The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown): I will chair the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) on 11 October 2005. The Paymaster General, the right hon. Dawn Primarolo MP, will represent the UK. Items on the agenda are as follows:
Progress and opportunities for better regulation, where the chairs of the three Lamfalussycommittees of experts will report to ECOFIN for the first time, including on their role inpromoting better regulation and making supervision in the financial services industry moreproportionate and effective.
EU-US Economic relationship, where ECOFIN will consider a joint paper from the UK,Austrian and Finnish presidencies, which identifies the potential benefits of closertransatlantic economic cooperation.
Economic regeneration of the West Bank and Gaza Region, where CommissionerAlmunia and EIB President Maystadt will give an oral report on progress in projects tosupport regeneration in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Bridget Prentice): My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs has made the following written ministerial statement.
The paper New Regulation for CFAsA summary of responses to the consultation paper Making Simple CFAs a Reality, DCA's conclusions and new regulations sets out the Department's conclusions on the simplification of the CFAs and related secondary legislation. The paper includes drafts of the regulations, which revoke the current secondary legislation governing CFAs, collective conditional fee agreement regulations (CCFA) and new set of simplified membership organisation regulations. These regulations will be laid before Parliament separately.
The current CFA regulations are unnecessarily complex and opaque and duplicate regulation already performed by the Law Society. Removing unnecessary
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regulation will apply to all CFAs which are used across a range of civil cases and will put into place the Government's commitment to introduce better regulation and strip out unnecessary legislation.
DCA has been working closely with the Law Society on improvements to its guidance and rules and the Law Society plans to amend its rules and publish new CFA model agreements to coincide with the changes to regulations.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Bridget Prentice): My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following written ministerial statement in the other place today.
The Government believe that while all criminal justice agencies are making progress, for example through the "No Witness, No Justice" programme, more needs to be done to inform and engage victims and their families.
The Government intend that the pilot should address a broad range of options for delivering these functions, offering the maximum possible choice to the bereaved. The choices should include an independent advocate, for either or both functions.
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Bridget Prentice): The Government have today laid before Parliament the following instrument: Solicitors (Compensation for Inadequate Professional Services) Order 2005.
The Order, made under paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 1A to the Solicitors Act 1974, will raise the maximum limit on the compensation which the Law Society's Council may direct a solicitor to pay on a complaint of inadequate professional service. The limit is raised from £5,000 to £15,000 with effect from 1 January 2006.
From 1 January, consumers seeking compensation for inadequate professional service will be able to benefit from the increased compensation level which the Law Society can order and avoid the necessity of automatically having to take court action in order to claim redress in those cases.
At present, if the compensation claimed is greater than £5,000 the Law Society cannot deal with it. This means that a complainant frequently has to retain the services of a further solicitor in order to get redress from the solicitor who generated the original complaint. This can be a lengthy and expensive process for a consumer. Raising the limit will enable a far greater proportion of complainants to obtain adequate redress without the need to resort to court proceedings.
The Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harriet Harman): My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following written ministerial statement in the other place today.
This is the second quarterly bulletin produced by DCA monitoring the performance of centralGovernment and associated bodies under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. It shows thatthe performance of Government in meeting the statutory time limits for replying to requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 has improved significantly sincethe first quarter."
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