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:
The Bill will provide better safeguards for consumers of claims management services and will reassure those concerned about possible litigation that the law of negligence takes the social value of activities into account and that they will not be found liable if they adopt reasonable standards and procedures.
The Bill sets out the proposed legislative framework for the regulation of claims management services to provide effective protection for consumers and to tackle the bad practices that have been a common feature of the claims management sector. Regulation will be applied initially to areas where consumers are most at riskpersonal injury, criminal injuries compensation, employment, housing disrepair and claims for redress in relation to the mis-selling of financial products such as endowment policies.
The Bill will provide for regulation that is effective, proportionate to the risk involved, and creates the minimum burden necessary. The Bill will deliver a level playing field of consumer protection so that whomever a consumer seeks advice and assistance from they can expect a quality service and proper mechanism for redress if a problem arises.
The Bill will make it an offence for claims management services to be provided by persons who are not authorised under the new regulatory regime or who are not already fully regulated by another regulator such as the Law Society or the Financial Services Authority.
The Bill will provide for the Secretary of State to appoint or establish a body to regulate the claims management sector. Regulatory responsibility will only be given to a body that is competent, has appropriate governance and other management arrangements in place and will provide benefits to consumers. If no suitable body can be appointed or established, the Secretary of State will regulate directly.
The Bill's provision on negligence reflects recent judgments of the higher courts. It makes clear that when considering a claim in negligence, in deciding what is required to meet the standard of care in particular circumstances, a court is able to consider the wider social value of the activity in the context of which the injury or damage occurred. It provides that the court can have regard to whether requiring particular steps to be taken to meet the standard of care might prevent a desirable activity from being undertaken or might discourage people involved in providing the activity from doing so.
The Bill forms part of a wider programme of work which is being taken forward across Government, and in partnership with stakeholders, to tackle perceptions that can lead to a disproportionate fear of litigation and risk averse behaviour; to find ways to discourage and resist bad claims; and to improve the system for those with a valid claim for compensation."
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.
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.
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 1516 December.
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 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.
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.
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.
3 Nov 2005 : Column 52WS
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.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|