of the European Council in October, when ECOFIN will also revisit this issue. The Government believe that work should continue to ensure the EU reaches agreement on the key issues in advance of the Copenhagen conference in December.

Preparation for the G20 meetings

The UK updated the council on the outcome of a G20 deputies meeting on 27 and 28 June. The presidency informed Ministers of its intentions of the handling of the preparation for further G20 meetings in September, including London meetings of G20 deputies on 3 and 4 September and G20 Finance Ministers and central bank governors on 4 and 5 September. There will be a lunch of EU Finance Ministers to prepare for these on 2 September. The Government will look forward to working closely with the presidency to ensure co-ordination of work taken forward at G20 and EU levels.

Pro-cyclicality

Following a report by the Economic and Financial Committee, ECOFIN adopted council conclusions on pro-cyclical effects on financial markets. The conclusions assess work under way to reduce possible pro-cyclical effects of financial regulation, including on the issue of impaired assets. The UK is content with the conclusions, which represent a positive step forward on this issue, and looks forward to further discussion of the issue in the autumn.

Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact

Adoption of legal acts in the excessive deficit procedure

ECOFIN adopted council decisions for Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Romania, formally entering these countries into the excessive deficit procedure, and issued recommendations on corrective action to be taken. It also issued a revised recommendation to Hungary on measures to be taken in order to correct its excessive deficit.

Adoption of council opinions on updated stability and convergence programmes

The council adopted opinions on the updated stability and convergence programmes of Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, Belgium and Romania.

Any Other Business

Medium-Term Budgetary Objectives (MTOs) and Implicit Liabilities

The council took note of issues raised by the Slovenian Minister regarding the methodology to be used by member states from this autumn when they set medium-term objectives for their national budgets.

ECOFIN (Budget)

Statement

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

On 10 July 2009, I represented the UK at the Budget Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).

The council conducted its first reading of the EC Budget for 2010, and agreed a draft budget that was supported by all member states.

The council meeting was followed by a conciliation meeting between the council and the European Parliament to discuss the EC Budget for 2010.

EU: Employment and Social Policy Ministers’ Meeting

Statement

The informal meeting of employment and social policy Ministers took place on 8 to 9 July 2009 in Jonkoping, Sweden. I represented the United Kingdom.

The theme of this informal meeting was labour market inclusion looking ahead to post-2010. The informal looked at maintaining employment and promoting mobility, upgrading skills and matching with labour market needs and increasing access to employment. Working time was also discussed over a Ministers-only lunch which I attended.

In the opening session, member states agreed on the importance of active social security and labour market policies. They stressed the importance of ensuring help for those moving between jobs and those already outside the labour market. While the crisis tested member states' resolve to conduct further reforms, now was the time to prepare Europe for the economy of the future.

Following on from the opening session, the meeting was split into three workshops, each devoted to a specific challenge: workshop 1—managing the impact of the financial crisis by increasing access to employment, workshop 2—facilitating access to employment by efficient reforms in the labour market and workshop 3 —increasing employment through an active social security policy. I participated in workshop 3 to present the UK approach to the reform of incapacity benefit and said that reform was ongoing. Other member states warned against repeating the mistakes of the past that caused long-term structural damage to economies.

The presidency concluded that it saw these discussions as feeding into its work on the post-2010 Strategy. The Commission concurred. While the current Lisbon strategy remained the right framework for action, its forthcoming revision would need to take better account of the social dimension. The Commission would set out initial views in its forthcoming consultation document.

The meeting concluded with a private Ministers-only lunch discussion on the working time directive. Following the failure of negotiations on the directive, some member states insisted that any new proposal would need to deal with the opt-out. The UK along with Germany, Poland and others disagreed. A few member states urged caution and saw no point in proceeding if failure was clear from the outset. The Commission underlined the need to respect European Union law. Preliminary discussions would be needed with the European Parliament before deciding how to proceed. The presidency concluded that the majority of member states use the opt-out but that a way forward would need to be found.

Freedom of Information Act

Statement

My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Michael Wills) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have today laid before each House a revised copy of the Lord Chancellor's code of practice on the management of records, issued under Section 46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I have also published a copy of the Government's response to the public consultation entitled The Freedom of Information Act 2000: The Designation of Additional Public Authorities. Copies of this document are available in the Libraries of both Houses and also in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

These publications support the Government’s plans to increase the accessibility of public information and promote the culture of openness and transparency in public life. On 10 June the Prime Minister committed to a reduction of the 30-year rule to 20 years in response to the 30-year rule review. The Government are considering carefully the practical details of implementing a new rule and aim to publish their full response in late summer.

Responses to the consultation entitled The Freedom of Information Act 2000: The Designation of Additional Public Authorities show considerable support for the principle of extending the coverage of the Act to additional organisations through a series of Section 5 orders.

The response proposes an initial, focused Section 5 order to be accompanied by action outside the Act to promote proactive publication (by voluntary adoption of the ICO’s model publication scheme) and openness (by reminding public authorities and contractors of the existing guidance on access to information, which should inform contracting practices and responses to requests for information). The current list of persons proposed for inclusion in this first Section 5 order are:

Academy schools;

Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO);

Financial Ombudsman Service; and

UCAS.

These bodies will be consulted directly, and the Government aim to bring forward a Section 5 order early in the 2009-10 Session. The response also makes clear the Government’s intention to engage with Network Rail and utility companies to consider whether Section 5 or primary legislation might be appropriate means of including those bodies within the FOIA regime too.

FOI depends on good records and information management. This is recognised in the FOI Act by provision at Section 46 for guidance to be issued in the form of a code of practice. The first code of practice was issued in November 2002, nearly seven years ago. Much has changed since then, not least the increased use of information technology to create, store, share and publish records and other information. These changes have made it necessary to update the guidance and today the Lord Chancellor is issuing a revised code of practice.

As well as addressing some of the challenges of digital records management, the revised code takes account of new ways of collaborative working. It also emphasises the business benefits of good records and information management and its relevance to data protection and other information legislation, as well as to freedom of information.

Government Departments: Cars

Statement

I am publishing today details of the number of, and cost to departments of the provision of, allocated cars and drivers by the Government Car and Despatch Agency to Ministers during 2008-09.

The figures are:

Department

No of Cars

Contracted Cost

Notes

Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

6

274,000

1 and 2

Cabinet Office

7

426,200

3

Leader of the House of Commons, the Government’s Equalities Office and the Leader of the House of Lords

3

223,100

Department for Communities and Local Government

6

418,300

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

3

243,400

Department for Children, Schools and Families

5

360,900

Department of Energy and Climate Change

3

99,000

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

4

262,400

Department for International Development

4

272,000

Department for Transport

4

289,800

Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills

5

301,400

Department for Work and Pensions

6

428,800

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

5

367,700

Department of Health

6

409,000

HM Treasury

6

350,900

Home Office

6

483,300

Law Officers’ Department

2

148,200

Ministry of Defence

1

85,100

Ministry of Justice

5

310,600

Northern Ireland Office

2

286,200

Scotland Office

2

103,900

Wales Office

2

137,000

Notes:-

1. The Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs was a post held jointly between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR). The Government Cars (GC) service costs were met by BERR.

2. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Consumer Affairs was a post held jointly between the Department for International Development (DfID) and BERR. The GC costs were met by DfID.

3. Cabinet Office figures include cars for Ministers in the Cabinet Office, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Minister for the Olympics.

Gypsies and Travellers

Statement

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

The Government have today published their first annual report on Gypsy and Traveller policies, as set out in the response to the Task Group on Site Provision and Enforcement for Gypsies and Travellers.

Copies of the report have been placed in the Library of the House.

The Government are committed to a fairer, stronger society, in which disadvantage faced by all members of society is tackled. Fairness means ensuring that those Gypsies and Travellers who have no authorised place to stay have the same opportunities as others to a place they can call home, together with the same access to education, health and other services. It means also that residents in local communities should not have to cope with the unauthorised developments and encampments that can be the consequence of a shortfall in authorised sites.

The report confirms that the framework put in place by the Government provides the tools to enable local authorities to tackle both the shortfall in site provision, and instances of unauthorised developments and encampments where they occur. The Government have published clear guidance to enable local authorities and other agencies to make effective use of the wide range of enforcement powers available to them. We now look to local authorities to be proactive in taking the lead in addressing the shortfall by identifying, in consultation with local communities, appropriate locations for sites which will have the twin benefits of creating homes for Gypsies and Travellers, and reducing the number of unauthorised developments which can be the cause of local community tensions.

The identification of authorised sites will also enable local authorities to reduce the costs of enforcement action related to unauthorised encampments, as well as providing access to even stronger enforcement powers when there are available pitches to which unauthorised campers can be moved. The savings from the reduction in enforcement action can then be deployed to other services to the benefit of the broader community, or reduced levels of council tax.

Highways Agency

Statement

A new framework document which sets out the relationship and the revised governance and sponsorship arrangements between the Department for Transport and the Highways Agency has been published.

Copies of the document have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies will also be available on the department’s website www.dft.gov.uk and the Highways Agency website www.highways.gov.uk.

Houses of Parliament: State Opening

Statement

Housing: Proportionate Dispute Resolution

Statement

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

I am today announcing the Government's response to the Law Commission's report on Housing: Proportionate Dispute Resolution.

The Law Commission published its report on 13 May 2008. This follows a major programme of work on the reform of housing law. Unlike most other Law Commission reports, this report does not focus solely on reform of substantive law but rather looks at the broader social issues of how housing problems arise and how they might be better addressed.

The report makes recommendations in three broad areas: (i) better advice and assistance (ii) non-formal (ie not involving a court or tribunal) dispute resolution and (iii) formal dispute resolution.

The Government broadly accept all of the commission's recommendations on the provision of better advice and assistance. Substantial progress has already been made in improving advice provision and encouraging early engagement; for example, by promoting and signposting court users to the Community Legal Advice helpline and the Community Legal Advice website.

The report recommends that promotion of mediation and alternative dispute resolution is an important component of non-formal dispute resolution. The Government are committed to promoting mediation and using alternative dispute resolution as a tool to ensure court action is a last resort.

The Law Commission also recommends the transfer of jurisdiction for a number of different types of cases, including stand-alone disrepair cases, from county courts to tribunals. The Government have already, separately, confirmed that they will transfer dispute resolution and other proceedings arising out of the provisions of the Mobile Homes Act 1983 to residential property tribunals. However, they are not satisfied that a case has been made for any other transfers.

The Government also reject the Law Commission's recommendation that the county court should have powers to grant interim relief pending the outcome of a local authority internal review in homelessness cases. It is usual for parties to have to exhaust all alternative remedies before coming to court. This is a key feature of our policy of encouraging early resolution of disputes/problems, with the court being used only in the last resort. Local authorities are empowered to take decisions on homelessness applications and there are statutory procedures that are in place to ensure that this is done fairly. The Government consider that there is a significant risk that any changes in this area would be exploited to circumvent these procedures to the detriment of those who are genuinely homeless and in priority need.

A copy of the response will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

ICL Plastics

Statement

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State (Yvette Cooper) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 11 May 2004, a tragic factory explosion occurred at the ICL Plastics premises in Glasgow. Nine people were killed and 33 were seriously injured. Proceedings were subsequently taken against ICL Tech Ltd and ICL Plastics Ltd under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and in August 2007 the companies pled guilty to the charges. I should like to express my sympathy to the bereaved families and to the injured survivors.

In October 2007, the Government and the Lord Advocate of Scotland announced a joint investigation into the explosion. Lord Gill, Lord Justice Clerk, was appointed chair of the joint independent inquiry in December 2007. Today, I am pleased to announce the publication of Lord Gill’s report.

I should like to thank Lord Gill and his team for the way in which they handled the inquiry and for fulfilling the terms of reference so efficiently.

The key message from this report is that this was an avoidable disaster and that its causes are clear. While the inquiry has established that the primary responsibility for safety lay with the site user, it has identified that there were failings across the system.

In the case of the site user, the report sets out serious failings in risk assessment, inspection and maintenance, among others. It refers to both certain inadequacies in the liquid petroleum gas (LPG) safety regime in which it operated in the mid-1970s and late 1980s and the urgency of HSE’s response since the explosion.

The Government welcome the report and we fully accept Lord Gill’s recommendation that a sharper, clearer safety regime is needed for LPG bulk installations.

Lord Gill’s report proposes that this should be achieved through a four-phase action plan:

the replacement of metallic pipework and steel risers on a systematic and prioritised basis; and early inspection of all buildings that have a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) supply to identify any hazardous features from the design or layout;

the establishment of a permanent and uniform safety regime to govern the installation, maintenance, monitoring and replacement of all LPG systems, including clear guidance on responsibilities of supplier and user;

the development of a continuing and planned safety regime, particularly in relation to the use of polyethylene pipes; and

the improvement of communications between suppliers, users and HSE and also within HSE.

In responding to Lord Gill’s report, the immediate priority is the replacement of buried LPG pipework.

The HSE has already announced a joint programme of work with UKLPG for the systematic replacement of buried LPG metallic pipework. This will be a prioritised programme starting in October.

The Government also agree that further improvements are needed to the safety regime in this area and we expect to provide a full response to Lord Gill’s report in January next year. I have therefore today asked the chair of HSE and its board to consider the report’s findings and to report back to me on progress by the end of September, addressing both Lord Gill’s criticisms of its actions since the explosion and how the report’s recommendations can be taken forward. I have asked HSE to explore with the LPG suppliers, users and with trade unions how improvements to the LPG safety regime can be made.

I will report back to Parliament in the autumn on the progress that has been made and I will ensure that honourable Members have the opportunity to feed in their views before the Government’s full response to Lord Gill’s report is issued.

Copies of the report are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

Immigration: Charging for Services

Statement

The Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, Phil Woolas, has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The biggest shake-up to our border protection and immigration system for over 45 years is well under way. The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill, which will fundamentally overhaul the laws regarding obtaining British citizenship, is currently progressing through Parliament. We will also look to simplify our immigration laws further through legislation to be published later this year in Parliament.

The UK Border Agency was established in April 2008 to create a strong new force at the border by bringing together immigration, customs and visa checks to strengthen the UK border. We want the UK to stay open and attractive for both business and visitors, but at the same time we are determined to deliver a system of border control which is among the strongest in the world.

Inward investment and tourism benefit Britain greatly. The Government are committed to boosting Britain’s economy by bringing the right skills from around the world and ensuring that it is easy to visit legally. We want to continue to welcome the holidaymakers, visitors, business people and genuine students who come here, recognising the valuable contribution they make to economic growth and the way they enrich our society through cultural exchange.

For the immigration system to command public support, among both the British public and legitimate migrants, we need an immigration system that is fair and effective. The integrity of the immigration system depends on robust borders, with effective security overseas and in the UK ensuring and enforcing compliance with our immigration laws. To help achieve this, those who benefit directly from our immigration system (migrants, employers and educational institutions) should contribute to the costs of the system and enable us to meet our strategic objectives.

Later this summer the Government will publish a consultation document on charging for certain services we provide. To maintain our world class immigration system currently costs over £2.2bn per annum. UK Border Agency currently recovers approximately 30 per cent of this spend through fees for applications and services we offer.

We believe it is right that users of that system make an appropriate contribution to meeting those costs, to help manage the burden on the UK taxpayer. The purpose of consulting is to ensure that we are getting that balance right in the broader interests of the UK.

The consultation document will set out some options on how we can charge for our services. We want a genuine debate on the most appropriate way to charge. We will be engaging with stakeholders throughout the consultation period in order to get the views and ideas from as many people as possible. Copies of the consultation paper will be placed in the Libraries of the House and will be available for download from the UK Border Agency website at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/consultations/current/.

Independent Police Complaints Commission

Statement

The Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing, David Hanson, has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce that today my right honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and I are laying before Parliament the annual report of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which will be published today.

This is the fifth annual report from the IPCC. The report covers the work of the IPCC during 2008-09 and includes a discrete chapter on the discharge of its responsibilities in respect of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. The report also includes a chapter on deaths during or following police contact, which shows continued year-on-year decreases in the number of deaths.

During this year the IPCC has continued to make significant improvements in its performance, having set some ambitious targets. The IPCC has a key role in increasing confidence in the police complaints system which will, in turn, impact positively on public confidence in the police. In a recent survey conducted by the British Market Research Bureau, 88 per cent of those surveyed said they thought the IPCC would treat a complaint against the police fairly. I am satisfied that the IPCC is ready to meet the challenges. We will continue to work with the IPCC to ensure it continues to meet its statutory remit.

Independent Safeguarding Authority

Statement

The Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (David Hanson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce that the annual report 2008-09 and accounts of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) will be laid before Parliament today. Copies of the report will be available in the Vote Office.

Intercept Evidence

Statement

The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Alan Johnson, has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In her Written Ministerial Statement to the House on 12 February (Official Report, cols 87-88WS), the then Home Secretary (right honourable Jacqui Smith) provided a progress report on the work being undertaken following the publication of the Privy Council review of intercept as evidence in January 2008. I am pleased to be able to provide a further update, and to explain why I have concluded it is right to provide the House with a full report after the Summer Recess.

Since February, detailed work has focused on testing the practical impact and effect of the model developed. This work has been undertaken in concert with experienced independent legal practitioners. The programme is now complete, and work is now in hand to draw the emerging conclusions and test their validity. The Advisory Group of Privy Counsellors—the right honourable Sir John Chilcot, my noble friend the right honourable Lord Archer of Sandwell, the right honourable Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith) and the right honourable Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Michael Howard)—is following this closely. Indeed they also see merit in seeking further advice on key points for, as they noted in their interim report in February, the issues are complex. I know they share my determination to get this right. I should like to thank them for their continuing commitment and invaluable contribution.

I look forward to discussing with them the final conclusions of the programme. I shall then provide a formal report to Parliament on the full findings of the work programme, and the Government’s decision in the light of them, soon after the return following the Summer Recess.

Legal Aid

Statement

The Ministry of Justice has today published proposals to refocus limited civil and criminal legal aid resources on priority cases.

Proposals in the first part of the paper are the product of joint working between the Legal Services Commission and the Ministry of Justice and suggest a range of changes to the funding rules to ensure legal aid funds are being directed to meritorious cases. Proposals include:

reforming the way that the public interest is considered in deciding whether to grant legal aid by establishing a new committee to include non-lawyers, and creating a ring-fenced budget for these cases;

removing certain low priority cases, such as low value damages claims, from scope for civil funding, where issues can be resolved instead through complaints procedures or ombudsman schemes;

tightening the existing rules for granting legal aid for judicial review, following a significant decline in the number of successful permission applications; and

notifying the other side when civil legal aid is applied for to discourage fraudulent applications from those outside the financial eligibility limits.

Proposals in the second part of the paper have been developed by the Ministry of Justice and are also aimed at focusing resources on priority cases. The first proposal concerns the removal of advice and assistance on prisoner treatment issues from the scope of the Criminal Defence Service. Funding will be available to prisoners with serious concerns about their treatment under the civil scheme, subject to passing the relevant civil funding code criteria. This includes the need to exhaust the prison internal complaints procedure in most cases in advance of seeking legal advice. This proposal builds on the reforms to prison law funding which were published by the Legal Services Commission yesterday.

The second proposal concerns the removal of the delegated powers for solicitors to self-grant legal aid in judicial review cases. This follows the rise in failed judicial review applications, many of which are funded through legal aid. With the exception of housing judicial review, civil and criminal legal aid providers will no longer be able to self-grant emergency representation in judicial review and will need to seek approval in advance from the Legal Services Commission.

The third proposal concerns restricting routine access to the civil legal aid scheme in England and Wales for those who are not residents in the UK. Funding for serious matters such as mental health detention, childcare or child abduction proceedings, domestic violence protection or emergency housing matters would remain available. Funding would also continue for overseas British citizens, European citizens involved in cross- border disputes, and those whose country is a party to a bilateral agreement providing access to legal aid in the UK.

The consultation paper Legal Aid: Refocusing on Priority Cases is available on the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.gov.uk. Responses are invited by 8 October 2009.

Local Transport Act 2008: Passenger Focus

Statement

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Transport (Mr Sadiq Khan) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

The Local Transport Act 2008 includes powers for the Secretary of State to confer additional functions on Passenger Focus (formally known as the Rail Passengers’ Council, the statutory rail passenger watchdog) so that it can represent bus, coach and tram passengers. The Act also enables secondary legislation to be made requiring certain persons to display certain information relating to public transport.

The Department for Transport is today publishing a consultation on a draft order to extend Passenger Focus’s remit and draft regulations requiring bus and coach operators to display information on their vehicles about whom passengers should contact if they want to make a complaint. Copies of the consultation materials will be made available on the department’s website (www.dft.gov.uk/consultations) and are being placed in the Libraries of the House.

National Park Authorities

Statement

My honourable friend the Minister for Marine and Natural Environment (Huw Irranca-Davies) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In July last year Defra launched an open consultation to seek the views of a range of stakeholders on the principle of whether some members of national park and broads authorities should be directly elected.

The majority of the national park authorities’ membership comprises local authority and parish councillors selected by their respective councils, with the remainder being appointed by the Secretary of State in recognition of the national interest. The Broads Authority has a different membership structure under its own primary legislation to reflect the Broads’ navigational interest.

During the passage of the Broads Authority private Bill the question arose of whether there should be parish members on the Broads Authority. As a result this issue was included in the consultation on direct elections.

A total of 490 responses were received to the consultation. The strongest support for the principle of direct elections came from respondents within the Broads Authority and New Forest National Parks for reasons of local democracy and local representation in relation to planning decisions, but there was very little support for larger authorities to accommodate directly elected members.

Most stakeholders considered that direct elections would not lead to any improved effectiveness or efficiency of national park authorities, including the authorities themselves. Many national park authorities, local authorities and parish councils expressed concern that direct elections in place of their members would have the effect of disenfranchising the local authorities and parish councils whom the park authorities work with leading to the effect of serious repercussions in relation to their influence with other bodies, particularly at regional and national level.

There appeared to be no consensus on which category of members to replace to accommodate directly elected members. All categories of members have provided a significant contribution to the effective working of the authorities. However, many individuals who live in the parks and MPs have raised the issue of democratic accountability and local representation for local communities in the parks.

I have been impressed with the range of community engagement that already occurs, and having carefully considered the responses I have decided not to make any changes to the current membership arrangements. I am proposing ways of improving the accountability of the national park authorities and to more consistently apply some of the examples of best practice across all parks.

The park authorities will be required to apply the “Duty to Involve” measures contained in the Local Government and Public Health Act 2007, which will assist local authorities and others in understanding what the park authorities are, their functions and how people can get involved.

Although there are a range of accountability measures already in place, including the holding of authority meetings in public, local area agreements, formal performance assessments and annual inspections by the Audit Commission, I have also asked the park authorities to examine other ways of engaging the public and local residents in the decision-making process, for example:

making the reporting of progress and performance more open and transparent, including information on progress in delivering the objectives set out in the National Park management plans;

considering whether existing forums provide sufficient opportunities for public involvement in priority setting and improving the engagement of parish councils;

undertaking regular resident and visitor surveys to obtain feedback on the services provided by the authorities, openly publish analysis of these, and demonstrate how they are shaping the delivery of services provided by the authority.

Given the ability of parish members to provide local knowledge, I will also consider more closely the role they play in existing national park authorities, and ways of enhancing the parish member appointment processes to ensure they are made more consistent and include opportunities for wider public involvement.

I have asked for a report back to my department in 12 months on how the park authorities are building on their existing arrangements for engaging the public and local residents.

On the issue of appointing parish members to the Broads Authority, whilst there was some support for these appointments this should not be at the expense of a reduction in the existing categories of membership. Although I am not in favour of adding parish council members to the Broads Authority at this time, I am prepared to reconsider the matter if local government restructuring meant that there was a need in any case to revise the Broads Authority’s membership.

Footnote:

Examples of existing and proposed accountability measures in addition to those mentioned above:

Existing mechanisms

Methods by which National Park Authorities are currently accountable for their activities and decisions are numerous and include:

NPA meetings being held in public, with the papers made available, including on websites;

formal NPA performance assessments being undertaken which includes peer and stakeholder review and rigorous independent scrutiny;

a commitment to public participation which goes beyond statutory public consultation on the preparation of the national park management plan and subsequent publication and monitoring of delivery;

publication of NPA corporate plans and other strategies;

undertaking resident and visitor surveys to test opinion and receive feedback on services and priorities;

publication of newsletters to both residents and to visitors from beyond the national park boundary, and customer satisfaction surveys designed in order to improve performance and to ensure services meet customers’ needs;

hosting consultative forums that bring town and parish councils, amenity groups and other local associations together to discuss shared priorities, and run community and stakeholder forums to gather views.

Some possible new measures under consideration

NPAs sharing good practice in the area of public involvement and early experience of implementing the “Duty to Involve” requirements.

NPAs could consider if cost effective improvements can be made to the publishing of forthcoming meetings.

NPAs could explore whether they can enhance the support given to capacity building of parish councils. This might entail, as an example, running a joint event for parish councils on the planning system to help build their capacity to engage with policy development and respond to planning applications, and offering annual planning liaison meetings with each parish council to improve understanding of the process.

Northern Ireland Prison Service: Annual Report and Accounts

Statement

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Northern Ireland (Paul Goggins) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce that I am today publishing the Northern Ireland Prison Service’s annual report and accounts 2008-09. They combine the agency’s annual performance report and agency resource accounts in a single document that provides a comprehensive overview of the Prison Service’s financial and non-financial performance for the year. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House. It is also available online from the agency’s website at www.niprisonservice.gov.uk.

Planning: Eco-towns

Statement

My right honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Planning (Mr John Healey MP) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Yesterday, the Government published their low carbon transition plan. To respond to the challenge of climate change, we need to become a low carbon country, achieving an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

We must also meet the challenge to build more homes, so that everyone has a decent, secure and affordable home.

To deliver both we need to change the way that we plan, design and build homes for the future. More than a quarter of Britain’s carbon emissions come from our homes. We will need to reduce emissions from existing homes. The Government announced important measures to do so yesterday and we will set out more later this year. But one in three of Britain’s homes in 2050 will be built between now and then. We need to make sure that our homes in future are cleaner, greener and cheaper to run from the outset.

Today I am reconfirming the Government’s policy that all new homes will be zero carbon from 2016 and announcing further details on the definition and standards we will legislate for.

New buildings are only part of the answer for a low carbon and sustainable future. A differently planned and more sustainable built environment can encourage more sustainable ways of living.

Today I am publishing the planning policy statement which sets out the highest ever standards for green living, announcing the first four pioneering locations for eco-towns in England and offering government support to work with a further six second-wave areas.

By radically rethinking how we design, plan and build we can create zero carbon developments which combine affordable housing with green infrastructure, greater energy efficiency and a higher quality of life.

To support the low carbon transition plan and its route map to carbon reduction, today I am also announcing that we will review and combine the climate change and renewable energy policy planning statements (PPS) consulting in detail on proposals before the end of the year.

Zero Carbon Homes

In July 2007, we announced that all homes would be zero carbon from 2016. In December 2008, we published a consultation on the definitions of zero carbon. I am announcing today details of the definition that will apply.

A zero carbon home is one whose net carbon dioxide emissions, taking account of emissions associated with all energy use in the home, is equal to zero or negative across the year. Our definition of energy use will cover both energy uses currently regulated by the building regulations and other energy used in the home.

Homes meeting the new requirements will be cheaper to run because of high energy efficiency requirements, and occupants will be less vulnerable to rising gas and electricity prices. These homes will have better controls, including smart meters, so that people can more easily manage and reduce energy use. Technology for people to generate their own low carbon heat and electricity, with payments for surpluses, will be designed and built into new zero carbon homes or developments as a matter of course.

Zero carbon homes will be designed and built to be highly energy efficient. Our consultation quoted two standards to illustrate our ambitions in this area. Respondents welcomed the proposition that energy efficiency should be the first priority, although many argued that the standards quoted were not suitable as a minimum regulatory standard to apply to every new home in England and that we do not have an appropriate established energy efficiency standard for the purpose of zero carbon homes. I accept this.

I am therefore setting up a specialist task group, reporting to me in the autumn to examine the energy efficiency metrics and standards which will realise our ambition of the highest practical energy efficiency level realisable in all dwelling types. Following the task group’s report, I intend to announce decisions on a clear new standard by the end of this year.

The net emissions of the home, taking account of its energy efficiency and on-site energy supply (including, where relevant, connections to heat networks) will meet a minimum carbon compliance standard—in effect a regulatory level of carbon reduction to be achieved on-site compared to today’s regulations.

I have decided to set that level to be as ambitious as possible for on-site carbon mitigation, while being technically achievable. This will therefore be 70 per cent of regulated energy use, based on the assumptions laid out in our consultation document. We will consider updating this as necessary in light of technical changes, such as developments to the standard assessment procedure energy assessment tool, to maintain this overall level of ambition and provide continued certainty to industry.

I can also confirm that new support for small-scale renewable heat and electricity generation through the renewable heat incentive and clean energy cash back will be available for on-site renewables in zero carbon homes, making these homes more attractive to occupants and potentially reducing the net costs faced by developers.

Any carbon not mitigated on site will be dealt with through a range of good quality allowable solutions. The allowable solutions will cover carbon emitted from the home for 30 years after build. Responses to the consultation took different views about some of the solutions suggested. I have decided to indicate now those approaches that commanded broad support. We will consider with stakeholders the practical arrangements that would be required to permit them to be put in place and to ensure that standards are achieved in practice. I will announce decisions by the end of this year. Those that received broad support are:

further carbon reductions on site beyond the regulatory standard;

energy efficient appliances meeting a high standard which are installed as fittings within the home;

advanced forms of building control system which reduce the level of energy use in the home;

exports of low carbon or renewable heat from the development to other developments;

investments in low and zero carbon community heat infrastructure;

other allowable solutions remain under consideration.

The wider policies supporting distributed energy will continue to develop over the coming years. Our consultation suggested setting a guideline maximum price we expect industry to bear in implementing allowable solutions. In the light of responses, I intend to do so following further work on costs. For the purposes of the impact assessment published today, I have included costs of allowable solutions up to the central option in our consultation of £100 per tonne of carbon dioxide, reflecting the cost of off-site renewable electricity.

Government will support industry as it responds to this challenge. Budget 2009 announced that the Government will report at the 2009 Pre-Budget Report on progress and set out the strategy to support a timely and effective housing supply response through the recovery, in order to maximise delivery of high-quality, energy-efficient homes, supporting our long-term housing supply and environmental objectives. As part of this, the Government will identify, working with industry and other partners, the best regulatory and policy framework to support the Government's long-term housing objectives. In making the announcement today, I am making clear the priority the Government attach to tackling climate change over other potential demands on land values. We will examine the cumulative impact and costs of our existing regulatory policies and proposals that potentially affect land value including current implementation plans in the round in the context of the PBR work, taking the zero carbon policy into account.

Industry will need to develop innovative design and building technologies and techniques, and to support these efforts government will work closely with the industry:

The Technology Strategy Board is working with partners to enable it to harness the market for environmentally sustainable buildings, since 2004 investing £46 million in this area. Under its low impact buildings innovation platform a further total of £50 million is now earmarked for allocation to research relevant to new build by 2011. This includes over £30 million of capability building work to be awarded over the next two years and up to £8.5 million in new build demonstration programmes;

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has a carbon challenge programme which aims to accelerate the home building industry’s response to climate change by building homes that reach level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. Four new communities are planned which will together provide around 1,700 zero carbon, highly sustainable demonstration homes;

I am today announcing with the HCA support for the first schemes under the £21 million low carbon community heating initiative fund, launched in Budget 2009. Schemes will be supported in Exeter, Nottingham, Milton Keynes, Southampton, Birmingham and Newcastle.

Eco-Towns

Eco-towns respond to the demand to build more homes and to live in a more sustainable way. By radically rethinking how we design, plan and build our homes, we can create zero carbon developments which combine affordable housing, environmental sensitivity, and outstanding quality. Eco-towns will pioneer genuinely sustainable living setting standards that will need to be followed more widely to deal with the challenge of climate change.

The new eco-town planning policy statement (PPS) that I am publishing today sets out the highest ever standards for green living, and linked to it I can announce the first four pioneer locations for England’s Eco-towns. These are: Whitehill-Bordon, St Austell (Clay Country), Rackheath (Norwich) and NW Bicester, all led or strongly supported by their local authorities who can see both the potential for their new eco-town and the benefit for existing communities in regeneration, higher quality jobs and new green infrastructure. Each of these four locations has the capacity to link well into existing development, as well as the scale to function as a new settlement. None are self-contained developments in the middle of the countryside.

These locations will receive continuing government support including a share of a special £60 million growth fund to support local infrastructure.

Alongside the new eco-towns PPS I am publishing a series of documents which demonstrate the detailed work and assessment on which my decisions today are based. These are:

an update of the sustainability appraisal;

a sustainability statement;

an impact assessment;

summary of responses to the consultation on the draft PPS;

a location decision statement.

I am placing copies in the Library of the House.

However the PPS is a statement about potential. The decision on whether or not the eco-town schemes go ahead is for the local planning authority. Schemes can be considered in local plans and will be the subject of individual planning applications, and local consultation, which will be decided on their merits by the local authority.

In addition to the first four pioneering locations in the PPS we have said we want to see up to 10 eco-towns by 2020, so I am making the offer to work with and help fund a further six local authorities in developing proposals through regional and local plans. We have offered additional support to two authorities where proposals were not sufficiently advanced to be included in the PPS—Uttlesford and Doncaster—to enable them to take forward these locations through their local plans if this is the preferred option they choose to pursue. I have set aside £5 million to support these and other areas to carry out further assessment and technical work including potential future locations to come through plans in other regions.

The eco-towns concept—more sustainable living in new communities—has attracted real interest. When a whole community is planned at this scale (5,000 homes is broadly the size necessary to support a secondary school) there is an opportunity to completely rethink how transport, employment, retail and other services are provided as well as designing housing to exemplary standards. In practice this means features such as smart homes with remote control of heating and ventilation, real-time information on available transport, state of the art provision for home working, including high-quality broadband.

The PPS I am publishing today sets out for the highest standards for green living ever set. Eco-town developments must be able to demonstrate essential features to achieve the highest levels of sustainability. Examples of the PPS standards include ensuring:

zero carbon status across all the town's buildings, including commercial and public buildings as well as homes—a significantly tougher threshold than any existing or agreed targets;

40 per cent of the area within the town to be green space, at least half of which should be open to the public as parks or recreation areas;

a minimum of one job per house can be reached by walking, cycling or public transport to reduce dependence on the car;

all homes are located within 10 minutes’ walk of frequent public transport and everyday neighbourhood services;

smart, efficient, affordable homes taking their energy from the sun, wind and earth.

Eco-towns offer great potential to test a wide range of innovative and emerging technologies because of the scale of the projects. To ensure we make the most of these opportunities, and to support business innovation, the Technology Strategy Board will work with the selected eco-towns to capture this potential. The Technology Strategy Board will look to co-ordinate and align with the work on eco-towns a range of activities drawing on current investments worth over £200 million through innovation platforms in the areas of low-impact buildings, intelligent transport systems and services and low carbon vehicles and its programmes in the area of energy generation and supply and advanced materials.

Eco-towns can play a leading role in the development of electric cars through building in infrastructure such as charging points as a standard provision in all major public and services buildings. We will work with all the eco-town locations to develop their potential for supporting this technology and in piloting the next generation of electric and hybrid cars.

Eco-towns will be major building projects which could employ large numbers of local people, many new to the sector and who will require training in the industry. They offer an opportunity to ensure that existing skills are upgraded to deliver the low carbon built environment and equip the construction workers of the future with the skills in sustainable design and building. Where public funds are committed, public sector agencies will look to use clauses in delivery contracts to ensure a proportion of apprenticeships are offered and these are green skills apprenticeships.

Eco-towns can pilot and test new ways of delivering public services, as well as making them more sustainable and responsive to climate change, such as new and innovative schools to meet the needs of new and existing residents. The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) will support eco-towns to ensure the design of schools, including travel to them, and the delivery of play and youth services and facilities are both innovative and sustainable. We will work closely with the promoters of eco-towns and the relevant local authorities to look at how best to meet those needs with the aim of ensuring that each of the eco-towns has a zero carbon school in place by 2013.

We want schools to be sustainable socially as well as environmentally. By 2010 all schools should be providing access to extended services for children and families. Eco-towns in particular should explore opportunities for co-locating children’s and other support services alongside schools for example through Sure Start children’s centres which bring together childcare, early education, health and family support services.

Eco-towns will be designed as healthy and sustainable environments encouraging healthy living for all through active design principles, community involvement and encouraging healthy behaviours. The Department of Health will work with other government departments and associated research bodies in seeking to achieve a zero carbon standard for health and social care facilities in the eco-towns.

Eco-towns also need to be sustainable travel towns, demonstrating how using smarter choices can secure significant increases in cycling, walking and public transport. All the homes in the demonstration projects should have secure cycle storage designed in from the outset.

Good transport links are essential to the success of any new community. Three of the four eco-town locations I am announcing today are well located for rail transport. For the fourth, Bordon, I am announcing funding support for the next stage of feasibility work, working with Hampshire County Council, to establish if restoration of a rail link can be achieved sustainably and subject to a sound business case.

We want nature to be at the very heart of eco-towns and the development process will be used to restore wildlife habitats and weave the living landscape back together. We expect the eco-towns to become working demonstrations of the ways that biodiversity can contribute to safe, healthy and prosperous communities. Biodiversity projects are being developed at all four locations, and include the potential to work with the Eden Project team.

Eco-towns are large developments which will require all parts of the public sector to work together, and close working relations between local and central government. I therefore propose to invite each of the eco-town local authorities to look at how their LAA could provide a suitable framework for planning future service provision and delivery in and around the eco-town area, for example through a stronger focus on a lower-tier local authority within the LAA arrangement or sub-area locality agreement.

I propose to establish a formal relationship between local and central government, in an arrangement based on the model of multi-area agreements (MAA), to negotiate the freedoms and flexibilities eco-town areas will need to realise their aspirations. I wish also to offer certainty that central government is willing to work closely with the local authority and local communities to make the most of their new eco town opportunities.

In addition I am asking the Homes and Communities Agency to provide support, expertise and advice to local partners and I expect the HCA’s first step to be inclusion of the four eco-town locations in the first wave of single conversations between the agency and local authorities, with the agency assessing the detailed proposals as they come forward from the promoters in each location, and advising each location on funding, including growth funding. Providing there are proposals which represent good quality and value for money and are deliverable within a mixed community context, provision of affordable housing support in these locations will be presented by HCA as a regional priority in the allocation of resources from the National Affordable Housing Programme.

The eco-town locations I am announcing today all have existing communities close by or within the area and I want them to benefit from their new eco-towns. We will therefore be inviting existing communities in the first eco-town locations to participate in the Green villages, towns and cities challenge for communities announced in the DECC low carbon transition plan published yesterday. In total, 15 communities will be selected to participate as test-hubs, with local residents, businesses, and the public sector playing a leading role.

The need to develop thriving and sustainable communities able to take a strong role in shaping their community is at the heart of the eco-town concept. To support community anchor organisations in taking a leading role in shaping the eco-town proposals, and subject to local proposals, Government will invite eco-town pilot projects to apply for support within the £70 million Community Builders Fund for community organisations, including for the purchase of community assets.

We have been well served by the Eco-towns Challenge Panel of independent experts and we want to maintain the creative contribution that independent professionals can make through the CABE design review process, CABE design support at local level, and the continuation of an independent advisory panel as the eco-town schemes are developed.

Despite the difficult current market conditions caused by the recession I expect 10,000 homes built by 2016 of which 30 per cent will be affordable. To start this process we will support early demonstrator buildings to test and develop from the new technologies needed, and so that local communities can help shape their further development. For the next two years I am providing £60 million start-up funding from the growth fund for this work for the four locations identified today. This is additional to mainstream funding for services. We expect that the bulk of investment in these schemes will be from the private sector, but eco-towns will also benefit from similar levels of public investment to any comparable large housing scheme and this will include continued growth funding over the period of major development.

Planning

With the new PPS, eco-towns set the gold standard in development planning, but low carbon living means planning for all new development to cut carbon emissions.

Our climate change planning policy statement (PPS) published in December 2007 has put climate change at the heart of what is expected from good planning and complemented our earlier PPS on renewable energy. Neither now fully reflects the scale of the challenge we face. But neither fully reflects the scale of the challenge we now face in supporting the UK’s transition to a low carbon country. We will therefore review and combine them, consulting in detail on proposals later this year.

Police: Deputy Commissioner

Statement

The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Alan Johnson, has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce Her Majesty the Queen’s Appointment of Timothy Godwin OBE, QPM as the next Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.

I made my recommendation to Her Majesty following an open competition for the selection of a new deputy commissioner and having regard to the recommendations made to me by the Metropolitan Police Authority and representations from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.

I am confident that Timothy Godwin will be an excellent Deputy Commissioner and will help the Commissioner to lead the Metropolitan Police Service in delivering for the public both in London and nationally.

Public Expenditure: Provisional Outturn

Statement

My right honourable friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Liam Byrne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Treasury is today publishing the 2008-09 Public Expenditure Provisional Outturn White Paper.

The White Paper is an annual report to Parliament on the provisional outturn for public expenditure. It focuses on spending within departmental expenditure limits (DEL) and annually managed expenditure (AME), and includes information on individual supply estimates, and administration costs and near-cash limits.

The outturn figures are described as provisional because, in some cases, they will be revised when departments publish their final accounts.

A copy of the White Paper will be available in the Libraries of the House and will be accessible on the Treasury website.

Railways: Crossrail

Statement

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

On 14 July last year, my honourable friend Tom Harris made a Statement offering assurance to Parliament that a Statement would be published at least every 12 months until the completion of the construction of Crossrail, setting out information about the project’s funding and finances. This assurance was placed on the Crossrail Register of Undertakings and Assurances.

The Government are committed to ensuring that there is a high level of transparency as to the progress and cost of the Crossrail project. Our intention in this area was set out in the heads of terms which were signed in November 2007. The heads of terms have now been superseded by the Crossrail core agreements, binding legal documents which set out the funding, governance and delivery arrangements for the Crossrail project. These were signed by the Secretary of State for Transport, Transport for London and Cross London Rail Links Limited on 3 December last year and were published in the House Library, with an accompanying Statement to the House. Since the assurance was given, Cross London Rail Links Limited has also changed its name to Crossrail Limited.

In line with my honourable friend’s assurance to the House, I am therefore publishing this Statement within 12 months of the Crossrail Act 2008 coming into force on 22 July 2008, and set out below the information outlined in that assurance:

Total funding amounts provided to Crossrail Limited by the Department for Transport and TfL in relation to the construction of Crossrail in the period 22 July 2008 to 30 May 2009

£200.922 million

Expenditure incurred by Crossrail Limited in relation to the construction of Crossrail in the period 22 July 2008 to 30 May 2009 (excluding recoverable VAT on land and property purchases)

£196.803 million

Total expenditure incurred by Crossrail Limited in relation to the construction of Crossrail to the end of the period 22 July 2008 to 30 May 2009 (excluding recoverable VAT on land and property purchases)

£196.803 million

The amounts realised by the disposal of any land or property for the purposes of the construction of Crossrail by the Secretary of State, TfL or Crossrail Limited in the period covered by the Statement

Nil

The numbers above have been provided by Crossrail Limited and are drawn from its accounts for the relevant periods.

I can also confirm that the costs of the construction of Crossrail are likely to fall within the agreed budget, based on best current estimates of costs provided by Crossrail Limited.

The Government remain fully committed to Crossrail. This is a long-term major infrastructure project, helping and responding to the transport needs of London and the south-east for the next half century and more.

We remain confident that Crossrail will be delivered on time and on budget and that the project can be funded as planned.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Statement

My honourable friend the Minister for Marine and Natural Environment (Huw Irranca-Davies) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I wish to update the House on recent developments related to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG, Kew).

I am pleased to announce that on 1 August 2009 Sir Neil Chalmers, Warden of Wadham College, Oxford and a former Director of the Natural History Museum, will commence an independent review of RBG, Kew. Sir Neil will be supported by a small team of independent consultants. The last review was carried out in 2001, although there was a separate independent audit of Kew’s scientific activities in 2006.

Non-departmental public bodies such as RBG, Kew benefit significantly from regular and objective reviews, which examine their role, performance and priorities. To carry out such a review now gives us a timely and valuable opportunity to examine how RBG, Kew can continue to deliver its statutory functions effectively and maintain the quality and value of its scientific contribution in critical areas such as the conservation of global biodiversity.

The following terms of reference have been drawn up to guide the review:

to conduct an evaluation of the performance of the Royal Botanic Gardens, (RBG) Kew in fulfilling its statutory obligations since the last review in 2001;

as part of the evaluation, to pay particular attention to resourcing and the effectiveness of income generation, infrastructure and heritage management and support; to consider how the scientific and other activities of RBG, Kew support the objectives of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and other government departments; and to review the existing Defra sponsorship arrangements;

to consider in the light of this evaluation and the views of other customers and stakeholders whether the services, activities, and organisational arrangements at RBG, Kew remain the most effective means of achieving its own, Defra’s, as well as Government-wide objectives, such as those relating to climate change, conservation and biodiversity, overall science policy, and the operational efficiency agenda;

to assess what changes, if any, are needed in the light of the findings of the review to improve the quality, effectiveness and value for money of RBG, Kew services, and to set out the rationale and to recommend appropriate options to Ministers. These should address how best to ensure a sustainable financial future for RBG, Kew and its world-class science.

The review will be carried out openly and transparently and users, customers and stakeholders of RBG, Kew will be consulted. Sir Neil’s recommendations will be published along with the Government’s response.

I will update the House as necessary.

Rural Payments Agency: Performance Targets

Statement

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State (Hilary Benn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Service Delivery Quality

To administer common agricultural policy and other schemes to meet the following requirements:

To have paid 75 per cent by value of valid single payment scheme 2009 claims by 31 January 2010 and 90 per cent by value of valid 2009 claims by 31 March 2010.

To process and pay at least 90 per cent of valid claims by volume for non-single payment scheme schemes within ministerial guidelines and 99 per cent within the set European Commission deadlines or in their absence within 60 days of receipt of the claim.

To record 98 per cent of notifications of births, deaths and movements of cattle on the cattle tracing system within 14 days of their receipt.

To make 98 per cent of rural development programme for England payments for Natural England and regional development agencies in accordance with agreed service level agreements.

To demonstrate a continued commitment to customers by achieving a minimum annual average customer satisfaction score of 7.0 out of 10.0, as measured through surveys of external customers, and by reducing the number of complaints received compared with 2008-09.

Value for public money

To demonstrate clear progress towards achieving the Treasury disallowance target of 2 per cent or less of fund value, for all CAP Schemes administered by the RPA.

To demonstrate a 9 per cent reduction from the 2008-09 year in the cost of administering the agency without compromising service delivery.

Capacity and capability

To demonstrate improved capacity and capability to meet targets and implement change.

Further details are given in the RPA Business Plan for 2009-10, copies of which will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Science Advisory Committee on the Medical Implications of Less Lethal Weapons

Statement

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Kevan Jones) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to inform the House that a new non-departmental public body (NDPB) has been set up, entitled the Science Advisory Committee on the Medical Implications of Less Lethal Weapons (SACMILL).

Previously SACMILL was a sub-committee of the Defence Science Advisory Council (DSAC), known as DOMILL (DSAC sub-committee on the medical implications of less lethal weapons). DOMILL had become recognised as a valuable and authoritative group on the medical implications of the use of less lethal weapons, providing cross-government advice.

A review by MoD’s Director General Management and Organisation (DGMO) has recommended that DOMILL should become a cross-government NDPB in its own right, sponsored by the Surgeon General. This has placed the group on a permanent footing, allowing it to work with other departments directly rather than through MoD. I will retain oversight on behalf of MoD and will remain informed of the committee’s activities.

Tax Law Rewrite Project

Statement

My right honourable friend the Financial Secretary (Stephen Timms) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

As the Tax Law Rewrite Project will soon complete the work of rewriting mainstream direct tax legislation, it is necessary to consider whether it should rewrite other parts of the direct tax code.

Since it was set up, the project has played a key role in modernising tax legislation and making it far more accessible and easier to apply. Its work has rightly been widely praised and has provided considerable benefits for users. However the benefits of rewriting other parts of the direct tax code are less clear and there is less support for extending the work of the project into these areas. I am satisfied that when the project's next two Bills are enacted, the time will be right to bring this work to an end.

The achievements of the project would not have been possible without the dedication of everyone involved. Many tax professionals in the private sector have given their time and expertise in reviewing and improving the new provisions during their development, in a productive partnership with HM Revenue and Customs. Their input, and the guidance of the project's steering and consultative committees, have been vital in achieving the excellent quality of the rewritten legislation.

With the completion of the project's work, legislation for the mainstream direct taxes will be much easier for users to navigate and understand.

Taxation: Gaming Machines

Statement

My honourable friend the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Sarah McCarthy-Fry) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today publishing a consultation on the future of gaming machines tax policy, copies of which have been placed in the House Library.

Following reforms to gambling taxation over the past decade, five of the seven gambling tax regimes are now calculated on a gross profits basis. Gaming machines face a combination of amusement machine licence duty (AMLD), a licence fee paid before a gaming machine may be made available to play, and VAT at the standard rate on their takings.

Taxing on the basis of gross profits has been a success for other gambling regimes. The Government are considering whether to base the taxation of gaming machines on to the same basis and wish to hear from interested stakeholders.

The consultation period will run until 23 October to ensure stakeholders are given additional time to make representations. The consultation document is also available from the HM Treasury website.

Thames Gateway: Annual Report

Statement

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

The Government have today published the Thames Gateway annual report 2008-09. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House and can be accessed via the Communities and Local Government website at http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/thames gateway/annualreport200809.

Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007

Statement

My honourable friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Bridget Prentice) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Tribunals Service was created in April 2006, bringing together the administrative support for over 23 tribunals from across government into a single organisation so that tribunals were visibly independent of original decision-makers and to bring improved quality and efficiency in the provision of administrative and management support.

The provisions of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 (TCE Act) followed these administrative changes and created a new judicial and legal framework, bringing together a range of formerly separate tribunals into a new unified two-tier tribunal structure (the First-tier and Upper Tribunal) under a Senior President, Lord Justice Carnwath. The First-tier and the Upper Tribunal were established under the TCE Act on 3 November 2008, with the First-tier Tribunal being the first-instance tribunal for most jurisdictions. The Upper Tribunal mainly, but not exclusively, reviews and decides appeals from the First-tier Tribunal. It also has the power to deal with judicial review work delegated from the High Courts of England and Wales and Northern Ireland and from the Court of Session.

The TCE Act has provided a cohesive statutory framework for a unified tribunal system dealing with nearly 600,000 cases a year which is committed to improvement and innovation for the benefit of the public.

The TCE Act also contains provisions for the jurisdictions of most existing tribunals administered by the Tribunals Service to transfer into the new two-tier structure. The main exception to this is the system of employment tribunals, which will remain as a distinct pillar within the tribunals system. The structure is designed to be flexible so that, in the future, when Parliament decides to create a new appeal right or jurisdiction, it will not be necessary to create a new tribunal to administer it.

Both the First-tier and Upper Tribunal are divided into chambers that group together jurisdictions, and their judiciary, dealing with like subjects or where individual panels need the same types of members. The following chambers have been established in the First-tier Tribunal;

social entitlement (3 Nov 2008);

war pensions and Armed Forces compensation (3 Nov 2008);

health, education and social care (3 Nov 2008); and

tax (1 April 2009).

In the Upper Tribunal the following chambers have been established:

administrative appeals (3 November 2008);

tax and finance (1 April 2009), and

lands (1 June 2009).

Further chambers dealing with general regulatory matters and immigration and asylum appeals are to be established in 2009 and early 2010.

Everyone who holds a judicial office within the Tribunals Service, including those who have or will be transferred into one of the new chambers, have been asked to take the oath of allegiance. So far 2,622 judges have taken the oath.

The new judicial structure allows for the flexible deployment of judges. known as cross ticketing within and across the new chambers. This will mean that suitably qualified judiciary can hear cases in jurisdictions other than the one to which they were first appointed without the need for a further Judicial Appointments Commission competition. This will reduce the costs of training and support. It will also enable the flexible deployment of judiciary to meet fluctuations in workloads between jurisdictions; encourage greater consistency of standards and approach across previously disparate jurisdictions; assist where there are difficulties in finding judges for particular locations and where there are recruitment difficulties in smaller jurisdictions. Working with the judiciary, the Tribunals Service has identified £6 million of efficiency savings relating to judicial activity in 2009-10 in areas such as reducing adjournments and more effective deployment of judges. A further £10 million in 2010-11 is now being sought.

The judges within this new structure are currently subject to widely differing rates of remuneration inherited from the tribunals from which they have transferred or will transfer and which have or will be abolished. Under the existing arrangements, therefore, many office holders will find themselves doing effectively the same job as each other for what would be unequal pay. This would hamper effective operation of the system and the delivery of efficiencies as well as leaving pay inequalities in place. To address these issues, in March 2007 the Government commissioned the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) to propose a pay structure for the tribunals' judiciary following implementation of the TCE Act. The SSRB delivered its Report No.66, Review of Tribunals' Judiciary Remuneration, in November 2008. The report includes 18 recommendations and proposes a single salary structure for tribunals judiciary linked to that already in operation for the courts judiciary and some tribunals' judges. The report and the Government's response to each of the 18 recommendations have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

The Government broadly accept those SSRB recommendations in relation to legally-qualified salaried and fee-paid tribunals judiciary, as an important step in supporting the Tribunals Service and the new judicial structure. Addressing the issues identified by the SSRB enables the tribunals system to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible.

While the Government recognise and support the important role played by non-legally qualified members they have decided not to implement those recommendations that apply to non-legal members. In taking this decision, account was taken of the level of increases being recommended by the SSRB and the lack of market-based justification in the current economic and public expenditure climate. The Government will be prepared to review any specific recruitment and retention issues which might arise, with any targeted salary or fee supplements being paid at the discretion of the Lord Chancellor. The Government will keep under review the arguments for drawing a link between the pay of fee-paid and salaried judiciary and that of non-legal members in the light of recruitment and retention data and the overall economic climate.

The impact of this new pay structure will see no change for over 92 per cent of the salaried judiciary and 37 per cent of legally qualified fee-paid members. Non-legally qualified members pay will be unaffected by these changes. Pay costs are expected to be to no more than £160,000 in the current year and £400,000 incrementally in the remaining four transitional years.

The creation of the Tribunals Service and the implementation of the TCE Act have been major steps in delivering improved services to tribunal users and a more effective and efficient system. Rationalisation of the judicial structure and, as a consequence, judicial pay is a key part of that.