The Minister for Housing and Planning (Keith Hill): The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is today publishing the Government's new planning policy statement 1 (PPS1), "Delivering Sustainable Development". Copies of the document will be made available in the Libraries of both Houses. This new statement which applies in England, replaces planning policy guidance note 1 (PPG1), "General Policy and Principles", published February 1997.
PPS1 is one of the new series of shorter, sharper planning policy statements that are an important component of the Government's package of reforms for the planning system. PPS1 itself sets the context for the planning system and for other topic-specific policy statements. The policies set out in PPS1 will need to be taken into account by regional planning bodies in the preparation of regional spatial strategies, by the Mayor of London in relation to the spatial development strategy in London, and by local planning authorities in the preparation of local development documents. They may also be material to decisions on individual planning applications.
The consultation draft of PPS1, entitled "Creating Sustainable Communities", was published in February 2004. Over 300 responses to the consultation draft were received. The Government have carefully considered the views expressed in preparing the final version of the document.
With its new title of "Delivering Sustainable Development", PPS1 reflects the duty on regional and local planning bodies to contribute towards sustainable development when preparing development plans, as required by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. The policies seek to ensure balance in the integrated consideration of environmental issues alongside the need for sustainable economic development and the aim of creating genuinely sustainable communities.
There is also stronger emphasis on good design, reflecting the importance that the Government attach to ensuring high quality design is delivered through the planning system. PPS1 makes clear that good design is indivisible from good planning in delivering safe, inclusive and successful communities. Spatial planning and the importance of ensuring community involvement in the planning system are other important issues covered by PPS1, within the context of the overall theme of the document.
The original PPG1 also contained a broad range of material covering the general operation of the planning system. This was reproduced in a slightly updated form
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as Annex B in the consultation draft of PPS1. Given the new emphasis of PPS1 on sustainable development, we do not consider that this material suitable for inclusion in the PPS. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is, however, publishing this material in the interim as a separate document entitled, "The Planning System: General Principles", alongside PPS1. We are also considering the scope and content of future "good practice" guidance to support PPS1.
PPS1 demonstrates the Government's commitment to achieving more sustainable development through the reformed planning system. It provides an important, over-arching policy framework which should help improve people's lives and the places where they live, work and enjoy, whilst protecting our environment and natural resourcesnow and in the future. The Government believe this document should be broadly welcomed by planning authorities, developers and other business, community and environmental interests.
The Minister for Children, Young People and Families (Margaret Hodge): The Department has facilitated discussions involving a range of partners, including the Local Government Association, on possible ways of streamlining the entry training route for educational psychologists (EPs). We have also commissioned two consultancy reports. The discussions to date have been positive but the expensive changes to the training route for EPs proposed do not provide a viable solution in present circumstances. The wider context for the work of EPs has also changed considerably over the last year.
We need to work with stakeholders to clarify future demand, and to assess how that demand can best be met. We therefore propose to commission a fundamental review of the functions of EPs in the context of wider discussions on children's workforce issues.
Building on the report of the educational psychology working group published in 2000, we envisage the review will consider the key functions of EPs in the changing landscape of children's services, identifying the value they add through their particular, distinctive contribution; advise on linkages with other groups; and consider implications for training and development within existing resources.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Charles Clarke):
Following my statement on 12 January, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have today published a joint statement entitled "Householders and the use of force against intruders". This contains a clear explanation of the law and also explains how the police
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and CPS would handle the investigation and how they would treat the householder. I am placing a copy in the Library of the House.
The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Ms Patricia Hewitt): In July 2004, in the paper "Animal Welfare, Human RightsProtecting People from Animal Rights Extremists", the Government announced that they were considering the possibility of making it an offence to cause economic damage to the suppliers of firms or research groups engaged in the legitimate and licensed use of animals for research purposes. Since then the Government have consulted industry and other groups in developing proposals.
The Government intend to table amendments to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, before the report stage of the Bill, scheduled for 7 February. These will create two new offences, interference with contractual relationships so as to harm an animal research organisation, and intimidation of persons connected with animal research organisations.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr Tony McNulty): The Government set out last July, in its White Paper "The Future of Transport", our intention to move towards a mode-neutral basis for distributing funding in support of sustainable distribution.
In recent years the Government have funded programmes whose objective is to minimise the impact of freight on the environment, safety and other transport users. The two main programmes are rail and water freight grants, which aim to transfer freight traffic from the roads to these modes. In the last few years we have also funded some programmes to promote more efficient road haulage.
These programmes currently have separate budgets and are administered separately. But they all have the same objective, to secure the benefits of reduced pollution and congestion and better safety. It is not the principal objective of these schemes to promote certain modes of transport for their own sake.
The Government believe it is right to assess its investments according to the outcomes, so that funding can be directed where it offers the best value for money. This is why we will be bringing together the different budgets mentioned above into a single pot and prioritising expenditure on a value for money basis. The new merged budget will be known as the sustainable distribution fund.
From April 2007 extend the single pot to include rail freight grants. Subject to the passage of the Railways Bill, the administration of rail and water freight grants will be brought together in a single unit as soon as possible.
Taking 200506 and 200607 together, a total of £50.4 million will be available for rail freight grants and £19.2 million for water and road freight schemes. The rail figures include an additional £2 million available to support new applications. In 200708, when rail freight grants are incorporated into the new arrangements, the total budget for all modes has been provisionally set at £22.6 million. In addition to these figures, there will be some £3 million to £4 million from the ALSF available for sustainable distribution support in each of the next two years.