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Employment

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. Chris Pond): Copies of the UK's 2003 National Action Plan for Employment have been placed in the Library today.

The EU Treaty requires Member States to submit an annual report setting out the principal measures being taken at a national level to implement national employment policies in the context of the agreed EU Employment Guidelines.

The National Action Plan responds to this requirement. Reporting across the ten Guidelines, it includes detail about: how the UK's institutional and regulatory environment helps encourage job creation and removes barriers to entering and progressing in the labour market; how measures like the New Deal and Jobcentre Plus encourage people back into work; how steps are being taken to ensure that work pays by eliminating unemployment and poverty traps; and how measures are being developed that help create a skilled and adaptable workforce.

In preparing this plan, the Government have worked closely with representatives from local government and the voluntary sector, as well as the CBI and TUC, so that we have been able to include a broad range of examples of how the objectives of creating more and better jobs and greater social cohesion are being pursued in the UK.

ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS

Commons Commissioners

The Minister for Rural Affairs and Local Environmental Quality (Alun Michael): This Department is publishing a Report of a Financial Management and Policy Review (FMPR) of the Commons Commissioners.

The Commissioners act as an independent tribunal, now sponsored jointly by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the National Assembly for Wales. It was established under the provisions of the Commons Registration Act 1965 to deal with disputed registrations of common land.

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The FMPR Report is available on the DEFRA website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/issues/common/index.htm, and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. In summary, the consultant has concluded that:


On the third point, it should be noted that DEFRA is considering this complex area of policy and law in the light of the conclusions of the Common Land Policy Statement published in July 2002.

The Review also recommended a number of primarily administrative improvements relating to internal audit, the keeping of better management information and the introduction of performance monitoring. The Chief Commissioner and his Clerk will be considering how to take these issues forward, in close conjunction with DEFRA and Welsh Assembly Government officials.

TRANSPORT

Powering Future Vehicles Strategy

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. David Jamieson): Last July, the Department for Transport, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Treasury jointly published the Government's Powering Future Vehicles strategy for promoting the development, introduction and take-up of clean, low-carbon vehicles and fuels in the UK, and ensuring the full involvement of the UK's automotive industries in the new technologies. The strategy set out the Government's objective that the UK should lead the global shift to the low-carbon economy, building competitive advantage for our automotive industries. Today the Low Carbon Ministerial Group, charged with oversight of the implementation of the Powering Future Vehicles strategy, published its first annual report, setting out the significant progress made towards the strategy's targets for low-carbon cars and buses and the other objectives it set. The strategy emphasised that a speedy and productive shift to low-carbon vehicles and fuels needed to involve not only Government, but the other stakeholders—the auto and fuel industries, environmental groups, and transport users.

The Government therefore welcomes the setting up of a Low Carbon Vehicles Partnership, bringing together all those with a stake in and commitment to the shift in the UK's transport economy—with the involvement of industry leaders and others at the most senior level. The report has been published on the DfT website, and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.