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|Oxfordshire coroner:(ii) Civilian fatalities|
|Date of Death||Name of the Deceased|
|Source: Oxfordshire Coroner and Ministry of Defence|
|* Denotes that the investigation is incomplete|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Tom Watson): I have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of the report of the survey on service voting conducted by the Defence Analytical Services Agency.
The Ministry of Defence has been working with the Electoral Commission to improve the electoral process for the armed forces. This survey was undertaken to provide hard evidence of the numbers of service personnel who register and cast their vote. It was also designed to provide information to help us judge how best to continue to encourage service personnel to do so in future.
I welcome the survey, which gives us hard facts to target future work. The survey indicates that the services are broadly consistent with national trends on voting in the general election, given that they demographically fall within the lower age ranges where fewer people voted. In addition it shows that 60 per cent. of service personnel are currently registered, with a significant majority of those (67 per cent.) choosing to register as ordinary rather than service voters.
Although these figures indicate that anecdotal evidence of a very significant drop in numbers registered was pessimistic, they do show that there is still work to be done. The survey suggests, for example, that we have been less effective in getting the message across to those serving overseas and other ranks. We are working closely with the Electoral Commission to analyse the survey, to understand the reasons behind the results, and to use them to make further improvements to the quality of information available to all service personnel.
We remain committed to improving arrangements for the service community to exercise their right to vote, and I am also keen to improve further the quality and timeliness of information on registration and voting options and procedures and to simplify them where possible. We will continue to work hard, with the Electoral Commission, to achieve this.
The Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning (Bill Rammell): The Scottish Executive Minister for Education and Young People, Mr. Peter Peacock, and Ms. Anne Lambert, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU, represented the UK during the Education Council in Brussels.
1. Ministers agreed conclusions on the European Indicator of Language Competence. The agreement covered the basic parameters of the indicator, including level of testing and the languages to be included, as requested by the European Council in 2002. An advisory board of member states experts will work out the technical specifications. A sentence was added to make clear that the advisory board should take into consideration the need to prevent undue administrative and financial burdens on member states.
The Council agreed that pupils should be tested in two foreign languages at the end of ISCED level II (ages 9-14 in the UK). However, in those member states where only one foreign language was taught at that level, testing of the second language would be at ISCED III (15 - 19 and therefore after the end of compulsory education in the UK). Some member states would have preferred all testing to take place at ISCED III, but could accept the compromise.
2. The Council agreed a general approach for a recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning. The presidency expected to reach early agreement with the European Parliament. The Commission (Figel) said the recommendation could be finally adopted at the Education Council in November 2006.
The UK maintained its parliamentary scrutiny reserve, noting that the UK Parliament thought the text went too far in the direction of defining and prescribing the content of curricula. The Parliamentary Scrutiny Committees had particular difficulty with the idea that knowledge about European integration and structures was essential. The UK asked the Council to replace essential with desirable or important. The presidency noted the UKs concerns and outstanding scrutiny reserve but declined to alter the text.
3. The Council also agreed a general approach for the recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a Quality Charter for Mobility. The presidency said a joint report of the European Parliament's Employment and Culture Committees was expected in September.
4. Ministers exchanged views on the financial aspects of the Lifelong Learning Programme. The Commission said that, following the agreement on the EU financial perspective (2007-13), the total budget for the programme would be EUR 6.97 billion. A formal proposal would be adopted on 24 May. It would break down the funding between the four main sub-programmes as follows: 13 per cent. to Comenius (schools); 40 per cent. to Erasmus (higher education); 25 per cent. to Leonardo da Vinci (vocational training); and 3 per cent. to Grundtvig (adult learning).
In a full table round, several member states regretted the substantial reduction in the budget originally proposed by the Commission. However, most welcomed the increased flexibility and decentralisation, which would allow unused funding to be transferred more easily between sub-programmes.
Many member states could accept the distribution of funding proposed by the Commission in order to ensure that the new programme started on time. Nonetheless, most argued that priority should be given to one or other of the sub-programmes. The UK suggested that
Grundtvig should receive 6 per cent. of the overall budget, and said the increase should come from the much larger Erasmus Programme. It was important for the Council to send a signal about the importance of lifelong learning and the need to give greater assistance to older and low-skilled workers, particularly given the demographic challenges facing the EU. A number of other member states also asked for Grundtvig to receive additional funding. Several member states preferred to give priority to Erasmus, while a few others favoured Leonardo da Vinci. The attention of the Council was also drawn to the European Councils request to double the number of mobility grants under these programmes between 2006 and 2013.
Summing up, the Commission said that there would be some room for flexibility, but reminded Ministers that the European Council had highlighted the particular importance of Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci. The Commission urged member states to consider how they would use alternative sources of funding, including the EU structural funds. The Erasmus Mundus programme, which could no longer be funded from the new Lifelong Learning Programme, would continue until 2008. The Commission would at that point make a proposal for the future funding of that programme.
5. In a debate on the contribution of education to the EU Sustainable Development Strategy Ministers agreed the central role and importance of education and lifelong learning. Most stressed the importance of establishing strong links between policies for sustainable development, education, citizenship and cohesion. member states, including the UK, generally did not want to fix new EU objectives or targets. Existing processes, notably the Lisbon Strategy and the Education and Training 2010 Work Programme, were sufficient. One member state also stressed the need for synergy with the UN's 10-year strategy for sustainable development.
6. Under Any Other Business the Commission presented its recent Communication on higher education. The UK stressed the need for a concrete follow-up of the Communication and encouraged Ministers to have a full discussion in the near future about the issues it raised. The UK informed the Council about the peer learning seminar it would host in October on the theme of modernising universities. This seminar should produce concrete outcomes that could form the basis of Ministers discussions.
7. Finland announced that during its presidency it would give priority, inter alia, to the follow-up of the Hampton Court summit; vocational education and training; and the themes of efficiency and equity in education and training.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Ivan Lewis):
The chairman of Monitor (the statutory name of which is the Independent Regulator of NHS foundation trusts) announced last week that, in accordance with section 6 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards)
Act 2003, Monitor had decided to authorise the following NHS acute trusts as NHS foundation trusts from 1 June:
East Somerset NHS Trust
Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Trust
Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospitals NHS Trust
Salisbury Healthcare NHS Trust
Southend Hospitals NHS Trust
A sixth applicant, King's College Hospital NHS trust, has asked for further time to develop its application for foundation status. Monitor will consider the application when the trust decides to return to its assessment process.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Ivan Lewis): I am pleased that we have been able to agree new funding for childrens hospices of £9 million per year for the next three years.
I would like to pay tribute to the work of the childrens hospice movement which provides a valuable palliative care service to children and young people with a life threatening or life limiting condition and their families.
Childrens palliative care focuses on enhancing the quality of the childs life and support for the family. It includes management of distressing symptoms, which may be intermittent or progressive; provision of respite (short breaks); and skilled care throughout life, at end of life and at bereavement. Children are encouraged to live as normal lives as possible, for as long as possible, including education and leisure, but this depends on excellent symptom control. Their palliative care needs therefore to be provided in a variety of settingshome, school, hospital or hospice. Childrens hospices provide an excellent service to these families but they are only part of the range of services on offer.
There are currently 34 voluntary childrens hospices in England providing respite care (short breaks), outreach care or end of life care. They receive some funding from local PCTs but the majority of their funds traditionally come from voluntary donations to support their work. Many childrens hospices have also received funding from the New Opportunity Fund (now the Big Lottery) but this funding is coming to an end between March 2006 and July 2007.
The funding announced today is intended to enable the services funded by the Big Lottery grant to continue, pending the outcome of a review of childrens
hospice services and their funding arrangements. Our White Paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say sets out our aim to give patients more choice about where they receive their care and the choice to be treated at home towards the end of life. We also want to see that staff who work with people who are dying are properly trained to look after them and their carers. We also want to see improved support for carers. We will be working with the Association of Childrens Hospices to see how the childrens hospice movement can contribute to the delivery of our aims for disabled children, those with complex health needs, those needing palliative care and their families.
The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality (Mr. Liam Byrne): In January 2006 the Home Office immigration and nationality directorate (IND) requested that a pilot scheme be undertaken by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to evaluate the effects that increased reintegration assistance may have on incentivising failed asylum seekers, and those who wish to withdraw any outstanding asylum applications or appeals, to return to their country of origin. This statement gives details of progress to date.
Introducing a pilot programme to offer VARRP (Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme) participants an additional £2,000 as either additional reintegration assistance or cash grants has increased the number of voluntary returns under this programme. There were 1,956 such returns between January-April 2006, and this represents an increase of 108 per cent. over the corresponding period in 2005.
A significant amount of work continues to promote voluntary returns, and there is to be a high level of interest to take up the scheme. We have decided to extend the scheme for a further six months, during which time IND and IOM will undertake additional analysis of the results of the pilot scheme to assist in developing the most appropriate level of incentive in future voluntary return programmes.
Only those who applied for asylum before 1 January 2006 can benefit from the enhanced package of reintegration assistance, and they must leave the UK between 1 July and 31 December 2006 in order to qualify.
The Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn): On the morning of 27 May at 5.54 am, Indonesians living on the island of Java suffered an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale. The epicentre was near the southern coast of the island, approximately 37 kilometres south of Yogyakarta.
Initial estimates by the Government of Indonesia are that some 6,000 people were killed. More than 45,000 people have been injured and some 140,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed, leaving at least 200,000 people displaced.
DFID's Humanitarian Response Team was immediately made aware of the earthquake and began collecting information and assessing the need for assistance. The Government of Indonesia confirmed that it was taking responsibility for the national response and overall co-ordination and it did not appeal for international assistance. However it made it clear that offers of assistance would be welcome. I immediately announced £1 million in support of the International Federation for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and £3 million in support of the United Nations agencies. UK search and rescue teams were put on standby but were not needed, with search and rescue being carried out by local survivors and Indonesian rescue teams. A two person assessment team from DFID deployed to Indonesia on 28 May and based themselves in Yogyakarta from where they carried out assessments and met with partner organizations. The team is now in Jakarta and will return to London by the end of this week.
On Friday 2 June, I announced another £1 million to go to NGOs working on the ground in Java, bringing DFID's total commitment to the relief effort to £5 million. This will contribute to health and shelter, and help people to restore their livelihoods. We are also contributing some €600,000 as the UK's share of €3 million from the EC.
The Indonesian and international relief effort is well under way. The Indonesian Government have pledged $115 million, including $10 million for emergency response and $105 million for rehabilitation and reconstruction. The UN issued its Emergency Response Plan on 2 June, detailing its planned activities for the next six months.
With the support of DFID and other donors, national and international relief bodies working in Java are able to cope with the relief needs. As the need for longer term rehabilitation and reconstruction funds becomes clearer, DFID will be looking to see where it can provide further support. We will also continue to monitor volcanic activity on Mount Merapi, which was of concern prior to the earthquake.
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