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Written Statements

Volume 715: debated on Tuesday 15 December 2009

Written Statements

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Animal Health: Exotic Diseases


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

I have today laid before Parliament the National Contingency Plan for Exotic Diseases of Animals in accordance with Section 14A of the Animal Health Act 2002 which came into force on 24 March 2003.

This plan sets out the operational response arrangements Defra will put in place to deal with any occurrence of foot and mouth disease, avian influenza or Newcastle disease. The plan is also applicable to all other exotic diseases of animals. It is composed of two elements:

Defra’s Framework Response Plan for Exotic Diseases of Animals, outlining the systems and structures which are established and detailing the key roles and responsibilities of Ministers and officials during an outbreak of disease; and

Defra’s Overview of Emergency Preparedness which provides details of our preparedness and operational response.

It replaces Defra’s Contingency Plan for Exotic Animal Diseases which was laid before Parliament on 9 December 2008.

Defra’s contingency plan is very much a “living document”. It will be subject to ongoing revision taking on the latest developments in science, research, and epidemiological modelling together with lessons identified from outbreaks.

To meet the provisions of the Animal Health Act, the plan will also be subject to formal annual review.

Armed Forces: Future Rotary Wing Strategy


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Bob Ainsworth) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today announcing a new strategy that will see the Ministry of Defence deliver increased levels of helicopter capability for our Armed Forces. The strategy’s priority is support to operations, and through it we will deliver, by 2016, an increase of some 40 per cent in the number of helicopters suitable for deployment in hot and high conditions, such as Afghanistan.

At the heart of the strategy is the procurement of an additional 22 new Chinook helicopters, with a further two expected to replace those that were destroyed in Afghanistan this summer. The current Chinook fleet has seen continuous service on operations over the last 20 years, and it has performed superbly in Afghanistan. It is a proven capability that is highly regarded by those who fly it and troops who use it. Delivery of these aircraft will not only mean more aircraft able to operate in the kind of conditions seen in Afghanistan but also a significant increase in the overall lift capacity of our helicopter fleet. We anticipate delivery of 10 new-build Chinook during the course of 2012 and 2013, including two to replace the aircraft recently lost in Afghanistan. The proposed investment in these new Chinook builds on the £400 million that the Ministry of Defence has invested this year to improve the operational performance of the existing Chinook fleet by delivering enhanced engines and cockpits.

Beyond increasing levels of capability, our other main focus has been on simplifying the delivery of helicopter capability. As the HCDC set out in its recent report, Helicopter Capability [HC434], the optimum means to achieve efficiencies is through reducing the number of different types of helicopter fleet; with each fleet type comes an associated support cost overhead and training cost. The new strategy will enable the department to reduce the number of fleet types.

We aim to remove all marks of our Sea King fleet by 2016, with its roles to be delivered by our Merlin helicopter fleet or, in the case of UK peacetime search and rescue capabilities, by a joint private finance initiative service that we intend to provide with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. To enable this transition, we intend to capitalise on our past investment in Merlin and its over-water capabilities and safety features, including by modifying our Merlin Mk3/3a helicopters to enable them to operate effectively from amphibious shipping as well as continuing to contribute to our battlefield lift requirements.

The £300 million Puma Life Extension Programme, which will deliver a step change in the aircraft’s capability, will proceed, delivering vital battlefield lift capability for operations alongside Chinook until at least 2022. Beyond the retirement of Puma, we intend that the Ministry of Defence will operate four broadly equal-sized core helicopter fleets comprising Chinook, Apache, Wildcat and Merlin, with much smaller niche fleets for specialised roles. As a result of the measures set out above, we do not intend to proceed with the Future Medium Helicopter competition.

We anticipate that the reduction in fleet types will produce substantial through-life cost savings over the next decade and beyond. We are also exploring the possibility of further benefits that might arise through, for example, estate rationalisation and the more efficient delivery of training solutions.

Although the major components of this strategy will be subject in due course to separate investment decisions, the new approach represents excellent news for the overall helicopter capability available to our Armed Forces and provides industry with a clear vision of our investment priorities over the coming decade against which they can align their resources. While a significant percentage of the planned investment will be made on a US product (Chinook), we anticipate that much of the investment required to deliver other elements of the strategy will be made in the UK, supporting UK jobs, and sustaining essential onshore skills as well as delivering value for money.

Bernard Lodge Inquiry


My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Claire Ward) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have today laid before Parliament the report of the inquiry that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Shahid Malik) announced on 23 February 2009 into the death of Bernard Lodge, who died at HMP Manchester on 28 August 1998.

I should like to thank the chair of the inquiry, Barbara Stow, and the solicitor to the inquiry for the way in which they handled the inquiry and for fulfilling the terms of reference so efficiently.



In December 2008 the then Secretary of State for Transport, the right honourable Geoff Hoon MP, announced a range of reforms to bus service operators grant (BSOG) to bring this subsidy better into line with government objectives. As promised in that announcement, we have since been developing the detailed arrangements with stakeholders, and continuing to discuss possible longer-term reforms.

In April this year the Government introduced two changes to the current BSOG scheme. First, bus operators who have achieved a 6 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency will receive a 3 per cent uplift in their BSOG rate from April 2010. Secondly, with effect from April 2009 operators have been able to claim an additional payment of 6p for each kilometre operated by a low carbon bus, ie one that is capable of achieving at least a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to a similar size conventional diesel bus.

I can now confirm the details of two further changes that were first announced in last December’s Statement and will come into effect in April 2010. From that date operators will receive an 8 per cent increase in their BSOG rate if they have operational ITSO smartcard systems and, separately, a 2 per cent increase if they have fitted their buses with GPS equipment. To qualify for the higher rate smartcard equipment will need to accept all English concessionary passes and the incentive will also be linked to accepting integrated ticketing products. To receive either the smartcard or GPS incentive, operators will also have to commit to share specific data with local authorities, central government and other relevant bodies. Together these incentives could be worth around £1,000 in additional grant per bus each year.

The smartcard and GPS incentives will not apply to London operators. The contractual arrangements for bus services in London already provide the mechanism for securing the outputs that the Government are seeking, such as installation of GPS equipment and availability of GPS data. There is a separate project to enable the Transport for London Oyster network to read ITSO smart cards, to which the Department for Transport has committed £60 million.

The smartcard incentive is part of a package of measures designed to encourage the introduction of smart and integrated ticketing across the country. These are the subject of a separate announcement today. Encouraging the take-up and use of GPS systems will help realise the potential for passengers to receive real-time information about bus services and bus performance.

I can also announce today our intentions for a more fundamental reform of BSOG, which we aim to introduce in the next two to three years.

As last December’s Statement made clear, we want our buses to be as green and clean as possible. That is why we are reforming BSOG to ensure it contributes to the Government’s strategic objectives, particularly in relation to tackling climate change. Drawing on the results of our consultation in 2008 on options for longer-term reform, and from discussions with stakeholders, the Government wish to move away from paying support on the basis of how much fuel is consumed. We will therefore bring forward new arrangements for support on the basis of passenger numbers. This will act to make public transport more attractive thereby delivering environmental benefits through reduced congestion and improved air quality.

These new arrangements will mean that operators will face the full cost of the fuel they use. This will strengthen the commercial incentives for operators to find ways to reduce their fuel consumption and improve the business case for investment in driver training and low-carbon buses. It also builds on the fuel efficiency target and the distance-based payment for use of low-carbon buses that are now part of the current BSOG system.

The new incentive per passenger arrangements, which build on the work done by the Commission for Integrated Transport, will rely on accurate recording of passenger numbers. This will require audited data of the sort that can be provided through the use of smart ticketing equipment. The move to per passenger payments will therefore be underpinned by the delivery of the Government’s smart and integrated ticketing strategy, which has been announced today, and which is itself supported by the new smart ticketing incentive described above. We recognise that it could take up to 10 years for the national bus fleet to be equipped, and we therefore propose a managed transition from BSOG to the new system.

Introduction of this new form of bus subsidy will also require the approval of the European Commission for reasons of state aid. Given the fundamental nature of the changes that we are proposing, approval is likely to take two to three years. Until the new system has been approved the existing BSOG scheme will continue. Once approval has been given, the per passenger system will be rolled out as quickly as operators can install ITSO smart ticketing systems. The existing fuel-based system will continue in parallel for those operators without smartcard equipment, although the rate of payment may decline over time. Eventually, by around 2020, the BSOG system will end and be replaced entirely by an incentive per passenger.

We will discuss the detailed implementation of these proposals with members of the Bus Subsidy Advisory Group and with other government departments. In particular, we recognise that an incentive per passenger will have different impacts in areas of high and low demand. While the bulk of resources available for bus support will therefore move to an incentive per passenger basis, we will wish to discuss with stakeholders how best to make appropriate arrangements for supporting socially necessary services that become less commercially viable as a result of introducing a per passenger system. This might mean, for example, some of the current BSOG budget being transferred to local authorities.

It remains our intention as part of these reforms to stop providing BSOG direct to London operators, as announced last December. We will seek to agree detailed arrangements with TfL at the appropriate time.

The changes I have announced today set the long-term direction of changes to bus subsidy and introduce important new incentives to the current system. In summary they will:

provide strong incentives for bus operators further to improve their fuel efficiency, building on the changes introduced in April 2009 which have sent decisive signals to the industry about the need to improve their environmental performance;

give operators real incentives to attract more passengers to their services and out of their cars;

underpin the ticketing strategy also announced today and pave the way for widespread smart ticketing; and

support the take-up and use of GPS systems that will increase availability to passengers of real-time information about services and bus performance.

CCTV: Regulator


My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Crime and Policing (David Hanson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today announcing the arrangements we are putting in place to take forward implementation of the National CCTV Strategy and to approve an interim CCTV regulator with immediate effect.

CCTV enjoys a high level of public confidence in tackling crime. Home Office research published in 2005 showed that over 80 per cent of respondents supported the use of CCTV to deal with crime in their neighbourhood. A similar high level of confidence is reflected in the IPSOS MORI poll conducted last year and which we will be publishing shortly. CCTV played a key role in a number off investigations including the London terrorist outrages in July 2005 and the Steven Wright murders in Ipswich as well as offences such as burglaries, robberies, violence and anti-social behaviour across the country. The changes are aimed at ensuring that those involved across the CCTV industry, whether from the public or the private sector, can be actively involved in the development and implementation of national standards on the installation and use of CCTV. Importantly, it also aims to maximise public engagement by raising public awareness of the benefits of CCTV and accountability of owners and users of CCTV systems.

It is important that we retain and build on that high level of public confidence by demonstrating the important contribution to preventing and detecting crime and anti-social behaviour which CCTV can make. We have already announced in Building Britain’s Future that we will make sure that local people have a say on the use of CCTV in their area and will be publishing guidance for crime and disorder reduction partnerships next year on communicating with their community on the role of CCTV in public protection.

It is also important that we address public concern about how CCTV is used. I am, therefore, pleased to announce the appointment of the Forensic Science Regulator, Andrew Rennison, as the interim CCTV Regulator with immediate effect. The interim CCTV Regulator will advise the Government on matters surrounding the use of CCTV in public places, including the need for a regulatory framework, overseen by a permanent CCTV regulator, which enables the police, local authorities and other agencies to help deliver safer neighbourhoods while ensuring that personal privacy considerations are appropriately taken into account with supporting safeguards and protections. The establishment of a permanent CCTV regulator would rightly be a matter for Parliament. That is why we are, at this stage, considering the regulatory arrangements function through an interim appointment and the revised governance structure for implementation of the national CCTV strategy.

The interim appointment will be for a period of up to 12 months. The appointment is an important step in implementation of the National CCTV Strategy. The interim regulator will work with the National CCTV Strategy Board on six key areas. These are to: develop national standards for the installation and use of CCTV in public space; determine training requirements for users and practitioners; engage with the public and private sector in determining the need for and potential content of any regulatory framework; raise public awareness and understanding of how CCTV operates and how it contributes to tackling crime and increasing public protection; review the existing recommendations of the National CCTV Strategy and advise the Strategy Board on implementation, timelines and cost and development of an effective evidence base; and promote public awareness of the complaints process and criteria for complaints to the relevant agencies (e.g. Information Commissioner, local authority or private organisation) or how to deal with complaints relating to technical standards.

The appointment of the Forensic Science Regulator will bring to his CCTV role the expertise, knowledge, and standing he has gained in operating a suitable framework for forensic services. He will play a leading role in identifying and helping meet the needs of both users and the public.

While the interim CCTV Regulator will not have responsibility for deciding whether individual cameras are appropriately sited or how they are used, he will be able to help explain to the public how they can complain about intrusive or ineffective CCTV placement or usage.

Part of the process of promoting greater accountability is engaging directly with key stakeholders. We will shortly be establishing an Independent Advisory Group with representatives from business, CCTV operators, community and third-sector groups to monitor and provide direction on implementing the national strategy. The Advisory Group will advise the interim CCTV Regulator and the National CCTV Strategy Board. These arrangements provide for partnership working at strategic and neighbourhood level. Through these new arrangements, we intend to ensure that CCTV continues to be an important tool available to communities to help tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

Civil Law Reform Bill


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

In accordance with the Government’s legislative programme for 2009-10, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has today laid before Parliament the draft Civil Law Reform Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny (Civil Law Reform—A Draft Bill Cm 7773).

The draft Bill contains provisions to:

reform the law of damages to provide a fairer and more modern system, particularly in relation to bereavement and dependency damages under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976;

give greater flexibility in setting the interest rate on pre-judgment debt and damages and on judgment debts so that it can be adapted more readily to different circumstances, making it fairer to debtors and creditors alike;

reform the law relating to the distribution of estates of a deceased person where an inheritance is forfeited or disclaimed, so that where a person is disqualified or refuses an inheritance, his or her heirs are not disinherited; and

bring the disciplinary hearing appeal process for barristers into line with the appeal process for solicitors by transferring the jurisdiction to hear appeals to the High Court

To accompany the Command Paper the Ministry of Justice has today published a consultation paper Civil Law Reform—a draft Bill containing the draft Bill, the accompanying Explanatory Notes and the impact assessments relating to the reform. The consultation period will close on 9 February 2010.

Community Safety Accreditation Scheme


My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Crime and Policing (David Hanson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

An Employers’ Guide to Community Safety Accreditation Schemes and the 2009 audit of Community Safety Accreditation Schemes have been published today.

This year’s Community Safety Accreditation Schemes audit shows an increase in the number of participating forces from 23 in 2008 to 26 this year. The Metropolitan Police were one of the three forces to begin operating a scheme. Over the same period, the number of accredited persons rose from 1,406 to 1,667 (an 18.5 per cent rise) and the number of employers with accredited persons rose from 95 to 109. This growth reflects the benefits of the scheme for the police and businesses. Accredited persons help to tackle anti-social behaviour, and to provide a visible and reassuring presence on our streets.

The Employers’ Guide is intended to improve the information available to employers about the scheme and to raise its profile. Four employer case studies (presented in the Employers’ Guide) demonstrate clear benefits, both for the organisation and for the accredited staff, in greater information sharing and closer partnership with the police.

Copies of the audit and the guide are available on the Home Office website and in the House Library.

Control Order Powers


My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Crime and Policing (David Hanson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Section 14(1) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three-month period on the exercise of the control order powers during that period.

The level of information provided will always be subject to slight variations based on operational advice.

Control orders continue to be an essential tool to protect the public from terrorism, particularly where it is not possible to prosecute individuals for terrorism-related activity and, in the case of foreign nationals, where they cannot be removed from the UK.

As stated in previous quarterly statements on control orders, control order obligations are tailored to the individual concerned and are based on the terrorism-related risk that individual poses. Each control order is kept under regular review to ensure that obligations remain necessary and proportionate. The Home Office continues to hold Control Order Review Groups (CORGs) every quarter, with representation from law enforcement and intelligence agencies, to keep the obligations in every control order under regular and formal review and to facilitate a review of appropriate exit strategies. During this reporting period, six CORGs were held in relation to the orders currently in force. In addition, further meetings were held on an ad-hoc basis as specific issues arose.

During the period 11 September 2009 to 10 December 2009, three non-derogating control orders have been made and served. No control orders have been renewed in accordance with Section 2(6) of the 2005 Act in this reporting period. In this reporting period there have been six revocations of control orders that were in force. Three control orders were revoked because it was not possible to meet the disclosure test set out in the June 2009 House of Lords judgment (AF & Others) on Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) (right to a fair trial). One of these orders was not replaced. In the other two cases new non-derogating control orders with significantly reduced obligations were imposed in their place; the Government argued before the court that in such cases Article 6 was not engaged—or, even if it was, the level of disclosure required in AF & Others did not apply. Two control orders were revoked because they were no longer considered necessary. One control order was revoked on the order of the court. In addition to the six revocations of current control orders, one non-derogating control order previously made but not served was also revoked in this quarter.

In total, 12 control orders are currently in force, nine of which are in respect of British citizens. Seven individuals subject to a control order live in the Metropolitan Police Service area; the remaining individuals live in other police force areas. All of these control orders are non-derogating. There were no prosecutions for breaching a control order during this reporting period. However, one individual was charged with seven counts for breach of a control order obligation.

During this reporting period, 77 modifications of control order obligations were made, and 29 requests to modify control order obligations were refused.

Section 10(1) of the 2005 Act provides a right of appeal against a decision by the Secretary of State to renew a non-derogating control order or to modify an obligation imposed by a non-derogating control order without consent. One appeal under Section 10(1) of the 2005 Act has been lodged with the High Court during this reporting period. A right of appeal is also provided for by Section 10(3) of the 2005 Act against decisions by the Secretary of State to refuse a request by a controlled person to revoke their order and/or to modify any obligation under the order. During this reporting period four appeals have been lodged with the High Court under Section 10(3) of the 2005 Act.

Six interlocutory judgments were handed down by the High Court during this reporting period in relation to disclosure required to make control order judicial review proceedings under Section 3(10) of the 2005 Act compliant with Article 6 following the June 2009 House of Lords judgment in AF & Others.

Two of these judgments were handed down in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v BB & BC. In the first judgment, handed down on 5 October 2009 in closed only, the court required the Secretary of State to make a further disclosure in order to ensure compliance with Article 6 despite the court’s acknowledgement that the disclosure of this material would cause damage to the public interest. The Secretary of State elected not to make the disclosure identified. Both control orders were revoked and new control orders with significantly reduced obligations were imposed. In the second judgment, handed down on 11 November 2009, the court found that, notwithstanding the new control orders impose less stringent obligations, Article 6 applied and that the House of Lords in AF & Others had identified an “irreducible minimum” of disclosure which must be made in all control order cases regardless of the stringency of the obligations. The court granted the Secretary of State permission to appeal and an appeal has been lodged.

A further two judgments were handed down in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AS. At the hearing on 6 to 8 October 2009, the court handed down a judgment in closed only requiring the Secretary of State to make further damaging disclosure to comply with Article 6 or to withdraw reliance on the relevant allegations. The Secretary of State elected to make some further disclosure to maintain the control order in force. In an open judgment handed down on 21 October 2009 the court set out the principles of how the court should apply the decision in AF & Others.

An interlocutory judgment was handed down in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AN on 27 November 2009. The court handed down a judgment in closed only requiring the Secretary of State to make further damaging disclosure to comply with Article 6 or to withdraw reliance on the relevant allegations. The Secretary of State elected to make some further disclosure to maintain the control order in force.

A further interlocutory judgment was handed down, about which it is not possible to say any more for legal reasons.

Two judgments have been handed down by the High Court in relation to modification appeals during this reporting period. The court handed down judgment in Secretary of State for the Home Department v BH on 17 November 2009. The court found that the Secretary of State’s decision to refuse to modify BH’s geographical boundary to let him attend legal appointment outside his boundary was lawful. This was against the background that the Secretary of State had offered to modify the control order to allow the visit subject to BH agreeing to submit to a personal search as part of a police escort to and from the appointment. BH had refused to agree to this condition and the Secretary of State had therefore refused the modification. The court decided this refusal was lawful, noting that BH’s legal representatives were able to visit him within his boundary instead. However, he commented that in circumstances where it would not be proportionate to refuse to modify the boundary for a purpose such as attending an urgent medical appointment, the Secretary of State would not be able to insist that a controlled person be escorted by the police, if the police would not escort the individual without searching him first.

The court handed down a judgment in Secretary of State for the Home Department v AS on 23 November 2009. The court dismissed AS’s appeal against the decision of the Secretary of State to refuse to modify his control order to enable him to stay overnight in London during the judicial review hearing of his control order.

During this reporting period, the Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal in one case. In Secretary of State for the Home Department v AU, the Court of Appeal found AU did not have any real prospect of success in his arguments that the judicial review of his control order had not been Article 6 compliant and that when the Secretary of State decided to impose a control order in this case, he was not entitled to consider allegations which formed part of the previous criminal prosecution and sentence.

Full judgments are available at

Department for Culture, Media and Sport: Autumn Performance Report


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Ben Bradshaw) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce the publication of my department’s Autumn Performance Report.

We report strong progress against our Public Service Agreement to deliver a successful and inspirational Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 that provides for a sustainable legacy and gets more children and young people taking part in high quality PE and sport. That is also one of our departmental strategic objectives.

We are maintaining decent progress against our other departmental strategic objectives—the digital switchover programme is on track and more data is becoming available to assess enjoyment of and excellence in culture, media and sport. I expect to be in a position to report more fully on them next year.

We continue to maintain a strong track record of delivering value for money savings. We have significantly exceeded our Lyons relocation target and maintain good progress towards our Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 value for money target.

A copy of the Autumn Performance Report will be deposited in the House Libraries.

Department for International Development: Autumn Performance Report


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Statement.

I have today laid before Parliament my department’s autumn performance report for 2009. The report is in the Library of the House and copies are available for honourable Members from the Vote Office.

The report provides details of progress on DfID’s departmental strategic objectives and value for money as well as progress on Public Service Agreement 29: reduce poverty in poorer countries through quicker progress towards the millennium development goals.

Department for Work and Pensions: Autumn Performance Report


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

I will shortly be publishing the autumn performance report of the Department for Work and Pensions. The report is intended to supplement the department’s annual report published in June 2009.

The report is the department’s third report under CSR2007 on its cross-governmental public service agreements, its departmental strategic objectives and its value for money delivery agreement.

This publication has been specifically designed to be accessed online, on the grounds of sustainability and potential financial savings, and will be available on the department’s website. For the convenience of Members, some printed copies will be placed in the Library and supplied to the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.

Door Supervisors: Training


My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office (Alan Campbell) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce the publication of a consultation document and partial impact assessment on enhanced (or top up) training for door supervisors renewing their licences.

Copies of the report will be available in the Vote Office and in the House Library.

EU: Energy Council


I represented the United Kingdom at the EU Energy Council in Brussels on 7 December 2009.

The first item on the agenda was an update from the Swedish presidency on the energy efficiency package (made up of separate directives on the energy performance of buildings; the indication by labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products; and the labelling of tyres with respect to fuel efficiency). The presidency noted that the package was close to final agreement. The UK is happy with the progress made on these directives.

The Commission reported on progress on the proposal for a Regulation on the Security of Gas Supply. This was followed by a policy debate in which member states commented on the current draft of the proposal, in particular responding to questions about the roles and responsibilities of different actors in preparing for and during an emergency, of the need for mandatory infrastructure and supply standards, and the definition of protected customers. The UK raised concerns over some of the powers envisaged for the Commission.

There was also an exchange of views on the recent Commission Communication on investing in the development of low-carbon technologies under the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan. The UK indicated that it shared its support for the SET Plan but raised concerns over the sources of funding for the programme in the current financial climate.

In addition, the Commission updated Ministers on progress in a number of other areas, including implementation of the European Economic Recovery Package, the Baltic Energy Market Integration Programme and the regulation on the notification of investment projects in energy infrastructure within the European Community. Some delegations used the opportunity to raise concerns about Biomass Sustainability Criteria. Finally, the Spanish Minister outlined the energy priorities for Spain’s forthcoming presidency. These included a new Energy Action Plan for 2010-14, a focus on renewables, energy efficiency, low-carbon technologies, relations with external energy suppliers and further progress on current legislation.

Over lunch, Ministers discussed a number of items on international relations in the field of energy including relations between Ukraine and Russia.

Separately, Ljubljana was selected as the seat for the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, following a vote.

EU: General Affairs and Foreign Affairs Council


My honourable friend the Minister for Europe (Chris Bryant) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The General Affairs Council (GAC) and Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) were held on 7 and 8 December in Brussels. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary (David Miliband) represented the UK.

The agenda items covered were as follows:

General Affairs Council

The full text of conclusions adopted, including “A” points, can be found at

Preparation of the 10 and 11 December European Council

On economic issues, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary emphasised that governance of the financial markets was a global issue, not just an internal matter for Europe. He stated that the EU should take account of the International Monetary Fund work on renewing the social contract between the financial institutions and wider society, including by ensuring that the financial sector bear the full costs associated with its activities. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary congratulated the presidency on its help in resolving the financial supervision and regulation package.

On climate change, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary underscored the importance of tackling this issue against the backdrop of the Copenhagen conference of parties. He called for the European Council conclusions to reinforce the EU’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, and to be clearer and more specific on climate financing.

On external relations, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, with support from a number of member states, argued for a European Council declaration on Afghanistan, reflecting President Obama's 1 December announcement on troop reinforcements, and the London conference in January 2010. The presidency agreed to draft a declaration, which was discussed at the FAC on 8 December. We also requested conclusions language on development assistance.


Ministers adopted conclusions, which the Government broadly support, welcoming the Commission communication dated 14 October 2009 entitled “Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2009-10”. Broadly, the conclusions took stock of progress in accession negotiations with Turkey and Croatia, while urging both countries to implement outstanding reforms.

On Turkey, the council welcomed recent initiatives including on the Kurdish issue and recognised that Turkey is an important regional player, playing a key role in energy supply. However, it expressed disappointment that Turkey has not yet fulfilled its obligation to open its ports to trade with Cyprus under the additional protocol to the association agreement and agreed that further efforts are needed to accelerate the pace of Turkey’s accession negotiations. On Croatia, the council commended progress made but stressed further efforts are needed to meet accession criteria in order to be able to conclude negotiations in 2010.

On Croatia’s co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) the council welcomed the creation of a new investigative task force, noted that substantial progress had not been reported, and called on Croatia to take the necessary steps to complete a comprehensive and credible investigation into missing documents without further delay. On Iceland, the council noted its application for EU membership in July and agreed to come back to the issue when the Commission presents its assessment on whether Iceland is ready to open accession negotiations.

The council reaffirmed EU support for the European perspective of the western Balkans; noted that the Office of the ICTY Prosecutor was content with Serbia’s current levels of effort in their co-operation, and that the EU would start implementing the interim agreement; welcomed the fact that Macedonia had substantially addressed the key priorities of the accession partnership, noting the Commission’s recommendation to open accession negotiations and agreeing to return to the matter during the next presidency; expressed concern about political developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina and called on its leaders to speed up key reforms; welcomed the Commission’s study on furthering Kosovo’s political and socio-economic development and invited the Commission to take the necessary measures to support Kosovo’s progress towards the EU; and welcomed progress in Albania and Montenegro, while urging the countries to intensify efforts on reforms in a number of areas and agreeing to return to their membership applications once the Commission had presented its “Avis” (opinions).

EU Disaster Management

Ministers approved a presidency report on reinforcing the EU’s capacity for preventing and responding to disasters, which the Government support while recognising the primary role of national responsibility in disaster management.

Trio Programme of the Spanish, Belgian and Hungarian Presidencies

Spain, Belgium and Hungary briefly presented their programme, and looked forward to chairing the GAC under their presidencies, and to close co-operation with the President of the European Council and the High Representative. The Government welcome the trio’s emphasis on finalising the international climate change negotiations, putting in place a Lisbon strategy fit to take the EU beyond the aftermath of the economic crisis and bringing Europe closer to its citizens.

External Relations Council

The full text of all conclusions adopted can be found at data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/111833.pdf.

Western Balkans

The presidency briefed on the EU/US initiative to unblock progress on reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ministers held an exchange of views on the future of EUFOR Operation Althea. They agreed to revert to the latter at their next meeting in January.


Ministers also approved a draft European Council declaration on Iran which draws attention to Iran’s continued failure to comply with international obligations and signals the EU’s readiness to begin a new phase of work on the pressure side of the dual-track approach, which the Government welcome.

Middle East Peace Process

Ministers agreed conclusions that called for the resumption of negotiations leading to a two-state solution within an agreed time-frame; referred to Jerusalem as the future capital of two states and declared that the EU will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders; emphasised the importance of the United States’ efforts; welcomed and encouraged Palestinian efforts on state-building and improving law and order; reiterated commitment towards the security of Israel and its full integration into the region; and welcomed and encouraged Israel's steps to ease restrictions of movement in the West Bank.


Ministers agreed to forward the presidency's draft declaration to the December European Council for adoption, which the Government welcome. The declaration notes that an international conference is to be held in London in January 2010, underscores the EU’s readiness to support President Karzai in meeting his commitments, and highlights the need to maintain a comprehensive approach to the challenges in Afghanistan, building on a combination of political/ civilian development and military instruments.


France briefly raised the EU approach to Burma. The presidency underlined that EU action was in train.

AOB: Honduras

Spain called on the EU to monitor progress on reconciliation, as well as the views of the US and key states in the region, and keep the situation under review.

“A” points

The council adopted the following conclusions or decisions without discussion:

conclusions on Iraq;

conclusions on Horn of Africa;

conclusions on climate change and international security;

conclusions on promoting compliance with international humanitarian law; and

conclusions on human rights and democratisation in third countries.

EU: Transport Council


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

I will attend the second Transport Council of the Swedish presidency, which will take place in Brussels on 17 December.

The council will be asked to reach a political agreement on a regulation on the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport, which also amends Regulation 2006/2004 on co-operation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws. While the scope of the regulation remains unresolved prior to the Transport Council, other key UK concerns with the original proposal have been addressed and the Government hope that a satisfactory political agreement can be reached.

The council will be asked to reach a general approach on an amending regulation on structures for the management of the European satellite radio-navigation programmes. The Commission will also give a progress report on the Galileo programme. Regulation 683/2008 significantly changed the role of the Galileo Supervisory Authority (GSA). The amending regulation amends earlier legislation on the GSA to bring it all in line with the 2008 Regulation. It changes the name of the body concerned to the European GNSS Agency and gives the European Commission more power in the Administrative Board. The UK is content that this is a sensible compromise. The UK has been a strong supporter of the need for a security accreditation body which can operate independently. We were also keen that, should the accreditors take a decision which would significantly increase cost or introduce delay, the Commission cannot overrule them without going to the council and the Parliament. It would be for council to decide whether the risk of not doing what the accreditors wanted was manageable. The Commission and member states have agreed with us that this is a sensible way forward.

There will be a progress report on a directive on the deployment of intelligent transport systems (ITS). My officials have been negotiating to secure amendments to the draft directive which better align it with UK interests. Good progress has been made on those areas of concern to the UK.

There will also be a progress report on a proposed directive on aviation security charges. The UK will work towards achieving a fair and proportionate outcome that balances the interests of passengers and airports.

The council will be asked to reach a general approach on a directive on reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from EU ports. The UK supports this measure in principle as it should lead to a streamlining of administrative procedures to be followed by ships. It will be important to ensure that the implementation timetable allows member states sufficient time to adapt existing national systems to the new requirements.

The council will be asked to adopt conclusions following on from the Commission’s communication A sustainable future for transport: Towards an integrated, technology-led and user friendly system, which was debated by the council in October. The UK believes the council conclusions to be a good outcome. They provide the Commission with a clear and useful steer and I expect to be able to sign up to the conclusions at the council.

The council will be asked to adopt a decision authorising the Commission to negotiate an agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), providing a general framework for enhanced co-operation. The UK supports this proposal. There are significant gains to be had from closer co-operation between the Community and ICAO, notably in the field of aviation safety. The presidency has made clear that the draft mandate does not affect relations between individual member states and ICAO, nor does it affect the arrangements for preparing Community positions for meetings of the ICAO Council.

There will be a progress report from the Commission on the second stage of air services negotiations with the US. Ministers’ views will be sought on the next phase of the negotiations.

Fast Track Legislation


On 7 July the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution published its report on Fast-track Legislation: Constitutional Implications and Safeguards (HL 116, 2008–09). The government response was published on 7 December (HL 11, 2009–10).

The report recommended that where the Government were proposing expedited legislation they should provide an explanation of why the legislation should be fast-tracked. The Government accept in principle the committee’s recommendation that, for all Bills which are to be passed with unusual expedition, an explanation of the reasons for using a fast-track procedure should be provided.

I am therefore informing the House that any future legislation which will be subject to expedited procedures will contain a full explanation in the accompanying Explanatory Notes to the legislation. The explanation will address the questions set out in paragraph 186 of the committee’s report:

why is fast-tracking necessary?

what is the justification for fast-tracking each element of the Bill?

what efforts have been made to ensure that the amount of time made available for parliamentary scrutiny has been maximised?

to what extent have interested parties and outside groups been given an opportunity to influence the policy proposal?

does the Bill include a sunset clause (as well as any appropriate renewal procedure)? If not, why do the Government judge that their inclusion is not appropriate?

are mechanisms for effective post-legislative scrutiny and review in place? If not, why do the Government judge that their inclusion is not appropriate?

has an assessment been made as to whether existing legislation is sufficient to deal with any or all of the issues in question?

have relevant parliamentary committees been given the opportunity to scrutinise the legislation?

The Video Recordings Bill, which has been introduced in this House today, is the first Bill to be fast-tracked since the committee published its report. The Explanatory Notes to this Bill reflect the new approach.

Flooding: Pitt Review


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am placing in the Libraries of the House today copies of the Government’s second update report detailing the progress made in implementing the recommendations contained in Sir Michael Pitt’s report on the 2007 summer floods.

We continue to make significant progress. We have introduced our Flood and Water Management Bill, which implements Pitt recommendations that require legislation and will strengthen co-ordination, improve accountability and reduce the impact of future floods.

In advance of the Bill becoming law, we have taken action to help communities at risk of flooding. We have, for example:

set up a £7.7 million Flood Forecasting Centre, jointly run by the Environment Agency and the Met Office, which is already providing important services to local authorities and emergency responders, helping them to be better prepared for potential flooding;

strengthened arrangements for local and national co-ordination in the event of an emergency, as recently tested in Cumbria—for example through publishing updated emergency response and recovery guidance;

announced that local communities across England will benefit from £16 million funding to help them tackle surface water flooding, including £9.7 million made available to 77 local authorities for areas where the risk and potential impact of surface water flooding could be highest;

issued guidance to regulators on protecting essential services; local action includes reinforced defences at Mythe water treatment works in Gloucestershire and flood defences at East and West Hull sewage pumping stations;

invested in building capacity, including funding local authority places for the Environment Agency’s flood management foundation degree and developing an NVQ level 2/3 course on flood risk management;

delivered, through the Environment Agency:

106 flood defence schemes protecting over 63,800 additional homes in England; and

140,000 additional people signed up to receive flood warnings in England and Wales: and the introduction of “opt out” telephone warning systems in February 2010 will significantly increase that number.

doubled our overall investment in flood and coastal erosion risk management in the past 10 years to a record £2.15 billion over the current three-year spending period.

The progress report explains the further steps we are taking to implement Sir Michael’s recommendations. The risk of flooding remains and the recent events in Cumbria underline once again the importance of this work. The Government remain determined to enable us better to anticipate and deal with the impact of flooding.

I will continue to keep the House informed of progress through future progress reports.

Fraud: Government Annual Report


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

Today I am publishing the Government Fraud Report for 2008-09. Copies of the document entitled, Fraud report 2008-09: an analysis of reported fraud in Government departments, have been deposited in the Libraries of the House and will be available on the HM Treasury website.

Freedom of Information Act 2000


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

Today I have deposited copies of The Freedom of Information Act 2000—Statistics on Implementation in Central Government: Q3July-September 2009 in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

This is the quarterly monitoring statistics report analysing the performance of central government in the fifth full year of freedom of information.



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

The Hillsborough tragedy on 15 April 1989 at the FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest was the worst disaster in British sporting history. 96 people died and hundreds more were injured. The tragedy was of such national and international significance that it served to act as a watershed in the subsequent minimisation of safety risks at football matches and similar sporting events.

There have been a number of examinations of the circumstances surrounding the disaster over the years. Following the 20th anniversary of the tragedy in April 2009, the Prime Minister asked the then Secretaries of State for the Home Office and for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Justice Secretary, to consider how to bring about maximum possible public disclosure of governmental and other agency documentation on the events that occurred and their aftermath. In order to bring about this disclosure I am today announcing the creation of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel will work in partnership with government and other public agencies to oversee the disclosure process. It will also consult those most affected by the disaster: the Hillsborough families. The panel will be chaired by the Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool. The appointment of the rest of the panel will take place over the coming weeks in close consultation with the Hillsborough families and will be announced in due course. The panel will meet for the first time in Liverpool as soon as possible in the New Year.

The independent panel will be provided with access to Hillsborough documentation held by Government and local agencies relevant to events surrounding the tragedy in advance of the normal 30-year point for public disclosure. The fundamental principles will be full disclosure of documentation and no redaction of content, except in the limited legal and other circumstances outlined in the full terms of reference and disclosure protocol which will be placed in the Library of the House and made available on the Home Office website.

Recognising the volume of material that must be catalogued, analysed and preserved, the panel will seek to complete its work within two years.

The remit of the independent panel will be to:

oversee full public disclosure of relevant government and local information within the limited constraints set out in the disclosure protocol;

consult with the Hillsborough families to ensure that the views of those most affected by the tragedy are taken into account;

manage the process of public disclosure, ensuring that it takes place initially to the families of the victims and other involved parties, in an agreed manner and within a reasonable timescale, before information is made more widely available;

in line with established practice, work with the Keeper of Public Records in preparing options for establishing an archive of Hillsborough documentation, including a catalogue of all central governmental and local public agency information and a commentary on any information withheld for the benefit of the families or on legal or other grounds; and

produce a report explaining the work of the panel and the extent to which disclosure adds to public understanding of the tragedy and its aftermath.

Where Government records are covered by the well established convention on access to papers of a previous Administration—in particular papers which indicate the views of Ministers, such as Cabinet material or ministerial policy advice—representatives of the previous Administration are being consulted and their consent to the release of those papers sought.

House of Lords: Membership


During the debate on 10 December in the House of Lords on the Commonwealth's shared goals in democracy and development Baroness Gardner of Parkes asked about eligibility of Commonwealth and Republic of Ireland citizens for membership of the House of Lords. The Government undertook to set out the background to the issue in more detail and to legislate before the end of the current Session of Parliament to remove any uncertainty. The Government’s firm view is that nothing in the current circumstances prevents any Member of the House of Lords from membership or from taking a full part in the proceedings of the House.

It was suggested to the Government in April 2009 by the House authorities that the drafting of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 (the 2006 Act), and modifications made by that Act to Section 3 of the Act of Settlement 1701, could be interpreted to have inadvertently cast doubt on whether Commonwealth and Republic of Ireland citizens are eligible for membership of the House of Lords and to hold certain offices under the Crown.

The Government have been examining possible interpretations of the changes made by the 2006 Act carefully. Although one possible interpretation would have the effect which has caused concern, this was clearly not the intention of Parliament when passing the 2006 Act, and the Government would disagree with any suggestion that changes should be made in the way that eligibility is regarded.

The relevant provisions are complex. Section 18 of the 2006 Act included provisions about eligibility for membership of the House of Commons, which were intended to ensure that only persons with indefinite leave to remain in the UK are eligible to be Members of the House of Commons. The Act also extended this provision to elections to the European Parliament, the Greater London Authority, local authorities, and the devolved legislatures. The provision was enacted in response to concerns that elected representatives should be able to serve their term of office in full in the UK. The provision was commenced on 1 January 2007.

Section 18(7) of the 2006 Act repealed the first entry in Schedule 7 to the British Nationality Act 1981. That entry had modified the application of Section 3 of the Act of Settlement which concerns eligibility for membership of both Houses of Parliament, the Privy Council and certain offices under the Crown by disapplying part of it in relation to Commonwealth and Republic of Ireland citizens, allowing such citizens to be Members of either House and to hold offices under the Crown.

This change was made in consequence of the provision at Section 18(1) of the Electoral Administration Act 2006, which substituted a new modification of Section 3 of the Act of Settlement that applies only for the purposes of membership of the House of Commons: under its terms, Commonwealth citizens who do not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK are prevented from being members of the House of Commons. However, since the drafting of the legislation did not contain provisions expressly saving the first entry in Schedule 7 to the British Nationality Act 1981 in relation to membership of the House of Lords and other offices under the Crown, a question has been raised about whether the eligibility of Commonwealth or Republic of Ireland citizens for membership of the House of Lords and other positions is affected.

Though it clearly was not the intention of Parliament in passing the 2006 Act to change the entitlement of Commonwealth and Republic of Ireland citizens to sit in the House of Lords, Ministers have concluded that it is best to put the issue beyond any doubt. Accordingly we will introduce appropriate legislation before the end of the current Session of Parliament to remove any uncertainty on this issue. An amendment will be tabled to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill, currently before the House of Commons, to achieve this.

Identity Cards


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 the extension of the National Identity Service from the beginning of January 2010.

On 30 June, the Home Secretary confirmed that we would accelerate the rollout of identity cards by extending the initial coverage from Greater Manchester to other locations in the north west of England early in 2010. Following a successful implementation of the National Identity Service in Greater Manchester and at Manchester and London City airports on 30 November, the next phase of the rollout will be commenced from Monday 4 January 2010. From that date, most citizens living or working in the north west will be eligible to make applications for identity cards at a fee of £30.

Initially, they will be able to apply at the offices of the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) in Manchester city centre. From February 2010, they will also be able to apply at new enrolment facilities in existing IPS offices in Liverpool and Blackburn.

To find out more about identity cards, register interest in obtaining a card or to request an application pack, visit or call 0300 330 0000.

Local Government: Finance


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

I am publishing today the Government’s response to their consultation on the proposed changes to the Growth Fund for 2010-11. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

The Growth Fund provides capital and revenue funding to the 75 growth partnerships in growth areas and growth points across 163 local authorities in England, supporting their planned housing growth, enabling housing development to be brought forward, tackling barriers to delivery and ensuring that new development is planned as sustainable communities. Provisional funding allocations for 2009-10 and 2010-11 were published in December 2008.

The exceptional economic circumstances and global recession has affected the availability of finance, credit and mortgages. The Government have taken action to help people stay in their homes, stay in work, and to help firms stay in business. The Government have also continued to focus on providing the affordable homes that people need. The Government are clear that getting house-building across the country started, and providing the affordable homes that people need, is a priority during the current exceptional economic circumstances.

The Government set out the housing pledge as part of building Britain’s future on 29 June, with a £1.5 billion package of measures to build an extra 20,000 new affordable homes in 2009-10 and 2010-11, of which over 13,000 will be for social rent, and 10,000 open market homes. As a result, the Government are now investing £7.5 billion in 2009-10 and 2010-11 to deliver up to 112,000 affordable homes and around 15,000 private homes.

While the majority of funding for the pledge comes from other government departments’ programmes, given the importance attached to stimulating the housing market, I also reviewed our own investment programmes in Communities and Local Government to support the pledge. As such, the Government have switched £128 million capital funding from the Growth Fund in 2010-11 to support the pledge. All regions have benefited from the pledge funding, which has been considerably greater than the impact of the 2010-11 switch from growth funding.

Given the impact of the exceptional economic circumstances on the delivery of homes and infrastructure, there is uncertainty that it will be possible to use Growth Funds in the way envisaged when multi-year allocations were made before the global recession. Switching some grant money from the Growth Fund will mean it is still used for housing purposes and that the fundamental aims of the Growth Fund—to support housing growth—will still be met.

I wrote to the leaders of all local authorities in the growth areas and growth points about the housing pledge on 17 July, highlighting the opportunities for additional funding, and set out the planned adjustment to the Growth Fund. The Government’s preferred approach was to make a pro-rata reduction to the provisional 2010-11 capital allocation of each growth area and growth point. Provisional revenue allocations for 2010-11 remain in full. The Government believe this approach would provide certainty on funding decisions in a timely manner, is fair and transparent. Consultation on the proposed changes lasted six weeks.

The consultation showed that although respondents did not welcome any reduction in funding they did show general support for the Government’s preferred approach of a pro-rata reduction for every growth area local authority and the Government will therefore revise funding allocations for 2010-11 as set out below. Revised funding allocations will be paid by the Homes and Communities Agency to the nominated accountable body for each growth area and growth point in the first quarter of 2010-11. Local authorities in growth locations will still have the flexibility to prioritise how funding is used to best support local priorities.

Revised Funding Allocations for 2010-11


Provisional 2010-11 Revenue Allocations

Revised 2010-11 Provisional Capital Allocation

Total 2010-11 Provisional Capital and Revenue Allocation

Total Capital and Revenue Funding 2008-09-2010-11

3 Cities and 3 Counties










Aylesbury Vale















Bedford and Marston Vale





Birmingham and Solihull





Black Country and Sandwell




















Central Lancashire and Blackpool





Chelmsford and Braintree

























Doncaster and South Yorkshire










East Staffs










Exeter and East Devon















Greater Manchester















Haven Gateway





Hereford *










Kerrier and Restormel





Kings Lynn





Leeds City Region










London Harlow Stansted





Luton and South Beds










Mersey Heartlands





Mid Mersey





Milton Keynes





Newark on Trent





Newcastle and Gateshead





North Northamptonshire





North Tyneside















Partnership for Urban South Hampshire






























Reigate and Banstead










Shrewsbury and Atcham





South and East Durham





South East Northumberland





St Albans





St Edmundsbury










Stevenage and North Hertfordshire















Tees Valley






























Waltham Forest





Welwyn Hatfield





West Cheshire





West Northamptonshire





West of England










Did not bid for capital funding in 2010-11 as part of their programme of development.

Senior Salaries Review Body


On 14 December the House made the following resolution:

In accordance with paragraph 7 of the Report from the House Committee on the SSRB Review of Financial Support for Members of the House of Lords (First Report, HL Paper 12), this House agrees:

the architecture and principles of the new system proposed by the SSRB;

that the House Committee should work to prepare resolutions to implement the proposals on a timescale which allows a new system to be operational from the start of the new Parliament;

that an ad hoc group of members should be established to consider and consult on issues in the SSRB report and advise on their implementation; and

that the House Committee should monitor and report on the effects of implementation of the new system after a year of operation.

In accordance with the resolution of 14 December, the House Committee has today appointed the membership of the ad hoc group to consider and consult on issues in the SSRB report and to advise on their implementation. The group will have the following membership:

Baroness O’Cathain;

Baroness Scott of Needham Market;

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean;

Lord Tomlinson;

Lord Wakeham (Chairman); and

Lord Williamson of Horton.

The group will take into account the substantial number of points which have already been raised by Members in debate, and through other forums, but in the mean time if any Member wishes to give further views, they are invited to write to the secretary to the group, Duncan Sagar, in the Clerk of the Parliaments’ office.

Sri Lanka


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Seven months have now passed since the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka. I should like to update the House on developments in the humanitarian and political situation in Sri Lanka.


Since the end of the conflict the UK has focused its efforts on securing an improvement in the humanitarian situation. The end of the fighting in May left over 280,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps in northern Sri Lanka. The UK’s approach to the situation has been fourfold: to advocate for improvements in conditions in the camps so that they meet international standards; to push for the early and safe return of IDPs to their home areas; to support, with the Department for International Development’s (DfID) allocation of £12.5 million since September 2008, the vital work of the humanitarian agencies that have been providing assistance to the IDPs; and to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to allow those not yet resettled to have the ability to enjoy unrestricted freedom of movement.

Conditions in the camps have improved to the extent that basic needs are now generally being met. In recent weeks there has been some progress in the return of IDPs. As of 6 December, the UN has confirmed that over 158,000 IDPs have been released. Of this number approximately 29,000 vulnerable people had been transferred to host families or institutions. This leaves fewer than 112,000 people left in the Menik Farm site and fewer than 15,000 people in camps in other locations. It is important that IDPs continue to be able to return to their home areas as soon as it is safe to do so. When I spoke to Foreign Minister Bogollogama on 29 October and 4 November, he confirmed that the Government of Sri Lanka were committed to returning those still in the camps. In order to assist this process, the Government have been funding the work of demining non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Mines Advisory Group and HALO Trust to help make areas safe for return. We will continue to help clear landmines, to provide transport from the camps and to help civilians to restart their lives so they can return home quickly and safely.

The recent announcement by the Sri Lankan Government that as of 1 December all remaining IDPs have been granted freedom of movement is a positive step. We hope this leads to unrestricted freedom of movement for all IDPs as soon as possible. As my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mike Foster) made clear in his Statement of 28 November, we believe that the opening of the camps and granting of real freedom of movement will enable the thousands still living in the camps to start to rebuild their lives. We welcome the fact that a number of national NGOs have now been granted access to some areas where IDPs are returning to such as Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Jaffna in the north. The recent announcement by the governor of the Northern Province that international NGOs will also be allowed to work in these areas on agreed projects is also welcome. It is imperative that all humanitarian agencies are given full access to all IDPs, including ex combatants, so that they can provide them with the help and protection they need both in the camps and in places of return.


Beyond the immediate humanitarian concerns the UK has underlined to the Government of Sri Lanka the importance of securing genuine reconciliation between Sri Lanka’s communities.

At the end of May the Sri Lankan president issued a joint statement with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon recognising the need to work towards a lasting political solution. The UK has consistently maintained that one of the prerequisites for lasting peace in Sri Lanka is a political settlement that fully takes into account the legitimate grievances and aspirations of all communities. Presidential elections have now been announced for 26 January 2010. Parliamentary elections in spring 2010 will be a further opportunity for the voice of Sri Lanka’s communities to be heard. Free, fair and credible elections will allow Sri Lanka’s communities to have their say in shaping the country’s future. Adequate arrangements must be made to ensure IDPs can vote in upcoming elections. It is important for all those who want to play a role in Sri Lanka’s future to agree to an inclusive political solution that addresses the underlying causes of the conflict.

The EU has made clear its belief that accountability is integral to the process of reconciliation. We therefore welcome President Rajapakse’s decision to appoint an independent committee to look into the incidents cited in the US State Department’s report. We will continue to press the government of Sri Lanka to live up to this and his earlier commitment made to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in May to take measures to address possible violations of international humanitarian law.

GSP+ (General System of Preferences plus)/Human Rights

The EU's GSP+ trade preference scheme is intended to provide vulnerable economies with incentives to achieve standards in sustainable development, human rights, labour standards and good governance. Beneficiary countries are required to implement effectively certain international human rights conventions. On 19 October 2009 the European Commission published a report of its investigation into Sri Lanka’s compliance with three of these conventions. The report was clear about Sri Lanka’s failings in the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This report has reinforced our serious concerns over the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and we share the Commission’s assessment. The Commission is expected to issue its formal recommendation on Sri Lanka's continued access to the GSP+ scheme shortly. We are clear that, in order to continue enjoying access to the GSP+, Sri Lanka must meet fully its human rights obligations. I have urged the Government of Sri Lanka to take urgent action to address the issues raised by the Commission in its report such as the lack of effective investigations into alleged disappearances and the need to uphold the right to freedom of expression. As EU foreign ministers made clear in our conclusions of 27 October, the EU will maintain a dialogue with Sri Lanka on the steps necessary to address the problems highlighted by the Commission’s investigation, in order effectively to implement the conventions.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)

When the Heads of Commonwealth Governments met in Port of Spain in November members agreed that Australia will host CHOGM in 2011. The most important thing for the UK was that the host for each Commonwealth summit demonstrably embodies our shared values—including respect for human rights and democracy. While we welcome the recent progress on freedom of movement for IDPs in Sri Lanka, given our ongoing concerns about the humanitarian and human rights situation at the time, the UK was unable to support Sri Lanka's bid to host CHOGM in 2011. However, Commonwealth leaders accepted the President of Sri Lanka’s offer to host the summit in 2013.


We have regularly made clear our view that the Government of Sri Lanka have a unique opportunity—and duty—to work for genuine political reconciliation. As a measure of the UK’s ongoing commitment to the future of Sri Lanka, we remain at the forefront of international efforts to help ensure lasting peace there. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister’s special envoy for Sri Lanka, my right honourable friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Des Browne), continues to engage the Tamil diaspora and he has updated honourable Members on his recent activities.

We will continue to work directly with the Government of Sri Lanka and with international partners including the EU, UN and Commonwealth, to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to resolve the underlying causes of the conflict through an inclusive political process which addresses the legitimate grievances and aspirations of all communities—Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims.

St Helena


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

I have carefully considered the views received in response to the public consultation on air access for St Helena. I have also considered the reasonableness of proceeding with funding an airport in the prevailing economic conditions and the urgent requirements upon the department to protect vulnerable countries around the world from the impact of the global downturn.

The present calls on DfID funding and the current economic conditions mean that proceeding with the project would not be appropriate at this time. DfID is committed to supporting the people of St Helena and so, rather than make a decision at this juncture, I have instructed my officials to conduct a further analysis of two particular issues that have been brought to my attention through the consultation, and require more detailed scrutiny:

potential cost savings to the airport contract which might be enabled by recent technological developments; and

options for funding the capital cost of the airport through a possible public/private partnership.

In addition, my officials will also analyse further the costs and options for a replacement ship.

I expect this to take around six months and will make a further Statement when it is complete.

The director responsible for the overseas territories will be visiting St Helena in the first quarter of 2010 to discuss this announcement with both government and the private sector.

Taxation: Anti-Avoidance


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

This Government have put in place a comprehensive set of tax reliefs for charities and for those who choose to donate to charities. These tax reliefs provide valuable incentives to encourage people to give and provide support to the charity sector. In the UK we are rightly proud of our charity sector which continues to undertake important work in the UK and around the world.

It is therefore particularly regrettable that we have become aware of an artificial, aggressive and offensive tax avoidance scheme that seeks to abuse those tax reliefs available for donations to charity. A similar scheme to exploit this same relief was shut down in Finance Act 2004 and we are aware other schemes to exploit these reliefs have been marketed since then.

This Government will not tolerate tax avoidance or tax evasion, and will act promptly to tackle both of these, so I am today announcing changes to be made to legislation, with immediate effect, to counter these schemes.

The scheme exploits the relief available for donations of listed shares and other types of qualifying investments (including land) to charities in Section 431 of the Income Tax Act 2007 and Section 587B of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988.

An offshore company sells to a taxpayer listed shares with a market value well in excess of the amounts paid. However the offshore company has an option to buy back the shares, exercisable after three years, for £1. The taxpayer then gifts the shares to a charity and gets tax relief on the higher market value of the shares, despite having paid only a fraction of that market value for the shares. The option to buy back the shares is not taken into account for the purposes of determining the amount of the relief. The rules disregard contingent liabilities, such as an option, until the liability crystallises, typically by the exercise of the option in this case. In reality the option is never exercised and the scheme organiser gets their money back from the charity through some contrived arrangements.

The benefit to the charity is typically less than half of one percent of the value of the tax relief obtained.

The Government do not accept that these highly contrived arrangements have the effect sought, but will remove any doubt by introducing appropriate legislation in Finance Bill 2010. The new rules will reduce the tax relief on such arrangements to the lower of the cost of acquisition to the donor of the shares or investments gifted, or the market value at the date of disposal, where the acquisition was made as part of a tax advantage scheme. This legislation will have immediate effect from 15 December 2009.

The legislation will not affect genuine donations to charity where tax avoidance arrangements are not involved and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will be consulting with the charity sector to ensure the legislation achieves its intended effect.

Further details are contained in a draft explanatory note published on HMRC’s website today with the proposed draft legislation.

It is particularly offensive that individuals seeking to avoid tax do so in a way that exploits charity tax reliefs.

I am therefore giving notice of our intention to deal with any arrangements that emerge in future that are designed to take advantage of the tax reliefs for donations of qualifying investments under Section 431 of the Income Tax Act 2007 and Section 587B of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988. The Government introduced these reliefs in 2000 with the intention that they should be used only for genuine donations to genuine charities. Where HMRC become aware of arrangements which attempt to frustrate that intention the Government will introduce legislation to close them down, where necessary with effect from today.

This action will not affect the vast majority of charities and donors who organise their affairs in a straightforward and ordinary way. The Government continue to believe charities make an important contribution to our society and do not deserve having their reputation called into question by such offensive tax avoidance.

Transport: Severe Weather


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

In February Britain experienced its worst winter for 18 years. It is important that we learn the transport lessons from that experience, so that the country is better prepared for similar severe events in future. To this end, the then Secretary of State, the right honourable Geoff Hoon MP, commissioned the UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRLG) to conduct a review of the difficulties experienced in the operation of winter maintenance service at that time.

The UKRLG published its report on 4 August (available from the Libraries of the House or from, and I am grateful for the thorough way in which it reviews events. The report makes 19 recommendations, and I am pleased to announce today that the Government have accepted them all, which together should improve our preparedness to face up to the challenges presented by severe winter weather in the future.

Most of the recommendations are addressed to local highway authorities and salt suppliers. It is, of course, for each authority to consider these and decide for themselves how best to take them forward. I commend them to authorities’ attention.

The report addresses four recommendations specifically to the Department for Transport and the Highways Agency.

First, it recommends that the Highways Agency should hold a reserve of salt above that which it needs to meet its service standards, in order to reduce overall demand for salt at critical times. In addition to supporting the UKRLG review, the agency has carried out its own internal exercise to identify those areas of its business which may be improved, to further strengthen its winter service resilience. A number of improvements have been identified and implemented, including a review of the salt stock levels that will be held across the strategic road network in England. The agency has previously implemented a risk-based approach to set its salt stock levels each year. By identifying and considering the impact of issues which may affect salt supplies and associated stock levels, a suitable salt stock profile for each of the agency’s operational areas is derived for the winter season ahead. The increased risk of a salt shortage similar to that experienced last season has been considered when setting the salt stock profiles for this winter season, in order to increase the agency’s salt stock resilience.

UKRLG further recommend that the department should publish an information leaflet for highway authority elected members and senior managers on preparation for severe winter conditions. We have produced such a leaflet and have arranged for this to be distributed today.

The report proposes that the department should make preparations to enable rapid introduction of derogation against drivers’ hours regulations for specific categories of vehicles and drivers if necessary in times of severe adverse weather conditions. We agree with the recommendation that it is important to implement such derogations quickly, when the need has been identified. We believe that the department’s response in February was as swift as was possible; but we will review our processes to ensure that we remain ready to deal with applications for derogation as quickly as possible.

UKRLG considered the operation of the centrally co-ordinated Salt Cell that was set up in February. The report concludes that the possibility of a future government-run Salt Cell should only be considered as a matter of last resort, but that the Government should develop a contingency plan for any future Salt Cell, to be used in extremis. I again accept the recommendation. My department is working with a number of stakeholders, both within and without Government, to develop robust protocols against such an eventuality.

Co-operation and co-ordination between highways authorities and suppliers will be a key component in better management of winter service in the future, however severe the weather. The Highways Agency had already identified the need to develop a closer relationship with its salt supply chain partners. A strategic Salt Liaison Group (SLG) has been established to discuss issues affecting salt usage and supply for the strategic network. Local highway authorities may wish to reflect on how similar arrangements might benefit them. As part of its own review of lessons learnt, the agency also highlighted the need for improved communications to give earlier warning of any developing salt supply issues. Again, local authorities may wish to consider how they can implement a more precautionary, focused dialogue with salt suppliers in the same way.

There is already good communication between the Highways Agency and local authorities, and the agency shares a number of depots with local authorities. As well as the cost efficiencies associated with depot sharing, it can provide access to the network at operationally important locations that may not otherwise be available. The Highways Agency recognises the importance of depot sharing in providing a cost-effective solution to planning and maintaining an effective winter service. However, depots are often not suitable for sharing on account of their location, their size or other operational constraints. Each proposal therefore needs to be considered on its individual merits, to ensure that service delivery for both authorities will not be compromised.

While no system can be completely resilient in extreme circumstances, adopting the UKRLG’s recommendations should help the nation to be better prepared should weather conditions similar to this past winter’s be encountered in future.

Transport: Ticketing


I am today announcing the launch of the Government’s smart and integrated ticketing strategy.

The strategy follows a consultation which ran for 10 weeks from August this year and sought views on the Government’s emerging vision for smart and integrated ticketing across public transport in England. The consultation was well received, with over 120 responses, and there was strong support for the emerging vision although also a strong message that Government needed to set out a clear road map for delivery.

Our research suggests that smart and integrated ticketing could bring overall benefits of over £1 billion per year and could significantly improve the offer to the passenger through reduced queuing times, removal of the need to carry cash and the provision of seamless journeys.

We have incorporated 27 specific government commitments in the strategy. Key commitments include £20 million of funding to be awarded to nine of the largest urban areas in England (outside London) in order to bring smart ticketing to the greatest number of people most quickly; a change to bus operators’ grant (BSOG) which is the subject of a separate announcement today and which will reward operators who equip their buses with smart ticketing infrastructure with an 8 per cent increase in grant; consideration of possible legislation if insufficient progress has been made in the rollout of integrated ticketing; and the creation of a dedicated smart and integrated ticketing team within the Department of Transport to co-ordinate delivery of the strategy from a central point.

The strategy includes a timetable for delivery, which though challenging, I believe is achievable. Our immediate goal is to see integrated multi-modal smart ticketing schemes, similar to the Oyster scheme in London but using the ITSO specification, in England’s major urban areas by 2015. We expect that urban schemes will provide a base from which further expansion can occur, and anticipate that that there will be some local integrated ITSO smart ticketing schemes in every area of the country by 2020. The department will also continue to put smart ticketing requirements into the rail franchises as they come up for renewal.

Longer term, our aim is to see customers possibly being given a choice of ticketing media, potentially including bank cards and mobile phones and improved links between ticketing and information provision to make public transport use an easier and more attractive option to passengers.

The successful delivery of the strategy will depend upon partnership working to ensure that schemes meet the needs of the passengers. In the strategy, the department lays out the roles envisaged for principal stakeholders; ITSO, the local transport authorities, local transport operators, train operating companies and suppliers. We recognise that we cannot deliver the strategy without the support of all these key stakeholders and I look forward to working with them to ensure that we meet our commitments as soon as possible.

Copies of the strategy document have been placed in the Library of the House.

UK Border Agency: Independent Chief Inspector's Annual Report


My honourable friend the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration (Phil Woolas) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The first annual report of the independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, John Vine, is being laid before Parliament today. The post and role of independent chief inspector was created in the UK Borders Act 2007 and extended in the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 to reflect the wider role of the new agency. The key focus of the chief inspector is the efficiency and effectiveness of the UK Border Agency. The role provides an external, independent and transparent assessment of the agency and helps to provides reassurance to Parliament and the public. I therefore welcome this account of the first year’s work of the chief inspector. The annual report sets out the work of the chief inspector in establishing his inspection methodology, inspection plan and staffing since the role commenced in July 2008 and summarises the findings from six early inspections. Copies of the report will be available in the Vote Office.