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Tripartite Committee on Local Government Pension Scheme

The Minister for Local Government (Mr. Phil Woolas): In a statement issued on 18 March, the Deputy Prime Minister announced that he was establishing a tripartite committee with key stakeholders, to discuss the future of the local government pension scheme. The first meeting of the tripartite committee, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, subsequently met on 24 May and was attended by representatives of the local authority employers and the trade unions.

The Committee will focus on the development and modernisation of the scheme and will consider the measures which need to be put in place to ensure the scheme's affordability and sustainability.

The Government believe that local authority employees should have a stable, strong pension scheme in which they can have confidence. It is important, however, that the balance is right between, on one hand, the cost of the scheme to the taxpayer, and, on the other hand, the value of the benefits which the scheme offers to current and future pensioners.

Further meetings of the Committee are now being arranged to ensure the implementation of essential decisions about the scheme's long-term future.


Departmental Annual Report (2005)

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Margaret Beckett): My 2005 departmental report, which contains information on progress against the Department's objectives, the challenges ahead and summary expenditure plans for 2004–05 to 2007–08, has been published today. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Climate Change Programme

The Minister for Climate Change and the Environment (Mr. Elliot Morley): The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced the terms of reference for the review of the UK climate change programme (CCP) on 15 September 2004. These stated that the Government would aim to publish a revised programme in the first half of 2005. I have today announced, through a press notice, that Ministers have agreed to postpone the publication of the revised programme to allow more time for the completion of the appraisal of new policy options. The programme will now be published before the end of the year. This will enable us to produce a programme to put us back on track to achieving the domestic goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent. by 2010 and ensure that we can achieve real progress by 2020 towards the long-term goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by some 60 per cent. by about 2050.
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In addition, I am pleased to say that the extended timetable will allow us to take full account of the outcome of a number of other pieces of ongoing work including the energy efficiency innovation review—important as energy efficiency, both in the domestic and business sectors, may be expected to contribute significantly to future emission reductions. It will also give us more time to take forward the commitments in the 2005 Budget, including how we might support the development of carbon capture and storage, and the commitment in the manifesto to explore the scope for the further use of economic instruments and other measures to promote lower vehicle emissions.

The revised timetable will also fit more closely with the timetable for developing phase II of the EU emissions trading scheme. It will enable us to take into greater consideration the level of the cap for the second phase of the EU ETS which is occurring in parallel to the CCP review.


Food Standards Agency's Departmental Report (Spring 2005)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Caroline Flint): The Food Standards Agency's departmental report spring 2005, Cm 6525 was laid before Parliament today.

Copies will be placed in the Library.


Control Order Powers (11 March 2005–11 June 2005)

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Charles Clarke): Section 14(1) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) requires me to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three-month period on my exercise of the control order powers during that period.

The 2005 Act came into force on 11 March 2005. During the first three months of the operation of the Act, I made 11 non-derogating control orders. Ten control orders were made on 11 March 2005 under section 3(1)(b) and (c) of the 2005 Act in respect of individuals who were at that time certified under section 21(1) of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (the 2001 Act). A further order was made with the permission of the court under section 3(1)(a) of the 2005 Act on 26 April 2005—again in respect of an individual who was formerly certified under section 21(1) of the 2001 Act.

I have modified these orders to authorise a change of address in three instances; to give effect to the court's ruling following an appeal—see below; to give access to further family members in one case; and to clarify the wording of certain obligations in the control orders on two further occasions.

A right of appeal exists in section 10 of the 2005 Act against a decision by the Secretary of State not to modify an obligation contained in a control order. One of those subject to a control order has exercised his right
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of appeal under this section and has had his appeal upheld. His order has since been varied to substitute different obligations on him.

Section 14(2) of the 2005 Act requires the Secretary of State to appoint a person to review the operation of that Act. Lord Carlile of Berriew QC was appointed as the independent reviewer of the 2005 Act on 11 March 2005.


Annual Report 2004–05

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. David Hanson): I have placed copies of the Criminal Justice System Northern Ireland's annual report for 2004–05 in the Libraries of both Houses, on behalf of the criminal justice ministerial trilateral.

This year the report has adopted a thematic approach, detailing progress against six themes: working in partnership; reaching out to the community; responsiveness; reducing delay; confidence in the criminal justice system; and promoting diversity.

The report demonstrates how each agency contributes to and supports its partner organisations in the achievement of cross-cutting objectives. Key areas of success include the development of the new causeway information sharing system, progress on the development of the new public prosecution service, the establishment of 26 community safety partnerships, the joint NIPS and PBNI resettlement strategy, and the appointment of lay magistrates.

The report demonstrates that all of us, from ministerial level through to frontline staff, are committed to ensuring that the criminal justice system serves the community effectively, in partnership and with integrity.

Human Rights Commission

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Peter Hain): I am pleased to announce today the appointment of Professor Monica McWilliams as the new Chief Commissioner of the NIHRC. I am also appointing seven new Commissioners—Jonathan Bell, Thomas Duncan, Professor Colin Harvey, Alan Henry, Ann Hope, Eamonn O'Neill and Geraldine Rice.

These new appointments will join the existing two Commissioners, Lady Christine Eames and Kevin McLoughlin, who were reappointed last autumn to serve until December 2007. The appointments follow an open recruitment process based on merit. The new Chief Commissioner and seven new Commissioners will take up their posts in the early autumn.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is a key part of the architecture of human rights protections in Northern Ireland, and an important feature of the Belfast Agreement. The Government have consistently been clear that it is in all our interests to have a strong, independent and self-confident Commission which draws support from all parts of the community.
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I am confident that these new appointments will ensure that the Commission will make a significant contribution to the advancement and protection of
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human rights in Northern Ireland in the coming months and years. I look forward to working with the new Commission.