Thursday 19 November 2009
My honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Bill Rammell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
With the expiry of the call-out order made on 11 November 2008, a new order has been made under Section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable reservists to continue to be called out into service to support operations in Afghanistan. The new order is effective until 10 November 2010. Reservists continue to make a valuable contribution to operations in that country and some 1,200 reservists are currently called out and serving, of whom 650 are deployed in theatre. The remainder are preparing for, or recovering from, operations.
Armed Forces: Personnel
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Bob Ainsworth) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am today announcing the publication of the first annual report on the service personnel Command Paper, The Nation’s Commitment: Cross-Government Support to our Armed Forces, their Families and Veterans. Copies are being placed in the Library of the House.
Our forces personnel are prepared to put their lives on the line in service of the country. They willingly accept restrictions to their lifestyle and the unique conditions of service that are required to do the job. But on becoming service personnel, they have not ceased to be citizens. Government have a moral obligation to ensure they are not disadvantaged as citizens by service life. The service personnel Command Paper was about meeting that obligation.
The measures we set out last year were well received by the services, by veterans’ groups and by the public at large. But we are determined to ensure that the commitment set out in that paper does not fade. One of the steps we took was to ask our External Reference Group (ERG) to monitor delivery, and to report annually. It is the first of these reports which is being published today.
The report charts the progress that has been made including the delivery of significant improvements in a number of areas. For example, we have doubled the compensation paid for the most serious injuries; extended eligibility to affordable housing schemes; opened up access to free further education for service leavers; improved the immigration arrangements for families of foreign and Commonwealth personnel; and taken steps to ensure that service families retain their places on NHS waiting lists when they move. Other measures will be delivered in the coming months, such as the MoD’s affordable home ownership pilot scheme. The report also highlights areas where we may need to do more, such as ensuring that veterans receive priority treatment under the NHS when entitled to it, and that childcare arrangements meet the requirements of service families. The Government will be following up the valuable points made in the report, for example by taking further steps to raise awareness of veterans’ needs among GPs, and pressing on generally with implementation of the measures announced last year. Our commitment continues undiminished.
The ERG brings together representatives from a wide range of government departments and the devolved Administrations, with leading charities and the service families’ federations. It offers a unique perspective on how well we are doing, and I am very grateful to its members. This report shows how the dialogue between government and the third sector on how best to support the Armed Forces community has grown and developed over the past year. That relationship, and its continued improvement, is very important to us. I look forward to the ERG’s future reports as further progress is made in this vital work.
I commend to the House this annual report on the nation’s commitment to the Armed Forces community.
Civil Law Reform Bill
My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Bridget Prentice) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
In June 2009, the Government confirmed their intention to publish a draft Civil Law Reform Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny. I am today announcing that the Bill will be published in December and will include provisions:
to implement the reforms to the law of damages announced by the Ministry of Justice in July 2009;
to reform the law of succession so that where a person is disqualified by the forfeiture rule or refuses an inheritance by disclaimer his or her heirs are not disinherited;
to implement the reforms of the law relating to the calculation of interest on judgment debts and damages announced by the Ministry of Justice on 16 September 2008; and
to transfer the jurisdiction for appeals in barristers' disciplinary hearings to the High Court.
The draft Bill will not now include provisions to reform the law of limitation of actions. These provisions were based on a Law Commission report of 2001. But a recent consultation with key stakeholders has demonstrated that there are insufficient benefits and potentially large-scale costs associated with the reform. In addition, the courts have remedied some of the most significant difficulties with the law that the Law Commission identified, for example, in relation to the limitation aspects of child abuse cases. The limitation reforms will therefore not now be taken forward.
EU: Agriculture and Fisheries Council
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
My honourable friend the Minister for Food, Farming and Environment (Jim Fitzpatrick) and the Minister for Marine and the Natural Environment (Huw Irranca-Davies), will represent the United Kingdom at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels on 19 and 20 November.
There are a number of items on the agenda relating to agriculture and fisheries which are of significant interest to the United Kingdom, including the adoption of the recent dairy proposals, on which the UK will abstain. Discussions will take place on the following:
conservation of fisheries resources through technical measures;
EU/Norway annual fisheries consultations for 2010;
2010 fishing opportunities for fish stocks in the Black Sea;
simplification of the common agricultural policy; and
future of the common agricultural policy: rural development.
There are currently two items under any other business—a statement on Community action reducing incidental catches of seabirds; and general conclusions from the 26th conference of EU paying agencies.
There is also a ministerial lunch scheduled to discuss the reform of the common fisheries policy.
Financial Services Compensation Scheme
My honourable friend the Economic Secretary (Ian Pearson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The Government are correcting an omission in Section 214B of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA), inserted by Section 171 of the Banking Act 2009, relating to the calculation of the contribution of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) to special resolution regime (SRR) costs. The necessary amendments are included in the Financial Services Bill but new regulations made under the revised power will have retrospective effect so they will take effect from today.
In the event of a bank or building society (an institution's) insolvency the FSCS provides statutory compensation to eligible depositors, up to a prescribed limit currently set (in rules made by the Financial Services Authority (FSA)) at £50,000. On paying the compensation, the FSCS takes over the depositors' claims against the estate of the insolvent institution. The FSCS is funded by levies on industry.
The SRR, established by Part 1 of the Banking Act 2009, enables the authorities to resolve a failing institution, rather than allowing it to become insolvent. Under regulations made under Section 214B FSMA, the FSCS may be required to contribute to the costs of the SRR, up to the net cost that the FSCS would have had to incur in a counterfactual scenario where the institution had instead gone into insolvency.
The change will mean that the Government can include the interest costs incurred in a resolution in the calculation of costs to which the FSCS may be required to contribute. It will also mean that the maximum contribution the FSCS can be required to make will include interest costs which the FSCS would have borne in the hypothetical scenario where the institution had gone into insolvency.
This will be achieved through the keeping of two separate accounts which record all costs (including interest), recoveries, and any interim contributions to SRR costs which the FSCS is required to make. The interest will be calculated by applying interest rates prescribed by the Treasury to the net balance in the relevant account at that time.
First, a real account will be kept which records all actual resolution outlays the authorities incur and all associated inflows (ie the proceeds of the disposal of the assets of the failed institution and any interim contributions to SRR costs). Interest will be calculated periodically (on the net balance on the account) and added to the outlays.
Secondly, a hypothetical account will be kept based on the counterfactual scenario using data from the FSCS as to how much compensation would have been paid and when. Interest will be added to reflect the cost of the borrowing the FSCS would have needed to fund compensation payments. The timed recoveries that would have been received from the insolvent estate are to be determined by an independent valuer and will be included in the account and will reduce the balance on which interest is calculated. Any interim contributions the FSCS is required to make to the SRR and any compensation the FSCS has actually paid to depositors will also be included to reduce the balance on which interest is calculated.
When all recoveries have been made the real account will show the net cost of the resolution including interest incurred by that date; the hypothetical account will show the net cost of compensating depositors were the institution allowed to fail, including interest up to that date. After independent verification, the FSCS may be required to contribute up to the lower of the two accounts. Payment may be requested before all recoveries have been made based on an estimate of the payment required which, if included in the lower of the two accounts, would bring the balance when all recoveries had been made to zero. If, after all recoveries had been made, this turned out to be too large a contribution, the Treasury would make a balancing payment to the FSCS.
Since this power is to have retrospective effect from today, this interest cost will be included in the two accounts kept in relation to Dunfermline Building Society from the date of this announcement. As announced on 30 March 2009, the FSCS will be required to pay a contribution to resolution costs at the end of the Dunfermline Building Society resolution; no interim contributions to SRR costs will be required.
The interest rate to be used on the two accounts in relation to Dunfermline Building Society is 4.50 per cent. This rate reflects the rate of interest the FSCS would have had to pay were the institution to become insolvent and funds were borrowed in order to make compensation payments to depositors, with recoveries made over an estimated five-year period.
Flood and Water Management Bill
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I would like to inform the House that today I have introduced to Parliament a revised Flood and Water Management Bill, laid regulations under the European Communities Act to implement the EU Floods Directive and published a command paper setting out the Government’s response to pre-legislative scrutiny and consultation on the draft Bill.
The floods in 2007 claimed 13 lives and cost our economy £3 billion.
Sir Michael Pitt undertook a comprehensive review of the lessons to be learnt from the floods. He called for urgent and fundamental changes in the way the country is adapting to the increased risk of flooding. To ensure that the 5 million people living in flood risk areas around the country are better protected we are also investing more than ever in maintaining traditional flood defences—£2.15 billion in the current spending round.
Since the 2007 floods the Environment Agency has completed and maintained 102 flood defence schemes, protecting over 63,000 additional homes in England. Operating authorities are currently on course to exceed delivery targets and provide better protection to 160,000 homes over the three years to March 2011.
In this time, government have also, among other measures, provided £15 million funding to local authorities to help them manage local flood risk, and set up a Flood Forecasting Centre which will improve the way we predict potential flooding and the exchange of information between emergency services.
We also promised legislation as a central part of this programme of action.
In April of this year, the UK Government and Welsh Assembly Government published the draft Flood and Water Management Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny and public consultation.
The public consultation on the draft Bill in England and Wales generated over 650 responses. A summary of the responses is also being published today on the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/flooding/policy/fwmb/.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee published its report on its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill on 23 September. The department is grateful to the committee, and to those who gave evidence, for their vigour and commitment in developing the report. The Government have considered it very carefully.
We believe the consultation responses indicate broad support for our overarching proposals. Both they and the EFRA Select Committee’s report gave valuable and useful feedback which has informed the way forward, which is now set out in the command paper published today. That command paper sets out the department’s response to each of the recommendations made by the Select Committee.
In line with one of the committee’s recommendations, I have also today arranged for copies of a statement from Ofwat to be placed in the House Library. This statement sets out Ofwat’s assessment of the risks to water industry investors of the Bill’s proposed changes to the regulatory regime.
Some have argued that it is preferable to wait until it is possible to bring forward a single Bill which makes all the necessary changes to both flood and water legislation and brings them together with the current statute book. However, the Government are clear that they should legislate as soon as possible for the new clear roles and powers necessary to improve the protection of people from the risk of floods.
The Bill also meets our commitment to safeguard community groups, such as churches and scouts, from the unaffordable increases in surface water drainage charges they face now.
Furthermore, the EU Floods Directive is due to be transposed this month. This has led us to lay regulations now, to avoid unreasonable delays and the increased risks of infraction.
Climate projections suggest that extreme weather will happen more frequently in future. Members will be aware of the many flood warnings issued this week and the work being carried out at this moment by the Environment Agency, local authorities, emergency services and the voluntary sector to help protect homes, businesses and people against the risk of flooding. Our thanks go to those many people and organisations on the front-line, tackling flooding, and our thoughts are with those directly affected.
Serious flooding can happen any time. This Bill is central to reducing that risk.
G6: Interior Ministers Meeting
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Alan Johnson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The informal G6 group of Interior Ministers from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and the UK held their most recent meeting in London on 5 November. The UK currently holds the presidency of the G6 group and the meeting was chaired by the Home Secretary.
The meeting was divided into three working sessions, the first two of which were attended by the core G6 Ministers. This group sat again for the final working session, with the additional guest attendance of the United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.
The first working session considered the issue of organised crime, where the Home Secretary presented the results of the UK’s recent domestic review: Extending Our Reach—A Comprehensive Approach to Tackling Serious Organised Crime, published in July, and asked what more the G6 countries could do together to tackle the threats posed. The group exchanged experiences of what had been found to work in each country in tackling organised crime. There was broad agreement to the need for organised crime to be raised up the agenda. Ministers recognised the value of working together to tackle organised crime, and agreed to more sharing of best practice where relevant.
During the second session the Ministers considered what benefits data sharing could bring to strengthen borders, improve identity management and facilitate the prevention and detection of serious organised crime but also the challenges faced to ensure data were secure and protected. There was less of a consensus on this issue due to the incompatibility between legal systems in each state.
The afternoon session opened with a presentation by the UK of the current terrorist threat assessment. Ministers offered information on the threats posed in their respective countries. This was followed by a discussion of how to counter radicalisation through community engagement, which focused mainly on the role of mosques in radicalisation of young people. Conversation centred on difficulties of mosques preaching in a non EU language (for early stage interventions), and considerations of how to better regulate Imams.
The Interior Minister of Spain, Alfredo Rubalcaba, also took the opportunity to offer a factual presentation on his plans for the Spanish presidency of the EU, which will start on 1 January 2010. There was no discussion.
The next meeting of the G6 is expected to be held in Italy in the first half of next year.
Government: Legislative Programme for Northern Ireland
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Shaun Woodward) has made the following Ministerial Statement.
The fifth Session UK legislative programme unveiled in the Queen’s Speech on the 18 November contains measures of relevance to the people of Northern Ireland.
The following is a summary of the legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech and its impact in Northern Ireland. It includes both new Bills that will be introduced in the current Session and Bills carried over from the last Session. It does not include draft Bills.
The list also identifies the lead government department.
The following Bills extend to Northern Ireland, in whole or in part, and deal mainly with excepted or reserved matters. Discussions will continue between the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure that where provisions that are specifically for a transferred purpose are included in any of these Bills, the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly will be sought for them:
Bribery Bill (MoJ);
Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill (MoD);
Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill (MoJ) (introduced in fourth Session);
Crime and Security Bill (HO); and
Fiscal Responsibility Bill (HMT).
It is intended that the following Bills will extend to Northern Ireland to varying degrees. They require the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly in relation to those provisions in the devolved field:
Child Poverty Bill (Child Poverty Unit) (introduced in fourth Session);
Equality Bill (Government Equalities Office) (introduced in fourth Session);
Digital Economy Bill (DCMS); and
Financial Services Bill (HMT).
Discussions will continue between the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on Bills that might include provisions that require the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The following Bills will have limited or no impact in Northern Ireland:
Children, Schools and Families Bill;
Flood and Water Management Bill; and
Personal Care at Home Bill.
Government: Legislative Programme for Scotland
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The legislative programme for the fifth Session was outlined on the 18 November. Eight of the 10 new Bills outlined in the Queen's Speech in this final Session of the current Parliament contain provisions that apply to Scotland; once again this is a programme that will significantly benefit people living in Scotland.
In this Session the Government will focus on supporting the economy as we move from recession to recovery and we will take forward measures to support people living and working in our communities.
This Statement provides a summary of the legislation announced in the Queen's Speech and its application to Scotland. This Statement includes both new Bills that will be introduced shortly, and those Bills that are carrying-over from the last Session. It does not include draft Bills. The Bills listed in section 1 are likely to contain provisions requiring the consent of the Scottish Parliament in line with the Sewel Convention. A brief description is provided of the provisions likely to require consent. Section 2 details Bills that are not likely to contain provisions that require the consent of the Scottish Parliament, by way of a Legislative Consent Motion (LCM).
The list also identifies the lead government department:
1. UK Legislation likely to contain provisions requiring the consent of the Scottish Parliament at introduction:
Discussions will continue between the Government and Scottish Ministers on Bills that might include provisions that trigger the Sewel Convention. The Bills identified within the Queen's Speech in this section are as follows:
Bribery (MoJ)—This Bill primarily relates to criminal law which is a devolved matter in Scotland. Following a consultation exercise in Scotland, Scottish Ministers have agreed that the best way to reform the law on bribery in Scotland is via an LCM extending full provisions of this Bill to Scotland.
Child Poverty Bill (HMT) (introduced in the fourth Session)—This Bill enshrines in law the Government's commitment to end child poverty by 2020. Four indicators of child poverty are identified by this Bill. An LCM is required in order to extend the commitment to those matters that are within the competence of the Scottish Parliament. Constitutional Reform and Governance (MoJ) (introduced in the fourth Session): The majority of the provisions in the Bill extend to Scotland and Bill aims to rebuild trust in our democratic and constitutional settlement by reinforcing the principles of transparency, accountability and probity across government. An LCM is required for provisions concerning requirements placed upon the Scottish Ministers in relation to the Civil Service and special advisors. An LCM is also required for the amendments concerning time-limits for human rights claims under the Human Rights and Devolution Acts.
Crime and Security (Home Office)—The majority of this Bill will not apply to Scotland, however provisions that give Scottish Ministers new powers to regulate the private security industry will require a LCM.
Energy Bill (DECC)—This Bill will commit the Government to developing the use of clean coal and help vulnerable households with their energy Bills. It will require an LCM for the provisions that relate to funding for up to four commercial-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects.
Equality Bill (GEO) (introduced in fourth Session)—Equal opportunities is a reserved matter. This Bill requires an LCM as it will amend the Scottish Ministers’ functions by allowing them to impose specific public sector duties on the Scottish public bodies for the three new strands.
Financial Services Bill (HMT)—The Bill will strengthen governance of the financial sector, control the system of rewards and ensure savers and lenders are fully protected. An LCM will be required for provisions relating to consumer education.
Flood and Water Management (Defra)—The Bill generally applies to England and Wales only but an LCM will be required for provisions relating to cross-border reservoir safety.
2. UK Legislation unlikely to contain provisions requiring the consent of the Scottish Parliament at introduction:
Discussions will continue between the Government and Scottish Ministers to ensure that, if provisions relating to matters which trigger the Sewel Convention are included in any of these Bills during their passage at Westminster, the consent of the Scottish Parliament will be sought for them in line with the Sewel Convention:
Personal Care at Home Bill (DoH);
Children, Schools and Families Bill (DCSF);
Fiscal Responsibility (HMT);
Digital Economy (DCMS); and
Cluster Munitions (FCO).
My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office (Meg Hillier) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am pleased to announce that a further Identity Cards Act commencement order has been made to extend the availability of voluntary identity cards, to members of the public in Greater Manchester starting from Monday 30 November 2009.
From that date, applications for voluntary identity cards may be made by airside workers at Manchester and London City airports and by British citizens who hold a passport or whose passport has recently expired and who live or work in the Greater Manchester area. Identity cards may also be applied for by people working in the Home Office in the Greater London area or who work in the Identity and Passport Service.
Local Transport Act 2008
My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Paul Clark) has made the following Ministerial Statement.
Following the completion of our public consultation, we have today published guidance from the Secretary of State to the senior traffic commissioner. The senior traffic commissioner is appointed under Section 4D of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, as inserted by the Local Transport Act 2008. The publication of the guidance follows a formal consultation, and the department’s summary of responses has also been published today.
The new guidance represents an important step in the implementation of reforms to the traffic commissioner regime, provided for by the Local Transport Act 2008, which attracted broad support during the passage of the Bill. In particular, there was wide support for the appointment of a senior traffic commissioner and the proposed strengthened independence for traffic commissioners. This is achieved in part by replacing powers for the Secretary of State to issue directions to individual traffic commissioners with a power to issue guidance to the senior traffic commissioner.
The aim of the new guidance is to highlight issues and outcomes which the Secretary of State regards as key, and to provide guidance to the senior traffic commissioner as to how he might exercise his powers in relation to those issues. We expect that the senior traffic commissioner will want to issue a formal response to the new guidance in due course.
Copies of the guidance and summary of responses have been placed in the House Libraries and are available at http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/closed/ trafficcommissioner/.
Mental Health: Criminal Justice
My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Phil Hope) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
On 29 October, I reported progress to Parliament on the progress achieved further to my right honourable and noble friend Lord Bradley’s review of people with mental health problems or learning disabilities in the criminal justice system. The Government accepted the direction of travel set out by Lord Bradley, and committed to developing a national delivery plan incorporating a full response to the report’s recommendations.
I am pleased to report that Improving Health, Supporting Justice, the Government’s national delivery plan was published and launched at a cross-departmental health and criminal justice conference in York on Tuesday 17 November. This delivery plan will contribute to key government initiatives around protecting the public, reducing health inequalities, reducing reoffending and health improvement and protection. In particular, it aims to:
provide a strategic framework within which local services can deliver quality improvements, and to communicate the framework to the relevant NHS and criminal justice organisations;
set out the actions the Government will take to support these improvements; and
develop a national approach, by building on the good work and good practice that is already underway in individual localities and maintain the significant impetus and enthusiasm created by Lord Bradley’s report, to drive forward improvements in health and social care services for offenders.
On 29 October, I also reported that Keith Pearson (chair of NHS East of England), has been appointed as the chair of the Health and Criminal Justice National Advisory Group. I am now pleased to inform you that the following organisations have been appointed as members of this group to date:
Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO);
Association of Directors for Social Services (ADASS);
British Medical Association (BMA);
British Psychological Society;
Calderdale Women’s Centre;
Council for Disabled Children and the Transition Information Network;
Faculty for Forensic and Legal Medicine;
Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody;
Independent Police Complaints Commission;
National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO);
National Advisory Council for Children’s Mental Health and Psychological Wellbeing;
Partnerships in Care;
Prison Officers Association (POA);
Prison Reform Trust;
Royal College of Nursing;
Royal College of Psychiatry;
Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health;
St Ann’s Community Centre;
Together Working for Wellbeing; and
Youth Justice Board.
Improving Health, Supporting Justice—a National Delivery Plan is now available on the Department of Health website at http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publication sandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAnd Guidance/DH_108606.
A copy has been placed in the Library and copies are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office.
In May 2009, I invited Sir Peter Hall, Professor of Planning at University College London, and Chris Green, formerly chief executive of Virgin Trains, to advise on ways to improve railway stations in England and Wales, focusing on getting the basic facilities right as well as considering the broader role of stations in the future.
Their report, which I have published, focuses on:
achieving an enhanced and consistent level of facilities at each type of station, so that passengers can find what they need and know what to expect;
a greater emphasis on end-to-end journeys, with more attention given to helping passengers get to and from the station by bus, bike or car; and
more effective integration of public transport into the planning of local communities.
These are all vital to the creation of a modern transport system which promotes individual choice and supports the national economy. The report complements existing government initiatives, such as the £14 million which I recently announced to improve the provision for cyclists at stations.
The champions have found that the largest stations, including the main termini, are generally up to the standards which passengers should expect. But there are stations in the next tier—the major interchanges—which fall below the required standard and are in urgent need of attention. The Government and Network Rail are committed to a rolling programme of improvements to major stations, and I have agreed with Network Rail that they will make up to £50 million available to enable an early start to be made on the 10 key stations highlighted in the report. My department will be working closely with Network Rail to decide on a programme of work, funded by them, developer and local contributions and through the franchising process. The investment will of course be subject to a satisfactory business case and the prospect of an adequate financial return. I am challenging the industry and local government to raise part of the money required for each of these stations themselves. It is very important that the additional programme funding which I am announcing should be supplemented in this way so that as many stations as possible can be tackled.
It will be helpful and constructive to give organisations in the industry, the devolved Administrations and local government an opportunity to comment on the many very detailed proposals in the report before we decide how to take them forward. I want to be sure that when we implement the report we give priority to the most urgent actions and get the best possible value for the taxpayers’ investment.
I am placing copies of the champions' report, the Government's initial response and the consultation I have launched in the Libraries of both Houses. The text of these documents is also being posted on my department's website.
My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Jonathan Shaw) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Remploy’s achievement against its targets set by Government for 2008-09:
Target Description Target Achievement To live within the company’s financial means in the 2008-09 financial year and achieve: operational funding result of £121.5 million £121.5 million modernisation of the business within a cost of £23.0 million £34.0 million Factory Businesses to achieve: an operating result of £67.6 million £71.3 million cost per disabled employee of £22,000 £26,000 Employment Service business to achieve an operating result of £29.1 million £29.1 million total job entries of 7,500 7,640 of which WORKSTEP job entries will be 5,500 5,874
To live within the company’s financial means in the 2008-09 financial year and achieve:
operational funding result of
modernisation of the business within a cost of
Factory Businesses to achieve:
an operating result of
cost per disabled employee of
Employment Service business to achieve
an operating result of
total job entries of
of which WORKSTEP job entries will be
Remploy will publish its annual report and accounts today giving further detail of its performance throughout 2008-09. Copies of the annual report and accounts will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
In addition, I have, on behalf of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, written to the chairman of Remploy formally approving the agreed 2009-10 performance and resources agreement between the department and the company. The agreement has been negotiated on behalf of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The targets for 2009-10 are:
Target Description Target To live within the company’s financial means in the 2009-10 financial year and achieve: operational funding result of £128.5 million modernisation of the business within a cost of £10.1 million Factory Businesses to achieve: an operating result of £71.5 million cost per disabled employee of £26,000 Employment Service business to achieve an operating result of £34.4 million total job entries of 9,860 of which Workstep job entries will be 7,000
To live within the company’s financial means in the 2009-10 financial year and achieve:
operational funding result of
modernisation of the business within a cost of
Factory Businesses to achieve:
an operating result of
cost per disabled employee of
Employment Service business to achieve
an operating result of
total job entries of
of which Workstep job entries will be
The full performance and resource agreement for 2009-10 will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Schools: Primary Curriculum
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Following the announcement in the Queen’s Speech yesterday about our intention to introduce a new primary national curriculum from September 2011, I am today publishing the details of what the primary curriculum will look like and announcing improved accountability arrangements for primary schools from 2010.
The new national curriculum has been developed following an independent review of the primary curriculum by Sir Jim Rose. In January 2008, I asked Sir Jim to carry out the review, the first in 10 years, to update the primary curriculum and ensure that it is the very best it can be to meet the needs of all children in the 21st century. Sir Jim published his interim report in December 2008 and final report and draft new primary curriculum at the end of April 2009. In carrying out his review, Sir Jim drew on a wide range of responses including over 1,000 e-mails and letters, 50 primary school visits to see what is already happening in good schools to bring learning to life, and evidence of international best practice in other successful countries. He was supported by an advisory group made up of teachers and head teachers and an expert editorial group to write the new curriculum made up of subject experts.
His recommendations, which we accepted in full, were published and well received by the teaching profession in April this year. Underpinning Sir Jim’s recommendations and the design of the new curriculum was attention to building on best practice, securing the essentials of literacy, numeracy, ICT capability and personal skills and development as part of every child’s entitlement to a broad, balanced and well rounded primary education. And to achieve this through both rigorous and direct subject teaching and equally rigorous and enriching cross-curricular studies. To quote his final report:
“Our best primary schools already demonstrate that, far from narrowing learning, these priorities—literacy, numeracy, ICT skills and personal development—are crucial for enabling children to access a broad and balanced curriculum. Excellence in the basics supports the achievement of breadth and balance in primary education.
Our primary schools also show that high standards are best secured when essential knowledge and skills are learned both through direct, high quality subject teaching and also through this content being applied and used in cross-curricular studies”.
The proposed curriculum was the subject of extensive consultation over the summer by the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA) and the results of that consultation are also being published today. QCDA received 1,057 responses to the general consultation survey; 507 responses from a consultation specifically designed for children; and 375 responses from a consultation specifically designed for parents. In addition, QCDA held 49 focus groups with head teachers, initial teacher training providers, local authorities, organisations concerned with inclusion issues, unions and professional representatives. They also ran a series of conferences with over 700 attendees made up of governors, education professionals, subject associations, teachers and head teachers.
The findings of the consultation showed high levels of support, between 70 per cent and 80 per cent, for Sir Jim’s main proposals. In addition:
70 per cent agreed that the areas of learning help teachers plan meaningful learning experiences;
71 per cent agreed that they will help children make useful links between related subjects;
83 per cent agreed that the proposals to integrate ICT through the curriculum will help children use technology to enhance their learning;
70 per cent agreed that the proposed curriculum will give schools more flexibility to adapt to the needs of their children; and
69 per cent agreed that the proposed curriculum is less prescriptive than the existing curriculum and provides schools with greater flexibility to adapt the curriculum to the needs of their pupils.
In the light of such overwhelming support from teachers, parents and pupils, we have agreed with Sir Jim that the new primary national curriculum will be organised into six broad areas of learning, rather than the current subjects with less detailed programmes of learning to allow greater focus on strengthening literacy and numeracy skills and more time to study essential knowledge and skills in depth. There is also a greater emphasis on developing ICT capability and personal learning and thinking skills and smoothing transition to and from primary school.
The six areas of learning are:
understanding English, communication and languages;
understanding the arts;
historical, geographical and social understanding;
understanding physical development, health and wellbeing; and
scientific and technological understanding.
While RE is not part of the statutory national curriculum it is no less important and we will be publishing an illustrative programme of learning alongside new non-statutory guidance in January.
Due to the positive response to Jim Rose’s proposals, few changes have been made to the proposed areas of learning. However, after consulting with parents, teachers, the science community and other interested parties, pupils will be expected to explicitly cover evolution as part of their learning. Learning about evolution is an important part of science education, and pupils already learn about it at secondary school. The revised area of learning for historical, geographical and social understanding also confirms learning about British history is a key feature.
The new primary national curriculum promotes:
high standards and good progress for all learners, with no child left behind;
a strengthened focus on securing essential literacy and numeracy skills with opportunities to develop, use and apply these skills embedded throughout the new curriculum;
increased expectations of children’s ICT capability and the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning;
a continued entitlement to a broad, balanced and coherent curriculum through the creation of broad areas of learning, which will be underpinned by the new “pupil guarantee”;
recognition that children need a well-rounded school experience to succeed, and that personal development is essential to wellbeing and achievement; and
better transition from the early years through to primary and through to secondary education.
It will also provide schools with a powerful tool to tackle continuous school improvement through self assessment, renewal, development and review of the effectiveness of their curriculum. The reduced prescription will encourage teachers to use their professional judgment and expertise to design the curriculum and allow schools to increase flexibility to tailor learning to their local circumstances and the needs of all children in their care.
Setting out the content of the new curriculum in three phases—early, middle, later primary—will aid planning for progression and help reduce the dip in performance in the middle years of primary school. It also recognises the opportunities that play-based learning offers for approaches into key stage 1 and encourages active learning in the whole primary phase.
Our new curriculum lies at the heart of our policies to raise standards and help every school to improve all of the time. It should help children become the very best they can be. We live in a changing world, and our new curriculum will ensure that our children are fully prepared for the opportunities and challenges of life in the 21st century.
Primary School Accountability
In May 2009, I accepted in full the recommendations of the Expert Group on Assessment. They recommended that key stage 2 tests in English and mathematics should remain in place because they are vital for accountability and for providing information to parents about their child’s progress.
They also made a number of recommendations to strengthen the quality of teacher assessment and said that, “As these changes are made and as chartered assessors are introduced, DCSF should monitor progress in strengthening the reliability and consistency of teacher assessment, and in developing an infrastructure which provides assurance about this”.
In line with the Expert Group’s recommendation that tests should remain in place, I have today approved QCDA’s choice of preferred test operations contractor for delivering English and maths tests for 11 year-olds in 2010.
Following consultations with key stakeholders and with members of the Expert Group, I have also decided to take a further step in recognising the value of teachers’ own assessments. From 2010, we will publish primary schools’ teacher assessment data for pupils in year 6 in English, maths and science. This will be published alongside test data for English and maths in our achievement and attainment tables. It is also my intention, from 2011, to introduce a light touch local moderation process for this teacher assessment. We will consult with schools, local authorities, other stakeholders and the expert group on the introduction of a system that will best support teachers and strengthen their assessments.
I have always said that the assessment and testing system is not set in stone and that what is important is that it works best for pupils and schools and provides parents with the information that they need. To that end from 2011, we are introducing the new school report card, which will be underpinned by the new powers we are taking in the Bill. We are currently consulting with stakeholders on the school report card, and we will consider data on teacher assessments as part of that consultation. These changes taken together are further evidence of our commitment to strong accountability.
I am placing a copy of the correspondence between myself and the chief executive of the QCDA, Andrew Hall, concerning the contract for the 2010 tests in the Libraries of both Houses.
My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Gillian Merron) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
A report of exercise peak practice has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office.
Exercise peak practice consisted of 10 strategic, tabletop exercises, one led by each strategic health authority in England to help prepare for a possible second wave of swine flu this winter.
The events achieved the intended aim of exercising the management of the NHS and social care systems against the backdrop of normal seasonal activity and the rising threat posed by swine flu. The report also summarises the NHS Board statements of readiness for responding to swine flu, which show that there are robust leadership and governance arrangements in place.
We must not underestimate the threat that swine flu still poses but all our pandemic planning means that both NHS and social care are well placed to respond.
Tax Law Rewrite Project
My right honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Stephen Timms) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am pleased to tell the House that today we are introducing the Corporation Tax Bill and the Taxation (International and Other Provisions) Bill. These two Bills complete a 13-year task of rewriting the majority of direct tax legislation for individuals and businesses that started in 1996. They are the Tax Law Rewrite project’s final Bills and maintain the project’s high standards in making tax legislation significantly easier to use. This would not have been possible without the expertise, time and commitment of all those involved in commenting on the provisions during consultation and I would like to thank them and the members of the Tax Law Rewrite project’s Steering and Consultative Committees for their invaluable help in making the project’s work such a success.
The Bills were published in draft on 3 March 2009 for consultation and response documents reporting on the outcome of that consultation were published on 3 September this year.
The Corporation Tax Bill completes the rewrite of the main corporation tax provisions. The Taxation (International and Other Provisions) Bill rewrites a number of international tax provisions and also rewrites and relocates some provisions which would otherwise be left unhelpfully in the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 or one of the Finance Acts. The scope of the Bills was agreed with the project’s consultative and steering committees which together include the main representative bodies and other users and I am pleased by the wide support they have amongst the tax community. Like all previous Bills prepared by the project, they rewrite the law without changing its general effect. All the provisions have benefited from detailed consultation and the drafting style and structure is in line with that of the previous rewrite Bills.