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Written Statements

Volume 718: debated on Tuesday 30 March 2010

Written Statements

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Armed Forces Compensation Scheme

Statement

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

The Government committed to implementing in full all the recommendations arising from the review of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme when it was published on 10 February 2010. As the review acknowledged, considerable detailed work is required to translate the review’s high level recommendations in to legislation. An important first step is the formation of the proposed independent medical expert group, which I am establishing on an interim basis today in order to meet the timescales envisaged by the review. The terms of reference, structure and membership of this interim medical expert group which will advise on armed forces compensation is set out below.

Terms of Reference

The interim Independent Medical Group is established as a result of the AFCS Review (Cm 7798) published on 10 February 2010. Its role primarily is to advise on the appropriate levels of compensation for all the specific injuries, illnesses and diseases highlighted in the AFCS review as being areas of concern, in time to be included in the consultation in autumn 2010 leading to the legislation planned for early 2011 to implement the review.

In addition, the interim group will also, as appropriate:

provide initial advice on the list of recognised diseases that, on the balance of probabilities, are predominantly caused by service in the Armed Forces since 6 April 2005;

provide initial advice on those injuries, illnesses or diseases that might be made worse by service during the first six months of service that are currently excluded from the scheme. This advice will need to distinguish between those injuries, illnesses or diseases that might simply be triggered by service, but are not caused by service (perhaps such as asthma which might only become apparent during initial training);

advise on the definitive structure and membership of the group, beyond the transitional group which would only be in existence for around 12 months; and

advise on any other medical matters in relation to the Armed Forces compensation schemes that the Minister for Veterans requests it to provide.

Membership

The chairman and expert members of this interim group will comprise senior licensed consultants drawn from the relevant specialties, including: trauma/orthopaedics, neurology, ear/nose/throat, occupational medicine, and mental health. The MoD’s Senior Medical Adviser to the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Personnel) will also be a member of the group. Three lay members will also be appointed to the group: one from service/ex-service organisations on the statutorily established Central Advisory Committee on Pensions and Compensation (CAC), one from the in-service representatives on the CAC, and an injured serving person who has claimed under the scheme. The group will be able to draw on other expert advice where required.

The chairman of the group will be a member of the CAC that advises the Minister for Veterans, and the chairman would present the advice of the group to the Minister as a member of the CAC. The advice and the Government’s decisions in relation to it would be published together at the same time on the MoD’s website.

The following individuals have been appointed to form this interim group:

Chairman: Professor Sir Anthony Newman Taylor CBE, FRCP, FFOM, FMedSci;

Expert Members: Professor David Alexander MA(Hons) C.Psychol PhD FBPS FRSM(Hon) FRCPsych; Professor Linda Luxon FRCP; Dr John Scadding MD FRCP; Dr David Snashall MSc FRCP FFOM LLM; Professor James Ryan OStJ, MB, BCh, BAO (NUI), FRCS (Eng), MCh (NUI), Hon FCEM, DMCC(SoA), RAMC(V);

MoD’s Senior Medical Adviser to the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Personnel): Dr Anne Braidwood CBE MRCP MRCGP; and

Lay Members: Lt Col Jerome Church MBE, general- secretary, British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association, member of the CAC, representing the Confederation of British Service and Ex-Service Organisations; Col Robin Vickers, Army Pay Colonel, representing the three single service members on the CAC; and, Col David Richmond, a serving member of the Armed Forces who suffered an AK47 bullet wound that shattered his femur in Afghanistan in June 2008, who was injured when commanding officer 5SCOTS.

Mode of working

The group itself will not be expected to create its advice from first principles. Instead, the MoD would investigate issues and draw up evidence-based proposals for the group to consider and either validate or advise, support or challenge in the same way that the MoD conducted the work of the AFCS review and used the independent scrutiny group to validate this work. The MoD will provide secretariat support to the group.

The group will meet as and when required, perhaps four to six times during its existence. Between meetings business will be conducted via correspondence. Some meetings may be conducted virtually via video or telephone conferencing.

Terms of Appointment

The chairman and members of this interim independent medical group to advise on Armed Forces compensation will be appointed until February 2011. The roles will not be remunerated, but the MoD will reimburse reasonable travel and subsistence expenses. The chairman and members will be expected to follow the seven principles of public life enunciated by the Nolan Committee.

Buying Solutions: Targets

Statement

My honourable friend the Economic Secretary has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Buying Solutions has been set for four performance targets for 2010-11. These are as follows:

to facilitate at least £1,000 million value-for-money improvements (£800 million cashable) for the public sector in 2010-11;

to achieve an overall customer satisfaction level of above 90 per cent;

to make a return on capital employed of 6.5 per cent over a five-year period (April 2009 to March 2014); and

to reduce by 5 per cent the ratio of internal costs over value for money improvements with the outturn for the same ratio in 2009-10 proportionate to cashable savings.

Coastal Change

Statement

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

I am today publishing Adapting to Coastal Change: Developing a Policy Framework, which takes forward some of the ideas on supporting community adaptation to coastal change that we consulted on last summer. The work of the coastal change pathfinders that I announced on 1 December 2009 is part of this work.

Adapting to Coastal Change: Developing a Policy Framework sets out ideas and guidance on how communities can plan for coastal change as well as looking at what managing change might mean for business, local infrastructure and our historic and natural environment. In doing so, it draws on examples of best practice, including the pathfinders which are looking at new approaches. It also confirms the introduction of a new coastal erosion assistance grant. This is a fixed grant of £6,000 available to local authorities to help homeowners with the costs of demolishing a home at risk of loss to coastal erosion and some basic moving costs.

Adapting to Coastal Change, together with a report summarising responses to last summer's Coastal Change Policy consultation and new guidance on “Community Adaptation Planning and Engagement”, will be published on the Defra website today.

Consular Fees

Statement

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Chris Bryant) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently undertaken a review of the fees charged for visa and consular services, both in the UK and overseas. On 10 February 2010, Her Majesty in Council approved the Consular Fees Order 2010. This revokes and replaces the Consular Fees Order 2009. The Government are today announcing changes to the consular fees to be charged under this order with effect from 6 April 2010.

Fees for passport applications made in the United Kingdom remain at current levels whereas the fees for passport applications made abroad including applications for temporary and emergency passports and the new emergency travel documents have increased by 2.90 per cent, which is the current rate of inflation.

The fees for legalisation services have also increased in line with inflation.

Fees for receiving applications for entry clearance to Commonwealth countries, British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies continue to be charged in the order and have increased since last year. These fees are “Home Office fees” and are approved by the Home Office Minister but are still contained within the Consular Fees Order.

Other consular fees, representing a range of services performed at posts abroad, are also set to increase by 2.90 per cent.

It is right that those who benefit from consular services should meet the cost of them, rather than the UK taxpayer. The new fees represent the full economic cost of what we do, and will ensure that British missions continue to provide a high standard of service to consular customers.

The new fees are included in the attached table.

PART I—LEGALISATION

£

1. Legalising a signature or seal except where—

(a) the signature or seal is on a certificate or survey of foreign passenger ships running to or from the United Kingdom, or

(b) the signature or seal is on a document needed to pay money into or withdraw money from any British Post Office or other Government Savings Bank, or

(c) the signature or seal is in connection with stocks or bonds on the registers of the Post Office, with Savings Bank annuities or with annuities granted direct by the National Debt Commissioners—

(i) Standard service, unless fee 1(ii) applies (in addition to direct costs if any)

28.80

(ii) Standard service where the request for the service is made outside of the United Kingdom but processing is carried out in whole or in part within the United Kingdom (in addition to direct costs if any)

38.00

(iii) Premium service (in addition to direct costs if any)

71

2. Obtaining a legalisation or other certification from another authority upon any document (in addition to direct costs if any)

46.30

PART II—NOTARIAL AND RELATED MATTERS

£

3. Preparing any certificate, declaration or document not listed elsewhere in this Schedule —

(a) in English

46.30

(b) in any other language

73.00

4. Preparing or signing, or both, a declaration of existence—Except in connection with pay or pensions payable by a department of Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, or the Government of any other Commonwealth country

17.40

5. Administering an oath or attesting the signature on a declaration or affirmation except where —

(a) the oath, declaration or affirmation is made under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 or in connection with the loss of a passport

(b) fee 16, 17, 18, 29, 30, 31, 34, 40, 45, or 46 is to be taken

54.50

6. Supplying witnesses, for each witness

21.60

7. Initialling alterations in any document that has not been prepared by the consular officer or marking exhibits, for each initialling or marking

11.30

8. Making a copy of a document by electronic means or verifying a copy of a document (including certifying when necessary), for each page (with a minimum charge of £25.50)

5.10

9. Uniting documents and sealing the fastening (except where fee 46 is applicable)

21.60

10. Fixing a photograph to a document that has not been prepared by the consular officer, and, if necessary, certifying it as a true likeness of the photograph subject (except where fee 16,17, or 18 is applicable)

21.60

11. Supplying certified copies of documents which form part of the records of a court which is, or was formerly, established under the Foreign Jurisdiction Acts 1890 and 1913, for each page

64.80

12. Making or verifying (including certifying if necessary) a written translation, for every 100 words or characters written in the foreign language (except where fee 33, 34 or 48 is to be taken)—

(a) from or into Amharic, Chinese, Japanese or Korean (three Japanese Kana count as one character when used independently)

73.00

(b) from or into any other language

46.30

13. Translating and interpreting viva voce except in performance of official duties, for every 15 minutes

32.90

PART III—PASSPORT APPLICATIONS MADE TO THE FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE

£

14. Administering an application made abroad, including applications for replacing an expired passport, replacing a passport of restricted validity with a new passport of full validity, issuing a new passport with amended personal details and replacing a lost or stolen passport and, if the application is successful, providing a 32 page passport—

(a) where the applicant is aged 16 years or over (in addition to direct costs if any)

128.00

(b) where the applicant is under 16 years old (for a passport valid for 5 years) (in addition to direct costs if any)

81.50

15. Administering an application made abroad, including applications for replacing an expired passport, replacing a passport of restricted validity with a new passport of full validity, issuing a new passport with amended personal details and replacing a lost or stolen passport and, if the application is successful, providing a 48 page passport (in addition to direct costs if any)

154.40

16. Administering an application made abroad and, if the application is successful, providing an Emergency Passport

71.00

17. Administering an application made abroad and, if the application is successful, providing a Temporary Passport valid for not more than one year

91.50

18. Administering an application made abroad and, if the application is successful, providing an Emergency Travel Document

91.50

PART IV—PASSPORT APPLICATIONS MADE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

£

19. Administering an application made in the United Kingdom, including applications for replacing an expired passport, replacing a passport of restricted validity with a new passport of full validity, issuing a new passport with amended personal details and replacing a lost or stolen passport and, if the application is successful, issuing a 32 page passport—

(a) for applications made by post—

(i) where the applicant is aged 16 years and over

77.50

(ii) where the applicant is under 16 years old (for a passport valid for 5 years)

49.00

(b) for applications made in person

(i) where the applicant is aged 16 years or over using the fast-track service

112.50

(ii) where the applicant is under 16 years old (for a passport valid for 5 years) using the fast-track service

96.50

(iii) where the applicant is aged 16 years or over using the fast-track collect service

124.50

(iv) where the applicant is under 16 years old (for a passport valid for 5 years) using the fast-track collect service

106.50

(v) where the applicant is aged 16 years or over using the premium service

(vi) where the applicant is under 16 years old (for a passport valid for 5 years) using the premium service

109.50

20. Administering an application made in the United Kingdom, including applications for replacing an expired passport, replacing a passport of restricted validity with a new passport of full validity, issuing a new passport with amended personal details and replacing a lost and stolen passport and, if the application is successful, issuing a 48 page passport—

(a) for applications made by post

90.50

(b) for applications made in person—

(i) using the fast-track service

120.50

(ii) using the fast-track collect service

124.50

(iii) using the premium service

138.50

21. Administering an application made in the United Kingdom and, if the application is successful, issuing a collective passport—

(a) for applications made by post

39.00

(b) for applications made in person

54.00

PART V—OTHER DOCUMENTS RELATING TO TRAVEL OR ENTRY INTO THE UK, COMMONWEALTH, OVERSEAS TERRITORIES, CROWN DEPENDENCIES AND LIBYA

£

22. Preparing or forwarding, or both, any letter, certificate, declaration or other document which may be required by an authority in any country or territory in connection with an application for or the issue or renewal of an entry clearance (for a country or territory for which the consular officer does not himself have authority to issue entry clearance), a residence permit or identity card or forwarding any other certificate or document (except a Home Office travel document and applications for registration and naturalisation)

65.00

23. Renewing a Travel Certificate, a certificate of identity or other travel document on behalf of a Commonwealth country or of a dependency of a Commonwealth country (except where fee 25 is to be taken)

64.80

24. Renewing a Travel Certificate, a certificate of identity or other travel document on behalf of a Crown Dependency or a British overseas territory (except where fee 25 is to be taken)

64.80

25. Revalidating or renewing a Seaman’s Certificate of Nationality

and Identity or a Seaman’s Identity Book (in addition to fee 22 where applicable)

64.80

26. Providing a passport stamp setting out the format of an Arabic transcript of the passport’s details page, as required by the Libyan authorities for entry into Libya .

11.30

27. Receiving an application for entry clearance to a Commonwealth country or British overseas territory

48.00

28. Receiving, outside the United Kingdom, an application for—

(a) entry clearance to the Crown Dependencies—

(i) as a visitor, for single, double and multiple entries valid—

(aa) for up to six months from the date of issue

68.00

(bb) for between six months and up to two years from the date of issue

230.00

(cc) for between two years and up to five years from the date of issue

420.00

(dd) for between five years and up to 10 years from the date of issue

610.00

(ii) for settlement

644.00

(iii) as a student

199.00

(iv) as a work permit holder, unless (v) below applies .

270.00

(v) as a work permit holder where the application is in respect of a person who is a national of a State which has ratified the Council of Europe Social Charter

250.00

(vi) as a temporary or voluntary worker unless (vii) below applies

128.00

(vii) as a temporary or voluntary worker where the application is in respect of a person who is a national of a State which has ratified the Council of Europe Social Charter

112.00

for any purpose other than those listed in subparagraphs (i) to (vii) above

230.00

(b) a certificate of entitlement to the right of abode in the Crown Dependencies

220.00

PART VI—BIRTHS, DEATHS, MARRIAGES AND CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS

£

29. Receiving notice of an intended marriage, civil partnership or overseas relationship, including an application for a Nulla Osta

64.80

30. Solemnising or attending a marriage under the Foreign Marriage Acts 1892 and 1947: administering oaths to the parties and registering the marriage

137.80

31. Registering a civil partnership under the Civil Partnership (Registration Abroad and Certificates) Order 2005

137.80

32. Issuing in English or in the local language a certificate that no impediment to an intended marriage or civil partnership has been shown to exist or issuing a “certificate de coutume” or a Nulla Osta for an intended marriage or intended overseas relationship in accordance with local law

64.80

33. Forwarding a record of a marriage under the local law to the appropriate Registrar General in accordance with the Foreign Marriage Order 1970, including the provision of any necessary certification

37.00

34. Forwarding a record of an overseas relationship to the appropriate Registrar General in accordance with the Civil Partnership (Registration Abroad and Certificates) Order 2005, including any necessary certification

37.00

35. Administering an application for the registry of a birth or a death (in addition to fee 37 where applicable)

100.80

36. Making an addition to or correction in the consular register of births, deaths, marriages or civil partnerships at the request of the parties concerned

37.00

37. Issuing a certified copy of an entry in the consular register of births, deaths, marriages or civil partnerships (in addition to fee 38 or 35 where applicable)

64.80

PART VII—SEARCHES

£

38. Making a search in (in addition to fee 3(a) and 37 where applicable)—

(a) the consular registers of births, deaths, marriages or civil partnerships where the number or date of entry is not provided

64.80

(b) the records of the Identity and Passport Service where the request originates in the United Kingdom

15.40

(c) any other records or archives of Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom

112.10

(d) naturalisation, registration or renunciation records kept by a consular officer .

78.20

39. Having a search made for, or attempting to obtain copies of, or both, entries in the local registers or records of local authorities responsible for births, marriages or overseas relationships or any other document, irrespective of whether an entry or record or any other document is found or obtained after a period of 18 months (in addition to direct costs exceeding £5.00 if any)

131.70

PART VIII—NATIONALITY AND REGISTRATION

£

40. Administering an oath of British Citizenship under the British Nationality Act 1981 at a citizenship ceremony

82.30

41. Preparing or forwarding, or both, an application for registration, naturalisation or renunciation to the Home Office, or any other application requested by any Department of Her Majesty’s Government to that Department

64.80

42. Supervising a knowledge of life test for naturalisation under the British Nationality Act 1981 in consular premises

131.70

PART IX—ESTATES

£

43. Administering fully or partly, safeguarding, or arranging the transmission of all or part of the personal effects and other estate of a deceased person or if sold, the proceeds, except for the wages and personal effects of a seaman. Except where the gross current market value is less than £1,000; charge based on the amount of the gross current market value

2.05 per cent rounded to the nearest £10.00

However where a local lawyer is employed and consular officer’s actions are nominal

83.30

PART X—ATTENDANCES

£

44. Attending (except in connection with trade and investment enquiries) for each hour or part hour (the time taken will include reasonable travelling time to and from the location)

(a) at the consular premises or elsewhere during office hours except when attending to supervise an examination for two or more persons sitting examinations at the same time when the fee may be apportioned between them

130.00

(b) at the consular premises or elsewhere outside office hours

131.70

up to a maximum in any 24 hour period for each consular officer of

939.00

PART XI—MATTERS RELATING TO LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

£

45. Presiding at the taking of evidence under a commission or order from a Court, including any action by the consular officer as examiner—

(a) for up to two hours on the first day

262.40

(b) for each additional hour or part hour

131.70

46. Providing evidence of service or attempted service (in addition to fee 44 or 47)

131.70

47. Providing the services of a consular officer or consular employee—

(a) to assist the consular officer in the taking of evidence under a commission or order from a Court, for each such person—

for each hour or part hour

131.70

(b) to affect or try to affect service of a document, for each hour or part hour outside the consular premises—

during office hours

131.70

outside office hours

163.00

48. Forwarding a request to a local authority for the taking of evidence or the service of a document and, where necessary, certifying the accuracy of a translation accompanying the document

131.70

PART XII—REPATRIATION AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

49. Arranging the repatriation of a person or members of the same family travelling together

131.70

50. Arranging, in exceptional circumstances, for currency to be made available against the deposit of funds with Her Majesty’s Government by any means (in addition to fee 44 where payable). The fee will depend on the value of the deposit as follows:

(a) £0-£50

8.20

(b) £51-£100

16.40

(c) £101-£500

32.90

(d) £501-£1500

76.10

(e) >£1500

92.60

PART XIII—SHIPPING, SEAMEN AND RELATED MATTERS

£

51. Granting or considering whether to grant a provisional certificate of registry, whether the owner is a private individual or body corporate

383.80

52. Receiving a return of the birth or death of any person on board a ship and endorsing the agreement with the crew accordingly

55.50

53. Examining or arranging for the examination of provisions or water, payable by the party who proves to be in default (in addition to any cost of a survey) .

55.50

54. Noting a marine protest and providing one certified copy if required and for each further copy

46.30

55. Extending a marine protest, filing the original and providing one certified copy if required (in addition to fee 1 and 3 where applicable)—

(a) for up to 200 words, excluding the declaratory clause

110.10

(b) for every subsequent 100 words or less

46.30

56. Making a request, or issuing or arranging for the issue of a document, in connection with a survey of a ship (in addition to fee 8 where applicable)—

(a) for the purposes of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS) or of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973 as modified by its Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL)

73.00

(b) for any other purpose

131.70

57. Issuing a bill of health

46.30

58. Preparing or signing, or both, any document, whether required by the Merchant Shipping Acts or by the local authorities, relating to the master or the members of the crew of a ship, to their numbers, names or other details, or to their engagement, discharge, desertion or death (except where fee 52 is taken in addition to fee 44, or a death inquiry is held under section 271 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995(k)

73.00

59. Signing and, if necessary, sealing any documents at the request of the master of the ship (except where this is required under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, or fee 58 is taken)

73.00

60. Inspecting—

(a) a ship’s papers when required to enable a consular officer to do any matter or thing in respect of a ship (except where fee 58 is taken in addition to fee 44)

54.50

(b) the marking of a ship, irrespective of the number of visits (in addition to fee 44)

54.50

PART XIV—PAYMENTS USING CREDIT CARDS

£

61. Receiving payments by credit card on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government where no other fee is chargeable under this Order.

The applicable fee will be equal to the credit card charges incurred.

Crime: Knives and Youth Violence

Statement

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

This week marks the end of phase two of the Tackling Knives and Serious Youth Violence Action Programme (TKAP). Over the past 12 months, we have targeted nearly £7 million of funding on 15 high priority areas and the British Transport Police in order to reduce serious youth violence.

Last week’s deaths of two young people in London was a stark reminder, if one were needed, of the need for our continued action in this area. We are committed to reducing serious youth violence to make sure that no families face the devastation that these young people’s families are suffering.

We are focused on tougher enforcement, tougher sentences and new legislation to tackle violent crime and gangs. We increased the starting tariff for a life sentence for adults committing murder using a knife or other weapon taken to the scene to a minimum 25 years in prison.

We will publish detailed results from the programme in the summer, but across England and Wales as a whole the picture is encouraging. Recorded crime statistics show that in the period April to September 2009 covering the first six months of phase two of TKAP, there was a 7 per cent fall in recorded knife crime, compared with the same period the previous year including a 34 per cent fall in homicide with a knife/sharp instrument (100 homicides involving a knife/sharp instrument in April to September 2009 and 152 in April to September 2008). These statistics build on annual figures for 2008-09 which saw a 7 per cent drop in knife/sharp instrument homicides, compared with 2007-08.

Over 100 hospitals are now sharing A&E data with local police and Community Safety Partnerships in England and Wales, to enable targeted local enforcement and other activities to reduce violence. The Home Office has provided £300,000 to 8 TKAP police forces for 9 Portcullis Operations, an intensive enforcement and prevention tactic.

Increased police activity has led to 736 arrests, 23 knives and one shotgun being recovered, and over 20,000 people passing through knife arches. In addition, street-based teams have worked with over 1,500 young people.

But preventing serious violence is about more than tough enforcement, it is also about prevention, there have been over 22,000 After School patrols in TKAP areas over the same period, engaging with over 67,000 young people and signposting over 13,000 young people to positive activities.

Where young people have been involved in knife crime, we have worked hard to ensure that they receive appropriate education and rehabilitation to teach them about the dangers of knives. The Youth Justice Board rolled out the Knife Crime Prevention Programme to all 97 Youth Offending Teams in the 15 TKAP areas with the aim of reaching 2,000 young people cautioned or convicted of knife crime in the TKAP areas by the end of 2010 to bring home to them the consequences of carrying a knife.

All of this activity to tackle serious youth violence will not stop at the end of TKAP 2. A third phase of TKAP begins on 1 April 2010 aiming to continue our work to keep young people safe. TKAP 3 will make £5.5 million of government funding available to local TKAP areas: £4 million to local Community Safety Partnerships; on top of £1.5 million already announced for 150 local voluntary organisations receiving help from the Home Office Community Fund. In 2010-11, we will focus the TKAP programme on 52 Community Safety Partnerships within 21 police forces plus British Transport Police which will receive TKAP funding and support. Agencies in these local areas know that serious youth violence matters to their communities and they want to do all they can to prevent and reduce it.

Cyber Crime

Statement

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

I am today publishing the Government’s “Cyber Crime Strategy” (Cm 7842) which sets out the Government’s proposals for tackling cyber crime. Copies are available in the Vote Office.

Cyber crime is a large and growing problem. It is responsible for a significant amount of social and economic harm, both financially and through threats to children; and is a threat to confidence both in the provision of services through the internet generally, and on confidence in the move of government services online. As the UK becomes more dependent upon digital services, so the threat to the UK as a whole from cyber crime increases.

The overarching theme of the new strategy is that there is significant scope to extend our response to cyber crime, as part of the overall government focus on cyber led by the Office for Cyber Security.

The new strategy has five key elements:

Co-ordination to tackle cyber crime across government: there is already significant work across government to tackle cyber crime. We will ensure that there is enhanced leadership to provide a clear focus for cyber crime issues. We will ensure that this work will link closely with the overall cyber security approach set out in the Government’s Cyber Security Strategy;

Provision of an effective law enforcement response: We will continue to support all of the existing law enforcement units that respond to cyber crime, and will seek to enhance their operational and intelligence functions through the development of accurate reporting mechanisms for the public;

Raise public confidence: We will strengthen the links with Get Safe Online and with the work done on the “Think U Know” programme run by CEOP, to ensure that the public continue to have accurate information on how to keep themselves safe online;

Work with industry: We will work with the private sector to prevent e-crime, through the e-Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership, and through the Cyber Industrial Strategy being developed by the OCS; and

Work internationally: We will maximise collective efforts overseas—from capacity building through to strengthening multilateral institutions. We will continue to lead efforts to ensure that children are protected online and that there is good co-operation between law enforcement agencies internationally.

Defra: Budget Control Totals

Statement

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

I wish to announce that for 2009-10 Defra will switch £25 million available near-cash resource DEL budget to cover a forecast deficit against its capital DEL control total, in accordance with HM Treasury's consolidated budgetary guidance. Although the financial outturn for the year is not final, the current assessment of the required switch is £25 million. The movement in spend from near-cash resource DEL to capital DEL is in respect of flood defences where the exact nature and classification of the expenditure is determined by the Environment Agency, as they undertake the work.

ChangeNew DEL£’000

Voted

Non-voted

Voted

Non-voted

Total

Resource DEL of which:1

-

-25,000

4,405,871

-1.709,991

2,695,880

Administration budget

-

-

304,496

-

304,496

Near-cash in RDEL

-

-25.000

4,138, 436

-1,777,988

2,360,448

Capital DEL2

-

25,000

262,071

457,179

719,250

Less Depreciation3

-

-115,820

-108,569

-224,389

Total

-

4,552,122

-1,361,381

3,190,741

1 The total of ‘Administration budget’ and ‘Near-cash in Resource DEL’ figures may well be greater than total resource DEL. due to the definitions overlapping.

2 Capital DEL includes items treated as resource in Estimates and accounts but which are treated as Capital DEL in budgets.

3 Depreciation, which forms part of resource DEL, is excluded from total DEL since capital DEL includes capital spending and to include depreciation of those assets would lead to double counting.

Department for Work and Pensions: Public Body Targets

Statement

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

I am today able to announce the annual performance targets in 2010-11 for the executive agencies of the Department for Work and Pensions and of our crown non-departmental public bodies—the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission and the Health and Safety Executive. The targets I have agreed are set out below.

Further information on the plans of the department, its executive agencies and crown non-departmental public bodies for 2010-11 is contained in their individual business plans which have been published today. Electronic copies have been deposited in the Library.

Jobcentre Plus’s 2010-11 targets are:

Target description

2010-11 Target Level

Job Outcome Target1

11.47 million

Interventions Delivery Target2

85%

Employer Engagement Target3

91%

Customer Service Target4

86%

Fraud and Error5

To play a key role to prevent and detect overpayments and underpayments of benefit consistent with the Department’s aim to reduce total overpaid expenditure across all benefits to 1.8%, and underpaid expenditure to 0.7%, of total benefit expenditure by March 2011

By March 2011, to ensure that losses from fraud and error in working age Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance amounts to less than 4.2% of overall expenditure .

Average Actual Clearance Time

Jobseeker’s Allowance

11 days

Income Support

9 days

Employment and Support Allowance

14 days

The Pension, Disability and Carers Service targets for 2010-11 are:

Target description

2010-11 Target Level

Pension Credit: take-up of new claims

180,000 successful new Pension Credit applications6

Accuracy of decisions

Attendance Allowance 94%

Carers Allowance 98%

Disability Living Allowance 94%

Pension Credit new claims and changes of circumstance 94

%State Pension new claims and changes of circumstance 98%

Average processing time for new claims

Attendance Allowance within 16 days

Carers Allowance within 13 days

Disability Living Allowance within 37.7 days

Pension Credit (from the date evidence received) within 15 days

State Pension to clear 95% of new claims within 60 days

Reduce Fraud and Error in Pension Credit

3.9% by March 2011

Telephony

At least 93% of calls to be answered first time with less than 1% receiving the engaged tone

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission’s 2010-11 targets are:

Target description

2010-11 target level

Number of children benefiting from an arrangement made through the statutory schemes or a private arrangement after contact with the Child Maintenance Options service

950,000 children benefiting

Amount collected or arranged through the statutory maintenance scheme

£1.135 billion

Maintenance outcomes: the proportion of people with a statutory maintenance liability paying child maintenance

76%

The Health and Safety Executive’s outcome targets consist of the 2008-11 Departmental Strategic Objective 3 indicators that reflect direction of travel and the 2000-2010 Revitalising Health and Safety numerical targets. The latter are:

Target description

2010-11 Target level7

Reduce the incidence rates of cases of work-related ill health from a June 2000 baseline

reduce by 22%

Reduce the incidence rate of fatalities and major injury accidents from a June 2000 baseline

reduce by 11%

1 Shared with the Employment Group who have responsibility for delivery of Employment Programmes.

2 An average of two elements: conducting 83% of Income Support lone parent work-focused reviews within 3 months of when they are due and 87% of JSA interviews within 6 weeks of when they are due.

3 Employers placing their vacancies with Jobcentre Plus to have a positive outcome.

4 Assessed against the Department’s Customer Charter service standards of ‘Right Treatment’, ‘Right Result’, ‘On Time’ and ‘Easy Access’.

5 Jobcentre Plus and the Department are jointly responsible for this target. Jobcentre Plus monitors an internal operational target designed to mitigate the risk of fraud and error entering the system.

6 The Agency will monitor data through the first part of the year and adjust the target level if necessary on the basis of actual volumes processed.

7 Extrapolated from the respective 20% and 10% target reductions for the original 2000-2010 Revitalising Health and Safety (RHS) period.

EU: Council Meetings

Statement

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Chris Bryant) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The General Affairs Council (GAC) and Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) were held on 22 March in Brussels. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary (David Miliband) represented the UK.

The agenda items covered were as follows:

Foreign Affairs Council

The provisional report of the meeting can be found at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/113482.pdf

Iran

The agreed ‘A’ points included an EU Declaration on free access to information in Iran calling on the Iranian authorities to stop jamming satellite broadcasting and internet censorship. There was no FAC discussion. A text of Declaration can be found at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/113468.pdf

Haiti

High Representative Ashton and Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Georgieva briefed on their recent visits, stressing the need to learn lessons and review structures. The Commissioner said humanitarian efforts must continue for at least 12 months and should take account of the coming hurricane season. Both the High Representative and the Commissioner said the EU needed to do more to raise its visibility. Development Commissioner Piebalgs noted the need to push for realistic reconstruction plans at the Donors’ Conference on 31 March in New York.

Ministers agreed Conclusions on Haiti including on the Donors’ Conference. These can be found at http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/113466.pdf

Afghanistan/Pakistan

The High Representative introduced the new double-hatted EU Special Representative (EUSR) for Afghanistan, Vygaudas Ušackas, and urged member states to give him their full support to implement the EU's Action Plan. She stressed the need for the international community to maintain momentum generated by the London Conference and ensure the Afghan Government fulfilled their commitments. The EUSR said his three key tasks were to merge the two existing EU offices in Kabul, establish a close working relationship with member states’ missions on the ground and increase the EU's visibility.

The Foreign Secretary said the EUSR should make his own distinct contribution to the international effort and suggested three objectives: to become the effective EU political voice on the ground; to ensure that EU activities were a catalyst for progress—including integrating EUPOL with NATO efforts and supporting local governors; and to develop a coherent EU development strategy.

The High Representative said she was considering options on EUPOL and would share her thoughts with member states in due course. She looked forward to a discussion on implementing the Action Plan at the April FAC.

A text of the agreed Conclusions can be found at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/113468.pdf

On Pakistan, Ashton urged member states to show support ahead of the 21 April Summit, especially on Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+). We should back Pakistan economically as well as politically. The Foreign Secretary strongly endorsed the importance of EU trade with Pakistan.

Middle East

The High Representative briefed on her visit to the region of 18 March.

The Quartet Representative (Tony Blair) set out the difficulties facing the peace process. Europe had a key role in helping progress negotiations. The Foreign Secretary stressed the need to support proximity talks, which needed to focus on substantive issues.

AOB: Ukraine

The Commissioner, Štefan Füle, said the Commission was taking forward the Action Plan, including with the new Ukrainian Foreign Minister this week, and would revert with further recommendations at a future FAC.

AOB: Moldova

Member states urged the Commission to speed up the provision of macro financial assistance to Moldova which Enlargement Commissioner Füle confirmed would commence in April. He noted the Visa Dialogue was expected to start on 15 June and he had written to the Moldovan Government asking them to follow the Venice Commission’s advice on future constitutional reform.

AOB: Libya/Switzerland—Visas

Ministers discussed Libya/Swiss bilateral dispute, which had resulted in Libya refusing visas to citizens of all Schengen countries. The High Representative undertook to give clear messages to the Swiss Foreign Minister at their meeting on 24 March.

AOB: Western Balkans

Slovenia gave a short brief on the Brdo Western Balkans conference of 20 March reaffirming the leaders’ commitment to joining the EU, meeting the required criteria and promoting good neighbourly relations.

Foreign Affairs Council and General Affairs Council

The General Affairs Council and Foreign Affairs Council met in joint session, chaired by the High Representative and the Presidency (Moratinos), to discuss the European External Action Service (EAS).

The High Representative presented progress so far. She committed to present her proposal shortly, noting this needed to be agreed by both the Council and the European Parliament. She hoped all institutions involved would recognise each others' perspectives and work together to deliver a coherent service. She highlighted the financial and staffing regulations and the budget as areas where a constructive approach was necessary. And Ministers should engage with national parliaments ahead of discussions with the European Parliament.

The Foreign Secretary set out the UK’s support for the EAS as a shared project and a great opportunity. The EAS needed to have the capacity to add value and this should include having a complementary role on cross-cutting policy issues such as climate change and migration. He stressed the need for merit-based appointments.

General Affairs Council

The provisional text of the Council’s discussion and agreed ‘A’ points can be found at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/genaff/113481.pdf

Europe 2020 Strategy

The Presidency (Moratinos) invited comments on the draft European Council Conclusions covering Europe 2020 and climate change.

Ministers discussed the Commission’s proposals on competiveness, the setting of targets, the Stability and Growth Pact and financial regulation.

The Foreign Secretary stressed the need to send a clear signal about the EU's response to the economic crisis. We also needed to learn from the Lisbon strategy and work towards achievable, relevant targets that were set and owned at member state level.

Climate Change

On climate change, the Foreign Secretary led a number of member states in stressing the need to maintain ambition, implement the Copenhagen accord and move forward on fast start financing and mitigation/adaptation.

Dinner with President Herman Van Rompuy

The President of the Council hosted a General Affairs Council dinner where Europe 2020, European Council working methods and external relations were discussed.

On Europe 2020, member states discussed the Commission’s proposed targets in areas such as poverty and education and the need to reconcile these with national targets.

Finance Bill

Statement

My right honourable friend the Financial Secretary has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Finance Bill will be published on Thursday 1 April. Explanatory Notes on the Bill will be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office and in the Libraries of both Houses on that day. Copies of the Explanatory Notes will be available on the Treasury’s website.

Freedom of Information

Statement

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

On 16 July 2009, I announced to this House the Government’s intention to consult directly academy schools, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) with a view to including them within the Freedom of Information Act (“the Act”) by bringing forward a Section 5 order under that Act.

Since this Government introduced the Act in 2005, it has given the public access to information held by over 100,000 public authorities. Section 5 of the Act gives the Secretary of State the power to make an order designating new bodies as public authorities for the purposes of the Act where those bodies appear to him to perform functions of a public nature. In accordance with our continuing commitment to openness and accountability in public life, I wish to announce to the House today the decision to extend the Act to all of the bodies consulted, in so far as they perform public functions.

Having carefully considered all the evidence, it is clear that all of the bodies listed above perform functions of a public nature. I have written to each of the bodies to explain the decision in detail, and to identify the functions to which the Act will apply. However the reasons in brief are as follows:

ACPO’s functions are concerned with providing leadership for the police force, improving policing, acting as a voice for the force, encouraging high standards of performance and development, providing the strategic police response in times of national need and other ancillary and related functions. Policing is clearly recognised as a function of a public nature. For these reasons it is appropriate to include ACPO in a Section 5 order for all of its functions.

The Financial Ombudsman Service resolves disputes between consumers and providers of financial services. It was established under a statutory scheme in order to provide consumers with a quick and informal alternative to the courts. We consider that the functions of FOS appear to be functions of a public nature and that it would be appropriate to include it in a Section 5 order.

UCAS provides its member university and colleges with admissions services. Without such services, those institutions, which are bodies listed as public authorities in either the Freedom of Information Act or the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act, would need to perform these functions for themselves, and the information would be captured by those Acts. As UCAS provides these services on behalf of its members, it is clear that UCAS does perform a function of a public nature.

Finally, although independent of local authority control, academies are publicly funded schools and a part of the state education system. Provision of state education is clearly a public function and parents and local residents should be able to access the same kind of information about academy schools as for any other state-funded school. The academy trust is the body responsible for the running of the academy school. In our view, the public functions of academies are those set out in the funding agreement signed between the academy trust and the Department for Children, Schools and Families: in short, the establishment, maintenance and carrying on of an academy. We propose to include academy trusts in a Section 5 order for these purposes from the point at which they enter into funding agreements.

The order will be laid and debated at the earliest possible opportunity in the next parliamentary Session, with the intention that it will commence in October 2011.

Freight Services Group: Targets

Statement

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

A range of high-level targets for the 2010-11 year has been set on behalf of the agencies within the Motoring and Freight Services Group: the Driving Standards Agency, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the Vehicle Certification Agency, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency and the Government Car and Despatch Agency. They are included in the agencies’ business plans together with their associated measures. The plans also include a range of management targets, performance indicators and key tasks which are appropriate to the agencies’ businesses. Copies of the business plans will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses shortly.

The key targets for the Driving Standards Agency are:

Secretary of State Targets

Maintain the integrity and quality of the driving test by supervision of 95 per cent of examiners including delegated examiners and conducting a rolling programme of 120 quality assurance visits;

To strengthen and modernise the way that people learn to drive we will:

Develop proposals to modernise the driver training profession based on a syllabus and competence framework by September 2010; and

Develop the research element of stage 1 of the learning trial by March 2011;

Introduce an assessment of competence whilst driving independently across all main practical tests by October 2010;

Make appointments available within 9 weeks at permanent car driving test centres—90 per cent ;

Deliver the customer promises as set out in the agency business plan by March 2011;

Achieve an additional £2 million of financial efficiency savings during 2010-11; and

Deliver agreed financial plan in 2010-11.

The key targets for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency are:

Secretary of State Targets

Maintain the accuracy of the vehicle register so that a registered keeper can be traced from details held on record in 95 per cent of cases;

Deliver the eight Department for Transport customer promises;

Complete achievement of the £80.7 million three year target of efficiency savings for 2008-2011 by saving £36.2 million in 2010-11;

Deliver financial performance agreed with DfT to at least balance income against expenditure for the 2010-11 year end accounts;

Collect over £5 billion of VED (net of refunds) and through enforcement action exceed £100 million in additional VED collected for the period 2008-11; and

Introduce Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) and have started to issue insurance advisory letters by 31 March 2011.

The key targets for the Vehicle Certification Agency are:

Secretary of State Targets

Complete 90 per cent of system and component type approval certificates within nine working days;

99 per cent of appraisal reports on our technical performance from independent panel members deemed to have no critical defects. (Note—suitable sample size to be determined);

To ensure the continued consistency and quality of VCA’s approvals by:

Carrying out a programme of conformity of production assessments for VCA issued approvals using the risk based methodology in line with the agreed programme; and

Dangerous goods packaging—carrying out a programme of conformity of production inspections in accordance with the service level agreement agreed with the department.

Deliver the customer service promises as set out in this business plan;

Continue the development of the systems and tools designed to assist existing and new manufacturers to comply with the revised type approval requirements for new vehicle types due to included in 2010-11, by 31 October 2010;

Deliver the agreed testing, enforcement and in- service emission programmes by 31 March 2011 (Note—in-year milestones to be developed and agreed);

Achieve repeatable financial efficiency savings during 2010-11 in line with CSR07 efficiency delivery plan; and

To achieve a £50,000 surplus on a full cost basis.

The key targets for the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency are:

Secretary of State Targets

Obtain agreement of and detailed plan for testing transformation:

Obtain agreement to detailed plans for transferring testing to authorised testing facilities (ATFs) in 20 catchment areas; and

Carry out sufficient marketing to deliver 40 new operational non-VOSA sites by 31/03/11;

Deliver the eight customer service promises as set out in the VOSA business plan;

In partnership with DfT (IHAC and LRI), determine a methodology to develop—and subsequently agree with DfT—an informed three-year target to 2013-14 to maintain or improve the trajectory of compliance with roadworthiness and traffic rules, using data gathered from past and future fleet compliance surveys;

Deliver agreed financial plan for 2010-11; and

Achieve £2.6 million financial efficiency savings during 2010-11 as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review delivery plan.

The key targets for the Government Car and Despatch Agency are:

Secretary of State Targets

To maintain accreditation for ISO 9001. The quality of service is measured by means of ISO 9001, the internationally recognised standard for quality management systems;

To achieve scheduled mail collections and deliveries on a daily basis—99 per cent;

Maintain the average tailpipe emissions of the government car fleet—130g/km;

Deliver the eight customer service promises as set out in the agency business plan;

Achieve financial efficiency savings of £0.5 million during 2010-11 as part of the CSR efficiency delivery plan; and

Deliver financial performance in line with business plan.

Government Profit Formula

Statement

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

The Government have accepted the findings of the Review Board for Government Contracts as detailed in their report of the 2010 General Review of the Profit Formula for Non-Competitive Government Contracts. The board’s recommendations will be implemented in accordance with arrangements subsequently agreed with the industry side and recorded in an addendum to the published report. I will be placing a copy of the report in the Library of the House. The recommendations will be implemented for new non-competitive work with effect from the 1 April 2010.

Health: National Care Service

Statement

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

Today the Government are laying before Parliament the White Paper, Building the National Care Service (Cm 7854).

We have listened to the views of the public and stakeholders through the 2008 engagement process and the 2009 Big Care Debate. The Big Care Debate received over 28,000 direct responses, with more than 40,000 people contributing to the debate through further research or events organised by stakeholders. The consultation showed that there was strong support for our vision of a National Care Service and whilst there was no clear consensus on funding, the comprehensive option was the most preferred. Today we have published an independent summary of the consultation alongside the White Paper and placed a copy in the Library.

We also held a care and support conference last month with the Care and Support Alliance and other key stakeholders. They urged us to push forward with reform and favoured the comprehensive option.

We believe the time has come to build a comprehensive National Care Service. This will be for all adults in England with an eligible care need, providing free care when they need it—whoever they are, wherever they live in England, and whatever condition leads them to need care. It will give everyone the peace of mind that they and their families will be cared for should the need arise, and it will mean that no one need live in fear of losing their home or their savings to pay for care.

The Government’s vision is for a National Care Service that gives people choice and control, and is focused on keeping people well and independent. It will ensure that different parts of the system work better together, with a new duty for NHS bodies and local authorities to deliver integrated care.

Millions of people care for a family member or friend. This is the hallmark of a civilised society. But we must do more to give support to those who provide such care. Building on the carers’ strategy, the National Care Service will support those caring for others by improving the quality of formal care, and working with employers and Job Centre Plus, to help carers to live the life they want to live.

We recognise that building the new National Care Service will be one of the biggest changes to the welfare state since the creation of the NHS. We are also creating it during a period of fiscal consolidation. Reform to social care must be consistent with our plans for fiscal consolidation and reflect the tough decisions that will need to be made in the next spending review. This means we need to build the new service in stages.

The first stage is to create a step change in the provision of services in the home and in our communities. These services are essential if we are to ensure that more people are supported in their homes. Central to this is the Personal Care at Home Bill, to be implemented in 2011, enabling us to provide free personal care for people in their own home for those with the highest needs. The first stage of reform will also see reablement services available in every community, ensuring that there is a service by which people are supported to regain their independence and confidence when they need home care for the first time. As part of the first stage we will push forward with existing reforms that are already delivering real benefits for people such as the dementia strategy, the carers’ strategy and Putting People First.

The second stage of reform, during the next Parliament, will be to put in place the building blocks of a national system of care and support, in particular the establishment of clear, national standards and entitlements. We will introduce a National Care Service Bill early in the next Parliament as a major step forward. From 2014, care entitlements will be extended meaning that anyone staying in residential care for more than two years will receive free care after the second year. The first and second stages together will mean that the most vulnerable in our society, those with the highest needs, will be protected from very high care costs and that many more people will be supported in their own homes.

During the next Parliament, we will take further steps towards the full reform of the system—moving towards the third stage in which the comprehensive National Care Service becomes a reality, with care free when people need it.

To do this will require everyone to contribute through a fair care contribution. So at the start of the next Parliament, we will establish a commission to help to reach consensus on the right way of funding the system. The commission will determine the fairest and most sustainable way for people to contribute. It will make recommendations to Ministers which, if accepted, will be implemented in the Parliament after next. The commission will determine the options that should be open to people so that they have choice and flexibility about how to pay their care contribution. Our expectation is that the commission will consider all the various options for payment put forward by stakeholders and the public as part of the Big Care Debate and at the Care and Support Conference.

Building the National Care Service (Cm 7854) is in the Library and copies are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office.

Highways Agency: Business Plan Target

Statement

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 target for the programme of national schemes in the development phase, contained in the Highways Agency business plan 2009-10 has been revised so as to remove the following target at Annex B:

Major Projects—Development: For the programme of national schemes in the development phase, progress these projects by an average of at least 37 percentage points through this phase.

This has been replaced with the following target:

Major Projects—Development: For the programme of national schemes in the development phase, progress these projects by an average of at least 35.7 percentage points through this phase.

International Development: HIV

Statement

The Minister of State for International Development has made the following Statement.

On 9 March, I hosted a high-level meeting in the Houses of Parliament in London to review progress towards Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in East and Southern Africa, where there are high or rising HIV prevalence rates and AIDS remains a major health and economic burden.

Around 50 HIV leaders attended, including representatives from Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Ministers of Health and Gender, religious leaders, activists, people living with HIV, the heads of the Global Fund, PEPFAR, UNAIDS were present, as well as representatives of other donors and the pharmaceutical industry. We were delighted that a representative of the Canadian High Commission in London was able to attend and contribute.

In 2005, through our presidencies of the G8 and the European Union, the UK led the world in a commitment to the historic goal of universal access. The UK is the second largest donor to the AIDS response globally and we continue to show leadership and commitment. This high-level meeting aimed to keep universal access high on the international agenda during 2010 and beyond.

At the meeting, participants spoke about the key factors that have led to progress at country level, the major challenges ahead and what needs to be done to accelerate progress towards the Universal Access goals.

The meeting celebrated successes but highlighted the need to provide HIV treatment for the estimated 10 million people still waiting for it, and "turn off the tap" of new HIV infections through evidence and rights-based interventions. Transforming harmful gender norms and stopping violence against women is central to achieving universal access. The group recognised the need for health systems that effectively deliver both maternal, newborn and child health services and services for women, men and children who are vulnerable to and living with HIV. We need to integrate efforts to achieve MDGs 4, 5 and 6. To achieve this we need financing for scale-up, through the Global Fund and other mechanisms. But equally we need leadership—political and at all levels of society.

The meeting resulted in a Declaration of Shared Principles that calls for:

G8 countries to recognise the devastating impact that unmet financial commitments have on global health, and to deliver their financial pledges to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria;

G20 countries and emerging economies to do more to fight global poverty by adopting the global poverty targets agreed by the G8 at Gleneagles in 2005, including financial contribution to the Global Fund for HIV, TB and Malaria;

Southern and Eastern African countries: to put human rights and the need to reach marginalised groups and those most at risk at the heart of country-led efforts to tackle HIV and AIDS; and

Pharmaceutical industry: to help avert a treatment crisis by signing up to the UNITAID patent pool to make effective drugs affordable for developing countries.

I will place a copy of the shared principles in the Library. I am grateful to the All- Party Parliamentary Group on AIDS for their support to this event.

Justice: Victims and Witnesses

Statement

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

I am today pleased to announce the appointment of Louise Casey as Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses.

The Victims’ Commissioner’s key objectives, as defined in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, are to:

promote the interests of victims and witnesses;

encourage good practice in the treatment of victims and witnesses; and

keep under review the operation of the code of practice for victims.

Additionally, the Victims’ Commissioner will chair the Victims’ Advisory Panel.

The Victims’ Commissioner is an independent role appointed through an open recruitment exercise. Although this was not formally an Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) process, the appointment was made in accordance with OCPA principles. The commissioner will make an annual report to the three criminal justice Ministers and will be accountable to Parliament as chair of the Victims’ Advisory Panel—victims of crime who advise Ministers on how we can do things better.

Land Registry: Performance Targets

Statement

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

The following list sets out the key performance indicators and targets that have been set for Her Majesty's Land Registry for 2010-11.

Customer Service

Speed:

Percentage of all registrations processed within 15 working days: 80 per cent.

Accuracy:

Percentage of registrations processed free of any error: 98.5 per cent.

Quality:

Percentage of manually processed registrations on which key aspects1 of internal quality measures were achieved: 97 per cent.

Overall Satisfaction:

Percentage of customers who rate the overall service provided by Land Registry as excellent, very good or good: Better than 95 per cent.

Financial

Percentage return on average capital employed: 3.5 per cent.

Efficiency

Cost per unit in cash terms2 (real terms3): £33.65 (£21.70).

Other strategic targets

Percentage of transactions4 delivered through e-channels: 65 per cent;

through voluntary registration, add a further 250,000 hectares of land to the total areas of registered freehold land in England and Wales;

earn a contribution from add value products and services of 8 per cent of its income net of direct costs and apportioned product development costs;

increase gross incremental revenue from all add value products and services by a further £2.6 million above 2009-10 actual;

deliver the key accelerated transformation programme milestones as detailed in the accelerated transformation programme plan;

increase the percentage of staff positively engaged with Land Registry to 50 per cent; and

increase the percentage of staff satisfied with Land Registry’s leadership and change management to 45 per cent.

1 The specified key areas are (a) the index map (b) the proprietorship entry and (c) easements.

2 Based on the GDP deflator issued by HM Treasury on 24 March 2010 (base year 1992/3).

3 The real term unit cost in the base year of 1992/3 was £30.65.

4 Transactions are defined as any request for a statutory service provided by Land Registry. Although a transaction has a unit value, this measure reflects the actual number of transactions and not their unit value.

National Measurement Office: Performance Targets

Statement

I have tasked the National Measurement Office to provide a measurement infrastructure which supports innovation, facilitates fair competition, promotes international trade and protects consumers, health and the environment.

I have set the National Measurement Office the following targets for 2010-11:

To increase efficiency by reducing by at least 3 per cent activities which are not directly linked to delivery or staff training;

To supply a customer-focused certification service by completing 93 per cent of applications in accordance with agreed customer requirements;

To provide a prompt calibration service that completes at least 95 per cent of jobs (including preparation of certificates) within 15 working days of acceptance of the work and also an average completion time of less than 10 working days;

To provide a legal metrology programme that completes 95 per cent of the scheduled milestones by their due dates;

To preserve the investment of public monies by ensuring that the ratio of spend on science programmes to legal programmes is at least as much as when the NMS unit transferred to NMO on 1 April 2009;

To provide a timely metering service by ensuring all meter examiner appointments, manufacturer authorisations/consents and modifications to meter approval and decisions, completes 92 per cent of jobs within five business days of receipt of all necessary documentation;

To manage the finances effectively by ensuring that the portfolio of metrology programmes is provided within 1 per cent of the allocated budget;

To manage the Teddington estate finances within 1% of the allocated budget; and

Chief executive to reply within 10 working days to all letters from MPs delegated to him to reply.

Park Homes

Statement

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

I am today publishing a paper Park Homes Site Licensing Reforms: The Way Forward and Next Steps which sets out the Government’s proposals for the reform of licensing of park home sites in light of the responses received to the May 2009 consultation paper Park Home Site licensing—Improving the Management of Park Home Sites. Copies will be placed in the library of the House.

The Government want a thriving and well run sector that provides sites where people want to live. We want a licensing system that raises and maintains standards on sites and protects residents by ensuring sites are safe, well planned and properly managed with appropriate facilities and services.

The paper announces that the Government are committed to introducing a number of key reforms to the current site licensing regime, including a requirement that persons engaged in the management of park home sites are “fit and proper” and only such persons may hold licences. The new system will give local authorities duties to impose management conditions in licences and provides a range of enforcement tools to ensure that site licensing conditions are complied with. Measures will be required to be put in place for alternative management arrangements where sites are not able to be licensed. The new scheme will also allow licensing authorities to recover their costs in connection with their duties under the provisions by charging appropriate fees. A new regime for appealing licensing decisions to the residential property tribunal will be introduced.

The Government intend to establish a task force, including representatives of local authorities, the industry and residents, to advise and recommend how some of the key elements of licensing may be most effectively implemented with minimum burdens.

The Government’s proposals are intended to drive up standards in this sector (where that proves necessary) and, where that is not possible, to remove the ability of those unscrupulous and incompetent site owners from continuing to manage park home sites.

Petitions Duty

Statement

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (John Denham) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today announcing the implementation of the duty for local authorities to respond to petitions, giving real power to local people to raise the issues they care about with their council and ensuring they receive a meaningful response.

The petitions duty is provided for by chapter 2 of Part 1 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009. The core elements of the duty, ensuring that local authorities must set out in a petition scheme how they will respond to petitions from people who live, work or study in their area, will come into force on 15 June this year. The requirements relating to electronic petitions will come into force on 15 December, reflecting the additional time needed for local authorities to procure, install and test software and to train staff.

To support effective delivery by local authorities, I am today publishing statutory guidance and a model petitions scheme, alongside the Government’s response to consultation on draft versions of those documents. A total of 123 responses were received, and a number of changes have been made to the guidance and model scheme to reflect the helpful points that were raised.

The guidance draws attention to a number of areas where the Government expects local authorities to use the strong powers and influence they already have to respond to the issues raised in petitions. Examples include:

on anti-social behaviour—asking the courts to grant an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO); applying to the courts for a premises closure order to close properties where there is persistent nuisance or disorder; making a gating order to restrict access to any public highway to prevent crime or ASB; providing intensive, non-negotiable behavioural support through family intervention projects to perpetrators of anti-social behaviour and their families;

on alcohol related crime and disorder—placing restrictions on public drinking in the area by establishing a designated public place order or, as a last resort, imposing an alcohol disorder zone. When an alcohol disorder zone is established, the licensed premises in the area where alcohol-related trouble is being caused are required to contribute to the costs of extra policing in that area;

on under-performing schools—issuing a warning notice outlining expectations and a timeframe for improvement; for schools that have failed to comply with a warning notice or are in an Ofsted category of notice to improve (requiring significant improvement) or special measures, authorities can also appoint additional governors, establish an interim executive board, remove the school’s delegated budgets, require the school to enter into a formal contract or partnership or (only if the school is in special measures) require its closure; and

on under-performing hospitals—asking the council’s scrutiny committee to investigate concerns on issues like poor hygiene. The committee has powers to review services, request information from NHS bodies, and make urgent recommendations; and work with local involvement networks, which have powers to carry out spot checks and seek information and responses from health service providers.

In order to avoid confusion and duplication with existing statutory arrangements for citizens to express their views, the Local Authorities (Petitions)(England) Order 2010 excludes petitions on planning decisions and on licensing decisions on alcohol, gambling or sex establishments from the scope of the petitions duty. However, any broader issues around the delivery of services in these areas remain within scope (for example, the effectiveness of an authority’s process for dealing with planning applications). It also excludes issues relating to the dealings of individuals or entities, where there is already a statutory right to a review or appeal (other than the right to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman). The order stipulates the maximum threshold which local authorities can set for a petition to trigger a full council debate at 5 per cent of the local population.

Police: Pensions

Statement

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

The police pensions additional voluntary contributions (AVC) scheme, which was introduced in 1990, has served as a useful means by which police officers can top up their retirement pension. However, the opportunities now open to those who want to save for a personal pension reduce the need for an in-house AVC scheme. After consulting the Police Negotiating Board we have decided to close the police AVC scheme to new business from 1 October 2010, subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary changes to the relevant regulations.

Notice of this change has been given to the two providers concerned, Standard Life and Equitable Life. Regular contributions in effect on 30 September can continue to be made but the change will mean that no new or increased contributions will be possible from 1 October. We recommend the need in all cases for officers to satisfy themselves about whether AVC investments are right for them, if necessary by taking independent financial advice.

As part of our review of the current arrangements for topping up police pensions we are discussing with the Police Negotiating Board proposals for introducing a new facility, Added Pension, which will enable officers to buy specific amounts of pension, subject to set limits, on a cost-neutral basis for the Police Pension Scheme. The introduction of Added Pension would be accompanied by the closure to new contracts of the current facility of buying added years. The aim is for this change to be made at the same time as the closure of the AVC Scheme to new business but this is subject to confirmation.

Political Parties: Funding

Statement

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

At the request of Sir Hayden Phillips, and on his behalf, I am today placing in the Library of the House the agendas, papers and minutes for the five meetings which he chaired and which were attended by representatives of the three main parties in 2007 on the funding of political parties. (These items are also being placed on the Ministry of Justice website, at www.justice.gov.uk.) Sir Hayden has asked me to say that, as far as the minutes of the meetings are concerned, only those of the first meeting were agreed by the parties. The other four were drafts from the secretariat to the talks, authorised for circulation and comment to the parties by Sir Hayden. The agendas, papers and minutes are released in their entirety. There is one substantive exception to this: a paper produced following the fourth session of the talks which contained legal advice from Ministry of Justice officials on donation caps. The advice was given in confidence and Sir Hayden judges he should respect that. However Sir Hayden wishes to make it clear that the content of the advice relates to the lawfulness of a proposal to impose a cap on political donations, and the advice given was that a cap was capable of being compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, provided that it was prescribed by law and sought to achieve a legitimate aim in a proportionate way. The CVs of two advisors to the talks have also been removed as they do not relate to the substantive discussions.

Probation Trusts

Statement

My honourable friend Maria Eagle, the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I wish to inform the House that from 1 April 2010 there will be established 29 further probation trusts operating in England and Wales. This brings to 35 the total number of probation trusts and means the dissolution of the last remaining local probation boards.

The trusts programme has presented a challenge to the probation service to demonstrate that it can deliver locally tailored services efficiently and effectively. I am pleased that all of the remaining probation areas have successfully met this challenge and I am confident that they will all be successful in realising the benefits they have identified in moving to trust status.

Public Inquiry

Statement

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

I am announcing today the Government's intention to establish an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 to investigate the death of Azelle Rodney in April 2005. The inquiry will be established by the Ministry of Justice.

It is intended that this inquiry will be chaired by a retired judge and that, subject to his or her views, it will determine the matters which an Article 2 compliant inquest would have determined had it been able to take place. These are: how, when and where Mr Rodney died, and the broad circumstances which led to his death.

The inquest into the death has been adjourned by the North London Coroner since August 2007. The coroner and, most importantly, the bereaved relatives of Mr Rodney have been given advance notice of this decision.

During debate on the Coroners and Justice Bill, I said that any inquiry established because an inquest cannot be held would be subject to a protocol between Ministers and the senior judiciary. This protocol is intended to cover the procedure from the point the inquest cannot continue until when the inquiry is established.

I have been working with colleagues across government on the terms of the protocol but it has raised some complex issues and is not yet ready for use. As the inquest into Mr Rodney's death is already adjourned and cannot continue, I have decided that an inquiry should be established to avoid further delay for Mr Rodney's family. A further announcement on the inquiry chair and its terms of reference will be made as soon as possible.

Public Services: Mutuals

Statement

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

Over Easter Recess, the Cabinet Office will publish Mutual Benefit: Giving People Power over Public Services. The paper sets out the potential for mutuals to stimulate and secure greater citizen participation and engagement in public services.

Mutual Benefit: Giving People Power over Public Services also sets out the Government’s plans to facilitate the development of mutualism in three key public services.

Following publication, Mutual Benefit: Giving People Power over Public Services can be downloaded at: www.hmg.gov.uk/media/60217/mutuals.pdf

Copies will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Rights, Responsibilities and Values

Statement

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

The Government are today publishing two reports on important aspects of constitutional reform. The first is a summary of responses to the Green Paper, Rights and Responsibilities: developing our constitutional framework. The second is an independent analysis of the programme of deliberation that was carried out between October 2009 and February 2010 on identity, values (including a Statement of Values), a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and a written constitution.

The reports bring to a conclusion key aspects of the first stage of public debate initiated by The Governance of Britain Green Paper in July 2007. They also meet the commitment in Building Britain’s Future to complete a national consultation on a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities during 2009-10.

The responses to the Green Paper, combined with the programme of deliberative research, reflect the views of around 2,500 people. They demonstrate an appetite for further debate about a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities as well as a broader range of constitutional issues, such as a statement of values, and for making progress on them.

The programme placed public deliberation at the heart of decision-making. The research was carried out independently, ensuring that the public were given the opportunity to debate issues in a balanced way, exposing them to views from across the political spectrum to inform their deliberations and providing a space to enable views to influence policy. As the independent analysis says:

“The study can be viewed as a constitutional experiment in deliberative democracy—with the deliberative method helping to inform representative systems of government and promote democratic legitimacy. This approach was not intended to replace representative democracy but to complement it—enabling participants to come to an informed view on policy; which in turn, and alongside other evidence, will inform the views of decision makers in Government”.

As part of the process, the Government made an explicit commitment to participants that any constitutional reform would progress only if there was sufficient public appetite.

The independent report shows that such deliberative approaches were valued by what were demographically representative groups of participants as a means of building public views into policy making. It shows there is a clear appetite to take further these aspects of the debate on constitutional reform: stating the values that bind us together as a nation; building on the existing protections for individual rights; and clarifying our responsibilities.

The Government believe that work taken forward in this area must reflect the approach adopted so far, putting the public at the heart of policy formation.

In taking forward work on a new Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, the Government remain committed to the Human Rights Act and the protections and remedies provided by it. It is encouraging to see the responses to the Green Paper support the Government’s view on this point. The Government are proud of the Human Rights Act and will not resile from it.

Copies of Rights and Responsibilities: developing our constitutional framework—Summary of responses have been laid before Parliament. Copies of People and power: shaping democracy, rights and responsibilities have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Rita Donaghy Report

Statement

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

I am pleased to announce the publication of the Government’s response to Rita Donaghy’s report into the underlying causes of fatal construction accidents.

The UK is rightly regarded as having one of the best health and safety records in the world. Since 1997-98 the rate of fatal injuries to workers has fallen by 40 per cent, including in the construction sector, reflecting the significant focus on improving safety by the Health and Safety Executive, local authorities, businesses and trades unions. While this is very welcome, every death is one too many and a tragedy to those involved and their families. The Government believe that more must be done.

The number of deaths in the construction industry has been a particular cause of concern, with the rate of fatal accidents four times that of other industries. While there have been important improvements, 53 construction workers were still killed in 2008-09, for example. We therefore asked Rita Donaghy to carry out a review into the causes of construction fatalities.

On 8 July 2009 I announced the publication of Rita Donaghy’s report. The report contained 28 far-reaching recommendations for improving safety in the construction industry, extending across safety representatives, building control, the legal system, training and competence, and public procurement. I should again like to thank Rita Donaghy and her team for their excellent work in undertaking the inquiry.

We are now publishing our response, which builds on the issues and analysis within Rita Donaghy’s report to provide a framework for delivery of improvements in these areas. Our response reflects widespread consultation across government and with stakeholders. The Government fully accept 23 of the 28 recommendations including support of common minimum standards throughout publicly funded construction projects; mutual recognition between pre-qualification schemes; and support for greater worker participation. Two further recommendations related to the extension of gangmaster licensing regulations and the introduction of positive duties on directors raise important issues and warrant further consideration. Additional work is required fully to explore the relative options and understand the potential impact of introducing such measures. The reasons for these decisions are detailed within the response.

I hope that the action set out in the response further improves the safety record in the construction sector and provides some comfort to the families of those who have been killed by construction-related accidents.

This response is not an end in itself though, and we must continue to work together—government, business, unions and workers—if we are to ensure that jobs in construction are as safe as any other.

The Government’s response (Cm 7828) has been laid before Parliament and will be published later today. Copies of the response will be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. It is also available on the DWP website at www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/policy-publications/fatal-accidents-inquiry.shtml

Rural Payments Agency: Performance Targets

Statement

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

I have set the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) the following performance targets for 2010/11.

Service delivery quality

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

to have paid 85 per cent of customers by 31 December 2010 and 95 per cent by value of valid Single Payment Scheme 2010 scheme claims by 31 March 2011;

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

to make 98 per cent of Rural Development Programme for England payments for Natural England and regional development agencies in accordance with agreed service level agreements.

Customer impact

To demonstrate a continued commitment to customers by achieving a minimum annual average customer satisfaction score of 7.5 out of 10.0, as measured through surveys of external customers.

To increase electronic uptake of RPA services by receiving:

10,000 electronic applications for SPS 2010; and

85 per cent of CTS transactions via an electronic channel by the end of 2010-11.

Value for public money

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

To achieve a 9.8 per cent efficiency saving in revenue budget by the end of the 2010-11 financial year by managing service delivery within indicative budget levels.

For the Single Payment Scheme, to achieve a cost per claim reduction of 15 per cent for processing costs.

Capacity and capability

To demonstrate improved capacity and capability to meet targets and implement change with particular focus on leadership, (core to RPA) data quality, financial performance and contributions in response to the Defra Review and the Public Accounts Committee.

Further details are given in the RPA business plan for 2010-11 and copies are available on its website.

Safeguarding Children

Statement

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

On 18 January I asked Sir Roger Singleton, the Government’s independent Chief Adviser on the Safety of Children, to review the use of the defence of reasonable punishment in certain part-time educational and learning settings to establish the key issues and whether it was an area where we needed to consider a change in the interests of strengthening safeguards for children.

Sir Roger has now provided a report, Physical Punishment: Improving Consistency and Protection, containing his advice and recommendations, for which I am very grateful. I appreciate the extensive work he has undertaken with a wide range of stakeholders and the careful consideration he has given to this complex and sensitive issue.

Sir Roger’s main recommendation is that the current ban on physical punishment in schools and other children’s settings should be extended to include any form of advice, guidance, teaching, training, instruction, worship, treatment or therapy and to any form of care or supervision which is carried out other than by a parent or member of the child’s own family or household. This will resolve the discrepancy whereby a teacher is banned from smacking a child in a school, but the same teacher could administer physical punishment in an out-of-school setting. I believe this is a sensible and proportionate solution to removing this inconsistency.

Secondly, Sir Roger has recommended that the Government should continue to promote positive parenting strategies and effective behaviour management techniques directed towards eliminating the use of smacking. Parents who disapprove of smacking should make this clear to others who care for their children.

Thirdly, he has recommended that the development of appropriate safeguarding policies in informal education and learning organisations should continue to be promoted. Legal changes which flow from adoption of these recommendations will need to be communicated effectively.

The Government have accepted Sir Roger’s recommendations in full and we are committed to implementing them as soon as possible.

I have placed copies of Sir Roger’s report and the Government’s response in the Libraries of both Houses.

School Teachers’ Review Body

Statement

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The 19th report of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) is being published today, covering a range of matters referred to them in October 2009. I am grateful for the careful consideration which the STRB has given to these matters. Copies of the report are available in the Vote Office, the Printed Paper Office, the Libraries of both Houses and at www. teachernet.gov.uk/pay.

The STRB has recommended that revised criteria for payment of allowances to teachers of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) are introduced from September 2010. In addition, it recommends that the two discrete values in use currently should be replaced by a range.

I am grateful to the STRB for these recommendations, which will allow teachers of pupils with special educational needs to continue to receive appropriate reward, and subject to consultees’ views, I intend to implement new criteria.

The STRB has also made recommendations concerning criteria for appointments to deputy head and assistant head roles as part of a programme of work on which the STRB has previously made recommendations.

I note the STRB’s recommendations for criteria for these leadership posts and I agree that this work should be taken into account in developing leadership standards and professional responsibilities for all teachers. I would welcome consultees’ views on the criteria.

My detailed response contains further information on these issues.

Annex to Written Ministerial Statement 6 30 March 2010

DEPARTMENT FOR CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES

School Teachers’ Review Body recommendations and response from the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls)

[The following sets out the full set of recommendations from the School Teachers’ Review Body published in the 19th Report (Cm 7836) on 30 March 2010, together with the response from the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. The STRB’s recommendations below are in bold.]

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls): The 19th report of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) is being published today. It covers the matters referred to the STRB in October 2009. Copies are available in the Vote Office, the Printed Paper Office and in the Libraries of the House and at http://www.ome.uk.com/STRB_Reports.aspx.

In making its recommendations, the STRB was required to have regard to items a-f set out in the remit letter of 8 October 2009. This report covers criteria for posts in the leadership group, and for special educational needs payments. I am grateful for the careful and detailed attention the STRB has given to these matters. I am inviting comments on the STRB’s report and my response to its recommendations by 29 April 2010.

Special Educational Needs Allowances

The STRB has recommended that:

SEN allowances should continue to be paid to teachers working in specified SEN roles but that the present system of two separate and defined SEN allowances be replaced with spot value allowances that fall within a specified SEN range;

The new SEN range start at £2,001 and the maximum be set at £3,954, to be uprated in line with any general uprating of teachers’ pay. Schools and authorities should determine the spot values for individual posts, taking account of local context and specified factors;

SEN allowances be paid to those teaching:

in SEN posts that require a mandatory SEN qualification (all settings);

in special schools, and in designated special classes or units in schools and local authorities;

SEN allowances be paid to those teaching in non-designated settings, including PRUs, that are analogous to designated special classes or units where the post:

involves a substantial element of working directly with children with special educational needs;

requires the exercise of a teacher’s professional skills and judgment in the teaching of children with special educational needs; and

has a greater level of involvement in the teaching of children with special educational needs than is the normal requirement of teachers throughout the school or authority.

In other exceptional cases, payment of SEN allowances be at the discretion of the school or local authority; and

Schools and local authorities set out clearly in their teachers’ pay policies the arrangements for rewarding teachers with SEN responsibilities.

I am grateful to the STRB for its consideration of this issue and agree that the two current allowances should be replaced by a range, and the existing criteria revised. I consider that any new criteria should be linked to teaching and learning in all educational settings, and am not therefore convinced of the need for discretion. Subject to consultees’ views, I intend to implement revised criteria and an SEN range from September 2010.

Leadership Group criteria

The STRB has recommended the following:

Subject to review in any future STRB consideration of school leadership issues, the STPCD be revised to include the following, with effect from September 2010:

Before establishing or making an appointment to any deputy head teacher or assistant head teacher post, the relevant body must be satisfied that:

(i) the post carries a substantial element of whole- school responsibility that is not required of all classroom teachers or TLR holders; and

(ii) the holder of the post plays a major role, with full accountability, under the overall direction of the head teacher, in—

(a) formulating the aims and objectives of the school;

(b) establishing, developing and implementing the policies through which they are to be achieved;

(c) managing staff and resources to that end;

(d) monitoring progress towards the achievement of the school’s aims, objectives and policies; and

(e) undertaking any professional duties delegated by the head teacher, including, for example: duties that impact on the standards of achievement and behaviour of pupils across the school; duties that involve working with external bodies and agencies; or duties that impact on securing pupils’ access to their educational entitlements.

That there should be an additional requirement for deputy head teacher posts to carry a level of responsibility exceeding that expected of an assistant head teacher employed in the same school, including, when appropriate, responsibility for discharging the responsibilities of the head teacher in his/her absence.

I am grateful to the STRB for its detailed consideration of this issue and I welcome the recommendations for criteria for deputy and assistant head posts. I believe that this work should be taken into account in developing leadership standards and professional responsibilities for all teachers. I agree that pay arrangements for the leadership group should continue to be taken forward by the STRB in the course of a future remit. I would welcome consultees’ views on the criteria, which I will consider when developing criteria for implementation in 2010.

Social Fund

Statement

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

I am pleased to announce that the gross discretionary Social Fund Budget for 2010-11 will be £802 million.

With the net funding available, I have been able to allocate a gross national SF Loans Budget of £660 million and a national Community Care Grants Budget of £141 million from 1 April 2010.

The net funding available includes £141.5 million additional loans funding for 2010-11 only.

I will allocate a gross national SF Loans Budget in line with the provisions in the Welfare Reform Act 2007. The aim is to control and manage the national allocation whilst providing consistency of outcomes for Budgeting Loan applicants wherever they live. All loans budget expenditure will be made from the gross national loans budget of £660 million. Concerns have been raised by stakeholders about the current methodology of allocating Community Care Grants and these will be considered as part of the reform process that was announced on 15 March 2010 in the Social Fund Reform: Debt, Credit and Low-income Household consultation paper CM 7750.

To provide help to Jobcentre Plus budgets facing unexpected and unplanned expenditure I will retain centrally £1 million as a contingency reserve.

Details of individual Community Care Grant allocations will be placed in the Library.

Background note about the discretionary Social Fund Budget:

The discretionary Social Fund budget is cash limited. Funding for Community Care Grants is allocated to each budget area for management by Jobcentre Plus Social Fund Benefit Delivery Centres on 1 April each year. The gross discretionary Social Fund budget allocated for 2010-11 is £802 million. This is made up of:

New money (net AME)

£319.7m

Forecast loan recovery

£482.3m

This is to be allocated as follows:

Loans

£660m

Grants

£141m

Contingency reserve

£1m

Sustainable Communities Act

Statement

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (John Denham) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am publishing a consultation paper today, 30 March, on the arrangements for the production of the second local spending report. The aim of the local spending reports is to assist local authorities, their partners and local people in promoting the sustainability of local communities by providing more information about the public funding that is spent in their area. The Act requires me to make arrangements for the production of local spending reports and to consult such persons likely to be affected by the arrangements, as I think appropriate. This consultation document places work to develop local spending reports in the broader context of our efforts to make public data public. This approach was summarised in the report to Parliament Making Local Public Expenditure Data Public and the Development of Local Spending Reports in December 2009.

The document will be placed in the Library of the House and will be available on the Communities and Local Government website at www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/consultationsecondspendrpt.

We have also presented the first local spending report on the places database today at http://www.localspending.communities.gov.uk/ and are seeking views on this as part of the consultation process. This will provide intuitive, user-friendly tools to explore, compare and contrast data via interactive maps, charts and tables. These online tools will be freely and publicly available, thereby ensuring that these local spending data are available not only to local authorities and their strategic partners but also to citizens in a consistent form.

Following consultation, I propose to publish the second local spending report in summer 2010.

Transport Act 2008: Quality Contracts Schemes

Statement

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

The Local Transport Act 2008 includes provisions designed to make bus quality contracts schemes— the London-style model of bus contracts—a more realistic option for local transport authorities throughout England and Wales. The Government announced on the 10 December 2009 that these provisions will come into force, in England, on 11 January 2010.

The Government are today announcing the appointment of six individuals to a QCS board panel from which members of QCS boards will be appointed. QCS boards are independent boards with a remit to provide an opinion on whether proposed quality contracts schemes in England meet the statutory public interest criteria, and on whether due process has been followed.

It is also envisaged that QCS board panel members will be called upon to provide advice to traffic commissioners on Quality Partnership Scheme (QPS) “admissible objections”.

A QPS is made by a local transport authority, under which the authority provides facilities (e.g. bus lanes) and any bus operator wishing to use those facilities must operate services to the standard specified in the scheme.

Following amendments made by the Local Transport Act 2008 to the 2000 Act, a QPS can include requirements about frequencies, timings and maximum fares as part of the “standard of service”. But they can do so only if there are no “admissible objections” from relevant bus operators.

In the first instance, it is for the local authority to determine whether an operator has an “admissible objection” on either or both of the two grounds set out in regulations. But where there is a disagreement between operator and authority, the objecting operator may refer the matter to a traffic commissioner for an independent determination.

A number of local authorities either have, or are planning, Quality Partnership Schemes.

The panel will comprise:

Andrew Burchell

Currently an Appeals Decision Maker for the Department for Transport in respect of concessionary travel appeals from bus operators, Andrew has gained a wide range of skills including as a Government Economist, a Senior Civil Servant and member of Defra’s management board. He sits on the Community Services Board of his local Primary Care Trust, as an “independent lay member”, and is Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees at his local citizens advice bureau.

Tim Larner

Founding Director of Strata Consultants, Tim has over 35 years’ experience of local transport planning, including providing advice to Passenger Transport Executive CEOs as the former Director of the Support Unit at PTE. He has worked to raise the profile of PTEs, highlighting their role in transport policy development.

Peter Hardy

A Project Director at JMP Consultants, Peter has 26-years’ experience in transport planning starting in a local authority environment and specialising in areas including passenger transport development, policy and strategy for both the public and private sectors.

James Reeves

Currently Technical Director for Gifford UK, James has worked extensively in the transport sector both in the UK and abroad. Including a period as a Local Authority Officer, he has experience in transport economics and planning.

Alan Wann

Former roles at Northumberland County Council include Head of Highways, Transport and Waste services; Head of Regeneration; and Principal Advisor to the Chief Executive. Alan has recently become an independent consultant specialising in sustainable economic, social and cultural regeneration.

David Humphrey

Recently retired after 42 years in the public transport industry, David has held a number of senior roles in both the bus and tram sectors. A former President of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, he is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

A further two candidates will be held in reserve.

Transport: Severe Weather

Statement

I am today announcing an independent review of the transport sector’s response to the severe weather experienced this winter 2009-10 and lessons for the future.

The winter of 2009-10 has seen the most prolonged period of sub-zero temperatures for 30 years, creating extremely challenging conditions for the travelling public. For the most part, our transport networks coped well in the circumstances. However, there are lessons that can be learnt in order to improve our resilience for future winters.

This winter, the Salt Cell successfully achieved its objective of prioritising salt deliveries to highway authorities across the country to minimise disruption to transport networks. The Salt Cell held its final meeting on 16 March. Since it was first convened on 6 January, the Salt Cell met 20 times and advised salt suppliers on the distribution of approximately 530,000 tonnes of salt.

Now that the severe weather has receded, we must focus our attention on learning the lessons presented by this winter. The aim of this exercise will be to identify practical measures to improve the response of transport systems to severe winter weather. The work will review and build upon the recommendations of the UK Roads Liaison Group “Lessons from the Severe Weather February 2009” and present a series of practical measures that authorities must consider for implementation to better prepare themselves for winter 2010-11 and beyond.

The review is part of a Government drive to ensure that local authorities are prepared for future severe weather. Last week the Government announced an additional £100 million for local authorities to help pay for repairs to potholes. This builds on the trebling of funding to local authorities over the last 10 years for road maintenance from £265 million in 2000-01 to £809 million in 2010-11.

The review will be led by a small panel of independent experts comprising:

David Quarmby CBE (Chair), currently Chair of the RAC Foundation and former Chief Executive of the Strategic Rail Authority;

Brian Smith, retiring as Assistant Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire County Council on 31 March; and

Chris Green, a Non-Executive Director of Network Rail, former Chief Executive of Virgin Trains and English Heritage.

During the review, the panel will be seeking evidence and views from a range of stakeholders in order to develop the detailed scope and identify examples of best practice.

A copy of the terms of reference for the review has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Visas

Statement

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

Today my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband) and I are announcing the final stage of the UK’s first global review of visa regimes in relation to the seven countries of the eastern Caribbean—Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

A visa regime is a very effective immigration, crime and security control measure. As part of our overseas defences our Visa Waiver Test helps us determine whether our visa regimes are in the right places. Travellers from every country beyond the European Economic Area and Switzerland were measured against a range of criteria including illegal immigration, crime and security concerns. The test has been taken forward in close collaboration with other departments across Whitehall. New full visa regimes were introduced on Bolivia, Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland, along with a partial regime on Venezuela, in 2009.

Having initially considered the eastern Caribbean states on a regional basis, we decided to examine them individually to ensure any potential regimes would be aligned correctly. Our evaluation highlighted a number of concerns with two countries, Dominica and St Lucia.

We recognise that we have close historic, economic and political ties with Dominica and St Lucia and are aware that the introduction of a visa regime would be a significant step. It is a decision we do not take lightly. As a result we will now enter a six-month period of detailed dialogue with the Governments concerned to examine what actions will be taken to address our concerns and mitigate the need for a visa regime to be introduced. During this period, Dominica and St Lucia will need to demonstrate a genuine commitment to put into effect credible and realistic plans, with clear timetables, to reduce the risks to the UK, and begin implementing these plans by the end of the dialogue period.

Additionally, we have written to the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines to advise that, while they will maintain their visa free status for the time being, the decision will be subject to a further review.

The UK Government remain committed to operating a firm but fair immigration policy. It gives a high priority to treating all foreign nationals coming to or present in the UK with dignity and respect, and the highest legal standards. However, it expects all visitors to the UK to play by the rules. The UK will always welcome genuine visitors, whether business, tourist, student or family, but will continue to take all steps necessary to protect the security of the UK.

Western European Union

Statement

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Chris Bryant) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The Western European Union (WEU) has played a valuable role in discussion on European security. It embedded the principle of mutual defence in post-war Europe, promoted consultation and co-operation on defence and security matters in western Europe and has conducted operations in a number of vital theatres, including the Persian Gulf and the Adriatic. Members from both Houses, past and present, have played a valuable role in pursuing the UK’s interests within the WEU and I would like to take this opportunity to pay warm tribute to their efforts.

But the WEU’s mutual defence role was essentially symbolic as soon as NATO was established and successive UK Governments have made clear, as the Lisbon treaty does, that NATO is the forum and the foundation for collective defence of the Allies.

Moreover, the operational role of the WEU has been succeeded by the EU, following the UK-French initiative to create security and defence policy capacity in the EU. With this development, which NATO and the US specifically have welcomed, it is clear that the Western European Union is no longer relevant to today's European security architecture. While the UK recognises the role the WEU Assembly has played in engaging the views of national parliamentarians from across Europe on European defence, we do not believe this justifies the cost of over €2 million a year to the UK alone.

For that reason, the UK intends to withdraw from the Western European Union. In accordance with the Modified Brussels Treaty, we will formally inform the Belgian Government of our decision in April 2010. A 12-month notice period will then follow, during which the UK will remain a member of the WEU, giving an opportunity for discussion on how to develop cross-European parliamentary scrutiny of European defence issues.

Given the inter-governmental nature of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, we believe that this remains entirely a matter for national parliaments and co-ordination between them. There is no reason and no case for the European Parliament to expand its competence in this area.

We are in discussion with other WEU member states on this issue. Many of them also believe that the time has come to radically reform or close the organisation. Following this announcement, we will continue to engage our European partners on this issue and on future cross-European parliamentary scrutiny of European defence.

We will also seek to use this opportunity to improve the exchange of information and engagement between the EU and NATO, including the involvement of non-EU NATO European allies in European defence.

World Bank

Statement

My right honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Statement:

Today my department has published the annual review of DfID’s works with the World Bank, The UK and the World Bank 2009.

This report reviews the UK’s work with the World Bank from December 2008 to 2009. During that period we saw the effects of the financial crisis spread to the developing world. The report looks at how the World Bank was able to assist developing countries facing the impact of the financial crisis, as well as other major issues on which DfID has worked with the World Bank:

The Bank’s response to the financial crisis;

Progress on World Bank reform;

A review of the performance of the Bank’s work in the poorest countries;

An assessment of progress against the Government’s high-level objectives for the Bank; and

Priorities for engaging with the Bank in 2010.

The report has been placed in the Libraries of the Houses and an electronically accessible version is available on the DfID website at www.dfid.gov.uk.