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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 3 November 2005


Compensation Bill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Bridget Prentice): My right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, has made the following written statement in the other place today:

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Regional Prime Contract (Central)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Don Touhig): I am pleased to announce that CarillionEnterprise, sponsored by Carillion Services Ltd. and Enterprise plc, has been awarded the Regional Prime Contract covering the Ministry of Defence's estate in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, North East of England, North West of England and the whole of Wales. This follows the successful conclusion of discussions with CarillionEnterprise which was appointed as preferred bidder in May 2005.

The seven-year contract, worth in the region of £550 million, is the fourth in a series of five such regional arrangements to cover the estate and provide for capital works, property maintenance and facilities management services, throughout the Central region of England.

The MOD has undertaken to make significant improvements in the overall condition of its estate by changing its organisational structures and introducing Prime Contracting methods. Encouraging innovation and efficiency, Regional Prime Contracting is a key initiative that aims to provide a better quality of service and greater value for money through suitably incentivised contracts conforming to the principles of "Smart Acquisition". The remaining Regional Prime Contract covering the East region is expected to be awarded later this year.


General Affairs and External Relations Council

The Minister for Europe (Mr. Douglas Alexander): The General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will be held on 7 November in Brussels. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I will represent the UK.

The agenda items are as follows:

Report on Informal Heads of State/Government meeting (Hampton Court, 27 October 2005)

The Presidency will report back to Member States on the outcome of the meeting and indicate any areas of action to be taken forward.

Financial Perspectives

This will be the first full ministerial discussion of future financing during the UK Presidency. We expect it will focus on the outstanding areas where further progress is needed, with the aim of providing a useful basis for working towards a deal at the European Council on 15–16 December.


The Commission will update the Council on the latest state of play in the WTO negotiations.

Avian Flu

The Presidency will update Partners on latest developments and invite the Commission to do the same.
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The Council will discuss how best the EU can support a final status process for Kosovo and what contribution on the ground it might be able to make to a Kosovo settlement. Council Conclusions are expected.


The Council will focus on how the EU should take forward its relationship with Iran taking into account developments in the EU's areas of concern (including Iran's nuclear programme, human rights record, approach towards terrorism, and opposition to the Middle East Peace Process). The Council will also discuss the remarks made by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad calling for "Israel to be wiped from the map." Council Conclusions are expected.


Following the publication of the 20 October report by Detlev Mehlis on the assassination of former Lebanese President Rafic Hariri and the approval of UN Security Council Resolution 1636, the Council will focus on the EU's relationship with Syria. Council Conclusions are expected.


Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner is expected to present the Commission's Communication on EU support for the Palestinian Authority. The Council is also expected to announce the launch of an ESDP Police Mission in the Occupied Territories (EU COPPS) to build on the work led by the UK to support the development of Palestinian civil policing capacity. Council Conclusions are expected.


The Council is expected to welcome the recent approval of the new Iraqi Constitution. Council Conclusions are expected.


The Council will focus on the deteriorating situation of human rights and political freedoms in Belarus and the need to address these concerns, particularly in the light of Presidential elections in 2006. Council Conclusions are expected.

UN World Summit follow-up

The Council will briefly discuss the EU's commitment to playing an active role in ensuring that the reforms agreed at September's UN World Summit are fully and urgently implemented. Council Conclusions are expected.


NICE (Appraisal)

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Jane Kennedy): Today I am announcing that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is launching a new, rapid process for assessing drugs and other treatments. The single technology appraisal process will be used initially to produce faster guidance on life-saving drugs which have already been licensed and on new medicines close to when they first become available. This new process is in addition to NICE's standard process.
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NICE is starting work immediately on five topics as a first tranche. NICE will also be consulting widely on the new process over the next three months. The Institute will consult with organisations representing patients, healthcare professionals and the healthcare industries on the details of the new process. Comments arising from the consultation will be taken into account alongside the lessons learned from developing guidance on its first tranche.

The new faster process will benefit many thousands of patients, especially those with life threatening conditions. It will provide greater certainty about the provision of important new treatments, as well as enabling the National Health Service to plan better for the introduction of new drugs.

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