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Written Statements

Volume 718: debated on Thursday 25 March 2010

Written Statements

Thursday 25 March 2010

Armed Forces: Equipment


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

Further to my Statement to the House on Monday 22 March, I am pleased to announce the next steps on three projects that will deliver vital equipment and support to the Royal Navy in the coming years and maintain a sovereign maritime industrial sector configured to meet our defence needs efficiently.

We have decided to proceed with the assessment phase for the Type 26 Combat Ship, the Royal Navy’s next generation surface warship; to sign a terms of business agreement (TOBA) with Babcock Marine covering surface and submarine support activities; and to commit to the initial build and long-lead procurement activities for Astute Boats 5 and 6 respectively at BAE Submarine Solutions at Barrow-in-Furness.

The Type 26 Combat Ship will provide the backbone of the Royal Navy’s future surface combatant force from early in the next decade. We envisage it being optimised for anti-submarine warfare, providing protection to maritime task groups, the strategic deterrent, and land forces in the littoral environment, though it will also be able to operate in a wide variety of other roles, able to deploy an embarked military force by boat or helicopter, undertake surveillance and intelligence gathering activities, conduct counter terrorism and counter-piracy operations, and support disaster relief and humanitarian operations.

The assessment phase will be a £127 million, four-year contract with BAE Systems surface ships that will deliver a cost-effective ship specification for development and manufacture. Among other things, it will examine whole-life costs, consider the potential for international export, develop tailored logistic support arrangements and produce a full ship specification for consideration prior to the main investment decision. In doing so, this work will protect skills and employment in the warship design sector and maintain a key industrial capability for the UK.

We have delayed proceeding with this work until the recent planning round was completed, and any further significant delay would increase the risk that we would be unable to maintain the maritime industrial workload at a cost-effective level once carrier manufacturing is past its peak. It would also increase the risk of our having to retire the Type 22 and 23 Frigates before the Type 26 is ready to replace them. However, to ensure that we can incorporate any changes to the design or concept of operations that might result from the Strategic Defence Review (SDR), a mid-programme review point has been included as part of the work.

Secondly, as part of our ongoing efforts to deliver increased value for money and support the continued transformation of the maritime industrial sector, I am pleased to announce that we have signed a 15-year partnering agreement with Babcock Marine. We announced our intention to negotiate a so-called TOBA with Babcock Marine in 2007 following the acquisition of Devonport Management Limited by Babcock International Group, and it has been under negotiation for many months. This agreement will guarantee Babcock Marine’s role as our lead industrial partner for submarine support, maintenance and decommissioning, and our preferred supplier for engineering and other services for surface warships and submarines at Her Majesty’s naval bases Devonport and Clyde. Babcock Marine will also continue to advise the Ministry of Defence on the initial phases of submarine dismantling options and will play a more active role in through-life capability management for the Royal Navy’s fleet, ensuring maximum availability and value for money in the support of future warships and submarines.

In exchange for this guaranteed scope of work, the agreement will deliver guaranteed savings and benefits to the department of at least £1.2 billion over 15 years, at outturn prices. These savings will flow from performance improvement and efficiency measures enabled by long-term confidence, and will be embedded in the contracts for goods and services that will be negotiated within the framework of the agreement. I would emphasise that, because the agreement will not guarantee a specified level of work, we can be confident that the choices available in the SDR will not in any way be constrained, but by proceeding now we will ensure that we can start delivering the savings envisaged as soon as possible.

The Government have also made a contractual commitment to proceed with the initial build of Astute Boat 5 and long-lead procurement activities associated with Astute Boat 6, at a total cost of over £300 million. This commitment is necessary now to ensure a consistent workload for the UK’s submarine building industry. This investment will allow the timely delivery of the Astute class boats, which are the biggest and most advanced attack submarines ever ordered for the Royal Navy. Furthermore, since the same industrial skills, experience and capability are necessary to deliver the successor deterrent submarine programme, this investment will play a part in ensuring a smooth transition from the Astute programme to the successor deterrent.

These decisions demonstrate the Government’s commitment to the long-term future of the Royal Navy and the UK's maritime defence industry. They will deliver vital defence capability and sustain a world-class, efficient sovereign maritime industry.

I intend to make more announcements in the coming days about new and additional capability for our Armed Forces and defence contracts for UK industry.

Armed Forces: Helicopters


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

I wish to inform the House today of the findings of the Royal Air Force service inquiry into the crash of the RAF Tornado F3, ZE 982, on 2 July 2009 into a mountainside in Argyll, Scotland. Tragically, both the pilot, Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Thompson, and the navigator, Flight Lieutenant Nigel Morton, were killed. Our deepest sympathies remain with their families and friends.

The purpose of a service inquiry is to establish the circumstances of the loss and to learn lessons from it; it does not seek to apportion blame. The service inquiry was convened on 3 July 2009 and has now presented its findings.

The service inquiry found that Tornado ZE 982 was the lead of a pair of Tornado F3 aircraft flying a routine low-level training sortie out of RAF Leuchars on 2 July 2009. From the accident data recorder information available to it, the service inquiry was able to identify the sequence of airborne events and concluded that the cause of the accident was controlled flight into terrain due to insufficient turning room being available within the valley to complete the turn. Effectively, once the aircraft had entered into the final turn it was all but impossible to achieve the turn safely. As a consequence, the aircraft crashed into the north slope of Glen Kinglas, Argyll, 14 minutes after take-off. The second Tornado crew witnessed the crash and took immediate recovery action, in due course returning safely to RAF Leuchars. The service inquiry concluded that the aircraft’s flying control systems, engines and structure were serviceable and all critical systems operated correctly during the sortie and that there was no evidence to prove that any equipment issues caused the aircraft’s loss.

The inquiry findings serve to demonstrate that military flying is never without risk and that low-level flying presents additional challenges.

The service inquiry panel made a total of 26 recommendations largely relating to aircrew training and check and assurance processes. These are being addressed and will be implemented, as appropriate, as soon as is practicable.

A redacted version of the inquiry findings will be placed in the Library of the House today. It will also be made available on the MoD internet site and can be found by following the link below:



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

In January 2009, my right honourable friend the Member for Ashfield, the then Secretary of State for Transport, announced the launch of a second round of Kickstart bus funding. I am pleased to announce today the provisional successful bidders from the competition. A list of these has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

The scheme was launched with funding of £25 million, which has been revised to £15 million. The successful bids represent the best possible value for money for the department. I have written today to the provisional successful bidders, asking them to confirm their interest in the scheme.

Kickstart is targeted at schemes which have the potential to become successful but which initially might be more marginal in commercial terms and require some financial help to start them off, or which are currently marginal schemes that with some extra support could be made more successful.

Through Kickstart, we are looking to pump-prime bus services which will contribute to the department's overall objectives of increasing bus patronage, and in particular developing bus services as an alternative to car use, bringing with it a reduction in congestion and benefits to the environment. It will also contribute to objectives on improving accessibility and social inclusion. This round focused on schemes which make use of the new bus powers in the Local Transport Act 2008. We hope this will allow us to build up good practice on the use of these powers to promulgate to other local authorities and operators.

Conflict Prevention Pool


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

I, together with my right honourable friends the Secretary of State for Defence and the Secretary of State for International Development, wish to inform the House about our plans for conflict funding for the next financial year.

The 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review settlement set the programme resources available for conflict prevention and stabilisation for FY 2010-11 at £229 million (an uplift of £50 million from FY 2009-10), with an additional call on the Treasury reserve for assessed peacekeeping costs, currently capped at £374 million. Taking into account end-year flexibility arrangements, the UK’s total available conflict resource for FY 2010-11 is likely to be £628.5 million. This excludes the net additional costs of military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, where separate arrangements are in place to draw on the Treasury reserve.

We have agreed that we will earmark £450 million to cover the cost of assessed peacekeeping contributions, allowing us to meet our international legal obligations.

We have increased funding from £171 million in 2009-10 to £178.5 million in 2010-11 for discretionary activity funded through the tri-departmental conflict pool (CP). The conflict pool (CP) will continue to fund discretionary conflict prevention, stabilisation and peacekeeping activity under the existing five programmes: South Asia, Middle East, Africa, Wider Europe and Strategic Support to International Organisations.

the allocation for South Asia will be £84.8 million, which includes an allocation of £82 million for activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, reflecting the very high priority that we attach to this region. We will continue all conflict-related activity in Afghanistan, particularly in Helmand, where a large proportion of resources is spent on stabilisation programmes. We will increase funding for Pakistan. We are also in a position to maintain activity in Sri Lanka and Nepal;

in Africa, the total allocation will be £42.2 million, which will be used to fund conflict prevention programmes and discretionary peacekeeping engagements in priority countries such as Sudan, DRC, Kenya and Zimbabwe. We will increase funding for Somalia to reflect its increasing priority. HMG will also maintain their focus on building Africa’s capacity to prevent and manage conflict;

in wider Europe, the total allocation will be £22.2 million. This will allow HMG to continue to fund a UK contribution to UN peacekeeping in Cyprus, conflict prevention work in the Balkans such as rule of law and security sector reform and conflict prevention work in Georgia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. We will also maintain our commitment to EU and OSCE operations in the Balkans and Caucasus;

in the Middle East, the total allocation will be £13.8 million. Within the allocation of £13.8 million we will increase resources for conflict prevention in Yemen and for programmes supporting the Middle East peace process (MEPP). We will also continue to support conflict prevention programmes in Lebanon and to fund stabilisation activity in Iraq; and

the £6.5 million Strategic Support to International Organisations programme, which provides support for international organisations, includes support for Security Sector Reform advisory capacity and for the United Nations Rule of Law Unit, the Peacebuilding Support Office, a Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support package and defence education.

These allocations will allow the conflict pool to retain a reserve of £9 million to act primarily as a buffer against fluctuations in the exchange rate and increases in assessed peacekeeping or other conflict-related costs. The likely cost of the assessed contributions will be kept under review.

We will continue to prioritise within the resources available. We remain committed to maintaining our significant contribution to international peacekeeping, and to funding essential conflict prevention and stabilisation activity in priority regions.

Constitutional Reform Act 2005: Post-Legislative Scrutiny


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

I am today laying before the House the Government’s memorandum to the Justice Committee on post-legislative scrutiny of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 introduced wide-ranging constitutional reform to the executive, legislature and judiciary. This reform has been implemented, in line with the stated objectives of the Act, as detailed in the memorandum. The full impact on our constitutional settlement of these major reforms is only likely to be felt years from now, as the institutions and relationships it created continue to mature.

Core Quality Standards


The Director of Public Prosecutions has today issued the first set of Core Quality Standards for the Crown Prosecution Service, which now incorporates the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office.

The Core Quality Standards set out in plain language the key requirements for a successful prosecution and I welcome their publication. They inform members of the public of the level of service they can expect from those who prosecute on their behalf. Likewise, they inform CPS staff of what is expected of them and how they will be held to account for the quality of the service provided.

The standards outline, broadly in chronological order, the level of service that the public, and other criminal justice stakeholders can expect at each stage of the process: from early advice to investigators at the outset of a case; through to the appeals process; and how the service will respond to complaints or feedback which might follow at the conclusion of a case.

The Core Quality Standards will be an important tool for improving the quality of service delivered to the public. Performance against the standards will be monitored and reported to the public at the end of each financial year.

To ensure that the standards are widely accessible, they will be published in the most commonly spoken languages in our communities as well as in English, Welsh, audio and Braille.

Copies of the Core Quality Standards have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, and are also available on the Crown Prosecution Service website at

Driving: Licences


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

I am making this Statement with my honourable friend the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, the Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Phil Woolas), as part of a joint programme of work between the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the United Kingdom Border Agency under the auspices of the immigration enforcement strategy Enforcing the Deal.

We are today announcing an administrative change, under the existing legal framework, in the way in which DVLA considers applications for UK driving licences from non-EEA nationals. There is already strong operational co-operation between DVLA and the UK Border Agency to prevent identity and immigration fraud by foreign nationals. The Government’s strategic objective is to move to a position where possession of an identity card for foreign nationals issued under the UK Borders Act 2007 becomes a qualifying criteria for non-EEA nationals wishing to obtain a UK driving licence.

As a preliminary measure, I am informing the House that from today those applying for a provisional as well as full driving licence will have to demonstrate that they are lawfully resident in the UK, not simply lawfully present, in order to qualify for a driving licence. Those who are present in the UK on temporary permission or temporary release under the Immigration Act 1971 will not be considered eligible for a driving licence. Those granted leave to enter or remain in the UK for at least 185 days will continue to be able to apply for a licence while their leave is extant, provided that they otherwise qualify.

It is right that those whose status remains undecided and those without leave should not be seeking to establish the benefits of ordinary settled life in the UK, including access to driving licences. Transitional provisions will apply to those with an outstanding licence application at DVLA.

Employment Tribunal Awards and ACAS Settlements


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

Today, I am announcing measures that build upon the current provisions for enforcement of awards from employment tribunals in the courts.

The High Court Enforcement Officers Association has agreed that a number of its members will take part in a scheme, to be known as employment tribunal fast track, that will assist successful claimant enforce their employment tribunal awards anywhere in England and Wales.

With effect from 6 April 2010, the fast track scheme will allow a High Court enforcement officer to be assigned to their case as soon as the respondent fails to pay the award as ordered. The officer will thereafter progress the case through the court processes and onward to execution of a High Court writ issued against the respondent’s goods.

All the costs of the fast track scheme will be recoverable from the respondent with a small fixed cost liability for the claimant if the award is not recovered.

The award will continue to be registered on the register of judgments, orders and fines which, if left unpaid, could have a detrimental effect upon the credit status of the respondent.

It is our intention to now consider if the fast track scheme can be extended to include recipients of ACAS settlements orders so they too can benefit from the services the High Court enforcement officer.

The Government are determined to ensure that individuals who are entitled to their employment tribunal awards are not denied access to justice by a small minority of unscrupulous individuals or companies who refuse to respect the award. These changes will ensure that all recipients can pursue the payment of their award with ease.

Energy: Nuclear Power Stations


I have today issued two consultation documents relating to the arrangements for the financing of nuclear decommissioning and waste handling for new nuclear power stations.

It is the Government’s policy that the owners and operators of new nuclear power stations must set aside funds over the generating life of the power station to cover the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management and disposal costs. The two consultations published today represent significant progress in the delivery of that policy.

The first consultation is on “a Methodology to Determine a Fixed Unit Price for Waste Disposal and Updated Cost Estimates for Nuclear Decommissioning, Waste Management and Waste Disposal”.

This consultation document sets out:

changes to the Government’s policy framework for setting a fixed unit price as a result of feedback from stakeholders received during the pre-consultation process;

the main stages of the proposed methodology to determine a fixed unit price and worked examples of how it would be calculated using this methodology; and

the Government’s updated estimates of the costs for decommissioning, waste management and waste disposal of new nuclear power stations.

The second consultation is on “the Financing of Nuclear Decommissioning and Waste Handling Regulations”, which proposes to implement regulations that will seek to:

recover the costs associated with the consideration of a funded decommissioning programme (FDP), including the costs of obtaining advice in relation to the FDP or in relation to the information about the FDP;

amend the procedure as set out in the Energy Act 2008 for modifying an approved FDP;

implement reporting requirements;

clarify requirements for the verification of a FDP; and

to define the financing elements of FDP.

This is also a consultation on a draft order to make certain matters associated with a FDP designated technical matters.

We want to hear from members of the public, industry, financial and other institutions that may be involved in the financing of new nuclear power stations, non-governmental organisations and any other organisation or body with an interest.

The consultations will close on Friday 18 June 2010. Copies of the consultations will be placed in the Libraries of House.

Food: Nanotechnologies


My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Gillian Merron) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

We are today laying before Parliament the Government’s response (Cm 7857) to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report on nanotechnologies and food, which was published on 8 January 2010.

Nanoscience and nanotechnologies have advanced in recent years to the stage where there are a range of innovative products on the market that contain nanomaterials, ranging from cosmetics to surface coatings for glass. While developments in the food industry are generally at an early stage, applications of nanotechnology in this sector have the potential to bring about benefits to both industry and consumers.

The Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry is therefore timely and its report provides a detailed and extremely thorough analysis of a range of issues including support for innovation, research into health and safety implications, regulation and public engagement.

The Government’s response welcomes the committee’s report and its recommendations. Some of the issues that have been raised by the committee are specific to food, while others are wider in scope. The Food Standards Agency has therefore liaised closely with other government departments—the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs—in considering the committee’s recommendations and developing the overall response.

In several places the response cross-refers to the Government’s UK nanotechnologies strategy, Small Technologies, Great Opportunities, which was published on 18 March 2010. The Government’s position on nanotechnologies is set out in the strategy as follows:

“The UK’s economy and consumers will benefit from the development of nanotechnologies through Government’s support of innovation and promotion of the use of these emerging and enabling technologies in a safe, responsible and sustainable way reflecting the needs of the public, industry and academia”.

This approach applies equally in the food sector, where the role of public engagement is of particular importance. The committee rightly highlights the heightened public sensitivities about new food technologies and the value of effective public communication and openness. Therefore, in addition to taking forward the other recommendations in the report, the Food Standards Agency will be working closely with industry, consumer groups and other stakeholders to ensure that the public have accurate and impartial information about the way in which nanotechnologies are being applied to food.

Today’s publication is in the Library and copies are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office.

Health: H1N1 Pandemic


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

I am pleased to announce that an independently chaired review of the UK response to the 2009 H1N1 (“swine flu”) pandemic has been established. This review has been jointly commissioned, and the chair appointed, by all four of the UK Health Ministers. The review will be chaired by Dame Deirdre Hine. The review team is situated within the Cabinet Office, which will lead the review with the full co-operation of all the UK health departments.

As part of the normal procedure following a major emergency event, the review will consider the effectiveness of the UK response to the 2009 pandemic and make recommendations to inform planning for any future pandemic. We expect the review team to conduct a paper review of all the key elements of the response and to interview key individuals involved. However, it will be for Dame Deirdre to determine precisely how she wishes to proceed.

The chair will start work as soon as possible. In order that the review can inform future pandemic planning and to ensure that its findings are placed in the public domain as soon as possible, Ministers have asked that the review complete its work in time to publish a report before the summer parliamentary recess (in any of the four nations of the UK).

I would like to take this opportunity to express the Government’s thanks to all of those who have assisted and advised on the response to the swine flu pandemic.

Highways Agency: Business Plan


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

The Highways Agency’s business plan for 2010-11 has been published today. It sets out the agency’s budgets for the financial year and how that funding will be spent. The plan contains 12 key performance targets against which the agency’s performance will be measured. These are set out in the table below:

Key Performance Deliverables

Business Plan Targets for 2010-11

Reliability: Implement a programme of delivery actions that tackle unreliable journeys on the strategic road network

Reliability: The HA will deliver the 2010-11 components and impacts of the reliability delivery plan as agreed by the Secretary of State

Major Projects: Deliver to time and budget the programme of major schemes on the strategic road network.

Major Projects: For the programme of national schemes in the construction phase, maintain a programme level of 1.0* against the cost performance index (CPI) and the schedule performance index (SPI). *(a programme–level variance of +0.1 or -0.05 against the CPI and the SPI would mean that the target would be deemed to be met)

Major Projects: For the programme of regional schemes in the construction phase, maintain a programme level of 1.0* against the cost performance index (CPI) and the schedule performance index (SPI). *(a programme–level variance of +0.1 or -0.05 against the CPI and the SPI would mean that the target would be deemed to be met)

Major Projects: For the programme of national schemes in the development phase, achieve a milestone achievement index of 1.0

Safety: Deliver the Highways Agency’s agreed proportion of the national road casualty reduction target.

Road Safety: By the end of 2010 reduce by a third (ie to 2,244*) the number of people killed or seriously injured on the core network compared with the 1994-98 average of 3,366. *To allow for expected year-on-year fluctuations in casualty levels, the HA will be deemed to have met the target if the reduction achieved is no more than 5% above the milestone target figures.

Maintenance: Maintain the strategic road network in a safe and reliable condition, and deliver value for money.

Maintenance (Condition Index): Maintain a road surface condition index of 100 ±1 within the renewal of roads budget

Maintenance (Cost & Efficiency): Deliver selected maintenance renewals* costs at an average level below inflation by the end of 2010-11 when compared with 2009-10. *Excluding technology maintenance

Carbon: Contribute to national and international goals for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by lowering the Highways Agency’s emissions

Carbon: By the end of 2010-11, achieve a 3% reduction in our carbon* emissions from our direct energy and fuel usage, our network energy, and our business travel, when compared with 2008-09, in line with the UK carbon reduction target. *Carbon Dioxide (CO2) equivalent

Environment: Improve quality of life for transport users and non-transport users, and promote a healthy natural environment

Environment: Deliver the following in-year actions contained in the 2010-11 Environmental Action Plan

Air Quality: To complete studies examining a representative selection of air quality exceedences on the strategic road network, and to develop options for mitigating these problems.

Noise: Review and validation of first priority locations as shown in the Defra noise action plans enabling the development of prioritised improvement actions for 2011-12 and beyond.

Water Environment: Deliver six effective interventions at priority outfalls, priority soakaways and flooding hotspots and culverts.

Nature Conservation: Deliver 10 interventions to support protected species and enhance habitats in accordance with the HA Biodiversity Action Plan.

Customer Satisfaction: Deliver a high level of road user satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction: Improve road user satisfaction by at least 0.2 percentage points compared with the level achieved in 2009-10. Develop and agree a new customer satisfaction measure and target to be implemented for 2011-12.

Efficiency: Deliver the Highways Agency’s contribution to the Department for Transport’s efficiency target

Efficiency (Programme): Deliver cumulative efficiency improvements of £144 million by the end of 2010-11.

Efficiency (Administration): Deliver our programme within the allocated administration budget over the CSR07 period, which requires cumulative efficiency savings of 17.2% in real terms by the end of 2010-11

Copies of the business plan have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.



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

On 15 December 2009, I announced the establishment of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and the appointment of the Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, as the panel’s chairman. The appointment of seven panel members was announced in my Written Statement of 26 January 2010.

In view of the range of skills needed and the hundreds of thousands of documents within the panel’s scope, my announcement on 26 January referred to the likelihood of further appointments, including the appointment to the panel of a suitably experienced lawyer. I can now confirm that Raju Bhatt, a founder and partner of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors and one of the founding members of Inquest Lawyers Group, has been appointed as a member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

This announcement completes the process of appointments to the panel, each of which is for a period of two years.

I am confident that the panel members have the skills and experience that they need to be successful in the challenging tasks the panel faces, and that it will continue to act with independence, rigour, and sensitivity. The panel will, itself, consider the range of professional expertise it may wish to call upon in due course.

House of Lords Appointments Commission: Annual Report


My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has made the following Statement.

I have today placed the House of Lords Appointments Commission annual report October 2008-March 2010 in the Libraries of both Houses. I am grateful to the members of the commission for the report and their valuable work during the period.

Housing: Council Houses


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

I am publishing today for consultation a prospectus setting out our detailed plans for reforming council housing finance in England. My objective in doing this is to dismantle the housing revenue account subsidy system which was introduced in 1935 and has operated in its current form since 1989. I want to replace it with a devolved system of responsibility and funding for council housing.

I want to provide more flexibility in finances and more transparency in the operation of the system. I want to devolve control from central to local government. And, in return, I want to increase local responsibility and accountability for long-term planning and housing management to meet the needs of local people.

The current redistributive housing revenue account subsidy system has a long history and a clear rationale. Councils have different spending needs and different capacities to raise income. Without redistribution, some councils would have to charge higher rents or deliver lower quality services. But the annual uncertainty of subsidy decisions has inhibited long-term planning and asset management and it has meant that council landlords are less accountable to their tenants.

On 30 June 2009, I announced the Government’s proposals for replacing the centralised annual subsidy system with a devolved self-financing system. Under this, councils will finance their own housing from their own rents, in exchange for a one-off redistribution of housing debt to make the settlement financially neutral between central and local government. Freeing councils from the annual funding decisions in the current system will enable them to plan long term, secure greater efficiencies and improve the management of their homes and the quality of service to their tenants. This reform involves 1.8 million homes, 177 councils and a total annual budget of over £6 billion.

The consultation on our broad proposals ended on 27 October 2009. We received 223 responses showing strong support for our proposed system of self-financing, which many in local government have been calling for over many years. Since then we have worked closely with local authorities, experts and representative bodies in a government-led project group to develop soundly based and detailed proposals. I am grateful to all those who have contributed to this work.

The detailed plans I am publishing today for local self-financing and management mean 4.2 million people living in council homes will have landlords with more money to maintain their homes and neighbourhoods. This reform will guarantee tenants whose homes have been upgraded through the Government’s Decent Homes programme that their homes will be maintained at least to this standard for the future.

I can confirm the detailed principles and terms on which our plan for this self-financing settlement is based. These include:

all councils will have at least 10 per cent more each year to spend on managing, maintaining and repairing their homes—the equivalent of over £500 million more per year nationally. This deals with the underfunding for maintenance which was identified in the review of council housing finance last year;

there will be a one-off distribution and allocation of debt between local authorities in order to put all councils in an equal position to support their stock from their future income without the need for annual subsidy. The total debt that is supported in the current system will be around £21.48 billion by April 2011. The value of the stock under self-financing using our lead option of a 7 per cent discount rate is £25.13 billion. This means there will be a net receipt for Government of around £3.65 billion at the point of the self-financing settlement, making this settlement neutral between central and local government;

all rents and receipts from sales of houses and land within the HRA will be retained in full by the local authority. By ending the national pooling of all capital receipts, we will support local authorities in creating full asset management strategies covering both capital and revenue;

no local authority will have a proposed allocation of housing debt which is not sustainable for the long term;

rental income assumed in the calculation of debt is based on current rental policy which is designed to keep rents affordable and limit annual increases to tenants; and

funding capacity created for a new generation of council house building.

Since the late 1980s, councils have effectively been unable to build new council houses for their communities. I have now made social housing grant available to local authorities and released funding for two rounds of local authority new build schemes. As a result, we have under way this year, with the first round funding, schemes to build over 2,000 new council houses, the largest council house building programme for nearly two decades. In total, over 87 councils, led by all political parties, will start more than 4,000 homes over this year and next.

Today’s announcement and the self-financing reform means we can go much further. My plans set the self-financing settlement with a 7 per cent discount rate at a level which will give councils, after they have met the spending needs to manage and maintain their existing homes, the capacity to fund 10,000 new council homes each year from 2014-15—a five-fold increase in the council house building programme in the current year; this would generate over 20,000 jobs and over 1,000 apprenticeships. Councils will be able to build new homes without increasing local authority borrowing once the self-financing settlement is in place.

I am looking to establish as part of this consultation whether local authorities have the will to use this funding capacity to build new homes to help meet local housing needs. The response of local government to this challenge in the consultation will help us determine whether our lead option of a 7 per cent discount rate is appropriate for the final terms of the self-financing settlement.

The Government are totally committed to completing the Decent Homes programme and recognise that £3.2 billion of works are still needed to meet their Decent Homes commitment. Meeting this investment need will therefore be a central element of its decisions on investment priorities at the next spending review.

Self-financing will fundamentally change the relationship between central government and local authority landlords. It both strengthens local accountability and creates a more strategic relationship between local authorities and central government. Today’s consultation makes proposals for improving the accounting and financial framework within which self-financing will operate. This will provide assurances that, there will be sufficient safeguards for tenants and local and national taxpayers, under a devolved financing system.

The settlement will provide councils with the resources they need for effective management of their housing without recourse to further borrowing. Because of this, we will set a cap on the borrowing each local authority can service from the HRA, based on the opening debt. The prospectus sets out details for the calculation of this cap. It is a fiscally prudent deal which protects the interests of tenants and taxpayers.

This is a once and for all settlement. Any major future policy changes would need also to take into account the financial consequences as an additional consideration and funding transaction. If this plan and the terms set out in the prospectus are broadly accepted by local authorities, this devolved system of financing and accountability could be in place by 2011-12 through a voluntary agreement between government and councils. If not, legislation will be required, delaying implementation by at least a year.

I hope local authorities will seize this opportunity for radical reform of the HRA subsidy system which they have long criticised and this opportunity to build new council homes for their local communities.

In order to assist councils in examining the potential of this self-financing deal for their housing services and tenants, CLG officials will be available to meet and explain the proposals during the consultation period.

I urge all local authorities to examine carefully the plans I am publishing today, and to respond fully to our consultation. The consultation will run until 6 July.

Insolvency Service: Performance Targets


My honourable friend the Minister for Business and Regulatory Reform (Ian Lucas) has today made the following Statement.

I have today agreed to the publishing of the Insolvency Service’s corporate plan for the period 2010-11.

As a result of changes in public behaviour, with individuals increasingly opting for voluntary insolvency and bankruptcy procedures, the Insolvency Service is planning in 2010-11 to deal with a level of new compulsory insolvency cases within a range of 71,500 to 80,000, significantly less than was predicted in 2009.

The service is also planning to deal with a range of 120,000 to 150,000 redundancy payments and other insolvency-related claims during 2010-11.

The service’s “Enabling the Future” programme, a major programme of IT-led investment, and its service transformation plan to implement online services and improve its customers’ experience, will deliver significant savings for the service and its customers over the next five years. In 2010-11, the service will review its long-term fees strategy, with a view to reducing its bad provision and the use of BIS funding to cover working capital. This will enable the service to achieve a real-term reduction in insolvency case administration fees of 2.5 per cent.

Action will continue to be taken against bankrupts and company directors in respect of financial misconduct or dishonesty, and the service will continue to investigate the affairs of companies in the public interest. In 2009, the service undertook a new stakeholder satisfaction survey for confidence in its enforcement regime, achieving an overall confidence level of 68 per cent. I have asked the service at least to maintain this level during 2010-11, and I have also set a target in relation to the timeliness of instigating disqualification proceedings in appropriate cases.

I have set targets in relation to the timeliness of releasing reports to creditors in bankruptcy and insolvency cases, and of processing claims for redundancy payments. Also, a target has been set in relation to the overall satisfaction levels of the service’s users.

The corporate plan will be available from 1 April 2010 at Plan.pdf

INSS Published Targets

2009-10 Target

2010-11 Target

Customer Focus

User Satisfaction levels as measured through the Agency User Satisfaction Index1



Case Administration

Level of real term reduction in fees for insolvency case administration

Year 3 of a 15% target


Percentage of reports issued to creditors within 8 weeks

for bankruptcy cases



for company cases




Stakeholder confidence in The Insolvency Service’s enforcement regime



The average time from insolvency order to the instigation of disqualification proceedings in appropriate cases

20 Months

19 Months

Redundancy Payments

Action redundancy payment claims

within 3 weeks



within 6 weeks



1 This is a combined indicator covering bankruptcy and redundancy cases.

The service will also look to build upon its Charter Mark accreditation (held since 1999) by obtaining Customer Service Excellence accreditation in 2010, and will work towards Investors in People reaccreditation in 2011-12.

In addition to these targets, the service is required to meet centrally promulgated targets relating to replying to correspondence from honourable Members, and making payments to suppliers.

Other Targets

2009-10 Target

2010-11 Target

Reply to correspondence from Members of Parliament within 10 days



Process payments to suppliers within 30 days



The Government have also instructed departments and agencies to maximise levels of payment of undisputed invoices within eight days.

Intercept Evidence


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

My Written Ministerial Statement of 10 December reported the conclusions of the work programme set in train following the Privy Council review of January 2008, to implement the use of intercept as evidence, consistent with protecting the public and national security. This concluded that the “PII Plus” model of IaE, recommended for further work by the Privy Council review, would not be legally viable, and would worsen rather than enhance our ability to bring the guilty to justice. The Advisory Group of Privy Counsellors (the right honourable Sir John Chilcot, the right honourable Sir Alan Beith MP, the right honourable Michael Howard QC MP, and my noble and learned friend the right honourable Lord Archer of Sandwell) established to advise on the work programme agreed with this conclusion.

My WMS confirmed the Government’s commitment to report back on further scoping analysis, intended to establish whether the problems identified were capable of being resolved, prior to the Easter Recess. The areas to be examined were:

further enhancing the judicial oversight available;

full retention of intercept material alongside alternative review requirements;

advances in technology which might make full retention and review more manageable.

I am having placed in the House Libraries copies of a progress report to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister on behalf of the advisory group.

The findings underline the complexity and difficulty of the issues raised. None of the approaches examined successfully reconcile the requirements for trials to remain fair with those necessary to protect operational capabilities. In some cases the problems are such that further work is not justified. In some others the position may be less categorical. Reflecting this, the advisory group has suggested further, more focused work building on that undertaken previously and intended to establish whether the remaining approaches could be implemented in way that is operationally sustainable and affordable. The Government agree that this would be useful.

I should like to express my thanks to the advisory group for its continued contribution to this programme of work.

London Underground


I informed the House last year on 29 October 2009 (Official Report, col. 28WS-29WS) that an Independent Advisory Panel would be set up to scrutinise the Transport for London (TfL) investment programme.

Yesterday, 24 March 2010, the Mayor announced the appointments of the first six members of the panel from a shortlist agreed with me. TfL has informed me that it expects the panel, now known as the Investment Programme Advisory Group (IPAG), to be up and running by May 2010. Further details can be found on the TfL website at

The IPAG will provide additional reassurance to the mayor, and to taxpayers and farepayers, that the TfL investment programme is being delivered economically and efficiently.

Marine Management Organisation


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

The new Marine Management Organisation (MMO), established by the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, is under a duty to exercise its functions with the overarching objective of making a contribution to the achievement of sustainable development in the marine area.

The Act requires the Secretary of State to give the MMO guidance on the contribution it is to make to the achievement of sustainable development, and a draft of any such guidance must be laid before Parliament.

A draft of the guidance, which has taken into account the comments of a broad range of organisations, MMO delivery partners, and the MMO Board, will be laid today and copies made available in the Vote Office and at /other/9780108509032/9780108509032.asp.

National Minimum Wage


My right honourable friend the Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills (Pat McFadden) has today made the following Statement.

In June 2009 the Government asked the Low Pay Commission to produce its next report on the national minimum wage by the end of February 2010. I should like to thank the commissioners for all their hard work.

The Low Pay Commission’s 2010 report

The main recommendations put forward by the Low Pay Commission concern the rates of the minimum wage and an apprentice minimum wage. The commission has recommended that the adult hourly rate of the minimum wage should increase from £5.80 to £5.93. It has also recommended increasing the development rate (which will cover workers aged 18-20 years) from £4.83 to £4.92 and that the rate for 16-17 year-olds movers from £3.57 to £3.64. It recommends that these changes take place in October 2010.

The commission has also recommended that there should be a single apprentice minimum wage rate of £2.50 per hour for those apprentices currently exempt from the national minimum wage; that is, all those under the age of 19 and those aged 19 and over in the first 12 months of their apprenticeship.

The Government accept these recommendations.

In addition, the Government accept the commission’s recommendations that there should be specific guidance on the national minimum wage for the entertainment sector; and that HMRC investigates whether contract and agency cleaners in the hotel sector are receiving their entitlement under the national minimum wage for their hours worked.

The Government note the commission’s recommendation that there should be a commitment, as a minimum, to maintaining current funding in real terms for monitoring and enforcement of the national minimum wage until at least March 2014.

Government’s response to individual recommendations in the Low Pay Commission’s 2010 report

National Minimum Wage rates

We recommend that the adult minimum wage rate should increase from £5.80 to £5.93 from October 2010.

We recommend that the youth development rate for should increase from £4.83 to £4.92 and that the 16-17 year-old rate should increase from £3.57 to £3.64 from October 2010.

We recommend that the accommodation offset should increase from £4.51 to £4.61 per day from October 2010.



We recommend that non-employed apprentices are excluded from the apprentice minimum wage and continue to be exempt from the national minimum wage.

We recommend that the apprentice minimum wage be applied as a single rate to those apprentices currently exempt from the national minimum wage. That is all those under the age of 19 and those aged 19 and over in the first 12 months of their apprenticeship. The wage should cover both those employed on traditional contracts of apprenticeship and employed apprentices on government-supported level 2 and 3 schemes.

We recommend that all hours of work and training (relating to both on-the-job and off-the-job) under an apprenticeship should be counted as hours for which the apprentice wage must be paid. All hours should be paid at the same wage rate.

We recommend that the apprentice minimum wage be set at an hourly rate.

We recommend the apprentice wage is set at a rate of £2.50 per hour and is introduced from October 2010.

We recommend that in England transitional arrangements are put in place so that current apprentices retain a contractual entitlement to at least £95 per week for the remainder of their apprenticeship or until they are entitled to the national minimum wage.

We recommend that the Government include the review of the apprentice minimum wage rate and arrangements in our annual terms of reference.


Particular Groups of Workers

We recommend that the Government produce, in conjunction with interested parties, sector specific guidance on the national minimum wage for the entertainment sector.

We recommend that HMRC investigates whether contract and agency cleaners in the hotel sector are receiving their entitlement under the national minimum wage for their hours worked.


Compliance and Enforcement

We recommend that the Government commit, as a minimum, to maintaining current funding in real terms for monitoring and enforcement of the national minimum wage until at least March 2014.


The Government will consider the level of funding for national minimum wage monitoring and enforcement as part of the wider next spending review settlement discussion and will announce a decision on this at the same time as the settlement. We have today published our national minimum wage compliance strategy which highlights how we aim to maximise our compliance impact and emphasises the importance that the Government place on our enforcement activities

Copies of the Low Pay Commission’s 2010 report and the national minimum wage compliance strategy have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

NHS: Prescription and Dental Charges


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

I am announcing a freeze in prescription charges for 2010-11. The prescription charge will remain unchanged at £7.20 for each quantity of a drug or appliance dispensed. The cost of a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) will remain at £104.00 for an annual certificate. PPCs offer savings to those who need frequent prescriptions throughout the year. The cost of the three-month PPC, which is useful for those with a shorter-term need for prescription items, will remain at £28.25.

Alongside this, I am confirming that we will not be introducing any changes to the age exemption criteria for free prescriptions in April 2010. We are considering how best to implement changes to the age at which people qualify for free prescriptions, in line with the changes to state pension age for women.

NHS dental charges will also be frozen at their current rates for the 12 months beginning 1 April 2010. The dental charge payable for a band 1 course of treatment will remain at £16.50 and the charge for a band 2 course of treatment will remain at £45.60. The charge for a band 3 course of treatment will remain, for a third year, at £198.

Charges for elastic stockings and tights, wigs and fabric supports supplied through hospitals will also remain unchanged.

The range of NHS optical vouchers available to children, people on low incomes and individuals with complex sight problems to help with the purchase of glasses also remains unchanged in 2010-11.

Pensions: NEST


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

I am pleased to announce the appointment of further members of the NEST Corporation.

Ms Jeannie Drake is appointed as deputy chair of the NEST Corporation. Her appointment will take effect from 1 April 2010, initially as deputy chair designate until the NEST Corporation is established on 5 July, at which point Ms Drake will take on the full duties of deputy chair. Ms Drake is currently acting chair of the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority (PADA) and will retain this role until PADA is wound up on 5 July 2010.

Ms Drake brings a deep knowledge of the objectives of NEST and the wider agenda for pensions. As deputy chair, Ms Drake will provide an excellent continuity of knowledge and will be able to make an immediate contribution to the running of NEST.

I am also pleased to announce the appointment of the following members of the NEST Corporation:

Mr Tom Boardman;

Mr Laurie Edmans;

Dr Dianne Hayter;

Mr Chris Hitchen;

Mr Julius Pursaill; and

Ms Sue Slipman

Their appointments will be as members designate from 1 April 2010 until the NEST Corporation is established on 5 July. These individuals will bring a wide breadth of knowledge and expertise to the NEST Corporation.

The NEST Corporation will be a non-departmental public body, responsible for launching and running NEST, a new low-cost pension scheme for moderate to low earners who are not currently served by the private sector. NEST will ensure all employers have access to a suitable pension arrangement in order to fulfil their forthcoming duties under the Pensions Act 2008.

In the long term, we expect NEST to have between 3 and 6 million members, and hundreds of thousands of participating employers. Developing and delivering a scheme of this scale is a significant challenge, and these appointments demonstrate the ongoing government commitment to ensuring NEST succeeds.

NEST will be established when the National Employment Savings Trust Order 2010 comes into effect on 5 July. The order will be supplemented by the NEST rules, both of which will be published today. Together, the order and rules set out the scope and parameters for the operation of NEST. An Explanatory Note will be published with the rules, to set out the changes following consultation in April 2009.

Copies of the rules and the Explanatory Note will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The order will be published and made available through the OPSI website at



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

The Pre-Budget Report 2009 Securing the Recovery: Growth and Opportunity stated that, “CLG will undertake by Budget 2010 an end-to-end review of the call-in process, seeking to speed up decision-making”. We have now completed this review and I am today publishing a report of the review and have placed copies in the Library of the House.

All parts of the process were examined to identify where there may be scope to work more efficiently, or to streamline the process. The review makes a number of recommendations and these are summarised below.

Better information:

for Ministers on the implications of calling a case in, and on the value added by call-in;

for third parties on the call-in process and policy;

for government offices on what cases should be put to Ministers;

for government offices on dealing consistently and fairly with third-party requests to call in; and

on call-in timescales and trends.

More effective working:

between statutory agencies and government offices;

between planning central casework and the Planning Inspectorate ;

to try and avoid issuing decisions subject to obtaining further commitments from the applicant (via “minded to” letters);

to speed up the process, particularly where there are issues with planning obligations; and

in planning central casework, to ensure that where possible, call-in cases are prioritised.

Better selection:

of the cases which should be called in; and

of the call-in issues which the inquiry will focus on.

We will also explore the scope for improved use of electronic working at the inquiry stage, and for the government offices to work with local planning authorities at an earlier stage to help avoid call-ins. We will also consider how to make the most effective use of inquiry time—for example by providing more flexibility in the way evidence is examined.

Many of the recommendations in the review can be accepted and acted on immediately, with further work to begin on exploring the longer-term recommendations. Overall the review concluded that up to £2 million a year for applicants might be saved by calling in fewer cases, inquiries could be shorter in 40 per cent of cases (with possible savings of up to £900,000 per year for all parties involved in the inquiry process), and there are further potential time and cost savings identified that might be secured in the future.

A further parliamentary Statement will be issued in due course clarifying government policy on call-in, and updating the Caborn statement of 1999.

Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005


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

In accordance with Section 14(3), 14(4) and 14(5) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, Lord Carlile of Berriew QC prepared a report on the operation of the Act in 2009, which I laid before the House on 1 February 2010.

I am grateful to Lord Carlile for another considered review. Following consultation within my department and with other relevant agencies, I am today laying before the House my response to Lord Carlile’s recommendations.

I am also laying before the House my response to the report on the renewal of the control order legislation by the Joint Committee on Human Rights (published on 26 February 2010).

Copies of the government responses will be available in the Vote Office and a copy of each will also be placed on the Home Office website.

Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre: Key Performance Targets


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

I am today announcing key performance targets that have been agreed for the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre for the period 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011.

The agency’s principal financial target for 2010-11 is to achieve a minimum dividend payment to the Department for Communities and Local Government equal to the total of 6 per cent of average capital employed and a sum equal to the capital charge that applies to the building for the year concerned. Therefore, the agency’s budget for 2010-11 includes a minimum dividend payment of £1,000,000. The agency is a revenue producing business and will also pay to the department an additional £200,000 (20 per cent) as its contribution to the Government’s operational efficiency programme.

The agency also has the following targets to achieve:

a 65 per cent occupancy of its rooms based on a theoretical full occupancy revenue of £9.048,000;

overall score for value for money satisfaction of greater than 90 per cent;

the number of complaints received to be less than two per 100 events; and

an average response time when answering complaints of less than four working days.

Transport: GLA Transport Grant


Following consultation with the Mayor of London, I have today determined the Greater London Authority transport grant for 2010-11 at £2,871,589,000.

This is a block resource grant provided by the Government to Transport for London to support and improve transport services in London, including London Underground.

Victims Advisory Panel: End of Tenure Report


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 an end of tenure report for the second Victims Advisory Panel, which met between July 2006 and July 2009.

The report gives details of the panel’s work across the period and sets out recommendations that it has made. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the panel for their hard work.

Youth Justice Board Review


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

My right honourable friend the Member for Normanton (Ed Balls) and I welcome the report published today, Safeguarding the Future: A Review of the Youth Justice Board’s Governance and Operating Arrangements (the YJB review). This highlights the significant improvements in youth justice since 1998, as well as making important recommendations for the future. We are grateful to Dame Sue Street and Frances Done for their thoughtful and thorough analysis.

The creation of the Youth Justice Board (YJB) and pioneering multi-agency youth offending teams through the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 is described by the YJB review as “amongst the most significant [reforms] ever made to the criminal justice system”. The 1998 Act brought co-ordination and consistency to the previously ineffective and disparate system that was so heavily criticised by the 1996 Audit Commission report, Misspent Youth. Crucially, for the first time it put in place a distinct, formal structure for dealing with young offenders.

Now, instead of pulling in different directions, the police, social services, schools and local authorities are working closely together to protect the public through prevention and, where that fails, punishment and reform. One key focus is on tackling problems before they are allowed to take root, challenging bad behaviour before it escalates.

At the same time, there are also serious consequences for those who do offend. Custody must remain an option open to sentencers for serious and persistent offenders or those who fail to respond to other interventions.

We have also expanded the range of community punishments to hold young offenders to account where appropriate and to make them give redress to the communities that they have wronged.

All this work is underpinned by the £100 million youth crime action plan, which has already impacted on more than 300,000 young people, as well as a new sentencing framework, the youth rehabilitation order, which combines rigorous punishment with interventions to help young offenders to reform.

The evidence suggests that this approach is having an effect: the number of young people entering the criminal justice system has fallen by over 12 per cent between 2000-01 and 2008-09; the frequency rate of reoffending has fallen by nearly a quarter between 2000-2008; and the number of young people sentenced to immediate custody has also fallen significantly over this period.

This progress is encouraging. The Youth Justice Board has played an important part, for which it deserves credit. However, we want to achieve a further step change: fewer victims and less reoffending, with the best outcomes delivered across the country. That is why we commissioned a review of the Youth Justice Board in September 2009 and why we accept the review’s message that the YJB needs to achieve a stronger grip on performance, provide clearer direction and give the best value for public money. The current leadership has shown itself to be ready to rise to this challenge. We accept the review’s recommendation that the board should build on its strengths and reinvigorate its role.

As today’s report highlights, protecting the public must be clearly recognised as the first priority within an integrated approach that improves outcomes for young people. This is central to our approach to justice. We accept the recommendation that the YJB should further emphasise and publicise its role in protecting the public from youth crime.

The review makes clear the importance of strong partnership working between the YJB and central government and makes a number of important recommendations to strengthen this further. We will seek to implement these immediately, building on the successful work through the youth crime action plan. We agree that the Home Office should have greater involvement in that partnership working with the YJB and its sponsoring departments.

We will now develop proposals for putting into practice all the review’s recommendations. We will examine how to achieve the Youth Justice Board’s purpose and objectives with the best value for money for the taxpaying public and will publish a detailed response in the summer.

We will build on our success in preventing crime and reducing reoffending. The Youth Justice Board will continue to ensure that there are sufficient places in secure accommodation for the most serious, persistent young offenders. Where there are weaknesses in performance, the board will focus considerable attention on monitoring and raising standards in local areas, on holding local authorities and providers of youth justice services to account and on spreading best practice across the country. The review makes it clear that there is more to do in this respect. We accept that and will immediately work with the YJB to ensure that it happens. The board will be strengthened in its role through provisions in the Children, Schools and Families Bill that give the Government the power to intervene directly in poorly performing youth offending teams.

The best partnership working should be shared and built on across the country. No one should be left in any doubt about the importance attached to protecting people from becoming victims of crime and to holding the perpetrators to account.