The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Bridget Prentice): My right hon and noble Friend the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) has made the following written ministerial statement:
On 24 May this year, the Government published their draft Legal Services Bill. The draft Bill is currently undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny by Joint Committee chaired by Lord Hunt of Wirral. It develops proposals set out in our White Paper The Future of Legal Services: Putting Consumers First and it will put consumers at the heart of a new framework for the regulation and delivery of legal services.
One of the core components of the draft Bill is the proposal to establish a single, independent complaint handling body, the Office for Legal Complaints. The OLC will deal with all consumer complaints about regulated legal service providers. Our aim in establishing it is to simplify the current arrangements for the handling of complaints, increase the accountability and transparency of the complaints handling system, improve the way in which complaints are handled and increase consumer confidence.
The Government are aware that the creation of the OLC will have a significant impact upon staff working in organisations within the existing framework and it is in an effort to relieve staff uncertainty that I would like to announce that the Government's preferred option for the location of the proposed OLC is the West Midlands.
This announcement only relates to the area of the country in which the OLC will be located. Further work will be needed to identify a specific site, however Leamington Spa will not be considered. This is to ensure that the OLC will be a new organisation independent of the existing framework and can take advantage of a larger local labour market and the benefits associated with moving to a new site.
This announcement will not pre-empt the parliamentary process but is being made on the basis that this is the Government's preferred option subject to the report of the Joint Committee and any subsequent legislation which may be taken forward.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): The 2005-06 annual report and accounts for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science will be laid before Parliament today.
The Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn): I am today putting in the Libraries of both Houses a copy of the Government's response to the Africa All-Party Parliamentary Group's report: The Other Side of the Coin: the UK and corruption in Africa.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Peter Hain): I have received the annual report for 2005-06 of the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland which is being presented to Parliament today as a Command Paper.
The Minister for Industry and the Regions (Margaret Hodge): The Small Business Service is publishing its business plan for 2006-07 on Friday 23 June 2006. Copies of the plan have been deposited in the Libraries of the House. Electronic versions are available on the SBS website www.sbs.gov.uk
The Small Business Service was established in April 2000 as a specialist centre of expertise within Government to champion the sector and help small businesses to flourish. Its purpose is to make the UK an enterprise society that is the best place in the world to start and grow a business.
The business plan sets out what the Small Business Service will deliver over the next 12 months. The Agency will focus on making significant progress in four key areas: building an enterprise culture; opening up public procurement; simplification of business support; and better regulation.
Expand the Enterprise Insight Campaign, through the development and running of a bigger and wider reaching Enterprise Week in November 2006, and supporting the recently launched Local Enterprise Campaigns; and working with Enterprise Insight to develop further local and sectoral enterprise campaigns.
Support the implementation and delivery of the Government's Social Enterprise Strategy for growth in social enterprise.
Promote the new www.supply2.gov.uk web portal (available through www.businesslink.gov.uk ) for businesses wanting to win work with Government Departments; achieve 10,000 registered suppliers, 1,000 registered buyers, 4,000 small business opportunities and 20,000 visitors per month by July 2006.
Publish updated No Nonsense Guides to Small Business Funding and Finance for High Growth Funding, including a web-based self-assessment tool, by March 2007.
Complete the establishment of Pathfinder round of Enterprise Capital Funds, by October 2006. Subject to a successful Pathfinder round, we will announce arrangements for a second round of Enterprise Capital Funds by March 2007.
Deliver a programme of communication and events at national, regional and local level to disseminate learning and good practice from Phoenix Development Fund projects.
Lead work with business stakeholders, other Government Departments, the Regional Development Agencies and other providers, to design and implement a solution for UK business support, which targets real need and uses resources effectively and efficiently in areas where the market alone would not provide a solution.
Deliver further improvements to the www.businesslink.gov.uk web portal. This will include an International Trade Single
Window delivering an online cross-government information and guidance website by November 2006.
Conduct at least four reviews of the business experience of key areas of regulation focused on those areas viewed as most burdensome. Working with business and lead departments we will identify and report on remedial actions. The first of these reviews, focused on employment law, is currently being piloted. Further areas for examination are likely to include health and safety, and environmental protection.
Identify opportunities for deepening and extending departmental simplification proposals presented to the Better Regulation Executive, and work with Departments to develop more business friendly approaches to development of regulation, its implementation, administration and communication, by November 2006.