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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 13 February 2006


ECOFIN 14 February

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown): Items on the agenda are as follows:

Stability and Growth Pact

ECOFIN will adopt Council Opinions on the Stability Programmes of Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria and the Convergence Programmes of Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia;

Lisbon Agenda

Council will discuss the Commission Annual Progress Report on the Lisbon Agenda and will hold a first debate on the ECOFIN Key Issues Paper for Spring European Council;

European Investment Bank Contribution to Growth and Employment

ECOFIN will discuss the role the European Investment Bank can play in promoting jobs and growth;

Ageing Report

ECOFIN will consider a Report from the Economic Policy Committee on the impact of ageing populations on public spending;

Appointment to the European Central Bank Executive Board

Council will consider the appointment of a successor to Otmar Issing to the European Central Bank Executive Board;

Vienna VAT Fraud Conference

ECOFIN will be de-briefed on a Conference held on 6–7 February to discuss VAT fraud issues.

Security and Counter-Terrorism

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown): A secure, safe and strong Britain requires concerted action against global terrorism with all the means at our disposal: military, security, intelligence, economic and culture. To this end coordinating the way we address international terrorism will be a central feature of the coming Spending Review.

Just as there should be no safe haven for those who perpetrate terrorism, so there should be no hiding place for those who finance terrorism.
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The Government will bring forward new measures to enhance the prevention, identification and disruption of terrorist financing.

First, in order to strengthen the prevention of terrorist financing, the Government will:

Secondly, in order to identify terrorist networks and strengthen the operation of counter-terrorist finance measures, the Government are approving the publication today of new guidance by the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group providing strategic advice to banks and financial institutions on targeting suspicious transactions; and will establish a new dedicated forum to bring them together with Government counter-terrorism agencies to formalise information sharing and take action when specific threats arrive.

Thirdly, in order to disrupt terrorist networks when they come to light, the Treasury will strengthen asset-freezing mechanisms to make them more proactive and pre-emptive. This will include a greater joint working between the Treasury and other Departments and agencies, both in respect of targeting and enforcement.

The Government will also seek to hold the Presidency of the Financial Action Task Force—to provide a platform to promote strong implementation of terrorist finance measures worldwide.

It is also fitting that we honour the contribution of those who fought in past conflicts.

In order to support the fundraising for the Armed Forces Memorial in Staffordshire, with the approval of Her Majesty the Queen, the Government will make available £1.5 million from the proceeds of a coin to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar towards the funding of this memorial.


London Conference on Afghanistan

The Minister for the Middle East (Dr. Kim Howells): I wish to inform the House that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, His Excellency Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, opened the London conference on Afghanistan on 31 January. My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Secretary of State for Defence, the Secretary of State for International Development and I represented the UK at different sessions. The conference was attended by over 60 delegations.

The London conference successfully created the framework for the next phase of development in Afghanistan. It demonstrated the commitment of the Afghan Government and the international community
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to deepen their partnership, as we work together to build a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. The launch of the "Afghanistan Compact" (a copy of which I have placed in the Library), and discussion of the interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy and of the revised National Drug Control Strategy, all contributed to a renewed sense of purpose and direction.

Many delegations made new financial pledges at the conference, making available over $10.5 billion for the implementation of Afghan Government priorities over the next five years. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the conference that for its part the UK would spend £500 million in assistance for Afghanistan over the next three years.

The conference recognised the interconnected nature of the challenges ahead, with progress on security, governance and development being mutually reinforcing. It recognised the cross-cutting nature and scale of the narcotics problem and the threat that this posed to Afghanistan's reconstruction. Delegates welcomed the newly updated National Drugs Control Strategy. On security issues, it was noted that Afghanistan continues to welcome assistance from international forces and supports the expansion of the NATO-led ISAF. On governance, there was broad support for sensitive handling of transitional justice issues and acknowledgement of the valuable role played by NGOs in Afghanistan's reconstruction. The conference welcomed the Afghan Government's plans for economic and social development by focusing on private sector development, investment in key infrastructural sectors such as power, water and roads, and by building human capacity. There was also useful discussion about improving aid effectiveness.

I am pleased that representatives of the Afghan National Assembly and of Afghanistan's Civil Society were able to attend the conference. Our partnership is both with the Government and the people of Afghanistan and their elected representatives.
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The challenge now is to build on the momentum created by the conference—to implement the Compact so as to bring real improvements to the lives of people in Afghanistan. Early follow-up action will include establishing the new joint co-ordination and monitoring mechanism envisaged in the Compact, to achieve greater coherence of effort between the Afghan Government and the international community, led for the latter by the UN.

I will set out the detail of UK support for the newly updated National Drug Control Strategy in a separate written ministerial statement tomorrow.


Care Services (Regulatory Fees)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Liam Byrne): In 2002 the Government stated their policy to move gradually to a position where the recurrent costs of regulation are fully recovered from service providers. This remains our policy.

Increased fees for registration and inspection will be charged therefore by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) from April 2006. These are set out in the table. The fees are subject to a 15 per cent. increase over 2005–06 levels, except in relation to boarding schools and further education colleges whose fees already match the full cost of regulation.

In parallel, the Government will address the overall cost of regulation to limit what providers will pay in future. We are also working with the inspectorates, and have been for some time, to ensure regulatory services are provided as cost effectively as possible, and working with public commissioners of care to ensure they understand regulatory costs are a legitimate part of the cost of providing care and need to be reflected in commissioning fees.

Individual letters are being sent to all providers of care services regulated by CSCI to notify them about the increases.
Fees for registration and inspection 2006–07 (2005–06 in brackets)
Commission for Social Care Inspection
ServiceProviderRegistrationManagerRegistrationMinor VariationVariationrequiring visit
Care homes£2,186 (£1,901)£596 (£518)£99 (£86)£1,093 (£950)
Small care homes£596 (£518)N/A£99 (£86)£596 (£518)
Children's homes£2,186 (£1,901)£596 (£518)£99 (£86)£1,093 (£950)
Small children's homes£596 (£518)N/A£99 (£86)£596 (£518)
Residential family centres£1,822 (£1,584)£497 (£432)£83 (£72)£911 (£792)
Small residential family centres£497 (£432)N/A£83 (£72)£497 (£432)
Domiciliary care agencies£1,822 (£1,584)£497 (£432)£83 (£72)£911 (£792)
Small domiciliary care agencies£497 (£432)N/A£83 (£72)£497 (£432)
Nurses agencies£1,822 (£1,584)£497 (£432)£83 (£72)£911 (£792)
Small nurses agencies£497 (£432)N/A£83 (£72)£497 (£432)
Voluntary adoption agencies principal office and branches£1,518 (£1,320)N/A£69 (£60)£759 (£660)
VAAs with small principal office or branch£414 (£360)N/A£69 (£60)£414 (£360)
Independent fostering agencies£2,186 (£1,901)£596 (£518)£99 (£86)£1,093 (£950)
Adoption support agencies and branches£1,518 (£1,320)£414 (£360)£69 (£60)£759 (£660)
Small adoption support agencies and small branches£414 (£360)N/A£69 (£60)£414 (£360)
Adult placement schemes£2,186 (£1,901)£596 (£518)£99 (£86)£1,093 (£950)
Small adult placement schemes£596 (£518)N/A£99 (£86)£596 (£518)

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Fees for registration and inspection 2006–07 (2005–06 in brackets) Commission for Social Care Inspection

Annual Fees

ServiceFlat rateApproved Place from 4th–29thApproved place over 30th
Care homes£297 (£259)£99 (£86)£99 (£86)
Small care homes and adult placements carers£199 (£173)N/AN/A
Children's homes£994 (£864)£99 (£86)£99 (£86)
Small children's homes£994 (£864)N/AN/A
Boarding schools & FE£432 (£432)£26 (£26)£13 (£13)
Residential special schools£795 (£691)£79 (£69)£40 (£35)
Residential family centres£662 (£576)£83 (£72)£83 (£72)
Domiciliary care agencies£1,242 (£1,080)N/AN/A
Small domiciliary care agencies£621 (£540)N/AN/A
Nurses agencies£828 (£720)N/AN/A
Small nurses agencies£414 (£360)N/AN/A
Voluntary adoption agencies and branches£690 (£600)N/AN/A
Small voluntary adoption agencies and small branches£345 (£300)N/AN/A
Independent fostering agencies£1,987 (£1,728)N/AN/A
Adoption support agencies and branches£690 (£600)N/AN/A
Small adoption support agencies and small branches£345 (£300)N/AN/A
Adult placement schemes£1,987 (£1,728)N/AN/A
Small adult placement schemes£994 (£864)N/AN/A

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