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Written Statements

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 5 January 2010

Written Statements

Tuesday 5 January 2010

Boundary Commission for Wales

Statement

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

I should like to inform honourable Members that the Secretary of State for Justice has received notice in writing from the Boundary Commission for Wales of the commencement of an interim review. The review will be of the boundaries of the parliamentary constituencies of Brecon and Radnorshire CC and Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney CC and will be based upon the number of electors on the electoral register at 21 December 2009. The review will include consideration of proposals for the Assembly constituencies and electoral regions as required by the Government of Wales Act 1998.

Crime: Dangerous Driving

Statement

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

The Government have been working throughout this Parliament to improve safety on Britain’s roads. In recent years we have enacted a number of measures designed to deal more effectively with those whose driving puts others at serious risk. We have:

introduced the new offences of causing death by careless driving and causing death while driving unlicensed or uninsured, which have maximum penalties of five years’ and two years’ imprisonment, respectively; and

increased the maximum penalty for serious driving offences, including causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, from 10 to 14 years’ imprisonment (CJA 2003, came into effect on 27 February 2004).

But we need to do more. Dangerous driving is still too prevalent. We should not underestimate the devastating effect that bad driving can have on people’s lives. I have listened to the representations from those who are campaigning for increased penalties for dangerous driving. I have come to the conclusion that they are right, and that the current penalties are insufficient.

I therefore intend to increase the maximum penalty for dangerous driving from two years’ imprisonment to five years’ imprisonment. This will require primary legislation. An appropriate provision will be included in a suitable Bill when parliamentary time allows.

Food

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): 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 today publishing the Government’s new food strategy, Food 2030, which follows up the Cabinet Office Strategy Unit July 2008 report Food Matters.

Last August, we published our assessment of the UK’s food security, and we held an online discussion forum on the future of food between August and October 2009. In total, over 600 people and organisations responded.

Food security has come to the fore following food prices rising sharply in 2008 for the first time in a generation, provoking riots in some parts of the world. With a growing global population, a changing climate, and pressure being put on land, we are going to need to produce more food, to do so sustainably, and to ensure that the food we eat safeguards our health.

Food 2030 sets out the steps that all those involved in food can take to put us on this path, in particular by helping consumers to be better informed and able to buy healthy food from sustainable sources; minimising waste; making sure every part of the supply chain is resilient, competitive and has the skills that match the challenge; and using science and technological advance to assist us.

All of this will require leadership and co-operation from all those involved in farming, fisheries, food production and public health. I will update the House as the strategy is implemented.

Copies of the strategy are available in the Libraries of the House and on Defra’s website.

Health: Generic Substitution of Medicines

Statement

My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Mike O’Brien) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The department committed to the introduction of generic substitution in primary care in the National Health Service, subject to discussion with affected parties, in the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme 2009. The department is today commencing a consultation on the proposals to implement generic substitution, where a generic medicine is dispensed instead of a branded medicine.

Discussions with, and views expressed by, stakeholders during the course of the last year have proved invaluable, endorsing in particular the need to appropriately account for patient safety in the implementation of generic substitution, and enable prescribers to continue to meet individual patient clinical need. Further to this engagement, the department is consulting on three options for the implementation of generic substitution in primary care in England. These options are to:

do nothing

introduce dispensing flexibility, but with specific exclusions, so that the arrangements do not apply to a selected group of products on an exempt list; and

introduce dispensing flexibility, but limiting the scheme in such a way that the arrangements only apply to a selected group of products on a select list.

The department’s preferred approach is the third option, supplemented by an “opt out endorsement”. The reasons for this include considerations relating to patient safety and clinical need, savings to the NHS and manageability of implementation for clinicians and prescription infrastructure providers.

This consultation runs from 5 January 2010 to 30 March 2010. Further details, including the consultation document and how to respond, can be found at www.dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/index.htm. There will be consultation events, and details of these will be published on the NHS Primary Care Commissioning website at www.pcc.nhs.uk/events.

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

Housing: Mortgages

Statement

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

On 29 December the Ministry of Justice published the consultation paper: Mortgages: Power of Sale and Residential Property. This fulfils the commitment to consult made in the July 2009 consumer White Paper, A Better Deal for Consumers: Delivering Real Help Now and Change for the Future, and follows concerns raised over the outcome of the High Court case of Horsham Properties Limited v Clark and Beech [2008] EWHC 2327 (Ch) .

The consultation paper proposes that lenders be legally required to seek a possession or sale order from the courts, or obtain the agreement of the borrower, before selling the borrower’s home to settle the outstanding mortgage debt. This will guarantee homeowners the opportunity to access the protections available from the court before their home is sold or repossessed. This will prevent possible abuse of the power of sale in the future.

The proposals would apply only to owner-occupied properties and would not affect buy-to-let and other commercial mortgage loans. The consultation paper does not extend to issues concerning the financial regulation of lenders.

Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The paper is also available on the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.gov.uk.

The consultation period will close on 28 March 2010.

Vehicles: Electric Power

Statement

The Department for Transport is today publishing two 12-week consultations.

One seeks views on the principle of changing the law to permit the use, on public roads and cycle tracks, of small electric personal vehicles (EPVs), which do not meet current legal requirements for such use.

The consultation does not include consideration of the use of pedestrian footways or footpaths by these vehicles.

New technologies may offer new opportunities. At present any EPV which does not comply with existing road traffic law may only be used on private land, with landowner permission. I am keen to ensure a full consideration of the issues. As a result, this consultation invites opinions, and supporting evidence, about whether the law should be changed to permit such EPVs on public roads and cycle tracks. Depending on the consultation results, legislative proposals and further detailed consultation may follow.

The second concerns electrically-assisted pedal cycles and seeks views on proposals to provide closer alignment of GB regulations with European provisions. The proposals will provide greater clarity regarding the type of product considered to be an electrically-assisted pedal cycle and those considered to be motor vehicles (e.g. mopeds).

The consultation documents and response forms are available on the department’s website and copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House

The consultations will close on Tuesday 30 March 2010.