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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Yvette Cooper): Today I am announcing that we are awarding £16 million from the Housing Market Renewal Fund to the Hull and East Riding (Gateway) market renewal pathfinder to help revitalise areas in Hull blighted by abandoned homes and low demand housing. This investment will enable the pathfinder to start projects to improve poor quality housing and weak housing markets, working in partnership with the private sector.
The restructuring of existing plans to redevelop the Kingswood area in the north of the city so that it reconnects with north Bransholme estate in Hull, enabling the serious abandonment problems to be tackled more effectively.
The Minister for Rural Affairs and Local Environmental Quality (Alun Michael): The intended impact of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill in regard to stray dogs is to achieve clarity and consistency in the way stray dog services are delivered. This statement is intended to explain how that will be achieved and address concerns raised with me by animal welfare charities.
The current situation is unsatisfactory because under under section 149 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and section 3 of the Dogs Act 1906, responsibility for stray dogs is shared between local authorities and the police. As neither is fully responsible for providing a service, the position has been patchy at best and has often been inadequate outside normal office hours. As a result of discussions involving the police and local authorities as well as relevant Government Departments, it has been decided to simplify the law and the allocation of responsibilities. For that reason clause 68 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill and part 6 of schedule 5 to the Bill provide for the responsibility of the police in respect of stray dogs to be repealed. When this provision comes into force local authorities will be solely responsible for dealing with stray dogs in their area. This clarity is in the public
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interest and in the interest of animal welfare. This additional demand on local authorities will be funded through an agreed and appropriate transfer from the Home Office to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, and will not be brought into effect until the transfer has been made. The Local Government Association and the police have indicated support to this approval.
This change will place the onus on local authorities to have arrangements in place for dealing with stray dogs on a twenty-four hour basis, seven days a week. Concern had been expressed by animal welfare charities on this very point but the impact of the proposed legislation is very clear.
how local authorities can ensure that facilities of a suitable standard are in place to take stray dogs at any time. These could be provided by local authorities themselves or local authorities may prefer to contract the service out to local dog boarding kennels, animal welfare organisations, the police or veterinary practices;
the arrangements they will need to set in place to inform anyone who finds a stray dog where to take it. As with other local authority responsibilities such as social welfare or child care. We would expect good arrangements with the local police to assist the public in making contact with the right person when a problem is reported;
the need to ensure that any sick or injured stray dog is promptly treated to an appropriate standard; this will need to be covered in contracts with those providing a service in respect of stray dogs;
The RSPCA, the Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club have been consulted on the issues that will be covered in the guidance, and are satisfied; these organisations will be fully involved in the preparation of the guidance itself.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Fiona Mactaggart): I am pleased to announce today a series of initiatives that will strengthen the partnership between Government and the voluntary and community sector and support the sector to continue to develop capacity. The Government recognise the invaluable role that the voluntary and community sector plays in delivering services, building strong communities and empowering citizens to tailor services to local needs.
I am publishing a consultation document today called "Strengthening Partnerships: Next Steps for Compact". The compact is a guidance document that was first developed seven years ago and has made a significant positive impact on the relationship between voluntary and community organisations and the public bodies that fund them. The consultation document invites comments on how we move forward with the compact, building on the valuable experience we have gained so far. Proposals include compact plus, a short set of commitments which public sector bodies and voluntary
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and community sector organisations can opt into, and a compact champion who would support organisations in realising those commitments and adjudicate on disagreements.
We are also publishing the compact code of good practice on funding and procurement today. This revised funding code includes principles such as full cost recovery and the local dimension. The aim is to get the funding relationships right and keep it right by covering the full funding cycle, from programme design and bidding, monitoring and reporting, through to the conclusion of the financial relationship.
Last year we published a 10-year vision for developing the infrastructure and building the capacity of the voluntary and community sector, within a programme called ChangeUp. This was supported by an investment of £80 million over three years. Today we will be announcing continuation funding of £70 million for a further two years, until 2008. We will also announce the establishment of Capacity Builders, a sector-led agency to run ChangeUp and ensure it benefits front-line organisations
Futurebuilders is a £125 million investment fund to assist voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises in their public service work, announced in September 2003. The fund provides finance to acquire capital assets through grants and loans. Today we announce continuation funding of £90 million for Futurebuilders for a further two years of operation, until 2008.
A capital programme, which acts as a community enterprise incubator fond, was launched in 2001 as the capital modernisation programme in order to invest in the development of frontline voluntary and community organisations (for example, investing in premises and ICT). Today we are announcing an investment of £4 million through this programme to support the development of established community anchor organisations, to provide accommodation and intensive support for embryonic community-based organisations and enterprises.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Caroline Flint): On 15 September 2004, the then Home Secretary announced that he had authorised chief officers throughout England and Wales to deploy the M26 Taser for use in strictly limited circumstances. This allows chief officers to make the M26 Taser available to authorised firearms officers in their force as a less lethal alternative for use in situations where a firearms authority has been granted in accordance with criteria laid down in the ACPO Manual of Guidance on Police Use of Firearms. Since then, a new Taser model, the X26 Taser has been developed and placed on the market.
The Defence Scientific Advisory Council (DSAC) sub-committee on the medical implications of less lethal weapons (DOMILL) was invited to provide a statement on the medical implications of the use of the X26 Taser. The DOMILL statement confirms that the risk of a life-threatening event arising from the direct interaction of the currents of the X26 Taser with the heart, is less than
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the already low risk of such an event from the M26 Taser. I have placed a copy of the statement in the Library of the House.
I have therefore authorised chief officers to make the X26 Taser available to authorised firearms officers in their force for use as a less lethal alternative for use in situations where a firearms authority has been granted in accordance with criteria laid down in the ACPO Manual of Guidance on Police Use of Firearms. The authorisation for the M26 Taser remains in force.
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