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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 13 October 2005


Double Taxation (Botswana)

The Paymaster General (Dawn Primarolo): A new Double Taxation Convention with Botswana was signed on 9 September 2005. After signature, the text of the Convention was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and made available on HM Revenue and Customs' website. The text of the Convention will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.


Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. David Hanson): I have today published the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel combined Corporate Plan (2004–07) and Business Plan (2005–06). The Corporate Plan sets out the long term strategic goals for the Panel over the three-year period, and the Business Plan sets out the Panel's key objectives and performance targets for the coming year.

Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Oversight Commissioner's Report

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Shaun Woodward): I have today laid before this House a copy of the Oversight Commissioner's second statutory report for the year 2005 which was published on 27 September, in accordance with Section 68(4)(a) of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000.

This is the fifth report compiled by Al Hutchinson as Oversight Commissioner and the fourteenth in the series of oversight reports published since 2001.

I welcomed the opportunity last month to discuss the contents of the report with the Oversight Commissioner.


Performers' Moral Rights

The Minister for Energy (Malcolm Wicks): Two World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) treaties in the fields of copyright and performances are to be specified as European Community treaties in a Statutory Instrument being laid before Parliament. The
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WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) and the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) are key international agreements dealing with rights for the creative industries.

The specification of these treaties will require positive resolutions in both Houses and will pave the way in due course for European Community ratification of these important international agreements and help secure rights for United Kingdom creators overseas.

Most of the requirements of these treaties were already in place in United Kingdom law. Most of the remaining requirements were introduced with the implementation in the United Kingdom of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society. This Directive was implemented by the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 (SI 2003 No. 2498). The specification of the two WIPO treaties would allow the introduction of the only remaining requirement of these treaties, moral rights for performers, by means of a further Statutory Instrument, which would be subject to negative resolution procedure. A draft of such a further Statutory Instrument accompanies the Explanatory Memorandum for the current Statutory Instrument. A public consultation exercise seeking views on how obligations on performers' moral rights should be implemented was conducted in 2005. Summary copies of the responses to the consultation exercise have been placed in the Libraries of the House.


Benefit Fraud

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): The Department for Work and Pensions publishes a report on its strategy for reducing benefit fraud today. The report describes how fraud in the benefit system has reduced to around £0.9 billion—less than 1 per cent. of the total expenditure. It also sets out the Government's plans to continue this momentum over the next few years and the challenges ahead.

The report provides an analysis of the strategies we employed over the last few years which has resulted in a reduction of fraud in Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance, two of our most vulnerable benefits, by nearly two thirds since 1997.

The report acknowledges that there are still challenges for the Department to address and lays down our strategies for reducing loss further. These include increasing the use of private sector data to better target our investigations and to provide good quality risk information for front line staff that will help them prevent fraud.

The report has been placed in the Library and copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office. The report will also be available on the Department for Work and Pensions website through the following address: www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/dwp/2005/fsu/reducingfraud.pdf.