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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 7 December 2000


Human Fertilisation and Embryology

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the annual report of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. [141301]

Yvette Cooper: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has published its ninth Annual Report today. The Report has been laid before the House in accordance with the requirements of section 7(3) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000

Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to implement the provisions of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000. [141300]

Mr. Hutton: The Children (Leaving Care) Act received Royal Assent on 30 November. Local authorities will need sufficient time to prepare thoroughly for implementation once the regulations and guidance are published. Following representations from local government, the Action on Aftercare Consortium (AOAC), Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS), Local Government Association and others, we have therefore decided that the legislation will take effect from October 2001, to allow sufficient time for these processes. In the meantime, we shall continue to use the Quality Protects programme and the Quality Protects Special Grant to encourage and finance local authorities' work to bring their local policies into line with the Act and to put systems in place to be ready for full implementation. My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister will shortly be announcing revised details of Revenue Support Grant allocations for 2001-02.


Financial Services and Markets Act 2000

Barbara Follett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about recent developments in the preparation of secondary legislation under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. [142033]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Treasury today issued consultation documents on six pieces of secondary legislation under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 comprising: redress for contravention of an FSA requirement or rule; certain disclosures of information under the Act; service of notices under the Act; recognition requirements for investment exchanges and clearing houses; investments and markets prescribed for market abuse; and transitional provisions.

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Copies of all six consultation documents have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Further copies are available from the Treasury, and can also be accessed via the Treasury's website: www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/pub/ html/reg/index.html.

These consultation documents are in addition to two issued on 26 October on secondary legislation to be made under the Financial Services and Markets Act concerning the scope of FSA regulation and the promotion of financial services.

Fiscal Intervention

33. Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the cost to the UK of the intervention to purchase euros and the additional purchase of euros by his instruction to the Bank of England to sell gold. [135984]

Miss Melanie Johnson [pursuant to her reply, 9 November 2000, c. 339W]: The total proceeds from the gold auctions held to date is $2 billion, not $2.1 billion.


Maternity Pay and Parental Leave

Mrs. Fitzsimons: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress there has been on the review of maternity pay and parental leave. [141937]

Mr. Byers: I am pleased to announce the publication today of the Green Paper "Work and Parents: Competitiveness and Choice". I have placed a copy of the Green Paper in the Libraries of the House.

This Green Paper is the result of extensive discussions with parents, employers and their representatives. It marks an important stage in the most comprehensive review of work and parents ever undertaken by a Government in Britain.

The Green Paper sets out a number of options on the key issues and invites people to indicate which options are of greatest priority to them and will best balance the needs of working parents and business. The Government will then decide how best to proceed.

This is the first step towards a future where being a good parent and a good employee are not in conflict. Supporting parents to balance family life and work commitments enable parents to make a full contribution to the competitiveness and productivity of our economy. It also helps to ensure that British business is able to recruit and retain skilled employees while maintaining the flexibility essential to compete globally.

This document looks at how choice for both parents and employers might be achieved. This is an opportunity to shape a new deal to support parents and business. The closing date for comments is 7 March 2001.

Measurement Research

Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to improve the value of investment in Measurement Research to the economy. [141938]

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Ms Hewitt: The National Measurement System (NMS) has a critical role in the UK's national industrial competitiveness. The NMS is underpinned by research programmes funded by my Department. We commissioned an independent review which concluded that the NMS research programme directly affects some 0.8 per cent. (£5 billion a year) of UK Gross Domestic Product by supporting the introduction of new measurement standards and methods. In the light of the conclusions of that review we have decided that the purpose of my Department's investment in measurement standards should be:

There is however, more we can do to ensure that we get the best value from public expenditure in this area and we are implementing a plan of action to improve the value that investment in NMS delivers to the economy. The principal features of the action plan are to:

Detailed preparation of the new programmes is now under way. Technical work is scheduled to start in April 2001. In addition my Department has recently awarded contracts worth a total of £38 million for research programmes on Analytical Measurement, Time & Frequency and Electrical Measurement.

I have today placed a copy of the consultant's report in the Library of the House. The text of the report is also available on the DTI website at www.dti.gov.uk/nmd.


Local Authority Housing

Ms Rosie Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he plans to make an announcement about the distribution to local authorities of housing capital resources for 2001-02. [141391]

Mr. Raynsford: Housing capital allocations for 2001-02 have now been finalised and sent to local authorities. The total of these allocations and the resources for capital works on the council housing stock to be distributed through the new Major Repairs Allowance amount to around £2.6 billion, an increase of about a quarter on the current year. I am arranging for a table giving details of authorities' allocations to be placed in

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the Libraries of the House. The table also shows the performance band in which each authority has been placed.

Local Authority Guidance

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he intends to issue statutory guidance to local authorities on community strategies. [141513]

Ms Armstrong: Section 4 of the Local Government Act 2000 requires local authorities to prepare a community strategy to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of their area and contribute to the achievement of sustainable development in the UK. The Government issued draft guidance for English local authorities for consultation in June and received nearly 350 responses from a wide range of local authorities, public sector organisations, voluntary and community sector groups, businesses and private individuals. We are publishing today statutory guidance on preparing community strategies, updated in the light of this consultation and recent policy developments; copies are being sent to all local authorities in England.

The guidance makes clear that community strategies should be prepared and implemented in partnership with other local stakeholders, and that partnerships should actively engage the participation of local people in the process. This guidance is supported by all the main policy departments who sponsor or regulate other organisations that we hope will work with councils in local strategic partnerships to prepare community strategies.

At the same time, we are issuing for consultation draft guidance for local authorities in England on their new power in section 2 of the 2000 Act to promote or improve economic, social and environmental well-being. The consultation period will last until 9 February 2001. Copies of these documents have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament. Electronic copies, together with a document setting out the Government's analysis of the consultation on the community strategies guidance and our response to the key points made, will also be available on my Department's website.

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