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Non-medical Professional Regulation

The Secretary of State for Health (Dr. John Reid): On 27 January I announced that the chief medical officer for England had agreed to carry out a review of the revalidation of doctors and related matters, following concerns expressed by Dame Janet Smith in her fifth report from the Shipman inquiry. Dame Janet focused her inquiries, as her remit required, on the medical profession. However if changes are proposed to the arrangements for doctors, it is likely that they will have important implications for the regulatory arrangements for the other health professions, particularly where their roles are changing. And there may be other implications. I have therefore asked Mr. Andrew Foster, director of workforce, to lead a review of non-medical professional regulation. This review will run in parallel to the review into medical issues being conducted by Sir Liam Donaldson. It will consider and advise me about the measures needed to:

In the light of the above, it will further consider and recommend any changes needed to the role, structure, functions and number of regulators of non-medical healthcare professional staff. The director of workforce is likely to report his conclusions and recommendations to me towards the end of the year.

As with CMO's Review, there will be an advisory group, which will include experts from non-medical regulators and from the NHS. A larger reference group, which will include education and training bodies and
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professional organisations as well as consumer and healthcare quality interests, will also support this process.

The members of the advisory group are:
Andrew Foster (Chair)Director of Workforce, Department of Health (DH)
Chris BeasleyChief Nursing Officer
Kay EastChief Health Professions Officer
Prof Sue HillChief Scientific Officer
Prof Raman BediChief Dental Officer
Dr Jim SmithChief Pharmaceutical Officer
Harry CaytonDirector of Patient and Public, DH
Jane WessonChairman, Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE)
Sandy ForrestDirector, CHRE
Steve BarnetDirector, NHS Employers
Alastair HendersonDeputy Director, NHS Employers
Jonathan AsbridgePresident, Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
Sarah ThewlisChief Executive, NMC
Norma BrookPresident, Health Professions Council (HPC)
Marc SealeChief Executive, HPC
Nic GreenfieldDeputy Director-Workforce, DH
Steve CatlingHead of Professional Standards, DH



The Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn): The 26 December 2004 tsunami brought destruction to coastal areas of South and South-East Asian countries and claimed over 273,000 lives, leaving millions of people in need of assistance.

DFID committed £75 million to the immediate relief effort, some £66 million of which has already been allocated to United Nations agencies, the Red Cross movement, and non-government organisations, or spent through DFID direct action or donations in kind.

The British public has responded with unprecedented generosity to this disaster. Appeals such as that of the Disasters Emergency Committee have had an overwhelming response.

DFID will now contribute up to £65 million for longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction. This is likely to be channelled mainly through the trust funds that are being set up in affected countries. Our response will be guided by the findings of needs assessments currently being finalised, and by the level of resources already available to affected countries. Our assistance towards longer-term reconstruction will not be at the expense of DFID funding for other emergencies or existing programmes.


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Gareth Thomas): Earlier today, I informed the Government of Nepal that the Department for International Development was ending support to Nepal's police, prison services and the Prime Minister's office. A total of £2.4 million had been committed but £1.3 million remains unspent and will now be cancelled.
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This follows the dismissal of the Government by King Gyanendra of Nepal on 1 February. Since then, the UK Government have been carrying out an initial assessment of the implications for our development partnership with Nepal. Assistance will continue to be kept under review.

The criteria against which decisions on DFID assistance are made are the ability to make an effective contribution towards the millennium development goals and the safety and security of staff. We need to ensure that our programmes can continue to benefit poor and excluded people in Nepal. It is vital that the Government of Nepal maintain agreed financial allocations to essential development services, such as health and education, and not divert them to other purposes.

Along with the rest of the international donor community, the safety and welfare of staff carrying out development programmes, especially those in the field, is of paramount importance. We will not continue programmes in the face of increased and unacceptable risk or interference. The UK has called on both parties to the violent conflict in Nepal to ensure that the international community can continue to provide the development assistance that is needed to provide essential services to the poor. The Department for International Development will press for concrete measures by both sides to affirm that they will do everything in their power to safeguard poverty reduction programmes and staff.

We are deeply concerned about human rights in Nepal and will continue to work with others in the international community to encourage democracy in Nepal, the full protection of human rights by both parties to the conflict and progress towards a peace process.


Company Law Reform

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Ms Patricia Hewitt): I am pleased to announce that we are today publishing a White Paper setting out proposals for a Company Law Reform Bill.

These proposals result from a comprehensive review of company law, which we initiated in 1998. In 2001 we received the final report from the company law review, an independent group of experts, practitioners and business people. The White Paper also takes account of international and other developments. We are very grateful for the input of a wide range of interested parties into the proposals we are bringing forward today.

The White Paper sets out a range of measures designed to further four crucial objectives: to enhance shareholder engagement and a long term investment culture; to ensure better regulation and a "Think Small First" approach; to make it easier to set up and run a company; and to provide flexibility for the future.

The proposals are part of a wider programme of action to facilitate enterprise, encourage investment and promote long-term company performance. We brought forward legislation to strengthen regulation of the accounting and audit profession and to allow a new type
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of community enterprise company. We have laid draft regulations for quoted companies to produce an operating and financial review and we have introduced greater transparency by quoted companies on directors' remuneration. We have taken smaller companies out of the need for an audit. We have also worked with market participants to strengthen corporate governance and shareholder engagement.

The measures set out in the White Paper represent a significant step forward in ensuring that our law remains up to date, flexible, and accessible for all those who use it. By making company law better fitted to today's realities, the measures should create improved performance across the economy as whole. They could also produce cost savings for business of some £250 million a year. The proposals will help ensure that Britain remains one of the best places in the world to set up and run a business.
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Community Infrastructure Fund

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr. Tony McNulty): Earlier this year local transport authorities and delivery partners in the four growth areas submitted preliminary information about transport projects that would assist new housing development in support of bids for grant from the Government's new £200 million community infrastructure fund.

Following discussions with Ministerial colleagues in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, we are today announcing the projects that we have selected for more detailed appraisal ahead of final decisions in the autumn. A list of the projects to be taken forward to the next stage is being placed in the Library of the House.