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Written Ministerial Statements

Wednesday 24 November 2004


Investment Trust Companies

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Stephen Timms): The Treasury is today launching a consultation on the regulation of investment trust companies.

This is in response to a recommendation made by the Treasury Committee in its report into split-capital investment trusts in February 2003.

The aim of the consultation is to stimulate discussion about whether there is a need for additional regulation and, if so, possible options for doing so.

Copies of the consultation paper are available from the Library of the House, and the document can also be accessed on the Treasury website at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/.


Minerals Planning Policy and Good Practice Guidance

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Keith Hill): I am announcing today the publication of a consultation draft of a new policy statement on minerals planning and supporting good practice guidance for England. The draft of minerals policy statement 1 (MPS1) sets out the Government's core policies and principles for minerals planning in England to be applied in the preparation of regional spatial strategies and local development documents and in considering planning applications. The draft good practice guidance provides advice on how these policies and principles might be implemented.

When finally published MPS1, together with the good practice guidance, will replace minerals planning guidance note 1 "General Considerations and the Development Plan System", published in 1996 and equivalent general statements on minerals planning policies in a number of other MPGs. Draft MPS1 and the good practice guidance meet the commitment set out in the 2001 planning Green Paper for shorter, more focused planning policy statements separated from advice on non-policy matters.

Draft MPS1 takes account of relevant legislative changes since 1996 that affect minerals planning. It seeks to ensure that minerals planning and development is undertaken in as sustainable a manner as possible. It contributes to the Government's sustainable development objectives for planning and the creation of sustainable communities, by helping to secure the necessary supplies of materials, particularly for construction, while seeking to minimise the effect
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of mineral working on local communities and the environment, and by promoting the recycling of suitable materials.

We intend MPS1 to be supported by a number of specialist annexes setting out the appropriate planning policy considerations that need to be applied to individual types of minerals in view of their differing characteristics. A consultation draft on the first group of these, to deal with construction aggregates, brick clays, building stone and onshore oil and gas development, will be issued in the spring of 2005.

Consultation on draft MPS1 and the accompanying good practice guidance will run until 28 February 2005. Copies of the draft consultation papers have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Private Rented Sector (Licensing)

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Keith Hill): My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has today published for public consultation, a paper on licensing in the private rented sector concerning the implementation of Housing in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing.

This paper seeks to explain the Government's proposals for licensing in the private rented sector that have been set in place by the Housing Act, which has just received Royal Assent. In particular, the paper explains the Government's proposals for HMO licensing and sets out proposals for the secondary instruments required to implement these measures.

The powers in the Act and proposed secondary legislation will require local authorities to introduce licensing for HMOs. Licensing will enable local authorities to:

The paper invites interested parties to comment on how these powers should be implemented in relation to HMO licensing through the necessary secondary legislation.

Copies of the paper are being sent to a wide range of interested parties including local authorities, landlord and tenant organisations and others with an interest in this issue. The closing date for responses is 2 February 2005.
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Copies of the paper will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and will be available on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website at www.odpm.gov.uk.


National Policing Plan

The Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety (Ms Hazel Blears): I have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of the National Policing Plan 2005–08.

This is the third national policing plan and sets the framework and context for policing in England and Wales for the next three years.The national policing plan sets out the Government's vision of a police service which puts the law abiding citizen at the heart of all it does, while working in partnership to create and maintain safe, secure and confident communities. This will require the creation of a culture for policing which can tackle crime successfully from the local, to the national and international level.

The national policing plan will inform local planning and help to ensure that all communities know what they should expect from their local police force. It builds on the commitments for police reform set out in "Building Communities, Beating Crime: A Better Police Service for the 21st Century" published on 9 November. The national policing plan 2005–08 is available on the website at: www.policereform.gov.uk.


Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit

The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Hilary Benn): Further to my written statement to the House of 16 September 2005, Official Report, columns 173–174WS, together with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State for Defence, I wish to inform Parliament that a copy of a public consultation document on improving the United Kingdom's contribution to post conflict stabilisation has been placed in the Library. It invites contributions on the establishment of an interdepartmental post conflict reconstruction unit.


Launch of the Electronic Parliamentary Community (ePC)

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain): I am pleased to announce today the launch of the electronic parliamentary community (ePC). This network, initiated by my office, establishes, for the first time, the electronic transfer of information between Government and Parliament.

This first phase of ePC provides the mechanism to deliver parliamentary questions from the House of Commons to Government Departments, and the answers to questions and written ministerial statements from Government to the Commons, principally Hansard and the Table Office at this stage.
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In future, and subject to further discussion with the House authorities, it is hoped that this system may be extended to cover other information exchanged between Government and Parliament.

This is a ground-breaking system, and I am grateful to the knowledge network (part of the e-Government unit), to parliamentary staff for their work on this project, ensuring its delivery to tight and challenging deadlines and to the National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC) for their assistance in establishing the secure connection between Parliament and Government.

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