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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Paul Goggins):
I am today setting out the principles on which the Government will base their assessment of the success of the self-regulation of voluntary sector fundraising. This follows consultation with the fundraising sector last year and the announcement from the Institute of Fundraising last week of the appointments of a chair and director for the scheme following open competition.
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Self-regulation of fundraising was a recommendation of the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit. The Strategy Unit reviewed the charitable and wider not-for-profit sector and in 2002 published its report "Private Action, Public Benefit" which made a number of recommendations. We accepted this recommendation and have made provision in the Charities Bill for statutory regulation should self-regulation fail.
The main aim of the self-regulation scheme is to maintain and build on the high levels of public trust and confidence in the voluntary sector's fundraising activities. The scheme will help the sector guard against future threats to these high levels of public confidence. It will promote best practice and enable the sector to respond to criticism.
The Institute of Fundraising has led the development of the proposals for self-regulation, with significant support from the sector. However, the Regulation of Fundraising Scheme (RFS) will be run independently of the Institute. The scheme, which will be voluntary, will be open to all charities and fundraising organisations throughout the UK. It is expected to be up and running and open for membership this summer. The Government support self-regulation of fundraising, and (along with the Scottish Executive) are providing funding to enable the scheme to establish itself. In the longer term, the scheme is expected to become self-funding through membership subscriptions.
We have not set out specific long-term targets for the RFS, as these could be inflexible and restrictive. Instead we have focused on what the Government expect the scheme to deliver, and how that could be measured when the Government are considering the scheme's success. External factors would need to be taken into account, and over time we would also expect the fundraising scheme to develop its own performance monitoring and reporting. Respondents to last year's consultation were broadly supportive of this approach.
The scheme will need to attract high levels of voluntary participation across the sector, although it is appreciated that it will take time to build up levels of participation. Participation should reflect the diversity of voluntary sector fundraising;
The scheme and its participants must provide a clear public promise of what should be expected from fundraisers who are participants in the scheme, and from the scheme itself. The codes of practice underpinning the scheme should go beyond requiring compliance with the law, and should set a high standard of good practice;
The scheme must be accountable through the publication of an annual report which details the scheme's performance. The scheme should also develop its own meaningful performance indicators following consultation with stakeholders;
We will review the development of the scheme on an annual basis, and agree specific targets, while the scheme is supported by Government funding. However we want to give the scheme sufficient time to become established and prove its effectiveness, before we judge its success. We therefore propose that a formal review of the success of self-regulation take place as part of the review of the impact of the Charities Bill which is due within five years of enactment and will report to Parliament.
If self-regulation were to fail, any proposals under the reserve power for statutory regulation of fundraising would require consultation and would be subject to the affirmative resolution of Parliament. A similar reserve power exists in Scotland, in the Charities and Trustee Investment Act 2005. Charity law and regulation is a devolved matter, and in Scotland it would be for the Scottish Executive to decide whether or not to pursue statutory regulation there. However, we will work closely with the Scottish Executive in monitoring the progress of the self-regulation scheme, and reviewing its success.
I am grateful to everyone who has helped to develop the proposals for self-regulation, and those who responded to the consultation on the criteria for assessing its success. Further details of the self-regulation scheme are available from the Institute of Fundraising at: www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk.
My vision is a police service which is close, responsive and accountable to the communities it serves, supported by larger forces with the capacity and specialist expertise to protect the public from wider threats such as serious and organised crime and terrorism.
My overriding concern, and that of those responsible for leading the police service across the country, is to ensure that the police service is capable of preventing and responding to crime and disorder at every level: local neighbourhood; borough or local authority; force;
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nationally; and internationally. Although there has been much progress at all levels, especially at the local level where we have made a clear commitment to roll out neighbourhood policing across the country by 2008, it is vital that we close the gap in policing serious crime and major incidents identified by HMIC last year.
I am grateful for the submissions received from police force areas on or before 23 December. These submissions put forward a range of options for improving police capacity to tackle serious crime and major incidents, and at the same time delivering and sustaining neighbourhood policing. It is striking that all involved are clear that the current structures are not capable of delivering effective policing to meet 21st Century challenges.
HMIC has considered each of the options put forward in those submissions against a range of criteria. Last week they gave me the first of their assessmentsthat is, the protective services assessments which assess options on the basis of the delivery of effective policing. I am also being provided with additional assessments based on affordability, organisational resilience and impact on the CJS partner agencies. As I have said throughout, the decisions which I make will be clearly based on those professional assessments.
I can tell the House that the protective services assessments undertaken thus far have set out clearly, for each region, which options are of greatest benefit from the policing perspective. These are the options which will go forward for further consideration.
There are four areas where the clear conclusion of the protective services assessment is that there is only one acceptable option. These are the North East, North West, West Midlands and Wales. I am therefore today meeting with representatives from forces and police authorities in those areas to invite them to engage closely with me to consider taking forward the option for policing which I believe will be of greatest benefit to their communities. Final decisions on how we proceed in these areas will of course be based on the full consideration of the implications for organisational resilience, affordability, precepting and the impact on the wider CJS.
I am also writing to the Chief Officers and Police Authorities in the other five regions to explain the process and timescales for further discussions on the position in their regions. In the next few weeks I intend to meet with those Chief Constables and Police Authority Chairs to discuss the subsequent assessments and if possible to agree a way forward. At the same time, we will address the concerns which have been raised by police authorities regarding issues of finance and governance.
The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Alan Johnson): BNFL is today signing a purchase and sale agreement with Toshiba to sell its US subsidiary Westinghouse for the sum of $5.4 billion. This is an excellent outcome for the UK taxpayer who stands to benefit from a return of around four times BNFL's original investment in the business.
I am confident that as part of a global business, Westinghouse will be better placed to capitalise upon the prospects for international nuclear new build projects. The Government would have been reluctant for the taxpayer to take on the commercial risks of such international projects. Toshiba conversely is able to make the necessary investment and will be able to create synergies that are not available under the current ownership to take advantage of growing opportunities.